This weekend, we’re taking a different approach with our weekend project, and touching on a topic that I think is overlooked a lot in blogging.And that’s failure.
Gone are the days when we’d get a standard education before we went out to work in a particular field. In fact, as I explained at a recent careers night, my Marketing degree was the first big thing I failed in!
…but it wasn’t the last. As I explain in that interview, I spent my early years in a kind of “chaos” as I pursued all kinds of different interests. Many of them didn’t end in great “achievements”, which I guess you could take to mean that I failed in them, too.
At the time, my parents were eager for me to settle down—to pick something and stick with it. We’ve probably all heard this advice at some point, and in some ways it seems very closely related to this idea of not “failing.” For a lot of people, simply following through with something—whether it’s working, or whether you enjoy it or not—is better than “failing” by dropping it. Dropping something is often seen as giving up, even when it makes perfectly good sense to do so.
So there’s a lot of baggage around failure. And this weekend, we aim to clear some of it out, so you have room to fail—and learn—in your blogging journey.
The half-full glass
It sounds patronizing, but I’ve found that when it comes to failing at something, a good way to stop yourself from focusing on the negatives is to look at what you’ve learned.
I know that can sound trite‚ especially if the thing that hasn’t worked out is something you’re heavily invested in—financially or personally.
But it’s true. I’ve started more than 20 blogs now, and obviously most of them haven’t lasted. Does that mean they’re failures? To you, maybe. To me, they were part of the proving ground that helped me develop the skills to become better at some things, and even have some successes later. In this way, blogging’s kind of like being employed—each job you take on helps you build skills that lead to the next job, and over time, help you develop a career.
Of course, within each job—or each blogging task—there are plenty of opportunities not to succeed, and as they say, you can’t win them all. If you did, you wouldn’t be learning anything.
Now, you might be thinking, “That’d be great—I’d love to know it all!” But we all have to start somewhere, and the only way to progress is through good old trial and error.
The important thing, though, is to learn from those errors, and to feed back those learnings into what you do next—or next time.
Surf the learning curve
It can be tough to handle failure—and in blogging, failure can be a very public thing. Even if your failures aren’t major show-stoppers, it can be really hard to persist when you seem to be faced with little failure after little failure. Sometimes we go through phases where nothing we try seems to work. And if we don’t know why, that can be very disheartening.
That’s why it’s so important to learn to manage failure as a blogger. At any one time, you might have several fronts to fail on—you might be trying a new ad network or a different post style, tweaking your social media strategy, floating a new product idea with your audience, trying to grow your subscription rates—the list goes on.
My approach is always to try to learn something from the failure. Even if I can’t work out what went wrong, I try to use the failure to direct my future efforts. So maybe I’ll try a different approach to using the same process or tool next time—or maybe I’ll decide to try a different approach or tool altogether, in the hopes of finding one that works for me and my blog.
I think taking the time to reflect on the failure is important, too. Otherwise, you can easily fall into the trap of just banging your head up against a brick wall, rather than thinking creatively about other ways you could achieve your goals.
There’s certainly a lot to think about when it comes to blogging failure, so I hope you’ll enjoy this weekend’s posts. In them, we’ll cover:
- advice for failing productively as a blogger
- a behind-the-scenes look at the failures of a well-known, successful blogger
- tips for handling blog post rejection in a way that helps you and your blog grow.
But first up, I’d love to hear how you handle failure as a blogger. Be honest—we’ve all done it, and we can all learn from each other. So we’d love to hear your stories and secrets for learning to fail.