This is a guest post by Jeff Goins of Goinswriter.com.
The other night, I was catching up with a writer friend who is taking his first steps towards becoming a professional blogger.
He was frustrated and upset, wanting to quit.
Listening to him, I realized something: writing is discouraging work. It’s a time-consuming, underpaid, solitary activity. No wonder so many authors turn into drunks and most bloggers don’t receive their due appreciation.
If you’re feeling discouraged, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Relax. This is normal.
For most of the time I’ve been blogging, I’ve felt like my friend. Frustrated and discouraged, I’ve often wanted to quit. But recently, things have started turning around. And it’s all because of three very important secrets.
1. Automation is key
Step away from Twitter, Facebook, and any other online distractions long enough to actually get something done. You need time to concentrate and create.
If you spend all your time on maintaining your community, you’ll never able to grow it. You have to create margin in your schedule to do things like write guest posts.
I do this by writing weeks in advance for my blog and scheduling posts well ahead of time. I also use tools like Timely.is and Bufferapp.com to schedule tweets without having to think much about it. And lastly, I turn off most email notifications and alerts (including Twitter follows and unfollows and Facebook messages).
Don’t get me wrong. I still spend time on social media, but I don’t allow myself to be interrupted every minute of the day. Automating these practices helps me focus on what I need to spend most of my time doing: writing.
2. A bias towards creating keeps you focused
There are a hundred ways you could make money online. Why blogging? Probably because you enjoy creating.
This may fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but you should not be spending most of your time promoting your blog.
You should spend most of your time creating.
Writing comes first. Everything else (including marketing and promotion) comes second. If I’m not delivering the very best content I can every time I hit “Publish,” I don’t have any reason to promote my work. Similarly, if you’re not finding ways to add value to your readers, customers, etc., then you have no business trying to sell anything.
In this world of tweets and texts and blog comments, it’s easy to get distracted. To focus merely on the platform you’ve built, instead of on expanding its reach. The way that you do this is by creating compelling content, day after day.
You only have a limited number of hours in the day. Make them count.
Doing this will also keep you busy enough to ignore the jabs of critics, keeping you caught up in what you love.
3. Stop checking stats
In my experience, checking blog stats is a pointless exercise. These numbers can be a subtle form of procrastination, tempting you to “check in” multiple times per day, without actually doing any real work.
Of course, analytics are helpful. They allow you to identify overall growth trends of your blog, as well as keywords readers are interested in. But on a regular basis (i.e. hourly or even daily), they can be discouraging.
If someone doesn’t immediately read your writing, it may lead you to false conclusions. You may convince yourself that no one cares about what you have to say. Your inner critic might take over before you give your work time to make an impact.
Remember: if you’re writing posts that are optimized for search engines, then you’re not writing for today. You’re writing for the long haul. Constantly checking stats can undermine that purpose.
When someone asked Seth Godin how many blog subscribers he had, he responded, “I don’t know.” And neither should you.
Of course, you need to be available to your audience and to know how your blog is performing. But before any of that, you need to just write.
There are forces out there that would discourage you. I hope you don’t let them.
Because we need your voice.
We need your words.
Jeff Goins is a writer and marketing consultant. On his blog, he shares writing tips for new and aspiring writers. For a limited time, you can download his free e-book The Writer’s Manifesto. You can also follow him on Twitter @jeffgoins.