“What’s the biggest mistake you see aspiring bloggers making?”
This is a question I’m asked a fair bit on panels or in interviews, and it’s one that I suspect the people asking the question would like a technical answer to.
The reality is that the biggest mistakes I see bloggers making are usually things that are going on in their minds, rather than on their blogs.
Your mindset and attitude is as important more important than which blog platform you choose, your blog’s design, or how many posts you make a day.
There are two very common mindsets that I see in many bloggers (and prebloggers), and which I think hold them back.
1. I’m gonna…
One of the things that frustrates me about blogging conferences is that many of the conversations I hear in the hallways and networking meetups involve bloggers talking about the amazing dreams that they’ve concocted … but never seem to act on.
Dreams and grand plans are great — but unless they move beyond the dreaming stage, they’re pretty much worthless.
The “I’m gonna…” statements that I hear range from those at the beginning of their blogging careers (I’m gonna start a blog), through to more established bloggers (I’m gonna write a book/develop my own product/start a new project).
While there’s nothing wrong with brainstorming and dreaming and then later rejecting the idea because it isn’t feasible, some bloggers are serial “ideapreneurs” who never put anything into action.
For some, the ideas never leave their minds; others are so addicted to the creative process of dreaming up new things that they start lots of projects but never see them through. These types are always looking for the adrenaline hit of the new idea, but can’t bring themselves to face the hard work of seeing the ideas through to reality.
2. I’m not … enough
- I’m not creative enough.
- I don’t have the technical ability.
- I’m too late to have an impact.
- I’m not old enough.
- I’m not young enough.
- I live in the wrong part of the world.
- My writing isn’t good enough.
- I don’t have the budget.
- I’m just not smart enough.
The list of excuses for not taking action on some aspect of blogging — whether it be starting out, or developing an established blog — is endless.
Sometimes they come as we compare ourselves to the great things that others are doing; sometimes they’re related to our own feelings of inadequacy and self doubt.
Either way, the end result is usually inaction. Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we’ll take action “one day” — after we get better, smarter, older, or improve whatever it is that we’re not good enough at — but the reality is that we’re never going to do it.
The secret of many bloggers’ success
So what is it that sets some bloggers apart?
It’s simple really: they get things done. They don’t allow what’s going on in their minds to distract them from actually blogging and completing the things they set out to do.
- They still have ideas and dreams, but they put action items around them that take them to reality.
- They still have doubts and insecurities, but they don’t allow that to hold them back.
I look at my own experience of blogging over the last eight years, and I see times where I’ve suffered from both these mindsets.
I have notebooks full of ideas that never amounted to anything. But I realized a few years back that unless I actioned some of them, my business would never reach its potential.
I also had periods, particularly when I started out, where I had so much self doubt about the things I was writing, and my lack of ability in some aspects of blogging, that I was almost paralyzed by fear. However, I managed to put that aside and blog on, only to discover that the more I did it, the better I got.
All of this reminds me of a great video I saw last week from Seth Godin. It runs for 18 minutes and I think much of what Godin says applies to bloggers. Many of us are paralyzed by our “Lizard Brains”, which often stop us from taking action, and actively sabotage us.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you overcome these mindsets. I know so many of us do struggle with them. How do you snap yourself out of the “I’m gonna…” or the “I’m not … enough” ways of thinking?
This article was first published on September 30, 2010 and updated August 11, 2022
I found that action increases my motivation and dreams not the other way around.
As a fashion blogger, I’m always thinking “I’m not thin enough” and “I’m not photogenic enough.” It’s just a fact that the more beautiful girls (albeit the girls with great dress sense and brilliant photography, too) are the most successful.
I’m trying my best to push past this and I’m doing my best, but it’s not always easy! Thanks for this little call to arms: it’s inspired me.
Ironically or not my biggest stumbling block <-AKA growth opportunity! was putting my blog up on Problogger forums for critique. Man, was that a bad night.
What did I learn? Sleep on critiques, negative comments, etc. for a while. Remind yourself of why you started doing this and how far you've come.
If you have a brand essence or positioning statement (I can't remember what it's called in the 30 days book…), go back to that.
Be able to recognize the difference between people who don't get it because you're not communicating it well, and those who don't get it because they aren't your psycho/demographic. This is SO IMPORTANT!! I wouldn't ask my dad to go shoe shopping with me … you know? Understand yourself; understand your critics.
I took 4 out of 5 of the comments – gladly, not resentfully – and made changes.
You´re very right in what you wrote and I believe this post applies to many things in life not only about blogs.
You have an amazing job here in your site.
Congrats and thanks
This is a great article, and can really apply to more than just blogging. I’ll bet there isn’t a person out there who hasn’t thought “I’m not [whatever] enough.” I find the hardest thing for me is about half way through, I’ll think “but who really cares? What am I saying that a million other people aren’t saying and probably better than I can?” The answer I come up with is “Probably nothing” — but if I enjoy writing it, that’s enough sometimes.
Thanks dude, same thing happens with me , specailly step 2 not enough, have thinking to quit many times , now reading your tips got motivated again . hope everything work well for me from todayonwards.
I go back and forth on this as well. There are times I doubt my ability to make my blog succesful. Other times, I’m confident I can make it great. Usually a really good comment from a reader will motivate me to keep making the site better.
Mike CJ mentioned that it is not a good idea to make a self defeating comment on a blog posting and he is right. How we speak to ourselves in private and in public creates the reality we experience.
I wish I had learned when I was much younger the importance of how my mind works – thankfully I know now.
Once article on autosuggestion can really help if you are working to become more aware of how you think so you can change that and move forward here it is .http://thewondertechnique.com/what-are-examples-of-autosuggestion-what-are-examples-of-heterosuggestion/
Also, I learned a technique called the SMART approach to goal setting I am linking to here http://thewondertechnique.com/smart-goal-setting-technique-explained/
I hope you don’t mind these links my heart goes out to anyone who is blocked by themselves – it was my challenge for years but now that is thankfully over.
Enjoy a wonderful day,
This was reconfirmation for me.
I’m at a point in my life where I will accept nothing but excellence from myself in everything I do. From conversation, to clothes I wear, to personal hygiene, women, friends, money and my own drive for success and follow-through.
This video was perfect timing.
Now I’ve got to stop writing. I have a phone call to make with 2 other fellow entrepreneural bloggers for us to each write an Ebook in one week. If anyone doesn’t do it, they’ll have to pay $50 for each day they don’t do it.
Time for action.
To Your Success,
Many people do not understand that it is our beliefs that prevent us from taking action. Our beliefs determine our state of mind, our behaviors, and our overall view of things. People who are procrastinators may have a dis-empowering belief that prevents them from taking the initial “start up” motivation and applying it to the entire project to see that it is completed.
Since many fail to realize their dis-empowering beliefs, they do not know how to change it. So failing to realize there is a problem is problem number one. Once the problem is realized, and a new awareness is achieved, changing one’s beliefs is quite simple.
Well, fantastic article, this is in tune to the saying that you should be a practitioner of reality rather than a knower of reality.
I’m getting stuff done by a) simply committing to doing specific things on specific days and b) writing down what I’m doing each day.
It’s much more than just a To Do List. I have a hard-backed notebook with a page for each day’s commitments. Each day I commit to actions for that day and then tick them off the list as I do them.
There is no moving commitment to the next day. That would turn that item into a Want to Do instead of a Have to Do.
And it’s all about committing to take action.
And it’s working for me.
Yes! This little talk of Seth’s explains so much. Not like it solves all my problems, but puts a body to them. And it is not just about blogging….I am addicted to the start up, but the follow through is where I fail. In other words, I don’t thrash early enough to achieve success for the long haul.
Of course then there is the problem of getting bored with the work, but that is for another video, which hopefully you will find soon and share with us all.
Great Article Darren!
I myself have seen many I’m gonna and I’m not scenarios in my web adventures.
My only advice is that once you get an idea or project that you believe will work then just put in your hard work and don’t give up! I know in the end it will work just as you envisioned it. :)
thanks for the post, being a starter, i really liked it, is inspiring, and liked the ‘i’m not….enough’ portion which really makes it a great lack of confidence!!
Loved Seth’s video and the Lizard brain.
Here’s a few things I’m doing to deal with fear and inaction as I launch a new blog and online business with my brother:
1. We have been thrashing ideas and actions for a while so our focus to ship is clear [nice stuff in Seth’s vid].
2. GOYA – get of your arse and do something every day
3. Fear – I write down all the self talk and fears and work out what’s about Skills [new learning] and what’s about Will [attitude and motivation]. Then I plan what I need to do next to ease the fears … just listening to them sometimes helps.
4. Support – I’m not doing this alone. My brother is my business partner and gets to hear all my rants [calm man that he is]. I have asked some friends if they’ll be Life Dreaming Champions and give us feedback and support.
5. Shoulders of Giants – Over this weekend I chose 5 blogs that will be my self directed Masters in building my online business [Chris Brogan; Problogger; Copyblogger; Naomi Dunfords Itty Bitz; & Launch Coach]. I plan to spend 8 hours a week reading them and learning … building my confidence & competence.
6. Learn it – we all were/are beginners and we need to know that we’ll feel afraid and frustrated as we look at the great big mountain of stuff we have to eat/learn … be patient and kind to yourself.
7. Build it – I realised this weekend that there are 4 key Priority Pillars to building my online business [ (1) create great content/ build relationships with readers;(2) learn about building an online business; (3) keep thrashing the big picture plans & actions with my brother; (4) build the site and online course for 2011 launch] … and they will all now get concentrated blocks of time every week.
8. Love it – it you’re going to spend time, money and energy on something then be real clear about why it’s important to you … why it needs to be made real. Loving what you do really helps when you’re in the trenches and only 7 people [fab as they are] read your post … and who’d want to read it anyway?
Loving what I do and believing in it is what gets me through the fear and the Lizard brain moments.
Finally … Reward It. Oh yeh … and I’m a great one for rewarding efforts before, during and after any efforts!
Just posted a comment but pressed the wrong thing and think I posted too soon.
What I was saying was, I’ve felt like giving up ion my blog several times this week, now I know why so I won’t. Very
good post, thanks
Great video and so true! I have found overcoming my self is my biggest problem, now I need to stop putzing around online and get to work!
Hello, my name is Anthony and I am an “I’m gonna-ahloic”.
Amazing the “positive energy” that happened once I FINALLY just wrote and posted a blog post.
It is the first of my post that actually got re-tweeted!!
Ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it!