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Are these Mindsets Holding You Back from Achieving Blogging Success?

Are these Mindsets Holding You Back from Achieving Blogging Success?

Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash

“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

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Finally a post from Darren. Love your work as always.

  2. This is a very powerful write up. I’ve been guilty, like everyone, of going through the ‘I’m gonna’ stage…heck I’m doing it now with my ‘I’m gonna write an e-book’ stage. I’m using lack of time as an excuse but realised – just today- that I don’t want to write an e-book…yet. Usually when we go through an ‘I’m gonna stage’ it is more because we haven’t convinced ourselves to buy what we’re selling and less a mindset issue.

  3. This is true with any pursuit. You can dream about it, or make a list of action items and go about doing it.

    A great reminder!

  4. I’m certainly guilty of that. I tend to get in my own way when it comes to finishing projects. I think a lot of it has to deal with fear of failure. It feels great to come up with a new idea. We get all hyped up and energized, but when it comes to taking action and finishing something we are worried that it may just not be good enough. Emotionally it’s a lot easier to just come up with another fantastic idea that makes us feel better instead of risking failure by finishing that project, putting the ebook up for sale etc.

  5. I’ll begin by admitting that I’m a blogger suffering from both of those mindsets. I’ve started several blogs, all based around great ideas, only to find that they just weren’t the right fit more me. But, I guess I started them – at least. I never would have known they weren’t going to work for me unless I tried.

    One thing I’ve found happening recently is that as soon as I come up with a great idea that I think will really help my readers, and the ideas is marinating – just a bit, one of the bigger bloggers takes over. Like small group discussions about 31 Days to a Better Blog or creating your own blogging tribe to help make your blog successful.

    I’ve come to the realization, though, that I still just need to go through with those ideas. Even if mine is on a smaller scale – at least I have the affirmation that I’m thinking up good ideas. The pros are even implementing them!

    Thanks for a great post, Darren! And for the encouragement!

  6. In my case it would be good to use a timer again.
    All the activities that I do online (blogging, relationship building, conversing, twittering, answering) can be done 24 hours a day. All of them are usefull, but in sum they prevent me from writing my book. When I look at my watch it’s again too late.

    So, I will schedule time. Then I will stop everything. Then it’s working time in solitude and liberty at my desk.

    Action……..greetings from sunny, but cold Germany.

  7. yeah, that’s all of us :)
    in some way or other

  8. ‘The more I did, the better I got.’ That’s really the secret to blogging. When I get hit with the ‘I’m gonnas’ or ‘I’m not enoughs,’ I take one teeny, bite-sized bit of action. That’s usually enough to get me out of the mental rut I’m in.

    What keeps me out of the ruts in the first place is to stay true to my own goals and go at my own pace. When I get caught up in the ‘you shoulds’ or ‘you have tos,’ even if that message comes from well-meaning blogging pros whom I respect, then there’s an inner resistance and not much gets done.

  9. My grandfather, (or someone’s grandfather), used to say, “ain’t nothing to it, but to do it”.

    Sure I’m not the greatest writer in the world, but I figure that the more I do it, – if I do it enough- I’m bound to get better at it.

    Sure, I know I’m not a good enough writer and that my niche isn’t that well suited to attract the huge and hard core audience that some blogs get, but putting it off isn’t going to help me one bit.
    I’m not getting any younger and if I procrastinate for another year, this time next year I’ll only be a year older and nowhere nearer to my goals.

    At least if I jump in, set myself a blogging schedule that I slavishly keep to (so far anyway, it’s only been one month since I started the regular schedule), I’d like to think that I can only improve.

    If my writing is so bad, hopefully somebody will tell me in the comments and I might be able to take something away from it, and use it to improve my blog.

  10. i know what you mean. am just starting out as blogger. am writing about things that have happened to me.in my life. am still about blogging.

  11. I’ve had this “I’m gonna” problem for as long as I can remember and not only in the business part of life.

    What I’m trying to do is to always say… better: write down (Exact time from-to) I will … It works best when “exact time” is some clearly specified time today. Sure most of the dreams won’t get done so fast, but beginning to act is the necessary precondition.

    I still have the procrastination problem, I have a big stock of dreams, ideas, and plans for at least a few years on, but it’s getting better. Dreaming is fine, but you must know when to dream and when to act.

  12. Couldn’t agree more with this. If you look at anyone that’s truly successful today it’s because they have exerted consistent effort in everything they do, and haven’t looked back. They continually test and refine their methods until they find what works, and then ramp it way up. Darren here is a great example along with Sonia. I had a chance to interview Chris Brogan who is another huge example of this.

    Nothing happens overnight, it just appears to. You gotta keep at it and let no mental BS get in your way.

    Thanks for another great post Darren.

  13. Hey Darren,

    The best way to overcome the “I’m gonna…” is by having a goal setting strategy. It works best when you actually take what is in your mind and write it down on a piece of paper. I see so many individuals just keeping it in their mind. Writing out what you want is step #1.

  14. @Akhilesh: That is well said finally a post from Dareen.
    @Sussan : I agree even I do have a lot of projects in mind but some where on other it hardly comes out of the mind in to reality. I think so I fear about rejection or failure…

  15. Great post! I’m constantly battling the little voice(s) inside my head trying to convince me to abandon all my golden ideas. But what lights a fire under my butt is seeing other people take my ideas or start something before I do. If you don’t take action, inevitably someone else will.

  16. Thankyou and yes :-).

  17. I so agree!!!

    Something I discovered about this kind of behaviou (meaning not taking action on dreams or ideas) may stem for many from the simple fact that they are a ‘Renaissance Soul’ or a ‘Scanner’ according to Barbara Sher, the author of “Refuse To Choose”.

    I highly recommend reading this book. It gave me the confidence and some relief to know that I can have all these ideas and that there are creative ways to either explore them to a satisfying end (which may be half done) or complete them with the help of some cool Scanner tricks.

    This blog post helped solidify that more people need to know that being what I call a ‘Shiny Pebble Person’ isn’t anything to be ashamed of or feel guilty around. Leonardo Davinci was the greatest example of a Scanner!!

    Thanks again for this awesome article.

  18. I’m gonna (!) be (a little) controversial here. As someone who works with new and learning bloggers most days, I am so frustrated with the whole “I’m gonna” thing. You see it everywhere – here on this site in comments, on my site, in the PB forums.

    And if you go back through the archives, you’ll see the same people, saying the same things a year or more ago!

    What is it about blogging that creates this huge inertia, where people seem to spend more time talking about what they are going to do, and not actually doing anything?

    It’s driving me crazy!

    So here’s an idea. Don’t put a self deprecating comment on this post telling the world that you’re guilty of this and thanking Darren for his wise words.

    Instead, go and start something, right now. Something you were “gonna” do one day.

  19. Really awesome post Darren.
    You’ve made amazing points about mindset.

    Thanks for sharing the awesome stuff, as always.

  20. Honestly speaking most of them are true for me about 2 month ago. But now I had changed my mindset. Now I work more improving my skills then just thinking I am gona improve it. lol.

  21. Darren, I love your term “ideapreneur,” I really relate to it, and that is actually my biggest inhibitor to putting my ideas to action!

    A good way to handle the issue laid out in #2, is to add the word “yet” to the end of all those sentences.

    “I am not creative….yet [but I will be in the future, with practice].

    Thanks for the tips. Now I must go back to blogging! :)

  22. I watched that from your tweet link!…


  23. I overcame my paralysis by giving myself a large kick in the arse recently, and every day I’m reminding myself not to slip back into old bad habits.

    My thoughts on this subject at the moment are you really need to make an effort on your mindset as well as everything externally such as your site, marketing, networking, etc. if you are to succeed by any degree.

  24. Excellent tips! I have been guilty of the “im gunna” syndrome. I have used that before in my blog and it just doesnt sound right… Being a new blogger there are many difficult tasks ahead of me but I do enjoy reading your blog and learning many new, interesting things!

  25. Great stuff as always Darren. I love that you brought up the “lizard brain,” otherwise known as the amygdala. It controls our most primative instincts, and can be both a blessing and a curse. Cheers.

  26. Thank you darren for your post. I’m anass and it’s my first comment here on problogger, I hope that I will learn a lot of things here :D
    It’s true, the “I’m gonna” mindset hold me from starting blogging for two years ( finally I’ve decided to buy a domain name and I’m writing my first article). I personnaly think that what makes saying to my self that i’m going to do things but never start them is the feer of failure. I was procrastinating because I was feeling that i’m not perfect, that i didn’t have the complete knowledge, that I need more training in writing, i focused a lot in theory and forgot practicing. So my suggestion to people who are like me is this. Start Taking action Right Now !

    Thank you Again :D

    Anass Farah

  27. Great post, Darren. btw, did you see that Seth Godin video online somewhere?

    I’ll admit, I’ve very much suffered from both of these mindsets from time to time. I think they prevent a lot of truly great people (not just bloggers) from taking actions towards their dreams.

    What’s helped me with the “I’m gonna..” mindset is just learning to take bigger ideas/projects and breaking them down into smaller, daily tasks (thanks to Leo Babauta for this, heh). Instead of saying, “I’m gonna write that ebook next week” just worry about writing one page or one paragraph, TODAY.. and then another page tomorrow.

    I think the “I’m not … enough” mindset is a lot harder to deal with though.. but, one thing that’s helped me is realizing that although I might not be “good enough” at one aspect of blogging, there’s another aspect I am very good at. For example, when I first started blogging, I didn’t think I was that great of a writer, so I had to really work at that, and I still do. But, I did have a comptuer background, so all the technical stuff has been a breeze for me. I keep looking at other bloggers and realize that they might have some weaknesses in some areas, but they also have huge strengths in other areas.. and that’s what makes us all unique. You may not be the best WordPress optimizer, but maybe you’re the best podcaster :)

    I think the key is to focus on your strengths, cause that’s what separates you from everyone else. Sure, you can try to improve your weaknesses too, but don’t get too caught up in them.

    “We are always getting ready to live, but never living.”
    –Ralph Waldo Emerson

  28. Serial “ideapreneurs”… great term Darren. I’ve been a little guilty of this in the past.
    What works best for me when I get in a stalled mindset is to simply think to myself, “why wait”… life’s too short, nothing gets accomplished and nothing grows when you wait. I think about how much my daughter’s have grown in the last ten years and it makes me realize have fast time goes by. So I tell myself.. go for it, don’t wait if I have an idea in my head.
    This may sound a little silly to some, but it works for me.

  29. Thanks for sharing. I suffer all the mentioned afflictions, and its good to know I am not alone. :) Now if only I had a magic wand… :)

  30. For me the easiest thing is to now think about what I can write and do it. I am not interested in relating to others’ success, since we do talk about different people and talents. I do try to take the best from everything I see in others and implement it in my project.

  31. I tend to suffer from the I’m gonna mindset once in a while. I think what makes it so dangerous is it can continue long past the time you think you are “gonna” and never arrive.
    Need to make it “I am.” What you do now is what you are and probably will be.

  32. I am not sure how many “million dollar” ideas I have come up with over the years but one thing is for sure. Only a few ever got put into action. No bites yet but a lesson from a wise fisherman I know goes like this. Who cares, they will hit.

  33. Today I read this post and it reminded me that I need to keep taking action and keep working.
    I get the most inspiration from reading blog posts from established bloggers. They are always generous with encouragement.
    I suffer from getting out when the going gets tough and I really want to change that about myself with my blogging business plan.

  34. Great Post Darren,

    Sometimes I think we need to review our “To Do” lists and delete anything we don’t think we going to do – the pipe dreams that aren’t realistic – and concentrate on the solid core of ideas that we ARE going to do.

    Thanks, Rob.

  35. Nope. I’m not involved in ‘I’m gonna’. I did and the blog is out there. I’m not paralyzed by the ‘I’m not…….enough’ for the most part. I enjoy writing, but I need to learn to be more intentional about driving traffic to the blog. I bought 30DBBB and I have started working. I think the ‘how-to’ will help tremendously.
    Thanks for the post, Darren.

  36. Self-doubts seem to exist in everything we do because everything and every action has risks. When I almost graduated from college, my professor told the class that you would never walk into a room knowing everything on the test, thus be confident in knowing what you do and do your best. I understand it’s really cliche and all, but it’s not an easy thing to accomplish. That’s why most people prefer to keep things to themselves and only announce the results of the project when it’s already done. This “I’m gonna… this and that” but never actually do it not only apply to blogging but to everything. I agree, it’s very easy to have ideas, but to transform the ideas into its physical counterparts is very difficult because it requires patience, perseverance, gut, planning, and confidence. One virtue is already difficult to attain not to mention 4 or 5 like this, no wonder why most people stop short at the idea stage.

  37. Sorry all for not including the Seth Godin video – seems it got lost out of the post in the upload to ProBlogger from my blog editor. I’ve added it now!

  38. Hi Darren,

    For me it all comes back to feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

    I messed around for a few weeks before I started my blog, wanting to learn everything I possibly could so I could launch the “perfect blog.” I felt stuck and overwhelmed, and realised I’d been letting my fear take charge.

    Then one day I just did it. I wrote the pages, went live, and just a couple of weeks in, I’m feeling pumped! So happy to be creative, while also realising there is so much to learn and that’s ok, as long as I keep doing it, and keep clear about my vision.

    We can’t permanently remove fear. It’s a bit like a tattoo. There’ll always be scars. But we can make a decision to play big, not small, and dive in the deep end.

    Great post, thank you!


  39. Kelli C. says: 09/30/2010 at 10:37 am

    We must all work to accomplish our dreams and goals. In a real life job the boss wouldn’t expect you to just sit around doing nothing all day and talking about what your going to do. You’d be fired if you did that and the same goes for blogging.

    Kelli C

  40. I tweaked! I posted! I am enough! The idea seeds are blossoming on my blog once more.

    Thanks Darren :D

  41. I’m such a “victim” of the “I’m gonna”, I am the fantastic “Procrastinator”, until this year that is. After attending your Problogger event, it answered my doubts. I answered my own questions really, about “if I’m good enough, why would people listen to me and think of me as a so-called expert”. It hit me – by being myself, by being honest. by just DOING IT! So this year, I stopped saying I’m gonna and just went ahead, going outside of my comfort zone. And you know what – it feels FANTASTIC. I know that even if it didn’t work, at least I’ve tried. It’s better to know that you’ve tried than wonder what it would be if you had.

  42. On the other side of “i’m not old enough,” the one I catch myself saying is it’s opposite, and there are a couple that go with it.

    I’m too old.
    If I create something, it’s got to be a home run; I don’t have time to start over again.

    There are some others that really kill creativity.

    I’ve tried that before; it doesn’t work.
    Yeah, but ….
    I could fail and I couldn’t handle it.

    I am sure there are about 20 others that we could eek out pretty easily.


  43. Well, it’s doing some things. Finding out which ones are the right ones; doing more of these. Then trying out some more stuff.

  44. Great post! I have been part of the blogging world since 2005. Many of the excuses that you posted could have applied to me, but I did not let them. I love to write. I began my writing career in a spiral bound notebook as a teen. I have never made much money on blogging alone, but the skills I developed have benefited my career extensively. To overcome these roadblocks I would recommend: 1. Write! 2. If you don’t love writing, go do something else. You have to love it to keep at it. 3.. You be you! You have your own package of gifts, abilities, interests and experiences. Take advantage of that. You may not be an expert in field A, but you are an extreme expert in You. Write what you like and you will find your readership. 4. Finally develop a thick skin and a good sense of humor. I plugged my blog URL into one of those little blog analysis sites recently. The results said that my blog realized that I am stubborn and unbalanced. That hurt my feelings for a bit, but while taking a weekend vacation, I made a joke of it. By the time I came home on Sunday afternoon I decided that I will be the Un-Fox News blogger: Unfair and Unbalanced. Blessings!

  45. I’m really glad I read this. I have problems getting past the I’m Gonna stage, I really need to work on that.

  46. Darren, Awesome post. I completely agree with what you are saying.

    I had an idea to find the best college football tailgate in the USA and I am actually following through with it. The project lasts for 13 weeks with 12 different locations. It was incredibly terrifying to go out there and allow myself to bring this idea to life. There have been many cases of self doubt, but I believe in what I am doing and that the end result will be worth it. There is no time like the present so its my time to just go out and do it.

    Here is the project if you are interested


    I am in my 5th week of this project and reading this article was incredibly encouraging. It is good to know I am not crazy for going out there and following through with my idea. Thanks again for writing this.

  47. I really don’t have a problem with “I’m going to do it”. Taking action has never been my problem.

    For me it’s “I’m not good enough”. I often doubt myself and my knowledge and that has hurt me a lot.

    Also, I often feel when looking back that I’ve taken the hardest road to reach my goals.

    I’m still blogging and still learning and although I’ve launched other products that have not worked, I’m about to launch another one and have learned from past learnings.

    This is an excellent post Darren.

    Also, your roadblock of “am I too late to make an impact” is right in time for another idea I have.

    Thanks again.

  48. I whole-heartedly agree with the advice here. I went so far as to create a strategy document with goals and dates associated with it – including everything from content to be added, layout/functionality enhancements, and marketing goals. My site has been up a month, and I only have about 6 hours a week to spend on it, but by sticking to the plan I think I’ve done quite well for 6 hours per week starting from scratch.

  49. I’m gonna watch this video everyday. I’m really bad at the ‘million ideas’ thing. What has helped me in the past is to write down a list of the ideas that are in my head all the time, pick one that looks promising and start working on it.

    It also really helps me a lot to keep a time sheet – I break the day into 15 minute intervals and write down what I was doing for those 15 minutes. Then, I take a highlighter and color them according to category – Red for time spent with a client, Blue for web surfing & lunch & stuff, Green for business related stuff like banking & paperwork. At the end of the week, look at that chart and see where you really spend your time. The next week will have a lot less blue. Do this for a few weeks when I find myself feeling like I’m not making any progress on my projects. It’s a big wake up call, believe me.

  50. I love the emphasis you always put on having something done, better than thinking up. An additional incentive for action, in my case, is that you don’t ‘get rid’ of a project (implementing an add-on, writing to a colleague, whatever), until you’ve finally done it. The problem is the ‘ghost obstacles’ along the way… Thanks for the reminder

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