When you make the decision to grow your blog and hopefully create an income from it, it can be so easy to fall into the trap of doing everything all at once in the name of getting as much exposure as you can. You’re blogging every day, you’re promoting those posts to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, you’re ensuring all posts have a Pinnable image, and you’re Instagramming the behind-the-scenes for your followers. You’re working hard, commenting on other blogs, finding interesting things to retweet, staying up half the night with your editorial calendar, reading sites like this one about how to make money, and signing up with the next big thing in case it can help grow your blog (Vine, anyone?!).
It’s pretty easy to get to a stage where your blog is running you instead of you running your blog. You’re drowning in emails, you can keyword posts in your sleep, you’re a slave to your stats, and you will scream if Facebook changes its algorithm one more time.
But that’s not all. You’ve had ideas for a Blog Series, several eBooks, a podcast and an eCourse. You’re keen to get started – in fact, when you see how successful others are, you wish you started years ago.
But what if you’re stretched so thin that you’re doing everything, and none of it as well as you could? What would convince you to cut back to only a few things, and putting your heart and soul into making them great?
A while ago I was listening to the How they Blog Podcast with Kat Lee. Kat is a blogger, a podcaster, and a stay-at-home mom of three. She has two blogs (each with their own podcast), the usual number of social media sites, eBooks, a small blogging course, coaching sessions, and seemingly a huge number of things that need her attention on a daily basis.
But one thing she said in conversation with another blogger really caught my attention: her motto is “do as little as possible as well as possible”.
Each year, each season, she has different things she focuses on, and is happy to let the others take a back seat. I decided to ask her more about it, in the hopes that the way she came to streamline her online presence might be inspiring to those of you who are a little bit overwhelmed and over it.
First things first: How did Kat adopt the mantra?
“I’m an ideas person,” she says. “I love being creative and starting things, but while this can be a definite advantage, it can also be a huge disadvantage – I realized that every time I started working a new idea, I was actually also giving up on something else. And if I kept moving on to new things, I’d never develop anything excellent.
“We all have a finite amount of time in the day. I’d rather be excellent at one or two things than dabble and be average in twenty things.”
For the people I know who have turned their backs on “having it all” and have shifted gears to hone their talents in one or two areas at a time, it was usually because of burnout. Trying to be all things to all people at all times had forced them to make a change. Kat says it wasn’t quite like that for her, but she still needed to make that change.
“Honestly, I think I hit “plateau” stage rather than “burnout” stage,” she says. “I wondered why things weren’t taking off like they used to. I finally realized that greater levels of success require greater levels of sacrifice. That’s why you don’t see Olympic athletes at McDonald’s or Disneyland the day before their gold medal event. We all have a limited capacity for…everything. So the only way to increase our capacity for one thing is to reduce our capacity in another area – hence “Do as little as possible, as well as possible.”
“This past year, I’ve focused a lot more on podcasting (and less on writing) and as a result, my podcast [Inspired to Action] is consistently on the Top of the Kids and Family charts on iTunes. The beauty of this is that I’m not eternally confining myself to anything. Just because I’m currently focusing on podcasting, doesn’t mean I’ll never write another epic blog post. It just means not right now. “This season is for learning how to consistently create excellent podcasts and building systems and skills that will make it all relatively habitual. As I build habits, podcasting requires less effort. Eventually, much of it will become second nature…which then increases my capacity to add something else back in – like writing.
Gary Keller says, “Success comes sequentially, not simultaneously.” Ronald Reagan was a famous actor and President of the United States of America, but not at the same time. We just don’t have the capacity for simultaneous excellence, but we can build on our knowledge and skills so that we can have sequential success. I want to do things with excellence and excellence can only be achieved with focus on one thing at a time.”
When you’re new or you’ve just made the decision to turn your blog into a business, the internet is a world of possibility. It can take time to get to a point (whether burnout or plateau or otherwise) to really narrow down your focus. You might not want to do less, you’re happy to just be on the playing field. Kat explains the situation well:
“I think the biggest reason [for that] is because newer bloggers aren’t sure what they want,” she says.
“That’s not a bad thing, but until they figure out what they want, it’s hard to find the motivation to say no to other things. Just like kids participate in 24,976 different activities – their job as a child is to figure out where their talents and passions collide. Once they find that sweet spot they can then arrange their effort around pursuing it with excellence.
“It’s the same with a new blogger. Until they know their audience, their message and their voice, it’s hard to say no to all the opportunities that are out there.”
In fact – Kat thinks it might be worth newer bloggers shifting priorities at the start to ensure that when they do focus, they’ve got a solid foundation from which to grow.
“I think that a new blogger needs to focus on writing and connecting with their audience,” she says. “Increasing traffic and building a platform and refining their message should come AFTER they actually know what they want to say. Otherwise, they spent all that energy possibly building their platform in the wrong location.
“However, I do think they can follow the motto by applying it to the process of finding their message, audience and voice. Be focused about writing and honest about what resonates with you and your readers. Instead of spending energy on increasing your page views, focus your energy on understanding what you want to say and who needs to hear it.”
So how does the motto manifest itself in Kat’s reality?
“I’ve narrowed down what I do online,” she says. “Ironically, I blog less and podcast more. I’d rather have a Top 10 podcast and an average blog and social media presence, than an average everything. Of course, as I mentioned before this is temporary. Once I have a system for podcasting with excellence, I want to return to writing and learn to do it with excellence.
And as someone who has spent a lot of time being intentional about how she divides her attention, she has some advice:
What’s the best tip you’ve found to help you pare back?
To use physical folders. It’s easy to expand digitally, but if I have physical folders for projects I’m working on and limit those to 6 at any given time, I have a concrete reminder when I over commit.
Did you read any books or resources that helped you refine your schedule?
Simplfy by Bill Hybels, The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst and Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews
What would be something you’d like to pass onto bloggers who are feeling overwhelmed?
Why are you blogging? What message burns within you that you know will help others? Who are you blogging for? Once you know the answers to those questions, it’s so much easier to separate the blogging wheat from the blogging chaff. Just like a hunter might have a super powerful gun that can down any deer from a mile away, if he isn’t locked in on the target, that powerful gun doesn’t do him a bit of good. Find your target, then scale down your vision to focus on it – success comes easily once you do that.
So what do you think – is simplifying but excelling something for you? What would you focus on? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the gal behind Veggie Mama. A writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd, she can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.
Creative minds people don’t prefer to do hard work instead they wish to do smart work.Which is actually great ,if one could get everything he/she wish by working less then why should they need to do hard work.
Good post,necessary for Blogger
Great advice here, it’s so tough funding that balance btwn wanting more content yet wanting quality content.
Your totally right on that one. I say you have to stick to quality content in my opinion.
I am really glad that I ran into this post. I have found myself doing just this way to often. I think where this really crosses my path is with social media. I am always trying to post on all of the different social media sites for all of my different websites. It is really hard to keep up with everyone that is replying this way. I think I am going to take a step back and try to just focus on Facebook and Twitter for a little while and see if I can get the same results or better going all out on these two vs. just doing some on all of the. Thanks for the advice, it hit home at just the right time.
I recently felt the desire to shift focus and change my content marketing strategy. I’ve been reading a blog here and a blog there about extending the content length of each post. I’m consideirng changing up to producing perhaps 1 to 2 posts a day each potentially over 1,000 + words “if I can make it that far.” I’ve been on BloggingfromParadise and Ryan talks about blogging also. I’m learning daily and appreciate you and others discussing this.
I’m still struggling with this one. It’s difficult because I’m so interested in many different things. Although what I’ve learned to do this last year is kind of group together the things that are similar. Narrowing down a constant within all the content I put up. Which I also ended up being a little broader in some ways just to encompass certain things. I believe cutting stuff out is essential to learning things as well. You can’t learn everything at once. Start with one thing, get good at it to the point it becomes more efficient and quicker, then move on–I got that bit of insight from reading Tony Schwartz’ “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working.”
I too am focusing on blogging less this year but more intent in each post that I do churn out. I find that this too works better for me.
It’s just a wonderful post. I liked it so much because,you have pointed out a complete package on growing our blog. Actually, we all know that content is the thing that we concentrate on most,while creating a post. But, now it’s the time to work on complete and allround pampering of the blog.
~ Mohd Arif Khan~
Excellent! Perfect timing for ne. I’m super creative and get carried away with all my business ideas, but I get burned out. Really trying to focus more on my talents and skip the rest.
This is some really great advise for any blogger,Thanks for this wonderful tips.
It’s difficult because I’m so interested in many different things. Although what I’ve learned to do this last year is kind of group together the things that are similar. Narrowing down a constant within all the content I put up
I’d love to do this, however I find it very hard to focus in only one thing. But you’re right, specially on this: new bloggers (like me) need to find a voice, message and audience first. I’m gonna try to do this for a while and see how it goes. Thanks for the great tips :)
Great interview Stacey, I am at a bit of a crossroads at the moment so this was excellent timing for me. I have pulled back on social media as I felt it was just sucking up too much time. I just now need to get comfortable with this decision!
Thanks Nic! I know what you mean – I’ve cut out a lot of social media in the last year. There was so much life I was missing out on!
I’m just getting started and already beginning to realize how hard it is to stay on top of everything. It is refreshing to hear of others having the same problems and overcoming them. Thanks for the great work!
Having plans to launch my very first blog, I have been having this problem on the particular aspect to focus my blogging. After reading this post, I have been clearified a bit on what to focus on as a new blogger. My problem nw lies on ways to be effective and relevant and build an interested audience.
Thank you for this useful information. I am planning to write a post in my blog at least twice per week. Now I know what to do. I am just a beginner, but expecting to e a pro until I have read this article.
Keep up the good work.
really impressive tips, indeed its a great post me and also the other bloggers first of all we need to focus on content then we can automatically be a better blogger, we often see people spamming our mails with their boring posts
from my side the best guest post
loved the tips!!
Very useful thank you. I’ve been blogging for a year or two and have got to the stage where I’m losing my “blogging voice”. I know I need to sit down and learn more about my current readership – it’s a question of discipline isn’t it? You can always find an excuse for not doing something when you’ve got kids!
Well-prepared is best condition to become a pro blogger, not only your content need to be good, the social of every blogger is important too.
And thanks for this tips, it’s may help anyone like me to become a better blogger
Wow very nice and impressive tips for a new blogger like me…
To be honest i plan to quit already, because for a person who can’t speak English fluently like me is not fit to this kind of journey. I do not underestimate my self but as a person i know what my limit is. But one day i realize and start asking to my self “this is the best that i can do?” and that time i realize its a BIG NO.
the best lesson that i learn is THERE’s NO PLACE FOR QUITER’s
Now my plan is keep reading and writing to improve my English Skill.
It’s awesome. In fact, an hour ago, I wrote similar question on Neil Patel’s discussion board on LinkedIn and asked about the challenging situation on managing multiple things together while pursuing an online identity.
Your point is totally valid. We can be best at different things, but not at the same time.
Thanks for writing this useful post.
Interesting post but I think it is missing a key piece. It’s great to focus, sure, but best to focus on what will bring you the best return, however you measure it or focus on your goals, explicitly defined. Otherwise, you are going from one creative idea that meets your fancy to another, no matter how focused you are on that idea, but without a clear idea on how it will bring you where you want to go.
And with all due respect to Mr. Keller, I don’t think Ronald Regan is a good example of focus for excellence. He was an average actor that couldn’t rise above B level movies as they were called in the day and made his money being a spokesman for GE, a large industrial company at the same time he pursued his acting career. He got elected Governor of California first and achieved nothing of note, and then after years of trying became president of the US. He did do as little as possible while in that job (he didn’t work very hard; he was older and didn’t always have the physical energy to do very much) and politics aside, didn’t do it very well, largely because it’s a job that very few can.
Very helpful,thank you for your post
Very interesting post. A blogger without a clear definition is like a governor of state wanting to take authority in another state. Let your blog look defined.
A very well written article. | think the key to success is mastering in a that particular thing. Changing your mind on regular basis will let you no where.
I think you hit the nail right on. This posts speaks for so many of us. I constantly find myself wearing so many hats and doing so many things – but at the end of the day its hard to measure any tangible milestones. This can lead to frustration.
Thanks for the article.
Follows the typical work smart not hard – you can spend hours of your time putting efforts into things that will never generate any results. Best to take a step back, reflect and react.
I agree that it is best to do as little as possible. Hyperfocus on one or two things. This is advice that many successful people have known from Will Smith to Steve Jobs. I’m focusing on my articles, two of the major social media outlets and interacting with fellow bloggers. I have found that trying to do all of the social media networks takes up too much time.
I am currently in a frenzied situation with my blog and marketing in general. However, I am not overwhelmed, I am very organized. I do keep long hours, but they are planned, regimented, and I have a daily and weekly DMO that I try to adhere to as closely as possible.
I think setting reasonable goals with reasonable time-frames is required. When you can’t meet a certain deadline you have set for yourself, be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up about it. You are human, not a machine.
I also advocate the use of automation. I do quite a few of tomorrow’s tasks today. I pre-schedule a great deal of my social media now. I feel a burden has been lifted! :)
Stick to your mission, your focus, your “why.” Don’t get distracted, build your brand, stay on track.
Thanks for all the great tips Stacey!
Thanks for your valuable advice and sharing a nice post. I do agree with you. None can be the greater without best effort. To become a successful blogger everyone should practice regularly. I think everyone should follow you and do accordingly.
Great advice as usual from Kat. (I was first introduced to her through her blog called “How They Blog”, which I found immensely helpful when I was starting out.
I would add that the key to finding out where to focus the most time and attention is where you get the most reward and response. After over 2 years of blogging, I still have a relatively low Facebook audience (changing algorithms, etc.), but after joining Google+ this past February, I have over 8,000 followers and the number grows measurably every single week. It makes Facebook look old-fashioned and tedious for me. Also, I actually enjoy interacting on Google+ with other photographers and get inspired by their work, so that’s the one social media channel that’s not a chore. In other words: Go where you find the love!
I think this post is for me. Thanks a lot, note taken.
Focus has always been an issue for me as a blogger and artist, what with managing everything else like social media and visuals in the name of pageviews
Something that sounds as simple as focusing on one skill at a time was also never easy to do, but I loved how this article made it clear that it’s ok to let other skills take a backseat while working on just the one first. Thank you for this awesome article!
Fantastic article! I find myself getting overwhelmed trying to be good at all aspects instead of great at a few.
Great post, Stacey. I agree with simplifying and working smarter. When I first started, I didnt know what to do, so I did everything, without a strategy and goal in mind. It is great to learn the easy way! Thanks again.
Slowly discovering it’s a better online business practice to write one or two posts per day preferably over 500 words each versus writing 5 to 10 posts per day with thin content. Sometimes doing less is better. It gives you more time to be creative and strategic in your “swot Internet marketing strategies.”
Great post with a great advice. I know how important FOCUS is but it’s hard to really focus on one or two things at a time. And it’s even harder for beginer when everything is unstable.
Excellent info here, I am currently doing some research and found exactly what I was looing for.
Thanks a lot, note taken.