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Blogging Frustration! 10 Simple Tips to Keep You From RIPPING Your Hair Out

In this post Mark Hayward shares some great tips on how small business owners can combat blogging frustration.

image by: Speshul Ted

Is this you?

  • You have your small business blog up and running.
  • You have a dedicated time during the week that you draft posts.
  • You consistently publish content on a daily or weekly basis.

To be certain, in your quest to promote your entrepreneurial venture you’ve been going great guns, even reading the recent ProBlogger small business blog posts for inspiration.

Unexpectedly, three weeks, a month, or two months into your blogging life, after doing everything right, frustration has set in.

Strange, you had tons of ideas just yesterday, but now you’re currently staring at the computer screen and the cursor is blindly staring back at you.

In fact, you’ve stared at the computer for so long that your eyes feel like they are going to bleed, and you’d really like to pull your hair out. However, as a means to keep your mind occupied, you set about doing busy work because that will make you feel like you’re accomplishing something.

  • You check email. Nothing new.
  • You scramble over to your FaceBook updates. Nothing important.
  • You peruse your Twitter stream. Nothing interesting.

But, you sure are busy, aren’t you?

Suddenly, you snap out of the busy work induced, glassy eyed haze and look back at your word document to see how far that blog post has gotten…


Armed with the palpable realization that you’re getting nowhere, you suddenly feel the unwelcome blanket of frustration circling you like a school of ravenous sharks. To be sure, just like how you feel now, we have all been there. Do not give in and quit. You can overcome this feeling and live to blog another day.

Ten Simple Tips for Dealing With Blogging Frustration

Below are ten tips that have helped me with frustration in the past. Some of the tips are for generating new ideas and some are for relaxation. Hopefully they will keep you from actually ripping your hair out.

1. Close ALL distractions – sometimes you would think that I’m waiting for a message from the President of the United States himself the way I compulsively check email while trying to avoid doing any work. If you have the same problem, shut down all of your browsers and anything else that is not related to your goal of completing that blog post.

2. Don’t panic – blogging frustration happens to everyone at some point. I consider myself a non-creative creative and I run out of ideas on a daily basis. If this happens to you, remember to breath consciously and try not to let panic set in or it can paralyze you.

3. Walk away – yes, a consistent small business blogging approach is key for your success. But sometimes you need a break for a week or two. With respect to my small business blog, I always try to remember that nobody is out there waiting with baited breath and finding it difficult to live because I have not written about Culebra’s beaches. Chances are, your small business blog is much the same.

4. Peruse some magazines – when it comes to drafting small business blog posts, headlines are key. Magazines are like having your own open source headline producing factory. I gleaned these starter headlines from just one magazine in less than two minutes:

  • Must Read X, Y, and Z
  • Instant Classic…
  • Ultimate Guide To
  • Top Trends For
  • The Secret About “X” That’s Too Good To Be True

5. Look at blogs completely unrelated to your business niche – if you do this properly, and NOT as a form of busy work, you should come out of this little trick with some new ideas. You might also want to venture into some forums that are unrelated to your niche.

6. Exercise – this is perhaps my most favorite secret weapon in the war against small business blogging frustration. Even if you hate to exercise, at the very least, take the family dog for a walk and get some fresh air. Hopefully, you’ll come back recharged and with a renewed sense of focus.

8. Have a cup of coffee or tea – caffeine can make you more alert and help to stimulate the thought process.

9. Put on music – if I have a particular song that inspires me or has a calming nature, a lot of times I’ll set it to loop and just start writing down ideas. If you have a particular song that, ahem, puts you in the (creative) mood, then by all means use it to your advantage.

10. Talk with your customers – talking with customers is great because it can help you to remember why you are blogging in the first place. Additionally, on a daily basis my customers have a question that could easily be turned into a blog post. Get out from behind your computer and go speak with your customers.

Have you ever dealt with blogging frustration? I could go on and list another twenty suggestions, but I would rather hear your solutions and how you cope.

What are your tips for dealing with small business blogging frustration?

Want more frustration crushing, hair saving small business social media tips from Mark Hayward? Then subscribe to his RSS Feed and follow him on Twiter @mark_hayward.

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. A cup of tea works great, always. Just sit down for a little while, let it sink and start writing again!

  2. Excellent advise. I think the turning off all browsers and distractions is way underestimated. Many people think that its okay to keep that stuff open because it only “distracts me” when something comes in. But I think the subconscious keeps you from doing your best because it keeps reminding you to go check and see if there’s anything new.

  3. Hey Mark,

    I love #5!

    I get so many ideas at looking at other blogs that have nothing to do with my niche. It helps out with direction and build relationship with different individuals.

    Chat with you later…

  4. Closing down all browser windows and most importantly my e-mail helps me work heaps better.
    I could totally relate to the example of waiting for e-mails.

    Exercise & Tea at times of writer’s block does wonders at relieving stress though it does not help with pumping ideas :)

    Great tips.Thank you for sharing them.


  5. Speaking of distractions … one famous writer (Oscar Wilde?) would have himself locked into a room, naked, with only his writing tools. Yep, apparently CLOTHES were too much of a distraction :)

  6. I hardly ever write a post without a picture to go along with it. So for me, going out with my camera for the day can give me lots to write about. Too much, sometimes.

  7. like it!

    coffee, exercises, music works the best!

    thank you ;)

  8. I definitely have to close my browser – busy work often becomes like compulsion – stat checking, email, twitter, facebook and any other social media. Even the RSS feed reader can become a distraction if I allow it to.
    When I find that I can’t write, I give myself a fifteen minute limit for those task and then I try to shift my focus to another project – sometimes simply changing the topic or the activity can help the ideas flow again.

  9. I recently discovered a little program called WriteRoom for Mac http://www.hogbaysoftware.com/products/writeroom and I believe there is a PC equivalent called DarkRoom. The program allows you to write full screen with a black background and green text. (A throwback to the Apple II Series) It feels like the closest thing to a typewriter in the form of a computer. The program requires a license after the 30 day trial period, $29.95 so I’ll see if it’s worth it once I’m done with the trial. It definitely helps to distract the distractions, though!

    Thanks for the post!

  10. Great tips. Getting rid of all distractions especially that chatting client is a huge time saver and lets you concentrate.

  11. I find that writing down ideas in a list anytime I think of them tends to be tremendously valuable. Another thing I”ll do is make an outline of my post and then go off and work on something else so I can let the seeds I just planted germinate a little bit. Like you I’m a big fan of exercise. Anytime I come back from a surf session my ideas are much more formulated.

  12. What I do is peruse other blogging/writing websites and read what others have to say. It’s like an instant pick-me-up for my brain. You learn something and the frustration instantly melts away…and I stay productive.

    Exercise really helps too, especially if you feel really frustrated about a certain project…great points!

  13. There’s actually a vicious cycle that I just identified in my own work, which you’ve helped put my finger on.

    It goes like this: Low confidence –> frustration –> panic –>poor content –> low confidence. What we publish in a huff reflects our state of mind, and we can’t build on stuff like this.

    The cycle is broken by taking a step back live you’ve described. There’s a converse cycle we need to get into. Having some rock solid content – just some – recognised as such by even just one person – just one – means we have something positive to build on and break the cycle.

    The strategy part is important. It’s our fallback. We could never put too much effort into defining and refining it. Having a well defined mission statement and USP means we know what we’re doing and we can ride this through rough times.

    When it comes to small business blogging there’s less pressure hanging on our blog. This point Mark raise is very important. Don’t feel pressured.

    I recommend looking through client emails for a question you can addressing well and that will benefit other clients. Also, if you can think of one thing more than one person has asked you recently.

    I’d recommend breathing and exercise over coffee though – that’s an addictive way to stimulate the thought process. Maybe save it for emergencies? It works better then.

    And Mark’s article applies to more than blogging – but the whole issue of running your small business online and creating content.

  14. Great blog Darren. I enjoyed your short, intuitive tips and have shared this site with a few of my friends. My solution when I feel that blank stare coming, pray. I am a born-again Christian and know the peace I need to calm my forever racing mind, usually most at 3 am, is to sit, close my eyes, and pray. I love to put on quiet instrumental worship music in the background, breathe in through my nose, out of my mouth, and feel my shoulders lower by about 3 inches. Coffee at 7 am, a big help, but not so much at 3am. And closing all browser windows, excellent way to discipline myself, oh how I need discipline! Needless to say, I am a subscriber and am saving to purchase your ebook. Can’t wait! Thanks for doing what you’re obviously called to do. What an encouragement you are!

  15. I keep about 5-10 posts centered more around the content they are presenting and less around editorial in draft status for days like this.

  16. Sounds like a plan to me! I would like to add though, that visiting and commenting on other Blogs is a great distraction from the challenges of the day.

  17. When I can’t think of anything to write about, I just write something anyway. This something must be a complete post that I actually go ahead and schedule. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t even really have to make sense. It just has to be done before I can leave the computer.

    Then I get up and do something completely unrelated, like watching a movie, going to the store, hanging out with my husband, etc.

    It never fails that I then think of multiple good ideas to replace the dud. Occasionally when I go to replace the dud, it turns out to be not such a dud afterall.

  18. I like all of the tips that you provided especially the one about the music and walking away. Sometimes that is an absolute must. Too, I always follow Jeffrey’s advice about commenting on other people’s sites. That keeps you fresh, especially if you get feedback from others. It is also a plus in that it allows a different point of view that you can possibly glean some ideas from as well.

  19. @stefan – Ha! I was just making a cup of tea as I sat down to read through the comments. :-)

    @oscar – If I need to complete a task like writing a blog post, I find that I can’t have anything open…or else the post never gets finished.

    @josh – yeah, I tend to read a lot of triathlon related blogs and get tons of ideas from them.

    @chatterbox – that’s funny, I have always found exercise provides me with new ideas and inspiration.

  20. I have a sign in my office that reads, “While there is tea, there is hope.”

    Something else I find works (for me) is a timer. I set it for ten minutes and give myself permission to write crap. If there’s not a diamond in the rough, I can usually find a cubic zirconia.

  21. I like a tip I got on Steve Pavlina’s blog, that when you sit down to write, you pretend that you’re on a podium in front of a million people. That instantly puts one in the mindset that they have a responsibility far greater than their puny selves. I find the need to reach out of the confines of my tiny ego to be effective, and to subdue the need to simply fill space, which is a creativity killer, as one subconsciously knows that their output is essentially meaningless.

    On the subject of hair, we have to realize that hair has a function, like in all animals, it is antenna for picking up signals from the far reaches of the universe. Ever seen a horse cut off its mane? The military knows this, and FORCES you, especially men, to cut it off to participate. Being unable to “hear” these subtle signals, one becomes easy to manipulate.

    Many men voluntarily “cut” their hair emotionally, and hair loss ensues, but that is mostly from mis-alignment of their innate source of true power, Nature. Of course, this is encouraged by our culture, that prefers people sleep walk through the Matrix fulfilling their primary duties as being good cogs in the machinery.

    Don’t let this happen to you! Pic at the top of this article:

  22. Keep a blooging notebook!

    Keep a blogging notebook!

    Keep a blogging notebook!

    You will get ideas flying at you from everywhere as soon as you start to publish often enough. You will only get these ideas once, however. Then they will be gone on to the next person.

    Ideas like speed, and just like quantum physics, everything starts with an idea.

    All you have to do is keep that notebook with ideas for headlines and the blog post will shoot out of you faster than a scared rabbit.

    -Joshua Black
    the Underdog Millionaire

  23. These are great tips! I thought you were spying on me when you were talking about checking email… then to facebook, then seeing whats-up on twitter.

    This helped me evaluate my work habit when it comes to blogging because I do that sometimes when I sit down to create content.

    Now I think I’ll start shutting down all browsers, turning off the TV and putting myself face to face with the word document. I’ll put on some calming stimulating music in the background.

    Thanks for sharing, great article!

  24. LOL…excellent post Mark! It’s like you’re speaking right to me! ;) I’m guilty on all counts, and do employ some of your methods to help overcome that frustration. Sometimes they work, sometimes…I have to try another! :)

    Thanks for a good read!


  25. Seems your missing a number 7!

  26. @kosmo – now that is minimalist and hardcore!

    @maya – great idea with the camera to get the creative juices flowing. I’m going to try that this afternoon when I go for my walk.

    @keisha – I’m finding that I even have to keep my iPhone in the other room or else I start checking email, etc from there. Oh, to have the willpower of Leo Babauta. ;-)

    @ali – “It goes like this: Low confidence –> frustration –> panic –>poor content –> low confidence.” Agreed. Sometimes all of my pseudo busy work is just to avoid having to actually write something that I think is going to suck.

  27. I love that you included exercise. As a fitness trainer specializing in cancer survivors, I often suggest something like that to all the people saying they can’t possibly exercise because they’re just too busy. Get up & move, even for 10 minutes. You’ll feel better & probably be more productive.

    And in a curious mis-read – I thought #10 said Talk with your computer.

  28. I think that staying relaxed is a big way to get some new ideas. I have found that just opening my front door, sitting on the porch with my laptop next to me, with the breeze hitting my face is the best was to get some fresh new ideas. It also makes me feel like a million bucks when I enter my home.

  29. Great advice, exercise and closing distractions seems to work well for me, I can be very guilty of getting distracted.

  30. What I find to work best is getting rid of those distractions and also unplugging from time to time, getting away. I find that a nice walk or sitting back and doing some meditation will help tremendously. What about you?

  31. Okay the exercise is done and the coffee is poured. Thanks for spinning your magic again!

  32. Darren, it is a nice post. I persoanlly use a cup of tea and some walk to refresh my mind. Would you please tell me which tip you are following because you are blogging from a long period and definitely you have faced such situations successfully. Share your tip.

  33. If I hit a mental block, I walk away and drive.

    One of my assignments is writing for an automotive blog. Thus, I am fortunate to have a vehicle I review. Thus, if I get a block, I go for a drive, relax to some good music and I usually obtain a new idea for the automotive blog or another blog I own.

    Letting the mind free and wonder is more under-rated than many people have stressed. It allows the mind to be creative instead of straining to force something out (how about that for imagery).

    Lastly, take a video camera with you. Many times, it is easier to get an idea on video by recording your thoughts and then “flip”ping it to text.

  34. A cup of coffee always does the trick. It gives me more concentration. I love to watch romantic movies, especially anime movies. They put me in so much ease. I also love to think about something random just to get my thoughts away

  35. Closing ALL distractions is huge for me. It’s funny how in the short time it’s been around, updating Twitter has become something that I MUST do so often. Turning that off is the only way I can get anything done online anymore.

  36. @cori – glad to read that the pros get frustrated too!

    @joshua – do you recommend keeping a blogging notebook? ;-)

  37. Exercising works great for me. In particular, I’ll take my laptop to the fitness center with me and right after working out, I’ll sit down and work on whatever ideas had come to mind (we have wifi in the lounge area).

    Long runs work well also. I often end the run by “running” into the house and jumping on the computer while the ideas are flowing. I’ve often told my wonderful family to let me be until I get the ideas out – and then I’ll come be social.

    Finally, long auto trips – 4 to 8 hours, are great. I can’t get any of the ideas written down, but after that time they are so well thought out that they are practically ready to go (almost).

    Bruce Benson

  38. Good timing. I’m in about my third month of blogging and I LOVE it. But after about 2 months of 12-15 hour days learning about it, I was tired this weekend – imagine that!

    So, I sat down and alas NO INSPIRATION! Well, I did sit and stare for awhile and I have done all of the above-described behaviors. And I hear ya’, all those 100+ ideas I had written down looked boring as hell!

    Amazing how nothing very interesting is happening on Twitter or in my various in boxes in a span of about 5 minutes.

    What did I do? I put everything down and focused on relaxation. I realized I needed some time to nourish me – that meant doing basically nothing.

    I also go for a barefoot walk on the ocean, read a book that is about more “spiritual” things (with irreverence thrown in hopefully), and dance to great music.

    And guess what, the next day, 3 posts emerge effortlessly.

    I’m going to practice some of your ideas, but in a way that is relaxing and allowing well-being. That frees my creative juices, and besides, it’s way more fun. And that is a big part of what this is all about, RIGHT?

  39. I totally love the 5th tip: “…if you do this properly, and NOT as a form of busy work, you should come out of this little trick with some new ideas.” I think when we start looking at blogging as something we HAVE to do and not we LOVE to do, that’s when procrastination and frustration creeps in because if we fail to do what we HAVE to do, we feel unproductive but if we fail to do what we LOVE to do, then there’s always some other time for it.

    I’ve never been frustrated so far because everyday I get tons of ideas that I need to take note of these as soon as they flood to the point that I need to ask myself, “Oh, would they even listen”…

  40. Shaving your head will keep you from ripping your hair out.

  41. Love this list!

    Lately I’ve taken to leaving the house with a notebook and pen, and drafting or outlining my posts longhand. For some reason this stimulates a more creative part of my mind, and of course also gives me a change of scene and takes me away from the house where I have distractions and the computer where I also have distractions. I often rewrite the posts significantly as I type them up, but having a framework down has gotten the hardest parts out of the way.

    Hmm, I should do this tomorrow :)

  42. Exercise is key for me. After a good hour at the gym I can be motivated to just about anything.

  43. I am also experiencing these problems even this is my first month of blogging, think the above tips will boost my thinking and will hold a better performance that I wanted to deliver.

  44. It is not even two months since I start blogging and sometime I’m frustrated. Closing all distractions and doing stuff unrelated to my niche work for me. But by far, I get the best ideas at that time. I take a break for some time then return, not to the computer but my note book. There I write whatever comes to my mind. I write anything and everything not giving any regard to anything. I’m just writing, when I’m finished I examine what I wrote. Usually, I find some fresh idea of a new perspective.


  45. Been there too… sometimes I will break my head over something for a week before I realize it’s time to take a break.

    Like Hemingway said, stop when you are going good.. this is something people in general don’t seem to learn easily, thanks to the ‘do better … acccomplish more now’ attitude that we grow up with.

    We need rest to keep our creativity going…

  46. These are great, and I’ll definitely be using them all, except possibly #5 because I suspect I’d get distracted.

    For me, a blank page is incredibly daunting. So I make a point of keeping notes of topic ideas and when I can’t write what I want, I start other posts, or at least make bullet point notes of what I want to include. Eventually I’ll get back to what I wanted to write but I’ll be in the writing groove.

    The bonus is that next time, I’ve already got a starting point and no blank page = blank mind problem.

  47. Completely agree with most tips:
    work for me.

    I doddle, paint or watch TV for a while to overcome the block. And then get to writing my drafts. I have a small kid who sufficiently distracts me.

    They say 10 minutes of sleep or staying still can do wonders. Im yet to try that.

    Thanks for sharing your observations.

  48. Wow how good is Mark Hayward! – loved reading that post!

    I like your style of writing Mark, very easy to read with a touch of comedy. Great tips too! – having a cup of tea and whacking on my favourite song is great to ease my mind and sooth my thought process ready to start all over fresh.

    Thanks again Mark,


  49. Have a schedule but be flexible. When ever I have said that between such and such an hour I would write I would often end up failing, wasting that time trying to write something that ended up being scrapped. So instead just give yourself a list of things to do but don’t commit set times of the day to do them as it just piles on the pressure.

  50. One of two things usually works for me…

    1.) Disconnecting (in order to recharge). For this, I turn away from all of technology and either go for a run or a walk at the beach. It’s really a form of meditation for me and I find that it most often works.

    2.) Music. I’ll often turn to Pandora, kick in a good station and get to cranking away. Writing until I can’t write anymore. The music usually motivates me and gets the creative juices flowing.

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