Don’t Fall Into This Trap That Could Destroy Your Blog

NewImageLast week I spent time with a young blogger who was completely stalled with her blog (for the purpose of this post I’ll call her Sally).

Sally’s blogging had started with a bang and had put together 3 great months of content and had started to build a readership but then it suddenly all came to a halt.

I arranged to catch up for coffee to see what had happened and see if there was a way to get her moving again and she told me a story that I’m sure many readers will find familiar.

Paralysed by Comparisons

The reason Sally started blogging was that she had been a reader of another reasonably well known blogger. She had been so inspired by this established blogger that she simply had to start her own blog – which she did.

The problem that brought Sally’s blog to a grinding halt started a few weeks after her blog began when Sally began to compare her fledgling blog with her hero’s blog.

It started innocently enough with her noticing that this others blogger’s design just seemed to flow much better than Sally’s. However in the coming days and weeks Sally started to compare other things too.

Her hero seemed to blog with more confidence, she got more comments, she had a larger Twitter following, she was more active on Pinterest, she was getting some great brands advertise on her blog, she was invited to cool events…

Once Sally started comparing she couldn’t stop. She told me that she would sit down to work on her blog and end up on her hero’s blog and social media accounts – for hours on end – comparing what they were doing.

On one hand Sally knew it wasn’t a fair comparison – she had only been blogging by this stage for a couple of months and her hero had been blogging for over 4 years… but logic was clouded out by jealousy and Sally found her blogging beginning to stall.

She started second guessing herself. She would work for days on blog posts – hoping to perfect them to the standard of her hero only to get to the point of publishing them and trashing them instead for fear of them not being up to scratch.

Days would go by between posts and then weeks. Sally’s blog began to stall… and then it died completely.

The Comparison Trap

Sally isn’t the only blogger to fall into the trap of comparing oneself with others – in fact I’ve heard this story (or variations of it) numerous times. If I’m honest, it’s something that at times I’ve struggled with too.

I remember in the early days of my own blogging comparing my style of writing with other bloggers that I admired who wrote in a much more academic, heavy style of writing. I tried to emulate this over and over again and never felt I hit the benchmark that they set.

The temptation was to give up – but luckily I found my more informal and conversational voice through experimentation and persistance.

Comparing Is Never Fair

As I chatted with Sally last week a theme emerged in our conversation – the comparisons were simply not fair.

Sally knew this on some levels but needed to hear it again.

Her hero had been blogging for years. Sally had been blogging for months.

Not only that – Sally was comparing herself to tiny snapshots of this other blogger.

She could see her hero’s Twitter follower numbers, how many comments she was getting, how many times she Pinned on Pinterest and the instagram photos of this blogger at glamorous events – but she didn’t really have the full picture of this other blogger.

She didn’t know how many hours that blogger worked, she didn’t know whether that other blogger had people working for her, she didn’t know if that other blogger was actually happy with her blog or life and she certainly didn’t see the instagrams of that other bloggers boring, dull or hard moments of life.

I’m not saying the other blogger is hiding anything or doing anything wrong – just that the comparisons Sally was making were of everything Sally knew about herself (and her insecurities) with tiny edited snapshots of the life and work another person.

Run You Own Race

Sally is a remarkable person. I’d love to tell you her real name and story because she’s overcome some amazing things in her life, has some unique perspectives to share and has an inspirational story to tell.

My encouragement to Sally (and to us all) is run her own race. Yes she’s running beside others that at times seem to be running faster or with more flare… but nobody else around her has her unique personality, set of experiences or skills.

Nobody else can blog like Sally – so the sooner she gets comfy in her own skin the better.

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Hi Darren,

    Thank you so much for posting this! I can so relate to ‘Sally’s’ story.

    During the first two years of my online journey I was constantly ‘getting in my own way’ due to fear of failure. Always looking (and worrying) about what others in my niche were doing. Especially my competition.

    It really takes a shift in mindset to overcome an obstacles as huge as this. BUT that’s all it is, an obstacle. As soon as Sally finds a way to overcome it she’ll be back on track in no time, I’m sure :)

    Loving your content btw.

    Kerry

    • Great article… I noticed that I compare a lot and the more I compare the less I post. I’m working now to build better content and work on my niche.

    • This is happening to me right now. I cannot seem to write because I always think what my hero would say. (Not that she is reading my blog or even seen it) Now, I am paralyzed and burned out and feeling hopeless.
      This is a very encouraging post. Thanks.

  2. Great article Darren! As most bloggers (including myself) compare and contrast their sites to their fellow bloggers (or competitors) it can become a daunting task due to the “why me” syndrome! “Why aren’t my views are not like this blogger” or “Why is my blog not ranking high on the search engines then this blog” The simple answer is time and patience! As a music blogger with a site less than a year old, I can’t expect to be ranked higher than other music bloggers who started years before me (although it would be nice)! It takes time to build views, readership, and more elements when it comes to blogging! Hang in there “Sally”, pick yourself up and get back to blogging!

  3. Dude, this definitely happened to me too. I’m still working to get back on the blogging horse and it’s been a slow process. However, I don’t doubt that if I just keep my head down when I write and focus on my own posts, I’ll be successful (at least in my eye). Thanks for relating this all-too-common blogger brick wall!

  4. Such good advice- I recently started (moved) my blog and the comparisons are killing me. You just want so badly for everything to work out right from the start.

  5. Very good advice…
    I always waste me time in comparing with my other competitors
    Its just a waste of time and a way to tense

  6. Great Article Darren ! Impressed With ya !

  7. Hello Darren,

    This post should be shared to everybody so that they can get it to read. I must admit that I fell into the comparison trap as well. Sadly a lot of us do but it’s good when we can climb out and make a difference so that we too can stand out.

    Not only with blogging, but people often compare the things that the posses with others. Nothing is wrong with comparing but we have to realize when we need to stop and start doing the things which will make us a better person.

    Thanks for the article Darren and keep up the good work!

  8. Hi Darren thanks for the great article.

    This is what we are also experiencing currently . Recently we just started a site and we want it to be the top site in google which is impossible in a few days. We start to comparing with our competitor who are there for years. Its been a usual thing for the human to see the progress in a short period which is not practical in internet world.

  9. There is nothing wrong with comparing your blog with successful established blogs. Many successful bloggers today got their start doing exactly what Sally is doing, watching and learning from others.

  10. Thank you so much for posting this! I can so relate to ‘Sally’s’ story.

  11. Comparing my website with a high traffic website would motivate me.

  12. This is something I needed to hear right now… being a recent hire on our companies blog, I find myself comparing it to more successful blogs all the time. I need to remember, we’ll get there!

  13. The same thing happened with me too! I often got frustrated. Thanks for this article.

  14. Anyone, especially women, who have had a blog idol and then started their own blog can so relate to this. Thank you for posting this article!

    I was once this girl for a while until I simply made the decision that I am a great blogger. Sounds dumb, but I just decided I would good at this. I took the time to grow my blog, social media, and all the aspects of blogging to where I am comfortable with my voice and who I am as a blogger. It takes time, but if bloggers keep going, they WILL reach a great potiential (assuming they are willing to learn and stop comparing).

  15. Thanks for this article! I felt myself doing the same thing and I haven’t even had my site for a month! In the short time I have had it, I know that I feel the best when I write for me and not to impress other people. Once I start trying to do that, the writing isnt authentic and I think that readers can see that as they follow along.

    Just what I needed–thanks!!

  16. Back in the days when I was starting, I used to compare my stats with Amit Aggarwal from labnol.org and I stayed dismal all the time. Not even a day passed when I was satisified with what I did. In little doses this is beneficial. But as soon as I found that it had become an obsession, tried to draw a fine line from there.
    Still there are times when it feels like ..”This is not enough.”
    But with time I have learnt that we should give our best.
    AND LEAVE THE REST ON GOOGLE :P

  17. I used to compare myself with other more prominent bloggers all the time, but I just quit doing it because I realized that it was getting me nowhere and if I wanted to be as prominent as they were, then I was going to have to start focusing on myself and my own journey. This is an awesome post, Darren. I’m sure that this is something that nearly all neophyte bloggers struggle with.

  18. Nice informationyes, I think the idea to build a blog that is very important. due to the consolidation of the idea that there would have been content for the blog will continue to run without any incident stuck. I think the information you can provide a solution for those who suffer the same fate always successful greetings :)

  19. I got over the comparison trap a long time ago. Now I’m working on getting over the “trying to do what all the other bloggers are doing trap.”

    Bloggers are not all the same.

    There seems to be a model that everyone is trying to follow that is essentially “numbers” and “success” driven. That model includes shameless (or shameful) self-promotion, invasive marketing tactics, and showboating that does not fit my personality.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the amount of time that is consumed trying to keep up with these strategies is not worth the results.

    I’ve also decided that my blog is my own creative outlet and not something to be sold. If people come, so be it. If they don’t, I’m not going to fret.

    I won’t give up blogging. I’m a writer and I want to share. I have good things to say that can help others. But I am going to cut back to a once-per-week format beginning in 2014. I have to live life in order to blog.

  20. Hello Darren
    I am a new blogger and often commit the problem of putting too much effort to get instant result which is due to the comparison i made to the successful and established blogs I go through. Its important to give yourself ample time to establish and wait for result as things those come quick are temporary and the one that takes time and effort are more permanent.Also ‘compete with yourself’ this tagline has helped me to be competitive and also patient.

  21. Hi Darren,

    Great article! I agree with you 100%. Many bloggers (including myself) have a tendency to do so. We want to be the best, so we compare ourselves with the bests when in fact we just need to be different. And for me, being different means being myself since no one has my personality, knowledge, experience and set of skills. That what makes the Internet such a rich source of information.

  22. Can you give me some tips for my new blog ? I would be grateful to you.

  23. The main problem here is to compare what is uncomparable, We should not look too much at the other bloggers success and forget that we should work at the same time, maybe harder, but we should put ourselves at the right place, I mean at the right angle of view. A blog is like a child, it needs nutrition to grow up, it needs work t be Popular, as you said Darren: “Comparing Is Never Fair” we should compare to avoid mistakes, to learn more, to get ideas, but never compare just to compare and finish with Fall. One final word to our friend Sally and other new Bloggers and myself ” Fall Seven Times, Stand up Eight”.

  24. Thankyou for the post, I have like Sally crumbled several times because more often you feel like you just don’t make the cut. When you sit to type your thoughts out, then you flip a couple of pages and you realize someone else had almost similar thought patterns as you did, instead of being spurred by this, I fold my laptop and get lost in other things. Unknowingly like a cancer I have quit several times – or let my blog grow molds.

    More often than not, I have needed some kinda kick in the butt to get over it and just do whatever I’ve got to do. Slowly I am getting to the place where the moments of feeling less are aspirations for how great I can get and so I have more desire to work harder to get there.

  25. Mehn, Darren you still rock. It’s been for some time since i paid my last visit to your blog and i can see you’re still doing a great job out here. As for the post, i picked a lot of points out of it, comparing yourself to someone else you only see from a distant will do you more harm than good, as a blogger you need to stick to your routines and always try to improve on them. People that were already ranking their blogs in SERPs before you even dreamt of purchasing a domain name are pros, you learn from such people. Trying to go into competition or comparison with such bloggers after running your blog for some few weeks or months will lead you to a negative destination.

  26. I am just like Sally. I am trying to compare my blog with my hero’s blog and then I realized that it’s not good for me to do that at all. Right now, I want to forget the world of competition, I want to blog for my little audience… I will continue to write! Thank you Sir… and I always remember from you: “Building blogs is like building muscles.” Did I get it right?

  27. Good article thanks, It can be tricky but stick at it and anyone can succeed.

  28. Actually somebody recently introduced me to blogging and many time I’ve compared his works with mine and felt like I was doing nothing, sometimes even tempted to quit – leave the real bloggers do their thing. Comparison even in day to day life can be a source of discouragement and also steals originality since you think what you are doing is not as good as the other people especially if they are successful.
    I am determined to run my race!

  29. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/75716837455117869/

  30. and so here i am ten minutes later, reading everyone else’s wonderful and insightful comments, thinking i have absolutely nothing to say and oh yes i better get back to writing! :-) thanks Sally for inspiring Darren’s comments – you have encouraged us all!

  31. Great article! I think that this happens a lot. All people in the blogging industry were once inspired by someone before them. People need to realize that a lot of factors contribute to a blog’s success. Therefore, comparing two can be incomparable.

  32. This comparision trap is really, really dangerous. I faced it myself personally and all that i was left with it, Regret and Writer’s block for a couple of weeks.

  33. Great post Darren,

    I used to think like ‘Sally’ all the time. I’d write a post, publish it, go search for similar posts and spend a week comparing the two.My tip: Write blog posts the way you want to and don’t worry about what everybody else writes. If it is valuable content then it doesn’t matter – people will read it and share…

    cheers

    Gaz

  34. Thanks Darren. Almost every serious blogger can relate to this. So it’s best that when we start a blog, we know what we really want to come out of it and how much of an investment 9time, money and energy) we are willing to give. I know I’ve made those mistakes.

  35. Thank Darren – reading this post is well timed. I was stumped as to what to write in my next post because I got side swiped by the comparison thingy – everyone seems to be posting the same dam topic! Thanks for the reminder.

  36. Nice Advice. People can got fail or loose reputation if they compare our blog to others. I will suggest this post for many bloggers.

    Best,
    Roger.

  37. Hello, thanks for sharing this
    If i look at my past work i was trap too, which was destroying my blog presence from organic search and loyal visitor, also my micro niche work was not getting enough views. these mistakes given above was most done mistakes of new blogger.

  38. I am lucky never to have come to this situation but I think the article will come in handy if I was to meet that challenge. So far my blogging is still going well 3yrs in and long may it continue.

    The trap I fell into was writing content for contents sake to get more traffic. I got more traffic but I lost subscribers!

  39. This is a story that every bloggers should read. I also have many hero bloggers, and their blogs are indeed very far better than mine. But that does not discourage me, but instead inspire me to push my limit. Comparing can be good or bad, but if we use it to challenge ourselves, it could be beneficial for us.

  40. Very nice article! I am sure most of us experience or have experienced the same thing as Sally.

    I have learned that we should try to be unique if we are to establish our own brand online. I guess in the beginning when we are learning it all, we can easily fall into the trap of envy of those who we learn from and admire and this can easily cause many other things to come along with it. We can work hard and results can come slow and then we start to think all kinds of negative stuff and so on.

    The important thing to remember is, we are all special and unique in our own little way and that is how we should use it on the internet too :)

    Love this post!

  41. Great post, Darren! I For sure, Sally will overcome this. I love the last part – Run your own race. And it’s true. Many of us bloggers have felt that way when we see more established bloggers out there. But let’s not forget that we are all unique and we can do great things in our own little way.

    Let’s not forget what each of us can do and contribute in the online community. Let’s add our own dash of originality little by little. It does take time to become an established blogger.

    Don’t stall, Sally. Find motivation and inspiration to write more. Believe in yourself and in what you can share to others.

    Regards to all.

  42. Thank you for this great post Darren! I think all new bloggers experience this at some point. I like to tell people “don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle” and that’s exactly what you’re saying here. Very inspiring.

  43. There is nothing wrong with comparing your blog with successful established blogs. Many successful bloggers today got their start doing exactly what Sally is doing, watching and learning from others.

  44. Hello Darren,

    You wrote a good article, everybody wants to compare their blogging work with others and compare their ranking and successes. you cannot blame anybody, this is a human nature. But one should understand that success doesn’t come in one night. You continue your own creative work. It takes time to establish readership, build views and several other factors when it comes to blogging. You can’t anticipate to be ranked quickly higher than other bloggers who started blogging few years before you. You must be determined to run the race. One day success will knock your door.

  45. Love it! Thank you. Such a simple piece of advice “run your own race” yet so important. Just recently a mentor of mine asked whether I was looking for an answer by comparing myself to others. “Why don’t you focus on you? Your clients and your readers are to a certain extent going to want to associate with YOU, not the words you use to describe yourself or your brand.” Oh, yeah. I kind of forgot about that! Timely reinforcement to read this post :)

  46. really good advise and aspiration. i also always compare my site with others but after my 1st successful site (to me) which hit Alexa rank below 80,000..i know we should believe on what we do and never give up. but unfortunately, my first site was not an public type..it’s more to an adult site but still i learn something from it. we can achieve the goal if we really committed in what we do.

    and now..I’m starting at the bottom again but with new and general contents to anyone and i believe i can do it because I’ve already experienced that. Btw, thank for such a great post.. sir

  47. Thanks Darren for this lovely article. I think every blogger is comparing with other bloggers as it is human nature and nobody can change it. Whoever saying I am changed now, sorry to say they are lieing.
    Without competition you are always on top and won’t try to do more. But with healthy competition, you are always trying to do thing differently to attract more people and want to go on top.
    Yes it is true, it matters a lot how you compare yourself with others.

  48. This post should be shared to everybody so that they can get it to read. I must admit that I fell into the comparison trap as well. Sadly a lot of us do but it’s good when we can climb out and make a difference so that we too can stand out.

  49. This is the kind of piece that needs to be printed out and hung up prominently in my favorite writing space.

    It’s also the kind of loving encouragement that makes a great leader.

    Thanks for writing it.

    Jake

  50. I definitely get where Sally is. :) I loved my blog when I first started writing, then I got caught up in what everyone else was doing, sponsored stuff, freebies, fancy schmancy invites, and I lost site of everything. Because I wanted to do what all the cool kids were doing. And my blog turned into a big black hole of suck from that. So I stepped back last month and said I wouldn’t compare myself to others anymore, or try to be/do the same things as everyone else. I’m just being me, and it is fantastic. You can totally rock this Sally! :)