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Feeling Overwhelmed by Social Media and Web 2.0? – Here Are 5 Tips For You

Last week I spoke with a blogger who had thrown the towel in on his blog. One day he simply stopped posting with no explanation.

I emailed to ask him why he stopped and his response was:

“I can’t keep up with the advances in technology. Every day there is a new tool, widget or social networking site to test out. I can’t keep up. I’m feeling overwhelmed by it. So I gave up.”

This is a sentiment I’m hearing a lot lately. Bloggers are increasingly feeling the pressure to have their fingers in lots of pies at once and are feeling overwhelmed by the choice and effort needed to ‘keep up’.

We look at people like Robert Scoble who manage to keep blogs afloat, produce videos, engage with thousands of people on Twitter, FriendFeed and who knows how many other social accounts – all while having a family and traveling the world speaking at conferences! Our efforts in comparison to people like Robert pale by comparison….

If you’re feeling this pressure I’d like to talk to you today and give you a few words of encouragement.

Image by danielgebhart

5 Tips for Overwhelmed Bloggers

1. You’re Not Alone

There are days when I look at the things that I do and feel like I’m going backwards. I’m lucky enough to be able to dedicate full time hours (in fact I’m probably doing this 60-70 hours a week) to what I do – and I there are times when I can’t keep up!

You’re not alone. I hear stories of people who can’t ‘keep up’ every day.

2. Focus Upon Your Core Tasks

My Mum isn’t on Facebook, she’s never heard of Twitter, she thinks YouTube is a deodorant stick and things RSS is something most people keep in their boxer shorts.

Sometimes it feels like we’re falling behind in adopting technology but it is good remind ourselves that what we do do online is actually ahead of the curve of the majority of ‘real people’.

What I remind myself on those days when I feel overwhelmed by it all is that 95% of the people who read my main blog don’t really care that much about social media or web 2.0 – they’re coming to my blog to read information on how to use their cameras.

As a result my core task is to develop that content and to distribute it using mediums that they are familiar with. My core task is NOT to have my finger on the pulse of every new technology. While it can be helpful to know about the latest widgets and tools to become distracted by them could actually be taking me further away from my audience.

3. Be Smart, Establish Boundaries and Focus Your Energies

I am not suggesting that we all ignore social media, emerging web technologies or forget about Web 2.0.

There is a lot to like about Web 2.0 and it can bring a lot of life to your blogging. However unless you’re blogging about Technology or have a very Web Savvy audience you’d do well to pick and choose what you do and don’t focus your attention on and to put boundaries around these activities.

I wish I could list the 3 tools and technologies that you should focus upon – but it will differ for each blog and every topic – but rather than focusing upon everything, narrow your focus and pick a few achievable technologies to ‘play’ with at a time. My approach with social media has always be to pick up new technologies one at a time rather than to start with multiple ones at once.

Picking new tools to play with one at a time allows you to fully understand it, work out how it might work for you and to add it to your natural work flow. Do too many new things at once and you’re not likely to be able to integrate them into your life to it’s potential.

Remember my post from last week on Home bases and Outposts and how it relates to Social Media – while spending time on outposts can be useful you also need to spend time on your home base – that needs to be your priority.

On Boundaries – One of the techniques that I use to help me to put boundaries around the things that I do is to use Batch Processing. Put most simply it is about setting aside blocks of time to work on tasks in a focused way instead of flitting from one thing to another all day.

4. They are Tools – Refocus Upon Your Goals

Sometimes the tools and technologies become bigger than they need to be. I am constantly reminding myself to spend less time focusing upon the tools and more time focusing upon my goals.

If you know what you want to achieve you can then decide how to move towards that desired goal. In doing so you can select the best tools for the job. If you start with the medium or the tools and try to fit it to your ‘goals’ and objectives you’ll just get muddled.

Web 2.0 technologies can help you achieve your goals – but they are much more effective if you know what you want to achieve.

5. Have Fun

Sometimes I take things too seriously. Sure – blogging has become a business and a way of sustaining my family so there needs to be some element of taking it seriously – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Social media is a space that is at it’s best when it is fun and playful. Let it bog you down and you’re kind of defeating the purpose of it all.

What would you add as a tip for people feeling overwhelmed by social media and Web 2.0 technologies?

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. Running a home based food delivery business and being a full-time work at home Dad is already sapping me of energy. It’s a miracle I get to squeeze in time for my websites. Yes, sometimes, I want to throw in the towel. When those times come, I stay away from my computer. Taking a breather is good for the blogger’s soul. Saves electricity too.

  2. I am already overwhelmed by new tactics that come each and everyday. So sticking to old basics is a good choice.

  3. Wow, deja vu!

    Just been thinking this lately too, I get so many requests to hook up on the latest community or web2.0 gadget of the week.

    I think you’re spot on that batching is key.

    I’ve just started documenting my entire “blueprint” for making our media site successful, complete with instructions that even my mum could use.

    It includes flowcharts and basic instructions with a daily task list allocated by time slots. I find that this regiments my day far more effectively, if there is time at the end for farting around with new tools, then cool, but the plan comes first.

    This has been monumental for keeping me focused and figuring out ways to outsource my massively increasing workload.

    In terms of Web2.0, you’re also spot on, focus on the pareto (80/20) effect. 80% (or higher) of your readership probably know about 20% (or less) of the tools out there so focus on the core thing everyone wants – simple, accessible content features.

    Easy listen to quote but damn hard to follow at times though…

    Great post Darren, really inspirational.

  4. im pretty left behind you see, when people use bookmarking sort of, i still copy the url and paste it in notepad, save it as “good blog” and then tomorrow i open again the file copy all url and paste it one by one to read it. there is some tools that help me doing that, but i dont care because im happy doing that.. :D so dont rush for technology, rush for “happiness” of yoruself..

  5. Wow, do I ever feel like you wrote this post just for me! At times, I get so overwhelmed by all the sites, gadgets, tools, etc. friends email me about that my head just tries to spin right off my neck. Yikes!! I’ve joined so many social media sites, I have absolutely no clue what they are or what they do. And right about now, I don’t really care about most of them.

    I like all these tips, especially about having fun. I had gotten to the point, like many others, where posting had become a chore to get done by the end of the day, and that was an awful feeling. Just very recently I’ve been adjusting my attitude about it, and slowly getting back into trying to write a bit more and enjoying what I’m writing. I still write dull stats about real estate in my area, but I’m going to mix in more fun stuff, too. Everyone likes fun stuff, those who write and those who read.

    Thanks for these great tips – I’m not alone and here’s how to fix the overwhelming feelings I get at times.

  6. Have Fun- the tip of the year award. Enjoy your post, Darren!

  7. Hi Darren,

    This post really hit home, as I am currently trying to find a new job as a PHP programmer/Web Developer and some of the places I have interviewed with do nothing but throw Web 2.0 buzzwords out, not really understanding the tools and technology, but they want it because it is new.

    As for my blog, I find myself many times not posting because I feel I am so far behind on some of the new technologies, and since I blog about “modern design” for the web, I give up way too easy. What I need to do is to focus and establish boundaries as you point out in #3 – I cannot write about every “new” topic at a depth level that would be helpful to readers, so why not focus on some core topics, get a great foundation on that, then branch to include some ancillary topics here and there as I can.

    Thanks again for a great post, as always you get some good ideas and thought provoking words coming out.

  8. I too have often felt completely overwhelmed with the various aspects of operating websites/blogs in 2008. I can fully understand the reasons why people give up, especially if they are only doing it as a hobby.

    Yesterday I was out walking and I realised (like you said) that we are actually at the “cutting edge” and still way ahead of millions of people around the world who couldn’t give a tweet about Twitter. If you put this into perspective you realise there is still potential to do something, but it can be an uphill struggle if you don’t see results that match your expectations.

    I think you sum it up very well – focus, have fun and concentrate on what your target audience require; play with the new tools and get to know them, but don’t allow them to take your mind away from the core tasks for too long.

  9. A great while ago they used to term this phenomenon ‘technoshock’ – the inability to keep up on all the technology that was progressing at warp speed while our minds could not wrap around one technology, never mind its 10th incarnation.

    It is not surprising there is now a possible ‘social media shock’ – too many places to be seen and heard and feeling like you don’t know where to go first.

    I know I am overwhelmed. But after my first bout of technoshock, I’ve learned to pace myself, pick and choose those venues that make the most sense for my marketing and leave it at that. In the ‘real’ world I can’t be in all places and have had to turn down social gatherings…why should it be any different in our virtual lives?

  10. I have 9 blogs so I can really relate with what you are saying. I try to do a little on a couple of blogs each day, trying to look at the whole picture over trying to post on all 9.

    I keep reminding myself that anything I do is progress.

    I have to say that readers are the glue that holds it all together for me. When someone expresses appreciation, it makes it truly worthwhile.

    New technology can be interesting to learn, as well, but it can be a lonely road sometimes. As you touched on, many people have no idea of what goes into a blog.

  11. Thank you for the confirmation that I don’t need to have a million balls up in the air all at one time! Its tough to keep up with a full time job, blogging and keeping up with all the social sites!

  12. Five sound ideas!

  13. My tip: Remember to give yourself credit for what you *have* done. There’s always stuff to do, so we have to recognize what we’ve accomplished. Focusing on the undone can be way too discouraging. Motivation comes from celebration + appreciation.

    We’re talking about all things romance at the Dr. Romance blog.

  14. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have been feeling overwhelmed since starting my blog about 6 weeks ago and I suspected it was only me – everyone else seems to combine their lives and their blogging just fine while I’m cowering under the table crooning “Brain full…too much information” quietly to myself. Phew.

  15. You said:

    “…and things RSS is something most people keep in their boxer shorts.”

    and I am sure you meant:

    “…and thinks RSS is something most people keep in their boxer shorts.”

  16. There is really a lot more to say about this topic these days than ever before. I salute you for speaking out on it and making your site informative. Thanks

  17. Really encouraging post! Thanks Darren.

  18. Hey Darren

    A very well timed article for me I was feeling the same. Your tips have helped to focus back on the core tasks. You kind of feel drawn into things and then from one site to another you just cant stop and then find many hours lost for nothing.

    Cheers for the tips very helpful….

  19. Sound advice. My quandary is that I have a few subject matters I love dearly and try to blog about them. In addition to the blogs I work for, like ScreenRant.com, I run my own blogs. My other passions, so to speak.

    It’s not my full time job, though I’d love to make it that but I find trying to run blogs, work for blogs and have a day job is incredibly weary inducing. It leaves me little time for developing social connections of technological advances.

    How can one work the social and technological angles when they barely have time to contribute to their other blogs, work, and oh yea, the family? The family that thinks I’ve had surgery to attach a laptop to my poor aching wrists.

  20. Heya Darren!

    I so agree on the last point there on having fun blogging while playing around with Social Media and Web 2.0 stuff. I run two blogs, with the one linked from my name here is more towards the fun and lighter side of blogging. :)

    I have Facebook and Twitter as my main “outposts”, but they are updated frequently with a more laid back and casual approach, as I so want to have fun with them and my friends who are on the two networks.

    Yeps! That’s bout’ it.


  21. Anarchy ! this is simply like anarchy as there is about nothing on the net to close the blogosphere circle. Some are technorati, some digg, some whatever and other are lost in some electronic semi-conductors ….
    Look at Google … this huge and probably best one online service is website oriented and is trying to turn his system on to crawl blogs to now. Why is not a service like Google (could be Bloogle) working inside the blogospher to clean up this jungle ?
    Even categories aren’t present online. I have a World War Two history Blog and when I did I have to do it in Science …. when I technorate it’s in Military and by FeedBurner I do it inside “up to you” …
    Note that I claim … the property of Bloogle … (just found it out) and if someone want to buy the name … it will cost 1 USD …

    Anyway, I am an happy blogger because I like what I do and I am only using a blog Plateform because of the loop. I’ve tried 3 times with a website and gave up when I reached the 10 Gigs archives. I am now trying WordPress since 2 years and since about 9 months I am creating the skeleton of the website because of the 1000’s of Tags and the 1000’s of categories.
    The best of all I can put almost about anything in Google search … and I will be – if not the first – on the first page.
    Sitmeter tells me that my last 5000 unique where coming from Google search … huh !!! what will be the game when I will have reached the (let’s say 10.000 tags and 5000 categories) and then start to post …. ?

    PS Thanks for your infos ! Its very interesting

  22. This is a great article for long time bloggers, or for people like me who used to blog and stopped and are now back into blogging again. Focusing on my goal was the last thing on my mind when restarting. I was more concerned about all the cool plugins and widgets that wordpress had to offer.

    Thanks for the great advice Darren.

  23. This is a very interesting discussion. New media options have the power to overwhelm us, but I think it’s possible to keep a cool head by investigating different options one by one, as Darren suggests. My suggestion is to manage it by making notes, drawing diagrams, mind maps or whatever takes your fancy to get down a good assessment of each tool and what it can achieve for your blog. No doubt someone has already collected this information and put it online. Anybody know where?

  24. It’s so hard to stay focus. There are so many distractions on the net and it’s not all just new tools to check out. You really do need to set boundaries and stay within them. It takes discipline to stay focused on your goals when there are so many cool things to look into out there. You have to be really choosy about what new things to pursue. It’s so easy to let the majority of your time slip into playing with the latest things. If you’re not careful, this can really slow down the frequency and quality of your postings.

  25. Thanks for the great link to batch processing – I’d not thought it through to the higher level. btw, there may be a link here to ‘accumulators’ – people who hoard obsessively – and those who collect every new gizmo in case it could come in useful. Might be worth checking blogs on organization etc.

  26. One thing I try to mention A LOT is Clay Shriky’s point in his Web 2.0 keynote. It’s all about our filters. I like the advice you’ve given but we really have to learn how to apply better filters that really work for us to give the right flow of information so we can keep up with it.

    Don’t try to read every post, every Tweet, and join social networks because they are enjoyable and valuable to you.

    I agree wholeheartedly that we need to focus our energies, otherwise we’re going to run out of gas very very quickly as your friend did.

  27. I’m a web2.0 enthusiast. Initially, I spent ridiculous amount of time on social networking. But I chalked out a strategy and focusing only on social media that are proving most effective. Utilizing more of my time on blogging and taking stipulated breaks in between to network. Working well for me (so far).

  28. That’s weird. I love new advances in technologies. That means new stuffs to play around with and new ideas to make a post with (+new visitors who want to know more about the new technology)

    I guess that’s the beauty of having a Technology blog :D

  29. Darren – perfect. I’ll add one 3 more words .. remember to breath ..

  30. Focus, focus, focus, focus, focus, and focus, if we don’t our brain will lost on track.

  31. Having a laser focus on your task at hand, work hard and have fun will bring your success :-)!!

  32. Darren,

    Great advice – keeping up with the technology, no matter how much you read, is almost impossible for the most of us.

    Feeling overwhelmed, IMO, is almost like you are suffering technophobia.

    Probably the best advice is your #4 – tech and widgets are just tool. Thousands of add-ons to choose and widgets to be placed, but the main idea is that your blog is content-driven. Some tools help you blog and some other tools help you promote your blog.

    Their aim is to make your blogging life easier. That’s it – Nothing else, really.

  33. This is a good reminder for people who do blog as a hobby that keep it fun.

  34. It is easy to become frustrated with web 2.0.But it takes time to get the feel of what really works.
    The essence is traffic.To get traffic you need links.To get links you need social media.To become an authority it takes time.So be patient.Success does not come in 1 day!

  35. I have the same problem and I can’t focus! Thank you for the advice! I hope this will help me!

  36. Hi

    Can anyone advise me on the benefits that Plurk can offer? I really want to use it, but only if it’s worth the effort in promoting my site

  37. #5 is really very important, if you’re having fun with what you’re doing then the rest will just follow..

  38. Everyday changes are common thing.What happen then?If web 2.0 is invented?
    If some one is drinking Whiskey then what happen?
    If we drink Rum then we have to stick there with Rum.
    If we desire then we can’t control ourself.
    Lets talk about my blog.I want more and more subscribers.
    If you can help me.

  39. Good tips.It´s impossible to get involved in every single Web2.0 community online.I focus on a few that I like and build a strong profile on them.

  40. Excellent post, Darren.

    As long as you are focused on your goal and your core tasks you won’t be overwhelmed.

    Thanks so much for the tips.

    I appreciate you!
    Dali Burgado

  41. Thanks! It was good to read this post since I feel overwhelmed at times. There’s so much to do and not enough time in the day for all of it. I just read the 4 hour work week and there are a ton of great tips on how to shorten your work week. It’s a good reminder to not kill yourself working crazy hours! Thanks again!

  42. I think this is a healthy approach to Web 2.0. I get overwhelmed with all of the sites and tools, but I remind myself that there are just a few that I need to keep up with. My business is new, so I will probably continue to try, or at least look at, new tools as they come out, but realizing that you don’t have to use them all is a good step.

  43. Great blog content is more important that Twitting and such.

  44. I know this feeling. Your best bet is to pick a few every few weeks or months and learn them well and then pick which works best for you.

  45. I think it better to focus on search engine traffic and content first, I find forums are as good as social media when it comes to getting traffic.

  46. Great tips, I agree Blogging can be a hassle especially when you have alot of priorities along with it. Generating traffic is not easy nowadays either.

  47. Great suggestions if you are feeing pressured by social media.

  48. Great response to those that give up too fast.

    I think I’m speaking for all successful bloggers when I say that we all probably have only used one new technology at a time, and most of us aren’t even using them all right now.

    Shoemoney only started using Twitter 4 months ago, and he’s been around for years.

    Just do one thing at a time, and you’ll be fine.

  49. If you have a brand it is important to register. Even if you do nothing, at least you register your brand name on the social network.

  50. thanks the tips to be more effective…..I hope getting great result by implemented the tips

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