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How Not to become a Grumpy Old Blogger

Posted By Darren Rowse 16th of May 2007 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

GrumpyComment Spam, Trolls in Comments, Servers Crashing, Personal Attacks in Posts, Getting Hacked, Public Critique….

While there’s a lot of positive things to be said for blogging – there are also days where blogging can all get a little too much and get even the most positive of bloggers down.

So how does a blogger protect themselves from becoming a grump (or at the very least depressed)?

As a blogger who has had his fair share of the above blogging downers here are five ways that I’m learning to preserve my emotional well being:

1. Your Personal Worth Is Not Tied to Your Blog’s Performance

One of the most helpful lessons that I’ve ever learned was to think about where my personal worth comes from.

We live in a world where Personal Worth often is seen as a result of two things. It can be put as an equation:

Personal Worth = What You Achieve + What Others Think of You

The problem with this equation is that in every sphere of life (especially blogging) it is very difficult to live up to this equation. There are times in all of our lives where we fail or fall short of what we set out to achieve and where other people’s opinion of us are not high.

Rating our worth as a person in this way can be a trap and as bloggers it can be an easy one to fall into.

On a good day where traffic is up, people are saying nice things, all the blog ranking tools rate us highly and we’re getting good press it’s easy to be on top of the world – but when it all falls in a heap the lows can be very low if we tie our personal worth to how our blog performs.

Personal worth comes from something deeper than what you do (or fail to do) and what others think of you. I won’t push my own opinions of where this worth comes from (for me it’s tied to my spirituality) – however I encourage bloggers to do some realigning and gaining of perspective in this area.

2. Don’t Believe Your Own Press

I’ve quoted Elizabeth Taylor before on this (believe it or not). When asked whether she reads what people write about her she says:

“If you listen to the good things people say about you might just start believing them. If you listen to the bad things people say about you might just start believing them”

While I do think it’s important as a blogger to monitor what people are saying about you and the things you write (the great thing about blogging is the conversations that emerge from it) I think there’s a difference between ‘reading’ what others are saying about you and ‘believing’ what others say about you.

One of the skills I’m attempting to develop is to read what others write and say about me without owning it or allowing myself to be sucked into it.

Over the last few years people have said some pretty outrageous things about me (both positive things and negative things). When you see this type of stuff it’s easy to be sucked into and be carried away by it – however if you do you’re setting yourself up for a roller coaster ride.

3. Work Life Balance

If I was to track and graph my ‘grumpiness’ I suspect it would look something like this.


Work/Life Balance is so important – particularly in an area of your life where you’re needing to be creative, fresh and relational (and particularly when you’re an introvert like I am).

Time away from blogging, the web and related activities become crucial for maintaining your emotional well being as a blogger.

4. Be a Relational Blogger

While I’ve always talked about being relational in blogging I’m increasingly convinced that its vital not only as a way to promote your blog and improve your content but in terms of your ability to withstand the tough times that might come your way.

The relationships that I’ve built in my own blogging have:

  • helped me with balancing the gaps in my own skill set
  • encouraged me to keep going on those days when I just feel like throwing it in
  • kept me accountable to my own goals
  • been a sounding board for helping me to respond to critique
  • provided me with a few home truths on those days when it was me who was out of line not others.
  • given me perspective when in my mind the world is coming crashing down (when in reality I’m just having a bad hair day)
  • helped me keep balance by injecting humor and friendship into my life

5. Get Thick Skin

I come from a family which is incredibly encouraging, forgiving, caring, loving and diplomatic (we always see both sides of every situation).

While this is a fantastic environment to grow up in (and I’m incredibly grateful for it) one of the few negatives with it is that I grew up to be a little sheltered from some of the harsh realities of life. As a result when I first got into blogging and experienced my first troll, personal attack and comment flame war I was really taken aback and somewhat shaken.

In lots of ways blogging has helped me get in touch with reality in this way and I’m grateful for it – however I’ve also had to toughen up a little to survive it.

While I don’t want to toughen up too much (I want to be someone who is in touch with my emotions, who feels, who connects on a heart level etc) I think there’s something to be said for thickening one’s skin a little if they want to survive the rough and tumble of the blogosphere.

Find the balance between blogging at a ‘heart’ level while maintaining an arms length from it and I suspect you’ll be a much healthier blogger who is able to sustain themselves for the long haul.

Bonus Tips – Don’t forget the lesson a Buddhist Monk once taught me about blogging and dealing with negative people. Also posts that might be helpful include Communications Skills for Bloggers and 10 Steps to Conflict Resolution.

What do you Think

How do you sustain yourself despite the negative things that sometimes come your way in the blogosphere?

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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. Keeping your eye on the goal – communicating with your loyal readers – and eating lots of ice cream is the key to being a happy blogger.

    Ice cream really helps lift one’s spirit.

    Plus I just like ice cream…

    Think I’ll go get a bowl of some now… *drool* ;)

  2. This was a very informative and inspiring article.
    When we write we want everyone to enjoy and benefit from what we put out yet not everyone is dazzled by our offerings. When that happens we get down and question our abilities.

    It’s good to know that even the most successful bloggers have challenges and hurdles to overcome. Quite often we don’t take that into account so our own expectations are not realistic. This article puts it all in much needed perspective. Thank you for that Darren.

  3. Excellent post and it made me think as well.

    ” Your Personal Worth Is Not Tied to Your Blog’s Performance” –> 100% true. Your blogging success and life need not relate/depend on each other.

  4. Well my blog has been named as a lame blog by a famous local blogger. But that doesn’t stop me from blogging and maintaining my dream to make money online.

    I believe all of us will have our hard times. Now or later. Darren, I think you yourself have went through a lot but look how successful are you now.

    I totally agree with what you said here. And as long as we do not give up there will always be a chance. =)


  5. fantastic post! spot on. sometimes – no QUITE OFTEN it’s easy to tie our self worth to our success.

    thanks for the encouragement to maintain our sense of self

  6. Great words of advice. The Elizabeth Taylor quote is priceless. Our self-worth cannot be determined by what people think. As Popeye said, “I am what I am.”

  7. So very, very true. Submitted it to lifehacker.com Especially like the chart.

    It particularly hate flame wars on the Internet (although I still sometimes rant on my blog about a bad product or service).

    Every time I’ve entered into a conflict online (aside from completely anonymous commenters) I’ve been able to find some kind of amicable resolution with both parties if the conversation has continued.

  8. Well said! I’ve been pretty lucky so far when it comes to negative comments, I can count how many times it’s happened on one hand. I suppose it’s sort of a trade off, with greater popularity and traffic will come more of the negative as well.

  9. Great advice Darren! I can especially relate to you on #3 and #5. I can tend to be a bit obsessive when I’m working on my website or blog, and evenings and weekends tend to evaporate without notice.

    Getting into the habit of writing and scheduling posts in advance of them going live has helped me better manage my time recently.

  10. #5 really hits home; I could totally relate to you on that one. No matter how good you were brought up there will always be some uncontrollable factors that may or may not get the best of you. Toughening up is down-right hard, but a lot of people learn how to each and everyday. Keeping it real and maintaining some kind of balance is important.

  11. I agree, I very good post. It is always refreshing to be able to walk away from blogging for a day or two. It helps get things in perspective.

  12. I started a blog focused on a niche industry, and on the first day I posted a link to another blogger that had revealed the loss of a mojor customer and the probable closing of the factory this person worked in.

    I abandoned the blog when I fell ill and had surgery. When I returned, I found comments indicating that the blogger I’d linked to had been fired.

    While I’m ok with what I did (I’m not the one posting bad stuff about my employer, I linked to and attributed it the way we all do), I’m not tough enough to deal with that sort of heartache. I pulled the blog, although I do believe it has a future. But not right now. I need time to decompress from this and start over in a way that will help me minimize “unintended consequences”.

    Sometimes, a little time-out for perspective can help one overcome negative events and people. It’s not always necessary to go to war in the blogosphere.

  13. […] How Not to Become A Grumpy Old Blogger by problogger […]

  14. Great post Darren. Especially love the little graph of work/rest to grumpiness ratio.

    Over the last three years or so, I’ve found that point 5 is the hardest of all. Its very easy to be criticised and take it to heart.

    Its one of the larger issues of the web, where keyboard jockeys can be vindictive and negative because they know that its unlikely they’ll ever have to have a face-to-face with the person they are ‘having a go’ at. Of course we know that sometimes things on the internet spill over into real life, but this is rarely something people online give thought to.

    The best advice is to be able to walk away from your computer at any point just to get some distance and perspective on what you are doing. I’ve found in the past that I’ve got drawn into petty battles that I should have just walked away from.

  15. As far as getting flamed, since I write about sports, I had to learn early that I need to take the opinions (in those cases) of readers with a grain of salt.

    On my site though, I have tried to create an atmosphere of respecting each others opinions as it enhances and sharpens the overall discourse about the topic. I’m not afraid or intimidated by other’s opinions, I look at them as a chance to challenge what I think, and create new ideas & understanding of how the world works.

  16. Well said! I’ve been pretty lucky so far when it comes to negative comments,

  17. I would never have thought of you as an introvert! yey – there’s hope for me. I thought the more successful bloggers are those outgoing people who always know what to say.
    going back to the question – need to remind myself of the following always: who I really am outside of what I do (whether blogging/other jobs, parenting, marriage etc) or cannot do/be… that I can’t please everyone… maintain a positive and grateful heart… take a breather… and yeah, as Jeremy Steele says – eat ice cream on those days when the above don’t seem work.

  18. Having a thick skin, to me, doesn’t mean that you need to be cut off from emotions.

    It just means that you need to realize that anyone can say anything to you in the comments, but YOU have to be the final judge as to whether their comment has value.

    If there are any bloggers out there who haven’t had their feelings hurt, even briefly, by some wacky troll, I’d like to meet them! I don’t think they exist!

  19. Thanks, this is just what I needed today. How did you know? :)

  20. I think alot of bloggers need this post.

    Everyday I go through the motions of when to quit or when to stick with it. It gets tough at times. I really like the point of reading the criticisms but not to believe it. The thick skin helps that a lot!

    Usually for me to past the grumpiness is too look past myself and not to be selfish of whats going wrong with me but to help others that are in need inevitably it fixes all of my worries.

    Thanks for the uplift today

  21. I have a really hard time dealing with negative comments. I’ve gotten into very petty discussions in my comments. Finally, I realized that I was just WAY too caught up in something I knew was a nonissue (which was the point I was trying make in the comments). I closed the comments and have never looked at that discussion again. It took me some time to recover, not just from the unkind things the other person said about me but from sinking to his level by continuing to respond to an argument that wasn’t worth my time (and really letting him get to me).

    On my personal blog, however, I’ve given myself complete permission to delete any abusive comments (and have a written comment policy that states this!). It’s actually quite appropriate since my personal blog is about helping mothers feel better about their role as mothers, so a comment that tears me down has no place there. Constructive criticism is one thing, but abusive comments have no place on virtually all professional blogs.

  22. This is a really cool post– especially the graph / chart– can I ask what software was used to create the graph /chart? All the best, M.

  23. Yedda: RE: How to start a Blog?…

    Arial12 answered: re:Bloging is cool, I like it! do you know how to jump into the Blog-sphere and survive? whats the basic 1, 2, 3.. steps I should do when starting up…

  24. I enjoy your stuff. I’ll try to adopt your advice except
    I won’t be developing a thick skin because that changes who I am.

  25. I set short-term and long-term goals and keep my sights set on them!

  26. I know. It’s so hard not to be a grumpy blogger after you get those not-so-nice comments on your blog from people that do not even know you personally. There really should be some guidelines on “netiquette”. It’s a good thing there is always that delete button. :)

  27. Jamie says: 05/16/2007 at 5:11 am

    Hi all

    Well Darren you have it easy.

    As a person who wants to be sucessful online, who blogs his heart out and sees the traffic grow and fall to googles latest whim I too feel depressed. But to add to the whole “what is life about” feeling I am also a police officer in the UK.

    I have learnt that your words are right, you must not loose yourself and become hard and uninterested, you must not loose your core, your passions and your sensetive side, but you do need to empower a force field and realise that people do not know you as a person.

    Roll with the punches and grow from what your read about your self. Its hard, real hard but that life.

    God bless

  28. I’m with Jeremy (on the goal part, not so much the icecream – I’m more of an animal-crackers-as-comfort-food type). If I remember my blogging goals, I can see that the negative stuff doesn’t really impact them at all… seems like in some cases (like controversy and debate in comments) the negatives may actually *help* in reaching goals.

  29. I don’t come by thick skin naturally so sometimes, during the tough times, I just pretend like I do. “How would _____ (person with thick skin) handle this situation?”

    It works!

  30. Shaazaam! What a timely post. I was hammered a few days ago from some grammar Nazi’s. Luckily I have a thick skin.

  31. thanks all for the comments.

    The graph was constructed in ‘keynote’ – think powerpoint for macs.

    In terms of thick skin – yeah it’s a tough one because I don’t naturally have it either – however in order to survive in the rough and tumble of the blogosphere I’ve had to toughen up somewhat despite also valuing my ‘tender heart’. I guess it’s about balance.

  32. Karlo Licudine says: 05/16/2007 at 11:46 am

    Nice set of posts. I’ve always been evaluating myself depending on my blog’s performance. I guess I really should stop doing it because it really tends to drag me down especially on my blog’s down times.

  33. This is very timely indeed. I’ve allowed myself to get on that roller coaster you mention, Darren. Not a day goes by that I don’t check my Alexa ranking or subscriptions to my blogs. True, they have their place in a blogger’s life, but shouldn’t be tied to a blogger’s heart.

  34. This is a great post Darren and like others I loved the graph. The principles and suggestions would apply to many other areas of work as well as blogging. It’s important to keep your own well-being in mind no matter what job you do.

    Anyway, I hope that positive feedback from your happy readers will help to fend off the grumpiness for a while longer. As a blogger I’d like to say thanks for running the group writing project and as a reader thanks for injecting the personal into this ‘pro’ site and always being willing to share. It’s what keeps me keeping back.

  35. I appreciate your graph, Darren. #1 got my attention, as I’ve always believed my ‘job’ doesn’t decide who I am. Hopefully, I’ll remember that my new blog doesn’t, either.

    Thanks for sharing the human side of yourself. As a new (introvert) blogger, it’s sometimes difficult to put myself out there. You’ve reminded me of what courage and commitment are all about.

    So, thank you. I needed to hear what you had to say. :-)

  36. Why work life balance matters…

    I don’t know about you but when I was working in the corporate world the mantra to achieve work life balance felt like just another should, something else on my to do list that I never got round to doing….

  37. This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Thank you for posting this.

  38. Your first item about personal worth was an early lesson for me. It wasn’t so much that people were flaming me as they were just ignoring me. I realize that this is because I hadn’t yet learned how to drive traffic, and I’m working on that. However, in my very early blogging days, I had a blog that virtually no one ever read and I had to ask myself: Do I write to write, or to be read? True, writing is only half of a conversation, but I still derive great benefit from writing even when no one reads it – I can show you oodles of handwritten journals…and when I filled them, they gave me great joy and I never expected anyone to read them (except maybe after I died!).

    When blogging came along, I was like, “Wow – this is like keeping a public journal!” So I kept doing what I had always done, but suddenly I had these expectations for external validation. It was an important personal lesson for me – one that nudged me back over the line of writing for the joy and personal fulfillment of it.

    I have realized along the way that my blogs may be a way to add value to other people in their lives, so I am working to promote my blogs, but with my eye on how I can help others feel better about themselves rather than on how they can help me feel good about myself.


  39. I find thick skin helps in a lot of areas of life.

  40. Darren,

    I’ve been reading a lot of your posts lately, I have to say that even with a new blog, I feel your advice is spot on, and really shows how even though we’re all looking for traffic and people to read our opinions, it still doesn’t change the fact that blogging itself, even full time, can be a good thing. It isn’t about chasing traffic and clicks, it’s about saying what you want. I’ve read too many blogs by “pros” that have made me think that it’s such a business, and it’s good to see that even on a site named problogger the social side of it can shine through.

  41. […] given today says that motherhood doesn’t mean a ton. Darren Rowse at ProBlogger wrote an equation this week that struck me: Personal Worth = What You Achieve + What Others Think of […]

  42. We have to remember who and what we are, and what we’re after.
    There is also a lot to be said about good company, and blogging in a like minded community, not to say that even in those circumstances rigorous times will not befall one, being around friendly company always helps [at least in my experiences.

  43. […] [BLOG] How Not to become a Grumpy Old Blogger (problogger.net) […]

  44. […] like Darren Rowse on ProBlogger must have grumpy days. He has written an excellent article called How Not to become a Grumpy Old Blogger. He takes a completely different approach to the one I’ve taken in this post, so it’s […]

  45. […] Rowse had put together five keys to avoid becoming a grump old blogger. I’m going to bookmark it and refer to it […]

  46. […] How Not to become a Grumpy Old Blogger by Darren Rowse… Have problems with things like Comment Spam, Trolls in Comments, Servers Crashing? Darren tells us how he handles such things. […]

  47. outsourcing. lol. i hire people to blog for me so i don’t have to blog all the time and squeeze myself dry. now i blog when i want to. i enjoy it better that way.

    also, outsourcing gives you leverage. we only have 24 hours a day and we can only do so much. by outsourcing you get to do more in less time. more money in the bank and more time to spend with your loved ones. quite a good deal i’d say.

  48. Advice to Mom Bloggers: Connect…

    It’s so easy to blog in a vacuum. You write up your posts, put your posts out there and wait for people to come to you. For most of us, not very many people come (but we’re grateful for you who do!), and even fewer leave comments (and we&…

  49. […] wrote a little gem of a post titled "How Not to Become a Grumpy Old Blogger." It’s easy to believe that people love to read about your rants and bitchings, but you run the […]

  50. […] wrote a little gem of a post titled "How Not to Become a Grumpy Old Blogger." It’s easy to believe that people love to read about your rants and bitchings, but you run the […]

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