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How To Ease the Pressure of Blogging

Posted By Darren Rowse 1st of February 2010 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

A Guest Post by David Turnbull of Adventures of a Barefoot Geek

After the initial excitement of launching a new blog fades most bloggers are a few steps away from being overwhelmed with the pressure of blogging to the point that they quit, losing the momentum they were building up and all the progress they’d made. This is an unfortunately common occurence.

Writing. Guest posting. Commenting. Responding to emails. Continuous learning. It’s a lot to take in and if you’re not adequately prepared to face challenges as they appear there’s a likelihood that one day you’ll choose not to publish another post and then you’re back to square one.

Recently, just a fornight ago in fact I became conscious of these feelings as my most recent blog was reaching the 6 month mark. I’d surpassed all the goals I’d set for myself but there was stilll that worry of being locked into my work instead of having control over it. I have no problem with hard work, but when it hits the point of dominating my life I prefer to step back and ask myself “How can I make this easier on myself?”

And that’s what I really want to share in this article. This is not about escaping the work of blogging (because I do honestly enjoy it, just not when it causes imbalance in my life) but to relieve yourself of the constant worry and uncertainty that blogging entails.

Set smaller goals

I’m an advocate of thinking big in most areas of life. If you’re dedicated and disciplined then ambition can often fuel creativity and drive. But blogging is different. There are so many interwoven components to blogging that a big goal often becomes an aimless goal, and an aimless goal is as bad as no goal.

Writing is the most important task for a blogger, so let’s use that as an example. One common belief held by many writers is that you should sit down in the morning at 9am and then not move until 5pm. The idea is that this forces you to write. Do this for 3 days in a row and you’ll lose whatever passion for blogging you ever had. The alternative is much more attractive.

When you sit down to write tell yourself this magical phrase: I’ll be satisified when I’ve written X words. Replace X with the smallest amount of words you can be realistically satisfied with. Once you’ve made this decision and are no longer constricted by outrageous word counts or time frames there’s no anxiety as you work and I expect you’ll find yourself greatly surpassing the “satisfactory metrics” you set for yourself.

Clarify and simplify

What do you want to get out of blogging? Answer that question at least once a month for as long as you own or write for a blog. I imagine most people will respond “to make money” and that’s fine, but there has to be a motivation higher than that, because blogging isn’t exactly the most effective approach to generating an income.

Once you understand with crystal clear clarity why you’re blogging you can eliminate a ton of the garbage that leads to blogging-based stress.

When I first started blogging I had the “make money” goal lodged in my brain, but over the past few weeks I’ve had a shift in my thinking, in that what I truly love is writing and making exciting (and sometimes weird) changes in my life. After I had clarified this I realized that my actions were inconsistent with what I wanted. Instead of writing I was spending most of my time leaving comments on blogs, posting in forums, and using other standard blog promotion tactics. Most of this was unfullfilling.

Now my approach to writing and building a readership is far simpler. These days I do 2 things:

  • Write (for my own blog and guest posts such as this).
  • Care (responding to tweets, emails, blog comments etc).

This has been enormous, so don’t underestimate it. Clarify exactly what you want out of blogging and shape your actions to accomodate for that. Sure, if I were to leave 20+ comments on blogs per day, or become an active member in lots of communities my readership would probably climb faster. But at the same time the very essence of what I love about blogging would be lost, and that’d be setting myself up for eventual failure. Classic example of short term sacrifice (a small boost in traffic) for long term gain (endless fulfillment).

Become a “what matters” blogger

Conventional blogging advice indicates that you should write 3-5 times per week without fail. Yes, in the early days of blogging (at least the first 5-6 months) consistency is crucial. You need to prove that you’ve got the chops and that you’re not going to abandon your readership. But, aside from news blogs and blogs that have multiple contributors, I’d suggest you lower the frequency significantly.

This is something I lifted from Tina of ThinkSimpleNow.com who is well known for taking multiple months away from her blog. I doubt everyone could be met with success using that approach, but the lesson still holds true: to ease the pressure of writing and heighten the respect from your readership only write and publish content that truly matters.

What “matters” is a subjective gauge of course, but at its core it’s your own highest inner standard that you must hold yourself too. Through this approach you will end up spending more time writing individual posts, but:

  • Each post will provide you and your readers with lasting fulfillment.
  • There’ll be less of a frantic rush to publish content.
  • Freeing yourself from a strict deadline and schedule is incredibly liberating.

As a poll here on Problogger indicated, lowering your frequency is not what causes people to unsubscribe from your blog, it’s posting too much that readers dislike. Here’s a quote from Darren himself:

I’ve lost count of the number of bloggers who tell me that scaling back their posting frequency a little brings a new life to their blog…scaling back a little means that they are able to develop better quality posts, that they get more comments per post (the posts remain on the front page of the blog longer) and readers say that they appreciate it.

People don’t unsubscribe from blogs when every piece of content provides them with genuine value.

Successful blogging requires sustained effort over a long period of time. I don’t want to make it seem like you can eliminate hard work and the anxiety that comes with the process. But you can make it easier on yourself. Take action to ease the pressure of blogging and refocus on what you truly care about.

What strategies do you use to ease the pressure of blogging?

David Turnbull is a life-long geek who loves to write about life hacking, simplicity and technology at his blog Adventures of a Barefoot Geek.

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. I have a staff about about ten writers. I write 50-70% of the content every week, but they allow me to have something new every day with considerably less pressure than if I were doing it along.

  2. Hi there David, thankyou for such a great post! This post is extremely relevent to my current situation because I launched my blog a few months ago and as they say the honey moon period is starting to wear off. I am guessing this is where alot of bloggers give up but its clear to be successful you have to persevere and battle through it and I think you post will help alot through that, Thanks alot!
    http://www.studentspayless.com

  3. Sage advise, so often have I sat down to write because I thought I must and then what comes out is rubbish.

    I find it much easier to run through the stages of a “How to subject” that I know will engage my readers and then break this up with relevant and related posts.

    This way I never run out of ideas and the task doesn’t become monotonous either.

  4. How absolutely write. The money won’t come just yet to my blog because the traffic haven’t really come to that tipping point. So, it’s still a hobby.

  5. Incredible post! I have hit that stage of 6 months with my blog and I think perhaps I am too open with what I am doing with my blog. I post monthly status updates and goals of what I wish to accomplish but this overwhelms me when the deadline becomes near and I have to admit blogging hasn’t been as fun as it used to be.

    I actually started another blog in a totally different niche where I’m not setting myself hard hitting goals, I’m just letting everything flow naturally. There is no pressure, I’m not promising anything to anyone and it’s already started off with a big bang.

    I’m taking a new approach in February which I’ll show in my stats and goals post which should air on my site tomorrow ;) I want to focus more on QUALITY and ENGAGING and bringing back the blogging fun that I was having when I first started.

    GREAT post David :)

  6. This has really struck a chord for me Darren. Thanks for the heads up!

  7. This is a great post.

  8. Like the idea of just plain simple goals rather than a huge goal like making money. I blog for my passion of spreading the world the know-how of Ayurveda and nothing else. Simple Goal….

  9. I also need to look into your suggestions. I am also getting tired with too much blogging. Need to use time more efficiently.

  10. Hi there,
    That is actually the first comment, for which I had to make some notes. Not just because english is not my first language, but because I had different aspects comming to my mind.

    I used to have a “me too” blog when I started blogging and had actually no idea of what I was talking about. The first week was ok. But then I felt the pressure. Having to blog just because I had promissed to do so regularly, took away the motivation and made me feel bad. I just felt like a fake.

    Then I overthought the whole blogging thing during XMas time and realized that pressure to blogging does not necessarely have to be part of my life.

    I re-launched my blog with a topic I feel really comfortable with, and am now just writing about things I’ve learned and actually know. Ths has taken a lot of pressure. Now I’m also able to plan and schedule things, instead of just throwing them out as soon as they come to my mind in order to prove my knowledge (which I never had). Having a plan, being able to schedule articles makes you work with less stress and you have enough time for other stuff.

    Like reading and commenting other blogs. This is important. But to me, reading other blogs doesn’t mean having to comment on each and every post. This is a waste of time and doesn’t add any value. Beeing that said, I do only comment on posts or so when I really have an opinion or can add something valuable to the conversation. All that eases the pressure of blogging for me.

    @Tom: Why are you posting a link to your blog in the comment? I don’t want to attack you or something, but don’t you know, that your name is already a link to your site?

    To me are links in the comment a kind of spammy and looks like saying: “Hey don’t forget: I left a comment. But now you have to come and visit my site, too!”

  11. Thanks for writing this.

    I write a new article on my blog from 2-5 days. I’m not one of those that post 100 articles in one day. What happens when you run out of things to say?

    Some great tips, thanks.

  12. Excellent advice, man. Simple, realistic, and effective goals make blogging life much more enjoyable.

  13. I think more and more people are realizing what a chore blogging is, when initially they started out with dreams of making big money, but the reality finally sinks in after a few months; let;s not mention a few years :)

  14. Fantastic post, David! I love the “set smaller goals” idea. I’ve been trying to bite off more than I can chew lately by setting a goal of 500+ words, but just the thought focusing on a smaller 250-350 word goal instantly released some stress!

    Thanks!

  15. I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now, but until a couple of months ago… in a pretty amateur way.

    Recently I’ve decided to take it on with a much more professional look and feel to it. The interesting thing is that I write about dogs and since I have moved my blog over recently to a Thesis Theme (thank you ProBlogger) my struggle hasn’t been with writing.

    I write about dogs, fitness and the behavior and lifestyle that emerges from both. I’m finding how much I love writing about what I know. Its a great feeling and the posts here about writing quality rather than quantity have helped.

    If I could just get over the technical… get a cool header up, where to get pro banner ads created, and the right widget that looks sort of like the one this blog so my ads look cool.

    Always something… but I plan on working on it in a daily way until I get it there!

  16. You’ve touched on it, but having a long-term goal is one of the most important things you can do. Although having small goals is good, quite honestly I think that having bigger goals helps more.

    The problem with blogging is that many people build a blog before they build a business, and that’s a mistake.

  17. Hi David – I absolutely love your blog over at Adventures of a Barefoot Geek, I was just there earlier today in fact.

    I post fairly frequently over at The Emotion Machine but I have definitely realized the important of consistent quality in maintaining a loyal fanbase. If I can post every two days, but still leave readers walking away with something of value, then I will continue at my current pace.

    One thing that keeps me going and going (yes, like the energizer bunny) is that I only write about things I love and have an absolute passion for.

    With this attitude, there is nothing that is stopping me from blogging until the day that I die.

    Thanks for the great post David and congrats on your Problogger feature.

  18. I use one simple tactic and that’s to have fun with my blog.

    I don’t approach it as a job or a place where I must follow other peoples rules, its MY blog and I’ll do as I please:)

    There are times where I might drop the F bomb. I might give out some ridiculously amazing tips and tricks that I can 100% gaurantee are not anywhere else on the web, other times I text things out like I learn from here and your 31days to better blogging.

    I must say, the amazing growth I’ve had is great but its not going to keep me from having fun with it.

  19. I agree wholeheartedly about what causes readers to unsubscribe: too many posts. I’ve done it myself. Blogs like Apartment Therapy deliver meaningful content, but far too much of it for me to keep up. I’ve had to unsubscribe from them and just refer to their websites if I want to know something.

    In contrast, a blog that limits their posts (even once a day is fine) is something that I’m able to keep track of. I enjoy their posts and can take the time to comment and consider each post.

  20. This is just what I needed to read right now, Darren. Thank you. Thank goodness for Facebook Fan Pages.

    As a SAHM of two small children hoping to become a professional writer someday, I recently had to admit that my focus should be on studying and practicing writing techniques, reading, writing, and networking with those in the wonderful world of writing. I can blog comment and see my Alexa ranking improve until I’m blue in the face, but that isn’t going to get me closer to achieving my goals.

    Thanks for re-enforcing my current chosen mindset. Slow it down, concentrate on the task at hand as it relates to my goals and priorities, and perform periodic bailing sessions.

  21. Great post. I too ran into the 6 month burn-out but I pushed through. I’m coming up on my 1 year anniversary. Woo Hoo!

    I have a bunch of draft posts saved that I work on and then schedule in advance. I find that this helps even it out.

    Yesterday I wrote 5 posts, I was on a roll. They are part of a 12 part series I started back last spring.

    Thanks for the tips.

    Regards,

    Stephen
    http://www.inventionaddict.com/blog/

  22. watch says: 02/01/2010 at 4:56 am

    great tip…. i should try your tips… thanks

  23. Blogger really needs some time for himself…
    Thanks for the great opinions and thoughts..
    Must ready for every blogger.. especially that setting small goals part..

  24. I actually write smaller posts two or three times per week, I just write several at once that will post one at a time over several days. I am writing multi-part series and write about smaller chunks with more detail. It seems to be working ok for me and I do have at least one post going out per day. When I’m tired of writing I take a break of a day or two and I still have posts going out.

    I do have “vacation” time where I’ll have several days of not writing. I’m hoping to have them covered in advance but it might be difficult. We’ll see how it goes.

    You definitely do need to have a life outside of blogging to be able to blog more effectively.

  25. As a blogger that has massive lofty goals, I constantly get disheartened that I don’t seem to be getting any closer to them. That is why I love your point about setting smaller goals!

  26. David

    This post is so valuable to people who are at the 6 month mark or even longer. Blogging is a long term commitment and yes there are times when we lose sight of what we starting the blog for. The constant stat checking, wondering how we will have a great post that gets read, pulling an even better one to guest blog for … it its endless but yet rewarding. The feeling of I gotta get this out, I gotta have a good one or else – or else what? The site will not blow up or come crashing down. Self disappointment is a factor but the overwhelming feeling of trying to get a post out tends to keep a blank page. The best advice you gave was to set the small goals of x number of words on the page. This gets the ball rolling and many times in a short period of time the post is done.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  27. Very thoughtful and consistent post!

    Right now I’m considering weather to start a blog or not (no money on the horizon, I just like to share) and such posts really help a lot.

    On the topic… As for me, I hate bloggers and tweeters who post too frequently (3+ posts per times per business week / 4 tweets a day) all this RSS updates and TweetDeck messages popping up distracting my attention.

    Imagine you really like some blogs and tweeters and want to follow, but with all this beeps you just become annoyed… and unsubscribe.

    This is a complete IMHO, but I hope you get my point.

  28. I love that you’ve pointed out “scaling back”. There’s a lot of pressure out there to post frequently, X number of times a week, say, to achieve growth and success.

    Honestly, I’m in the camp that doesn’t like too many insubstantial posts from the blogsI subscribe to. In addition, I couldn’t possibly keep up that frequency on my own blog and have meaningful things to say. My blog has to do with “serenity”, and one of my own goals around my it is to keep it something I enjoy, not something that interferes with my own peace and balance. If that means I have to shirk some conventional blogging advice, like posting 3-5 times a week, I’m more than happy to do it.

    Thanks for the superb and sound insights here.

    Cheers,
    Miche :)

  29. well I just started and i’m sure i’ll hit a wall at some point. I have many ideas for posts but the well will run dry at some point. I think the key is to just keep pushing.

  30. Great post…I am coming up on my 2 year anniversary and have learned a bit about overcoming burnout…

    Get organized..Most of the pressure I felt was self created…I now spend an afternoon writing posts for the upcoming week. Utilize the posting scheduler. By using it, I schedule posts for every day of the week, eliminating the daily pressure of producing. Yes, not all posts are “classics”, but you will be able to give your viewers a regular contribution.

    Don’t write “War & Peace” with every post…Every post does not have to take days to produce. Mix it up..Vary lengths..

    Be realistic…Gather traffic data, and really analyze it. While it is possible to be an overnight success, it’s not very likely (no offense intended). By understanding that it will take hard work, dedication, and about 12 months to see “real results”, you reduce the unnecessary pressure that’s easy to create.

  31. Interesting posting topic. It’s really hard to understand what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to your blog when your starting out. I’d say develop and plan and just stick with it. This post reminds me of the tortoise and the hair. Slow and Steady wins the race. I think your a right about interaction. That’s biggest part of the game. Everything from Twitter to Google is base upon this.

  32. Thanks for this great post. My big takeaway is that it’s quality over quantity, not only of posts, but in words per posts. I’m at about the 8 month mark. I’ve been reaching for bigger ideas lately, and some of my posts have been in the 1,100 to 1,300 word range. Yesterday I tried to go shorter on a post, and held it to about 500 words, and really just got to the gist of the idea. It was a lot easier to write!

    I agree with Rick that organization is the key. Whenever I get a story idea (in the morning, at a meeting, at lunch, whenever), I get a piece of blank paper out and do a mindmap. After about 10 minutes I have an outline that I can use to write the complete post from. Then I record the idea in a spreadsheet. I’ve got several dozen ideas in the hopper waiting to be written. And when something additional about that topic comes up, that blog idea gets on the top of the pile, and is richer for the aging.

  33. I have become a believer in “if you really want something, charge at it with all your strength and then aim about 20° to one side of it”. Why not begin blogging by tackling a subject you adore — rather than on the subject that you’re hoping will earn you money/advance your strategy? You will learn what works and what doesn’t; your own passion for the subject matter will be the internal combustion that keeps you on a regular publishing schedule, and you will hopefully gain such confidence that you can approach your “bull’s-eye blog” (the one aimed at making money/furthering your strategy) with energy, practical know-how, and genuine passion — which is what will keep your readers coming back.

    – Sheila Averbuch – ENN

  34. Everyone loses motivation at some time. The trick is to persevere.

  35. Hem … “scaling back the frequency for quality improving” seems interesting — but i think it work for establish blog only.

  36. I couldn’t agree more, especially with the scaling back. It is far better to write quality posts from time to time than mediocre (or bad) posts 3-5 times a week. While when I take mini blogging breaks by not blogging for perhaps a week at a time, my readership does go down a bit, but each time I come out with a new post it jumps right back up, and usually higher because it is a better quality writing.

    So even with scaling back, not giving into the pressure of blogging can lead to exponential growth in readership and in completing whatever other goals.

    Thanks for the excellent tips, I’ve already gone in and lowered my short-term goals to more realistic ones, and already feeling the pressure being lifted!

  37. Great post Darren! My only trick is, persevere.

  38. nice, how about you?
    what do you do when your idea reach the limit so you don’t know even what to write?
    do you still do a post or postpone it later ?

    Thanks :-D

  39. I can relate to this great post as I try to keep up with the flood of new entrants to the eReader market. Apple’s iPad announcement certainly will continue to fuel my interest for blogging, but this post reminds me that quality is more important than quantity!

    Sammy
    Kindle Covers Source

  40. I am all about trying to be a successful blogger… that being said I am a Dad Blogger. When one of my 11 month old twins says “Dada” I have no problem stopping where I’m at and picking it up later.

    I’m on a 1 post per week schedule and I have occasionally missed a week. My readership never suffered because of it. I am going to ramp up to 2 posts per week soon, but I will miss deadlines there as well. There are 2 things I WILL NOT DO:

    1. Put my blogging above my children.
    2. Put a blogging deadline above quality content.

    Blogging is fun, but being a Dad is more fun… and if you’re not having fun in life then you’re doing something wrong.

  41. Thanks for the great comments everyone. If you have a specific question I’ve missed feel free to just email me at:

    david [at] davidturnbull.com

    …although my blogging advice is fairly limited; I basically just write and reply to everyone who gets in touch with me. Fairly simple stuff. :-)

    But anyways, one question I saw pop up a couple of times was “What do you do when you run out of ideas?”

    And all I can really say is, I don’t write when I don’t have good ideas. That’s obviously a problem if you’re a blogger so I make sure I never run out of ideas if possible. And to not run of ideas I try to constantly make changes in my life, either by changing a habit, learning a new skill or doing anything that I find “cool.”

    Plus, I record every idea for an article I ever have, because looking over at past ideas – even bad ones – often provides me with inspiration in desperate times.

    :-)

  42. I don’t comment as much as I used to on other blogs. Granted, I never was that much of a big commenter — but now even less.

    And as you say, my readership would grow faster, but at what price?

    Instead, I’m starting to really spend quality time penning really good guest posts for big bloggers.

  43. Taking a few days off can do wonders. It really gets stressful at times, especially when your blog focus is around people asking for advice and when there are 4 questions per day it becomes really difficult to answer all of them in time. Though I’m happy my blog is growing and I have proved to my readers that I am a good source for advice, the workload has risen significantly and I have to tell my readers that I’m taking a break for a few days and hopefully they understand it. The whole, X # of words you’re gonna write that day is a great advice, instead of making big goals and feeling over-worked and end up not doing anything by the end of the day.

  44. Good post. I just started reading through the post here on Problogger and identify with many posts. This one hits home.

    I was trying to post daily however it seems I run out of topics or umph…so to speak. So my goal is to try to write at least twice a week and definitely update here and there.

    I too like to answer the question “how to” to keep things flowing. New but learning.

    Also I have found if I have too many kindles in the fire then I start to leave some behind. So my goal is to try to concentrate on one or two of my blogs to ensure freshness and maintain motivation.

    Anyhow good information.

  45. Some great ideas. I have seen you around at many blogs recently, good luck with trying to build your blog following.

  46. thanks for the article that you write this I feel motivated to write a blog continuously while sometimes feel bored doing it.

  47. Being efficient with your time might help you produce better quality blogs.

  48. Be more precise with your writing and the visitors will roll on in..

  49. I focus mainly on the conservative, but the liberal folks like to visit to complain so its great!

  50. Helpful truthfully staying focused and efficient is key. And write what You know.

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