Over on the ProBlogger Facebook page Alix Spurlock asked:
How do I get inspired to write when I have < 5 readers? It seem kind of futile.
Image by -nathan
This is one of the hardest parts of starting a new blog for many bloggers. After putting the effort into choosing the right blogging platform, thinking about a topic to write about, choosing a theme/design and putting effort into your first posts – you look at your stats and you find that hardly anyone is reading.
The Night I Almost Gave Up Blogging
I remember the feeling clearly from my first few blogs.
I remember sitting at my computer one night starting at my first photography blog (no longer active) with my finger hovering over my mouse as I decided whether or not to kill the blog completely because despite putting hours into it every week it was getting no comments, few visitors and only making a couple of dollars a week.
I shudder to think what would have happened if I had in fact killed that blog – because it went on to become the blog that earned me a full time living and led to me starting ProBlogger and my 2nd and more successful photography site.
How to Keep Inspired as a Blogger
I’m not going to make this post a ‘how to find readers for your blog’ post as I’ve talked about that numerous times before (I’ll link to some of those at the end of this post). Instead I’d like to talk about ‘inspiration’ a little because it’s actually something that I think is applicable to more than just bloggers with not many readers – bloggers with blogs of all sizes struggle to stay inspired.
- Write for You – one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned as a blogger is that I need to blog about things that interest and inspire me. I’ve started more blogs than I can remember and many of them were started more out of dreams of large readership and profit than any genuine interest that I had in them. Those blogs are all dead now and the only that remain (and the only that were profitable) were blogs that I started because I wanted to explore the topic and read them. ProBlogger is perhaps the best example of this – it was the blog I wanted to read that nobody else was writing. I was writing as much for me as anyone else so even when nobody else was reading it at least I was learning something.
- Celebrate the Small Victories – often as bloggers we get distracted by the stories of big bloggers having big victories. Massive product launches, millions of readers, loads of comments, mentions in mainstream media, recognition and awards…. While it’s great that bigger blogs are achieving such big things sometimes as a smaller blogger your own experience can seem so small by comparison. The big wins of other bloggers can be quite inspiring, but so should your own smaller victories. In fact the small victories that you have can be harnessed to help you create momentum to grow your blog. Read more about this at Success in Blogging is Made of Little Victories.
- Get Excited, about Something Else – what gets you excited and inspired outside of blogging? As I look at my own levels of inspiration for blogging I’ve noticed that it is often when I’m feeling inspired about some other aspect of life that my energy for blogging can also increase. For me this often comes out of reading a book on some unrelated topic, or watching a movie or documentary, or having a great conversation, or doing something with my family that energises me. We all get excited by different things but get yourself in a positive frame of mind in some other area of your life and it might just impact other areas where you’re feeling a little low – like in your blogging.
- Take a Break – I asked my followers on Twitter what inspires them in their blogging and the most common response that came back was ‘take a break’. I’ve found this to be true too. it may have something to do with my last point about doing something else that excites you but I find that even a short break in the middle of the day can help me to come back to the task of blogging refreshed. I also find on a bigger picture level that taking regular longer breaks (weekends off and longer vacations) can also help (although sometimes it does take me a few days to get back into the swing of things after a couple of weeks off).
- Involve others – I’ve written numerous times about approaching blogging in tandem with others whether it be through finding a blogging buddy or starting some kind of blogging alliance. There’s something very powerful and motivational about having someone to bounce ideas off, to be accountable to and to collaborate with.
- Start a content project – I find that I’m often the most inspired when I’m starting something new. The problem with this is that the temptation is often to start a new blog which doesn’t really help take your existing one further. Instead of starting a new blog I recommend starting some kind of new internal content project ON your blog. This might be anything from a series of posts, a competition or perhaps writing a report or eBook for your readers. The good thing about doing this is that you’re not only doing something new that might energize you – you’re also doing something that potentially could bring in new readers to your blog and that will be of benefit to those you already have.
- Begin a learning project – something that I used to do when I got either bored, unmotivated or uninspired with my blogging was to commit myself to learning something new about blogging. This might include doing some free research on the web a topic like SEO, blog design etc or it could even be investing a little money into some kind of teaching resource. This is actually one of the reasons I started 31 Days to Build a Better blog – as a tool for bloggers to invest a full month in learning about small things that they could do on their blog to bring it life. While the lessons were designed to help people the main purpose of it was to see what would happen when people committed to improving their blog in some small way every day for a month. Much of the feedback I’ve had from people who completed it was that they saw it as a way to kick start their blog and get it back on track after periods of feeling uninspired and unmotivated.
Those are 7 ways that I’ve managed to keep myself inspired and motivated to keep blogging for 8 years – but I’d be keen to hear your suggestions also. You might also like to check out the suggestions of some of my followers on Twitter in this collection of their responses to my question on the topic.
Tips on Getting Traffic
As promised above – here are some links to some posts I’ve written on growing your traffic (which will hopefully also help you to be a little more inspired – there’s nothing like new readers to keep you moving forward with your blog)!
Very relevant. I forwarded this to my girlfriend who wants to start a blog but is too wraped up in, “what if no one reads it.” I found this helpful for when I just get discouraged about having to blog. With 700 readers a day, I feel like I’m letting them down. Maybe I need to do guest posts like you.
One of the best tips I can think of, for finding blogging inspiration, is reading posts and comments here-at Problogger! Seriously.
That aside, whenever I’m near the end of my rope, and I feel like killing off the main character of my blogfiction–just to get it over with–I remind myself of my goals, and I remind myself why I’m writing (to improve my skills, express myself creatively, and provide entertainment for readers), and I’m soon back on track, and my main fictional character gets to live to see another day.
I couldn’t agree more. If you cant take a break or celebrate the small victories, it can be tough to keep pushing forward.
Usually, i will read some books and some articles on internet to keep inspired when i feel bore to blog. Or i will review back my objectives when start blogging. However, i will not force myself to write.
You are starting to bore me! Your articles are always just so spot on! LOL
I was having one of those blogging blues week and this article just helps to know evern the “big boys” started small and it was 8 years ago, not 8 months ago or even 8 weeks ago.
It takes momentum, which comes from time and persistance.
Thanks for sharing your blogging insights. It helped make may day.
Very poignant post Darren and I think we all could take a leaf out of your inspirational book. For me it is all about setting SMART and realistic goals, and understanding the difference between goals and objectives. As you stated, it is also important to celebrate the small wins
I enjoyed this post a lot because it still covers a lot of the fundamentals that never seem to change in blogging. No matter where I go it’s still the same solid advice. Ensure that as bloggers, we write what we enjoy most.
And I’ve noticed that at times it can be challenging blogging, and that’s when I start to learn more about blogging itself such as SEO or copy writing, and this has made blogging such a great hobby.
Like you said, I would encourage bloggers to write their own e-book. This is such a natural extension of blogging and a great way to make income. And like you’ve mentioned before…great content will help sell e-books.
I am always looking for ways to get inspired when the doldrums strike – I live in Shanghai, a pretty crazy place, and I find going for a walk with my camera without a specific destination in mind, is often the ideal way.
Wherever you live, take a break from blogging and just walk out your door with an open mind. Go somewhere new, walk down a street you never have before, start a conversation with someone at a bus-stop, or look in shop windows. Something, somewhere, will give you the spark you need – inspiration is all around, it just needs to be ‘uncovered’!
I so enjoy reading your posts Darren, and I enjoy everyone’s comments just as much – thank you.
Somehow I can relate to the problems you faced when your blog was still growing. I also have a blog of my own that I don’t even know will succeed. I still have lots of things to learn but I’m not giving up. I can’t imagine how much effort you put in to make you blog reach this stage. I am certainly inspired by what you’ve done :)
I also like the idea of celebrating smaller victories. If there is really nothing much to celebrate about at least a tiny achievement is worth giving yourself a pat on your back. I think what you said about taking a break is also true. I find that ideas just come to you all of a sudden.
Inspiration certainly is an issue not only for blogging but in life! It comes and goes but I find that when your truely passionate about what you do that it tends to stay a longer and when it does fade its just a temporary instance!
Thanks for the post!
It’s true that in the beginning it’s hard to stay motivated, but the people who do are the ones who’ll see success
people who quit won’t get anywhere! :-)
Great tips Darren.Particulary the point you made about “Write for yourself” and “Celebrate small victories”.It takes around 6-12 months for the blog to actually become popular and start getting any RSS subscribers or visitors for that matter.We mustn’t lose courage and keep on posting great content.People will start acknowledging your work and the dollars will follow.
I’ve found that a way to reduce the risk of lack of motivation is to spread out sudden spurs of inspiration so I don’t blow all my inspired writing in 2 or 3 days.
So whenever I get an idea for a topic I write a sequence of posts all at once and then schedule them over a long period of time.
Interesting tips. I myself have started my third blog, and one of the things that I have found with each of them is that sometimes you lack inspiration and other times you have a lot of it. So when I feel inspired I create a couple of blogs, but save them as drafts, so I can retouch and polish them when I cannot come up with something.
Sometimes I do not have the time to write the post, but I come up with an interesting subject, in which case I simply write the title and finish it at a later date. This allows me to remain “inspired”.
Great, I m So excited and inspired from your fantastic post Darren.
I really like the picture that you included in this post.
Growing a blog takes time and I also had a small number of visitors in the beginning 1500 – now 10 000 a month and growing 10% each.
My success was SEO, writing and eBook and started to post on the blog weekly.
Really great help! Sometimes or most of the times I feel the same way like what you said but now, things changed due to this motivation..
Thanks a lot.
Thanks for your inspiring thoughts. I was just a bit low on motivation so I read your comments just in the right moment.