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Leaning Into the Blogging Dip

Posted By Darren Rowse 8th of June 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Do you sometimes feel like you couldn’t possibly write another blog post, even if it was a case of life or death? Does the constant grind of writing to a schedule feel like it’s wearing you down? Take heart: it’s perfectly normal! It’s called a Dip.

Many bloggers go through Dips and in this post Mark Dykeman from Broadcasting Brain shares what we need to do to take advantage of this opportunity.

thedip.gifBy “Dip”, I’m referring to the term used by Seth Godin in the book The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick).

The Dip, to paraphrase Godin, represents all of the challenges involved from going from apprentice to master: going from OK to good to great to the best in your field. The Dip represents the time, the effort, the obstacles, and the hard parts of becoming a master.

People like Seth Godin and Darren Rowse honed their skills and mastered their fields by:

  • trial and error
  • making smart decisions based on their results and feedback
  • some luck
  • putting an enormous amount of effort into being the best that they could be.

Blogging can be very hard work and working through a Dip can seem like climbing a mountain. However, by being smarter and mentally tougher than a lot of people, people like Seth and Darren and many others climbed up their Dips and achieved great things. The same is true for athletes, business leaders, scientists, lawyers, public speakers: you name it.

Godin says that the fastest way to get through a Dip is to push straight through it or “lean into it”. In his view, there is no such thing as a short cut through the work because it either:

a) Doesn’t get you to the right destination
b) Takes more time and effort to get to the right destination rather than “leaning into the Dip”
c) Gets you to the destination without being ready to fully exploit it. We all need time and experience to be ready for the next challenge when we get through a Dip. (Oh yes, there can be more than one)

MY DIP

It’s very likely that I’ll be working through a Dip when you are reading this article. My Dip is the effort involved in growing my blog to be the best it can be and to reach as many people as possible. Perhaps it feels the same to you?

I know the basics of writing good blog posts and the basics of writing in general. I’ve written some good posts and gotten some positive feedback.

However, it’s not enough.

Why?

It sounds cheesy, but it’s true: practice makes perfect. There’s a practical experience factor to mastering a craft that can’t be bought with money or with short cuts. My research and my experience to date both tell me that I still have plenty of growing to do as a writer:

  • Darren Rowse has said that making a good and successful blog takes years, maybe even five years. I doubt that it take less time for me and it will likely take longer.
  • I’ve been blogging since July 2007. I’ve only started to really get an idea of how to write better and more consistently since January 2008.

I’m learning a lot and (hopefully) getting better with each post.

But there’s a long road ahead. It’s well worn from the footsteps of the people who have come before and it’s packed with people today, although the numbers seem to thin out as we continue onward, much like a marathon.

HOW DO I (AND YOU) GET THROUGH THE DIP?

I need to be consistent. I need to continually learn, improve, and innovate. I need to network more with other bloggers. I need to further develop my own distinctive voice.

Most of all, I need to write. I need to write a lot. That’s the way that I’m going to push through the Dip.

  • I need to write when I don’t think I’ve got anything new to say.
  • I’ve got to write when I’ve got too much to say.
  • I’ve got to write when I learn something new so I can share it with my readers.
  • I’ve got to write when I find something “old” that’s valuable and convince my readers that it’s worth examining.
  • I’ve got to write when I feel confident and relaxed.
  • I’ve got to write when every word that comes out seems like crap.
  • And I’ve got to write during all of the times in between.

To be a successful blogger (and writer), I need to keep pushing forward. That doesn’t mean I can’t occasionally rest and regain some energy. Sometimes that’s crucial to staying healthy. I just need to get back up afterward and get writing again because the Dip will still be there.

The thing that keeps me going, and might keep you going, is the belief that I can do this; I can communicate successfully to a growing audience of friends and strangers. I can cover new ground and old ground and do both well because I can present my thoughts in a way that no one else can. I think I have enough talent and smarts to make it work.

As for motivation and determination, I’m on a journey of self-actualization. I’m trying to improve myself and see what more I can do in this life. I’d love to make a living by writing, but if I can reach another person and make a positive difference in their life, even if it’s fleeting, then it’s important to me to do so.

Oh, and one other thing: blogging is fun, even during the darkest times!

PUT YOUR SHOULDER INTO IT AND LEAN!

The central idea in this post isn’t new. It’s been restated over and over again in many ways. However, if you can take this image of “the Dip” that Seth Godin created for us and realize that it’s a perfectly natural process, you’ll be better prepared for the long journey ahead that lies between you and achieving a goal.

If you really, really want to achieve that goal, like being the best blogger that you can possibly be, then blog. And keep blogging.

Read other blogs and learn from their strengths and weaknesses. Examine what you are doing and learn from your experiences. Keep going.

Lean into the Dip. As Seth Godin tells us, it’s the shortest path to success. And it feels pretty darned good to get to the top of a mountain. It makes you want to tackle the next one. And the next one. And so on.

Mark Dykeman broadcasts from his brain about communications and social media several times per week at Broadcasting Brain. He enjoys participating in several social media sites, including Twitter and StumbleUpon.

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.
  • Mark, great post… unfortunately the dip doesn’t only exist in blogging… it exists in everything that is worth doing!

    When we hit the dip, it becomes incredibly easy to give up. But it’s those dips that weed out the weak.

    Only the strongest survive… so bring on those dips… we need the challenge!

    Cheers

    Ian McConnell
    Getting Ahead In Life!

  • Seth Godin’s intuition pump of The Dip is really a powerful tool for helping us to decide whether or not to invest our time and effort into any activity. And it’s certainly a useful pump for blogging.

    I started blogging only a few months ago. In my case I had to learn (and still need to learn) a lot of different skills: a bit of HTML, CSS, WordPress, and a whole slew of techno-gizmology. But in the end it comes down to just writing, and that’s the Dip I’m going through. Plus having a toddler and baking my bread for my family’s table all steepen my Dip.

    I’ve read his book and I highly recommend it to everybody for everything. The Dip applies to blogging extraordinarily well.

    The idea of “leaning into” the dip is a great tip. Sometimes when we encounter pain or discomfort we suffer because we flinch from it. But sometimes you just have to *lean* into it.

    To build on the analogy: If you’re in water and you fight it, you’ll sink. But if you relax and just allow your body to lean into the water you’ll float. Paradoxical but it works.

  • I never heard of this Dip until now, but it’s no different than writers’ block that every writer experiences when not knowing what to write next, let alone having the stamina to write another word.

    There is little difference between writers and bloggers. I’ve been a (published) writer for the better part of 15 years and blogged on and off for about 5. Now, I maintain a blog at ariwriter.com which can be viewed through the lens of both writer and blogger.

    If I don’t know what to compose for a post, I stare out the window or take a walk or go to the gym, anything to get away from the computer and gain perspective. Of course, one of the niches of my blog is I don’t have a niche, per se. I focus on a few topics but anything is fare game.

  • Awesome! thanks for this informative post, one of solving the dip is leaning on it, reveling in it, embracing it and breathing it in, then the problem becomes part of you, until you solve it.

  • I love your list of your “writing dips!” So true that this problem plagues all fields. I had it when I was a lawyer for 10 years; and, now, for the first time since I started blogging 8 months ago, I’m finally experiencing it in my postings.

    Funny that you used the example about climbing a mountain. When I decided to quit law to start a blog, I went back to the Half Dome at Yosemite for that tortuous 12-hour day hike to the top, the last 1/4 mile being the 45-degree (and often much sharper angles in certain precarious parts) climb up the rock itself, using nothing but two large cables and slats of wood loosely bolted to the rock every few yards. The Half Dome is symbolic to me for achieving difficult, even seemingly impossible, goals since I first did it in my teens. Physical conditioning only gets you so far. The rest is mental. You just have to push yourself past the desire to quit and keep going, or else you’ll never make it back down without a rescue team. Sometimes just the idea of that humiliation (and untold costs!) keeps you going.

    I visualize that hike now as I struggle for ideas for next weeks posts — my criteria being they must be both meaningful to me but also at least potentially useful and/or entertaining to the general public. But, I don’t want to post daily just for the sake of posting. The question is: Do I post stuff that don’t meet my standards just to keep posting daily, or do I let my posts drop to one every other day — or even longer? I’m struggling with this issue now and am interested in any advice you or other bloggers have about it. Thanks!

  • Our tactic has been to write “extra posts” of a very general topic – to keep on file for just such periods.

    It could be an ongoing serial or ‘best of’

    Or complitations of the best related links on the Web.

    These usually become some of the most popular and commented-on posts

  • One of the best posts I’ve read in a while. It gets frustrating sometimes being new to the game and not seeing the results materialize as quickly as you would like when you’ve been working hard. It’s easy to back off and try to gain some insight into the problems but pushing through them helps to gain more confidence I think.

    I think this is most important to bloggers who are just starting right now…the first 6-9 months of a blog are a constant dip and usually why a blogger stops.

  • Great post, Mark. These are all great things to keep in mind and I really appreciate the candor with which you wrote this post.

    I’ve been blogging just a little less than you (since Oct ’07) and I find a real truth to what you’re saying – the need to just write, the push for consistency, and the changes that come about after looking at the metrics.

    Thanks for this great post!

  • Darren,

    I’ve never read this book of Seth Godin.

    The dip – keep blogging whatever happen… Yes – I’m leaning into it right now.

    “I need to write when I don’t think I’ve got anything new to say.” – that’s the whole idea, isn’t it? I’ve been there a lot ;)

    Thanks for the great sharing!

  • Great post!

    I don’t believe in “luck,” though.

    Yes, I agree that the dips are there to strengthen you, but
    I believe that through prayer, God will help you to get through the dips, if we persevere; that we shouldn’t be weary in “well-doing”, because eventually, we will reap a harvest!!!

  • Don’t get the dip idea from Seth confused with simple writer’s block. There is much more to blogging than the writing aspect, although that aspect is the most important.

    Another important note about the dip: it isn’t always about pushing through. It’s also about knowing when to quit and when quitting is a good thing. Smart people know this. We all know there are a lot of blogs out there that should never have seen the light of screen.

    Thankfully, Mark’s isn’t one of them! :D

    Nice to see you guest-posting here, Mark, way to go!

  • I love it… posts like this help keep me motivated. It is strange to see these in my own writing. Either life happens and blogging stops for a few days or I get a little tired of staying up late after a long day writing the next post.

    My struggle is to allow the love I have for writing not rush me towards flame-out. If can can keep the love alive, much like in a marriage, fruitfulness will follow.

    thank you for the words…

  • This “dip”, or writer’s block can become even more frustrating when blogging in a limited niche, but choosing the right and permissive niche is another topic. However, this is one great motivational guest post, Mark, and thank you for that.

    Indeed, while sometimes it’s good to just take a step back and relax for a day or two, other times, pressing on could result in a successful march against “the dip”.

    Knowing how to choose between the two is the tricky part. History thought us that some pushed harder and lost wars when retreat was the more convenient solution.

  • Thank You Mark and Darren. This post could not be more timely for me and I would love to see more motivational posts on blogging. I haven’t read “The Dip” yet but I think I might get a copy now. “Lean into the dip” really resonates with me–it’s also pretty deep really—reminds me of the power of nonresistance… Thanks again!

  • Ann

    For the last few days I’ve been immersing myself in the “how to’s” of blogging, and haven’t written any posts.

    I enjoy the business part of blogging as much as the writing, but you surely have to keep up with both!

    I usually read Seth Godin’s blog; he manages to say a lot in a short post, which I admire. But I wasn’t familiar with this book and I’ve enjoyed learning about it here.

  • We are just getting started and I already feel the DIP. But we went through the Dip in our shed business and survived, so I believe we will do the same with this endeavor. Thank you for the great post.

  • I used to think on the same lines when I used to write articles that Ok i have wrote on almost every thign that I could within my niche now there is just nothing else to write about …

    But I got out of my Niche following the same principles that Daren you’ve listed. I convinced myself that not writing is just not an option for me.

    If I want to make something out of blogging or article writing then I’ve to just keep on writing and so I used to get out of the DIP.

    Jessica

  • Mark, you’re no dip :.)

    Actually, this post shows you’re very much out of any dip you might have thought you’ve been it. You killed it…excellent job!

  • I for one loved The Dip and bought it on audio disc. It is very encouraging in trying to get you to pursue your dreams and passions, but it also makes you ask yourself if there is any real benefit to doing so. At some point you might have to make the decision about whether or not to stick with your original idea or to change it. Scrapping that idea can be one of the hardest things to do but in the long run it can save you countless hours, money and headaches. Great writeup.

  • Ian

    I’ve felt the dip myself. I think the biggest dips for me happen when my traffic drops. I started this to share my idea’s and tips, at first I didn’t even advertise on my site, and only recently realized how easy it was. My biggest dip was when I changed my domain name. I didn’t realize how much it would effect my Google rank, and I felt like giving up. Instead I redesigned my blog and keep pushing ahead.

    Now I’m thinking about starting a new blog and running two. I’ve been doing web stuff for over 10 years now, but I only seriously started blogging last year. This site which I only found recently is helping a lot, thanks for all the great tips.

  • So I’m going to learn how to float through my Dip. Thanks for the intuitive post.

  • Thank you. I am primarily a weaver and only secondarily a blogger. What you say is very true for us weavers as well as for bloggers.

  • I am feeling the dip with most things related to my business at the moment, including my blog. Gaining more knowledge helps me to lean through it. The thing that motivates me to push on is that, even in the most discouraging moments, I realise I am still enjoying this more than any job I have ever had.
    Cheers,
    David Barker

  • I face this dilemma in writing for my real estate blog (www.jongriffith.com) just like the rest of the world as I am as much of an emotional being as you. One of the keys I have found to surviving these valleys of inactivity is to become active. Since the pattern of ups and downs transcends our writings and leaks into the rest of our lives, it’s critical at any time when we feel like we’re going nowhere to get active.

    Feed yourself in whatever it is you do so you have something to offer. Sometimes the reason you have nothing to write about is because your focus is too narrow. Open yourself to new patterns in your day and try new things every day you’re alive. That will help you surf through the dips.

  • @Everyone – thanks for your kind words and feedback! This is a real honor!

    A few specific comments:

    @Phil Baumann – I like the “floating” analogy

    @Ari – I don’t think writer’s block is the same thing as “the dip”. In this case, you could still have the ideas, but not the energy or intensity to maintain the pace, which also includes research, networking, and planning.

    @Shanel – it might be better to skip a day if you don’t feel that your material is either suitable or ready.

    @Michael Martine – once again, we’re in sync ;)

    Cheers!

  • Some great advice. I’d never called it this before but dips are no fun at all. It’s easy to lose motivation and if you get out of the routine it’s hard to get back in it, so you have to keep to a schedule and really lean into it.

  • Blogging requires thought and perseverance assuming you want to develop a quality blog.
    Like being a long distance runner. You have to work hard every day or you’re going to be mediocre and maybe give up.

    I have a poster on my wall with a monetary goal i am trying to reach with my blog. When I hit the wall I look at the poster and use my brain to come up with a solution.

    That happened a month ago and i came up with a strategy thats resulted in numerous well trafficed posts.

    My brain did hurt when I was thinking but when the ideas started to flow the pain went away.

  • Inspirational post.

    As much as I hate to admit it, a severe drop in Google traffic allowed me to momentarily dip. I love what I blog about, but in addition to sharing what I learn with my readers, I enjoy earning a few dollars.

    When the dollars suddenly dried up, it tested my resolve. I had to figure out how much do I really love what I do. For a period of a few hours I fumed and threw a hissy fit. I vowed not to blog anymore (hard to do since I have more than one blog).

    Then, after I cooled down, I realized that I started doing what I do even before I learned that I could earn money from it. I had to refocus, lean into the dip and keep on keeping on.

    Who knows. Maybe the traffic will come back today or tomorrow. In the meanwhile, I’m leaning into the dip.

  • Darren,

    I’ve been blogging for a while now, primarily for pastors, Christians, and those who are a little skeptical about both. Your post today really gave me an extra incentive to keep at it. Keep up the GREAT

  • …somehow got cut off before my climatic “…GREAT work.”

    Press on.

    Brian Jones

  • Great post!

    It seems this is timely at any time; dips or writer’s block (is it the same?) will presumably happen whenever people write from ‘their own minds’. The ‘pressure’ of having to come up with something new and of interest is definitely hard going at times; pushing through the dip times isn’t easy but when you get through it, you feel stronger.

    If you really want to do something, you’ll manage to get through the harder times whatever they are.

  • Good post Mark. It’s the ole keep your nose to the grind stone.”

  • I agree with Ian, the first comment – the Dip does occur in so many areas of life. However if you’re persistent you can see it through.

    I’ve been feeling a lack of motivation myself lately but I just keep plugging away and when I can do something fun (like visit other blogs and comment) that really helps me regain some motivation. Thanks!

  • Great motivational post !! Lack of interest or struggling to write is a huge factor. Seems simple unless your the author. Anyway, Go Phightins !!

  • What a refreshing post! I’m a new blogger (since March 08) and really needed this today! Onward blogging and leaning! ;-)

  • And here I was thinking that my dip was just incessant morning sickness!

    Pushing forwards.

  • This is an excellent post – thanks for sharing. We’ve been blogging about the same amount of time, and it is great to hear that this is a normal feeling (and that sometimes just writing SOMETHING is better than nothing). Onward I go!

  • Apart from the obvious value in the ideas and intent of your post, I especially enjoyed it because you wrote in such an easy and relaxed style.

    Good stuff,

    John

  • This is a great post. Thank you for writing it.

    It reminds me of another book by Tony Luna, (http://tonylunacreative.com/) called “How to Grow as a Photographer” (http://www.amazon.com/How-Grow-Photographer-Reinventing-Career/dp/1581154461/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1213033091&sr=8-1).

    It’s about seeing these DIPS as a sign of changing and growth. I saw him speak about this a few weeks ago and it was very inspiring.

  • Ah yes, Seth Godin on the “dip.” That was an interesting book when I first read it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give too many specifics and is a bit too focused on the business/marketing side of life.

    It is true for me that the dip occurs everywhere, in all endeavours, but especially in the ones most important to you. I think that leaning into the dip involves acceptance of your situation. If you’re feeling fatigued, like a failure, or that you should be doing something else – whatever – you just have to accept that and keep going.

    The problem is just trying to figure out what’s a dip that you should lean into, and what’s a dip that you should walk away from. That’s what I was hoping to get out of his book – but the book never really answered that for me.

  • I actually have a blog article title “My Marketing Hero, Seth Godin.”

    I think it’s important to remember the power of “just getting away.” It would be nice though if we could “just get away” often ;)

  • This threw me off :
    “Written on June 8th, 2008 at 12:06 am by Darren Rowse”
    With this comment:
    “People like Seth Godin and Darren Rowse honed their skills and mastered their fields by:”

    and I was thing Darren would not talk like that. this must be a guest post.

    Then I found:
    Mark Dykeman broadcasts from his brain about communications and social media several times per week at Broadcasting Brain. He enjoys participating in several social media sites, including Twitter and StumbleUpon.

    There has to be a better why to signal that we have a guest post.

  • Last summer, while I was traveling I went through a dip. I got someone to guest blog and then I switched up my routine a bit, playing with things until settling into a new one that works.

    I now use Monday to Friday themes (very broad ones). They’re not there so much as to categorize the blog as to remind me to post each day.

    And thank you for the inspiration for today’s post (which is under the theme of Lazy Tuesday).

  • I’ve been blogging since sometime last fall. My ‘dip’ is in having too many interests. That led me to creating several different blogs to ‘test the waters’ of my ambitions and potential for readership.

    Just as I decide to discard a blog because I ‘realize’ that I have no real interest in it, a half-dozen posts will come to mind and I will be consumed with them for a day or two.

    Still sorting all this stuff out.

    ADD/ADHD/hyperfocus kills.

  • I think that the dip becomes a problem when you have been to much time in your comfort area. So you want to do something else, but you are not able to know what do you want to do because your innovation abilities are prisioner of your comfort area.

    Pedro Pons – http://www.fototalleres.es

  • I agree that I need to write more and from different moods. I wasn’t born a writer, nor do I pretend to be one online. The only way me (and it sounds like you) can become more comfortable with it is doing it more. It’s like running. The only way to build mileage is to run as often as you can. Even when it’s damn cold out. I’ve completed 5 marathons that way.

    Oh, and writing a blog is harder than running a marathon. :)