4 Difficult Realities All Bloggers Face

During a conference last year I was invited to have dinner with three other bloggers who had all been blogging for 5-10 years and were now doing it full-time.

It was a fun dinner, and we covered a lot of ground in terms of conversation. But during dessert the conversation got a little deeper as one of them began to share how they were struggling with their blog.

214: 4 Realities of Blogging All Bloggers Need to Talk About

On their surface, their blogging was going okay. They had a great readership, and the content they were putting out was going well. But on the inside they felt disillusioned.

And as they continued their story, I looked around the table and saw a lot of nodding going on. Their story was resonating with us all.

I related to it a lot. Blogging can be hard sometimes, and it’s to become disillusioned.

As a blogger I’ve heard people rave about my, blog with comments like:

  • “You’re so prolific!”
  • “How do you stay so productive?”
  • “How did you write that way?”

But on the inside I’ve wondered why they can’t see what a grind and a struggle blogging can be.

This podcast is largely positive and constructive about how to build a profitable blog. But after reflecting on this conversation from last year it struck me that while I often talk up blogging, and share the benefits of doing it and the tactics of building profit, it may be worth acknowledging some of the hard stuff we face as content creators.

So in today’s episode I want to talk about four realities of blogging that many of us bloggers don’t always share.

Part of why I’m doing it is to give you a realistic insight into the life of a blogger. But I also think it’s important for us bloggers to realise that we’re not alone in facing some of these things. Being a little vulnerable with each other during that conversation last year seemed to lift our spirits a little. And out of the conversation came encouragement to keep at it.

So today I present four things about blogging that are hard. By no means is it a definitive list – I could probably come up with a lot more for a part two – but I hope it’s helpful.

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Hey there, and welcome to Episode 214 of the ProBlogger Podcast. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, events, job board, and series of ebooks all designed to help you to grow a profitable blog. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger at problogger.com.

In today’s episode, I wanna do something a little bit different. Last year, I was at a conference and was invited to have dinner with three other bloggers. They were bloggers who had all been blogging for 5 to 10 years, they were all full time at what they do. Relatively successful bloggers. It was a fun dinner; we laughed, we joked around, it was fairly lighthearted for the main. We covered a lot of ground in terms of our conversation.

Somewhere around the time that dessert was served, the conversation got a little bit deeper as one of our dinner party began to share that they were struggling with their blog. On the surface, this particular blogger’s blog was going okay; they had a great readership, they were producing lots of content, they had built a team, they had a beautiful design. It was all going well on the outside, but on the inside the blogger was feeling disillusioned.

As the blogger shared, I looked around the table and I saw that we were all nodding at the story. The story that the blog was telling was resonating with us all. I personally related a lot. There are times in blogging where it’s hard. There are times where it’s easy to get disillusioned. There are times as a blogger that I’ve heard people rave about my blog with comments like, “You’re so prolific” , “You’re so productive”, “How do you write like that?” But on the inside, I’ve wondered why they can’t see what a grind and a struggle it can sometimes be.

This podcast is largely pretty positive and constructive about how to build a profitable blog, but it struck me this week as I reflected upon that conversation that whilst I talk about blogging a lot, sometimes I don’t talk about the negative sides as well. Perhaps, it’s worth acknowledging some of the hard stuff that we as content creators face. In today’s episode, I want to go there. I want to talk about four realities of blogging that many of us as bloggers don’t always share. We like to present the positives and that’s great, but perhaps sometimes it’s worth going into these slightly darker and more personal, vulnerable places. I hope you allow me to do that today.

I want to do so partly to give a realistic insight into the life of a blogger. It’s not all bells and whistles. I also want to share it today because sometimes I think as bloggers, we think that we’re the only ones facing this kind of stuff. It struck me during that conversation with my blogging friends last year that simply by us each sharing about the tough stuff that we went away from that dinner with our spirits lifted a little bit more, slightly more energized and encouraged by one another’s stories.

Today, I want to present four things about blogging that are hard. By no means is this a definitive list. I can probably come up with 40 of these things, and perhaps there will be a part two at some point. I hope in sharing these four things that whatever you’re facing at the moment as a blogger, you’ll be a little bit encouraged that you’re not alone and perhaps come away with some ideas about how to combat these four things.

Let’s get into the first tough things about blogging that we don’t often share.

The first thing that I want to talk about is that it’s hard to be creative every day. Content creation, when you’re doing it on a regular basis, whether it’s daily or even weekly, it’s hard sometimes. There are times where it just flows. There are times where you sit at the computer and ten blog posts just come out of you, or three podcasts, or you get so many ideas and you get into the flow. But there are also many times in the life of most bloggers where you sit at that screen and you wonder what it is that you should be writing about, or you feel like you and everyone else has already written on every topic that there is to write about in your niche, or you doubt whether you are the right person to be writing on that topic, whether you have the skills, or experience, or authority to really go there. Or where you struggle to get into the flow of writing, you’re just getting to that flow. Or where you’re fighting distractions or even boredom with the task at hand.

The reality is that it is sometimes hard. There are days where it does flow and there are many days where it doesn’t. I just want to acknowledge that as the first thing today. My tip for you, if that’s what you’re facing, there’s many other podcasts we’ve written, I’ve put together, on this particular topic but my main thing that I want to say to you today if that’s the place you’re in is to push through the pain. You need to know that hurting is an essential part of growing your creative muscles.

I’m sitting here at my desk today, I’m standing here actually, and my muscles are sore. My triceps are sore. I went to PT, my personal trainer, yesterday, and he worked my triceps and they hurt. It hurt at the time and it hurts today but I know that the result of that hurt is that I will have stronger triceps. I don’t think they’re ever going to be massive but I’m experiencing growth as a result of some of that pain.

The same thing is true of your creative muscles. Good things happen when you exercise that creative part of yourself. You need to push through that, you need to persist with that.

Get into the flow by creating something, anything. Sometimes, the hard bit is just starting out. But once you get going, once you push through that initial resistance, that’s where the energy comes, that’s where the ideas come, that’s where the creativity comes. Make creating a regular thing, schedule it into your day, into your week, and push through that regularity and repetition of creating something, anything, even if you don’t publish it. It’s part of getting into that flow.

Number two thing that I want to talk about is that first drafts are almost always bad. My favorite bloggers, they just seem to have this innate ability to put words together in such an amazing way that seems, as a reader, effortless. It looks almost like some sort of superpower. There’s a couple of bloggers that come to mind. Every time I read one of their articles, I just feel alive as a reader. It’s amazing, they have this incredible gift.

The reality is that behind the scenes, the article that you’re wowing over usually starts out nothing like its finished, public version. The article probably started out as a hastily scribbled bullet point list on the back of a napkin, or them jotting something down into a notes app on their iPhone. It was probably then turned into a first draft that was full of mistakes and awkwardly formed ideas. In time, it was probably refined and re-worked. It was probably revisited time and time again. It was probably added to and then subtracted from. Its headline, its opening lines, its conclusions were probably agonized over, it was probably critiqued and edited numerous times and then polished and eventually it was published. It was probably published by someone who then continued to proofread it and edit it after it was published, in the days after.

Creating content takes time. It rarely, if ever, comes out of the author ready for publishing in its first draft. I’ve never, ever written a blogpost that didn’t get an edit, didn’t get reworked.

The tip I have for you, if you are looking at that piece of content that you’ve written and it’s awkward and it’s not flowing and it doesn’t look very good is to keep putting effort into editing, into finishing your work. You need to put as much time into the editing and the polishing and the finishing of your work as you do into that first draft, if not much more.

The second thing, your first drafts are usually almost always pretty bad.

The third thing I wanna talk about is that—this is speaking from my experience—you never really finish anything. Nothing is ever perfect. In 15 years of blogging, I don’t think I’ve ever hit publish on anything on my blog or my podcast that I’m 100% happy with. There is almost always, as I hit publish, a tension within me, mixed feelings. Excitement on one hand, pride, satisfaction. But also on the other side, there’s almost always some uneasy feeling that maybe I could have done a little bit more, or maybe I could’ve added more detail, or maybe I could’ve polished it further, or maybe I could’ve got an extra quote, or maybe I could make it look better.

On one hand, these feelings of “I could do more” can be a good thing. I just spoke in the last point about how you should let those feelings drive you to improve those first drafts. On one hand, those feelings are great, but on the other hand some of us as content creators allow these feelings of “I could do more” to stop us publishing or releasing anything at all. I think, really, one of the skills as a blogger is to find a place between those two extremes. Perfectionism can be both a superpower and a curse. Allow it to drive you to improve what you do, but also learn that you sometimes just need to set free, you need to put what you’ve done out there, you need to set free what you create.

You can always tweak later, but you will never build anything of value unless you hit publish on it. Leave with that tension. Acknowledge that perfectionism within you. Work with it, but also resist it so that you do publish something.

The fourth thing kind of relates to this idea of perfectionism. The fourth thing that I want to acknowledge is that procrastination impacts us all. It happens to us all. We all know what it is to procrastinate.

Here’s a little secret for you. I outlined this very podcast in March of 2016. It was the day after the conversation that I had with my friends. Now, as I sit in front of this podcast, my microphone, recording this podcast is now the 4th of October, 2017. It’s taken a year and a half for me to get this podcast done. Even the most productive people have the temptation to put things off. In many cases, it’s the things that we procrastinate about that ultimately have the power to hold us back most.

For me, procrastination is often tied to fear. It’s the things that scare me that actually are the things that have the biggest potential to bring good things into our life as well. You need to learn to see procrastination as a signal that it’s something you need to really pay attention to. If you’re a procrastinator, after this episode finishes, go and listen to Episode 167 for my ultimate procrastination story and tips.

I hope somewhere in the midst of these four things, there’s some encouragement for you. I don’t want this to be a Debbie Downer, I don’t want it to be a negative podcast, but I want to acknowledge that sometimes it’s hard. It’s hard to be creative every day. It’s hard when you look at those first drafts and you think it’s awkward and it’s not working. It’s hard when you put off things. It’s hard to get things finished. These are four things that I’ve struggled with over the years and I want to let you know that it’s okay to have those struggles too but I encourage you to push through them.

I would love to hear what struggles it is that you wish more bloggers would talk about. You can do so in a couple of ways. You can do it over on our podcast notes, show notes today at problogger.com/podcast/214 or over in our ProBlogger community Facebook group. Love to connect with you there and I look forward to chatting with you next week in Episode 215.

If you’re looking for something else to listen to, go and listen to Episode 167, the one I mentioned in that particular episode. It’s about procrastination. It was me telling a story of my ultimate procrastination, something that cost me a lot of money when I procrastinated on but it gives you some practical tips about how to get things done too. Go over and join the Facebook group. problogger.com/group.

How did you go with today’s episode?

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