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The Distracted Blogger

Posted By Darren Rowse 1st of November 2005 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

In my daily blogging activities I get to interact with a lot of bloggers from around the world. They have blogs of all shapes and sizes and have a variety of different experience levels. However in the past week I’ve come across quite a few newer bloggers who fit into one of the following two types of bloggers:

1. The Paralyzed Blogger – I’ve come across quite a few bloggers recently who look at the wider blogging community and are so overwhelmed by what they see going. They see blogs with beautiful design, bloggers with incredible gifts of communication, the massive traffic numbers of some of the A-listers and even the big dollars that some bloggers are making – and they get sucked into the trap of comparing their blog with others and end up being quite depressed by what they see – to the point where often they give up.

2. The Hyperactive Tweaking Blogger– I’ve also been bumping into quite a few bloggers that get so inspired by the wider blogging community that they spend 90% of their time tweaking their blog’s design, finding the perfect place for their ads, working on publicity etc that they actually become completely unproductive in terms of creating content for their blog.

(note: I’m not saying every blogger fits into one or the other of these categories – just that I’ve met a lot of them this week).

What is common to both of these groups of bloggers is that get distracted by other blogs and bloggers. The paralyzed comparisons lead them to depression and giving up while the Hyperactive Tweaker’s comparisons lead them to working on secondary items to the detriment of content.

While I’m a big believer in watching and interacting with other bloggers (I’ve learned virtually everything I know from them… from you!) there comes a time when a successful blogger needs to knuckle down to do the hard work of creating their own content and to do their own thing.

Most successful bloggers that I come across have a good understanding of the wider blogging community (especially the niche that they operate in) but also have a healthily positive view of their own blog, a sense of what makes their blog unique, a plan for where they see it going and a willingness to work toward their goals over time.

Of course I qualify that rather long sentence with the word ‘most’ because some successful bloggers are just very lucky!

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.
  • Good point Darren.

    When I was starting out, I found myself constantly comparing my blog to the “big guys” and I was determined that if my design was at all similar to their, I would see an increase in visitors. Not until I started my SEO blog that I found a way to optimize my blogs and create quality content. I even had time for some design modifications.

    I guess everything works well if it is in moderation.

  • Darren, I must have schizophrenia because sometimes I am a “Parlayzed Blogger” and sometimes I am a “Hyperactive Tweaker”!!! I switch between the two, and I was recently thinking about how I do this, so it’s funny that you wrote this post about exactly what I was thinking.

    I think I am getting better, though. I suspect that most people when they start out with blogging do both number 1 and 2. It’s hard not to. I think I am starting to focus much more on content as I fall into some type of rhythm. I have to tell you, though, you’re site has been a Godsend for me as a blogging newbie. Thanks!

  • I agree with you Darren, this is predominate with new bloggers- under 6 months.
    Once they get past those first few months they seem to find their own voice and niche in the blogo world.
    However having said that, I find myself succumbing to the impatience of wanting more traffic/comments/praise. I seem to pull myself out by reminding myself of two things:
    1- If all else fails I will blog for myself, I love it
    2- Look at how far I HAVE come.

  • Good analysis – I was paralyzed for a very short while; then I was hyperactive as I never liked my design enough. But now I’m satisfied, and have settled down to writing well, as you advise!

    And, now that Google has removed me from their Sandbox (from yesterday!), I’m seeing more visitors – but I think I should learn how to write so as to encourage comments…

  • I´ve been on both sides and it´s good to know that i´m not the only one who has been there :). I think most of us falled into one of those categories when we started.

  • Jon

    For me, once I got that first adsense click I was a big-time Distracted Blogger, checking my STATS! Did I get another click?…how about now? I’d be twice as productive if Adsense only updated at midnight each day :^)

  • Ouch. That hurts. I’ve been both. And I noticed that recently. I vowed to myself not to read too much of the “big guys” blog and refrain from tweaking the design. Now, the first thing I do is write then read other blogs as opposed to what I do before where I read first then write about what I read. Now, I just write what I want to write.

  • Bullseye. I decided to blog 6 weeks ago and I just can’t stop tweaking the design and ads the whole day. I expect myself though to cross this line a few more days, I hope and start putting in good content.

  • You are right on it Darren. I spend so much time on tweaking my blog instead of spending time on creating content for my readers. Very unproductive. Thanks for your reminder.


  • I agree, it is very important to have a carefully planned business model and every action should bring one step closer to the goal. It’s nothing more common than beautifully designed blogs that don’t succeed.

    Design is important but it won’t make readers stick. Content will.

  • Jon

    I just wish I had the time to do any of it. Over the summer I was going crazy on a few blogs. Ever since I moved back to school I have been way too busy. The only blog I have had time to update is the on linked here because it is usually discussing school projects or other small neat things.

  • There’s only two things that happen when you start comparing yourself to other people – you either get big-headed, or depressed.

    I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to be a Steve Rubel, or Robert Scoble, or Darren Rowse. That is, until the day I realised that the competitive differentiator for bloggers is much the same as the competitive differentiator for companies (in today’s economy) – your personality is the only thing that nobody can duplicate. And I think that is what makes the uber-bloggers out there as succesful as they are – they communicate their distinct personalities confidently through their blogs.

    I think we’d surprise ourselves, and do the blogosphere a favour, if we tried to be more faithful to our unique personalities…

  • Absolutely. I often come across blogs (if they are blogs) with stupendous designs, wonderful Flash intros (no skip button), and then a small para of text, which turns out to be lifted entirely from somewhere else. Or the blog that’s so heavy with links and ads that the blogger(s)’ work seems superfluous ~ the otherwise excellent Blogspotting is a good example.

    Comparing yourself with others is all very well, except that most of your readers don’t do that. They accept your blog for what it is, and either take it or leave it. Most people will be drawn back if what they read is interesting to them, and carries the topic forward.

    Google is/are my hero(es) [identity problem here]. They produce minimalist webplaces with stonking content and cutting edge relevance. To do that is pure magic.

  • .. overwhelmed at the “wider blogging community”

    I can see it. Yes it is overwhelming sometimes. Not everybody is as eloquent as the pro’s. I remember back in the ‘ole days (6-8 months ago) everywhere I read it was being encouraged to comment on blogs as a way to promote your own blogs. The idea of blogs – word to work mouth to mouth – that made sense. “Hey! Great Idea” .. Nowadays, if you see a blog you like and comment “Hey! I like your blog” – the Spam Killer plugin will capture your comment and delete it.

    Nowadays, you don’t have to even comment – just write your own blog entry and link back to a blog and it’s automatically recorded as a trackback. So, now everybody can link back to a blog’s article and give their own opinion on it. How often have you seen a blog link back to another blog, that someone else wrote linking back to them which was linked to another place altogether? Is that really content?

    Pardon my rant. I am just a little ‘opinionated’ because you accurately described me and tossed me in Class #1. I have been signing up for over 600 RSS feeds in my bloglines, that I have carefully organized by topic or area of interest, or by groups that give me articles, or by network grouping. I read my bloglines at least twice daily – in the AM and in the PM in hopes of thinking up new content to write about and see what’s out there. What happens? I get a cup of coffee in the morning, start at the top of the list and start reading. When I get to the bottom of the list, the bloody thing refreshes and there is more stuff at the top of the list for me to read again – and so on and so on. Next thing you know it’s lunch-time. Suddenly, my 9-5 day (self-employed) turnes into a 1-9 day .. Soon you forget that you are researching, and just start to enjoy and learn and surf and see what’s out there in cyberspace. It’s information overload and at least for me, why I sometimes halt to a stop and get “paralyzed” trying to think of new content.

  • I have also fallen into both traps, even though I consciously tried hard to avoid both.

    I had a three phase plan for starting my new site:
    1. Get a “passable” design. I know I am not an artist, so I just wanted to get something that worked.
    2. Start developing my voice and content.
    3. As I feel comfortable with my niche and develop an audience, bring in some professionals to help with design.

    In reality, I found it hard to get past phase 1 because I wanted to continue tweaking. Then I began to feel paralyzed and had trouble staying in phase 2 because I wanted my content to be completely unique and I kept finding others writing on the same topics. Paranoia would set in and instead of continuing to write on the same topic with my own voice and perspective. I would avoid the topic altogether to avoid any appearance of plagiarism even if I thought of the topic independently.

    Hopefully the timeliness of this post will help me consciously avoid both traps and get me back into phase 2 developing content and voice. If not, phase 3 and success will always be out of reach.

  • Thanks for reminding me to focus on content again!

  • Someone said that personality separates the bloggers from the uber-bloggers. Very true.

    I have to always remind myself to let my humanity show throw in the blog. Otherwise, I would end up just rehashing the latest political or news stories that every other blogger out there is writing about. Why read my blog when you can read the same thing in the New York Times or the local newspaper?

    I always try to think why I visit people’s sites. Often, it is because they let their personality shine. They have a certain style. They also seem to have a finger on the pulse of society (whatever society they may be blogging about).

  • I definitely fell into the paralzyed category cause it’s easy to get overwhelmed by great blogs out there.

    But i got over that and now I fall into the category where I’m looking to tweak it till I’ll finally like it. I don’t think I’ll ever like how my blog looks so I just need to find a happy medium.

    Definitely working on the content cause I know that’s why people come back for. That’s definitely why I come back here.

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  • Thanks for the gentle nudge, Darren. I’m well and truly in #2 at the moment. :D


  • Dave Campbell

    interesting about the “paralyzed blogger” … I’ve had two starts and stops. i’m trying to really let go of the perfectionism tendency that stalls me at zero. glad i’m not alone … wish me luck and the best to you fellow paralyzed bloggers :)

    Cheers, the angrybulldog

  • Great post. I actually linked this to one of my own after it inspired me:
    Luckily I haven’t found myself in either of these categories yet. I hope I never do, but at least now I’ll be aware of it! Content is so, so, important, thanks for re-establishing that time and again for your readers.