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The Psychology of Blogging

Posted By Darren Rowse 27th of October 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Psychology-Of-BloggingToday Life Coach Tim Brownson from A Daring Adventure explores 6 tips to get your mindset right when approaching blogging.

  • 10 spare hours a week – Check
  • Niche market – Check
  • Basic understanding of SEO – Check
  • Google Adsense account – Check
  • Dummies’ guide to writing great content – Check
  • Burning desire to succeed – Check

There are a lot of great sites, this one included, that can help aspiring writers progress smoothly through the ranks of mere blogging wannabes to the heady heights of ‘A’ listers. To read some articles it would be easy to assume if you follow this A-Z of Blogging success you’ll be basking in the adulation of thousands of subscribers faster than you can say “Really Simple Syndication”.

The reality is that, like people in most industries, few bloggers make a successful transition to the very highest level. Even though they know at a mechanical level what’s needed, they don’t seem to be able to put everything in place. There are a number of obvious reasons such as a lack of focus and/or discipline, inability to write great content and a lack of understanding of the requirements of their target audience, and one less obvious one.

Few newbies take into consideration (or maybe just take for granted) the psychology behind becoming a successful blogger: the ability to roll with the punches and succeed come what may. It’s not enough to just know the technical side of things, you have to be able to stay on track, stay committed and hopefully stay sane. Otherwise you’re likely to burn out quicker than a magnesium candle.

Here are the six tips that, coupled with all the other great advice on offer, will, if not guarantee your success, certainly stack the odds more heavily in your favor.

1. Patience Is A Virtue

If you’re naturally an impatient person you’ll want to curb that tendency when you get into blogging. Otherwise you’re likely to end up very frustrated and very stressed. Wanting to get on with the job in hand is all well and good – but it doesn’t matter how far your veins bulge out of your neck, Alexa won’t be back to your site for a day or two and Google won’t be indexing you on a daily basis to begin with, so let it go.

Do what you need to do to meet your short-term goals and relax in the knowledge that all is good in the world. Be aware of what is within your circle of influence and what is outside it, and then stay focused on the former.

Unless you are very lucky, have lots of spare cash to advertise or have oodles of time on your hands to go on a commenting frenzy, it’s unlikely you’re going to see much of a return inside six months. It can be done, but don’t bank on it

2. Perfectionism Is Pointless

One of the biggest killers of projects is perfectionism in all its various guises. If you are to stand any chance of getting to the stage where all you have to do is switch your computer on to make money, you need to realize that some of your early stuff will be less than stellar.

I thought my early posts were insightful, thought provoking and witty. When I look at them now I roll my eyes and think they were pretentious, self indulgent and forced. It took me over a year to become happy with my writing style and find my niche. Writing is a practice and you’ll improve in the same way as you would if you took up playing the guitar, speaking a foreign lesson or public speaking.

Accept that some of your early stuff will not be perfect and publish it anyway. In fact publish it BECAUSE it’s not perfect. You’ll only really learn and develop as a writer by getting your stuff ‘out there’ and seeing what response you get, or even don’t get.

3. Embrace Failure

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “fail, fail often, and fail quickly”. It makes perfect sense to fail as quickly as you can so that you can learn from those errors and move forward. Ask any ‘A’ lister if they have screwed up at some stage and I’m confident somewhere in the region of 100% will say yes.

That’s life, that is how human beings are wired up to learn and you’re no exception. Of course you should learn as much as you can and avoid the really obvious pitfalls by reading books such as Darren and Chris’s ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. However there’ll plenty of non-obvious roadblocks specific to your area of expertise that you won’t be expecting and won’t foresee, no matter how much planning and research you do.

Embrace these roadblocks, kiss them and thank each and every one of them for turning up. Each one that you overcome is an opportunity to learn and grow. Not only that, but every one that you deal with successfully separates you from the also-rans that have bailed out at the first sign of trouble.

When (and not if) something goes wrong ask yourself one simple question: “What can I learn from this?” If you can take some valuable experience with you, and know that you won’t repeat the same mistake, then it’s been worth it.

Anybody that has failed spectacularly only to go on to bigger and better things will tell you they wouldn’t have it any other way. We need the agony of short-term failure to ensure delicious long-term and long lasting success.

4. Develop A Thick Skin

Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Unfortunately Benny didn’t have a blog, because if he had the quote would have been “”In this world nothing is certain but death, taxes and if your blog becomes popular people will get jealous and want to see you fail.”

It doesn’t matter how brilliant your blog is, how much you pour your heart and soul into it, how genuine you are and what the quality of the writing is like, some people will still want to see you knocked down a peg or two. In fact, the more successful you are, the more some people will want to see you fail. Twas ever thus I’m afraid.

You’ll probably receive abusive e-mails from time to time as well as commenters who want to make you look foolish and/or criticize you. That’s just life as an ‘A’ list blogger. You need to either deal with it or prepare yourself for the day when you’re asked to put on the jacket with the very long sleeves.

Understand your readers do not know you. Some will think they do and may even start to perceive you as a friend. This is cool as long as they don’t start hanging around outside your house and sending you rabbit paws through the mail, but they still don’t know you. Therefore, any criticism that is aimed at you reveals nothing about you. It says plenty about the person that administers it, but that’s about as far as it goes.

You should deal with criticism the same way as you should deal with compliments: with a pinch of salt. Of course we all prefer to receive compliments, but they’re two sides of the same coin. If you take the good stuff too seriously, you’ll not be able to deal with the bad stuff when it arrives.

Whatever somebody says, simply thank them for their feedback. Then decide whether that feedback is useful and can help you move forward. If it can, great, use it. If it can’t, drop it because you don’t need it.

5. Stay Focused

This leads on from growing a thick skin. If you’re too heavily influenced by what others say you’re going to lose focus. Why did you start the blog? What are your goals? Who are you writing for? Get back to basics and re-connect with your real objectives from time to time. Otherwise you’ll start trying to please everybody and end up pleasing nobody.

Readers will come and readers will go, that’s just how it is. It isn’t about you and it’s pointless to try and work out people’s motives. I have enough trouble trying to work out what is going on inside my own head without trying to second-guess what other people are thinking. Firstly, you’re going to waste a lot of time and emotional energy and secondly you’re probably going to get it wrong, if not horribly wrong. Let it go.

6. Know Your Identity

Your blog is not you; it’s not your identity. If it crashes and burns that doesn’t mean you do too. We all want a successful blog with people lining up to comment and pay us homage (I know I do anyway), but it’s really not life and death.

Keep some perspective. Go all out to achieve your goals (you have got written goals, right?), but don’t stay attached to the results. Not only will that mean you keep a sense of balance, but conversely it will make you more likely to achieve your aims anyway.

Read more from Today Life Coach at A Daring Adventure.

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 and LinkedIn.
  1. Tim, Darren great article; this is great for me because ithrough this post I have been introduced to Tim Brownson, a blogger and Life Coach (that is my niche).

    I agree with the points you raise. I am a new blogger, my blog is barely a month old and I find myself focusing on producing content to the ‘positive-detriment’ of everything else.

    I know the critics and naysayers will come; I am ready and not ready; if that makes sense. But as you note we have to develop thick skins.

    The Bill Gates and Benny Franklins and Warren Buffets of the world did not set out to make friends! They set out to achieve goals.

    If we fix our goals right-smack in front of our eyes we will be able to forge ahead and not give up.

    Great post.

  2. Tim, I feel as if you are shaking and telling me to wake up!! My blog is not me!! Stop being so attached! I’m off to bed soon!

  3. Tim, I feel as if you are shaking and telling me to wake up!! My blog is not me!! Stop being so attached! I’m off to take a break soon!

  4. Thanks for the positive feedback everybody it’s much appreciated. It’s great to be here at ProBlogger and hopefully adding some value.

    I felt a tad pretentious writing about ‘A’ list bloggers when I’m somewhere half way down on a ‘C’ list, but then I thought “Let it go Tim, let it go” ;-)

    @ Insightful Writer – LOL, no I didn’t do multiple editing jobs, but then again hold back on the kudos because I did get a friend d to edit it for me before I sent it in. I managed to squeeze a couple of typos in anyway though ;-)

    @ Mary – Good point about SP, he doesn’t use a template for writing at all and as you say, seems to do ok!

  5. Honest and insightful!
    Truly great post!!

  6. Hey Tim, Nice work buddy, I particularly enjoy your big picture, the world won’t end perspective. We are coaches who blog, or consultants who blog or writers who blog. Very few of us own the identity of bloggers who also coach or cook or whatever.

    Be who and what you are first and then blog from that grounding. Agreed.

    One thing I don’t want to endorse is this. “if your blog becomes popular people will get jealous and want to see you fail.”

    I’m not buying it. I don’t think it’s an absolute result of success. Yet I’m far from an A – lister myself so I’ll keep the think skin just in case.

  7. Tim,

    This was excellent. I teach a blogging class for beginners through Biznik.com, and these are the issues they are consumed with.

    #2 is incredibly important. In looking back from January, when I started (and I am a professional copywriter!), to now, I’m amazed at my progress. I think I have just in the last month found my “blogging voice.” I needed to write all that other stuff to find it!

    Also, I tend to be a paranoid comment freak. At least, I used to be. But now I pay more attention to page views, RSS feed subscribers, and other stats that are better indicators of growth in readership.

    I’d love to share your tips with my blogging students, with credit to you, of course.

  8. Thanks for the great post! It’s great to get a boost like this.

  9. Excellent post, the only thing I would have added to #2 Perfection is paying attention to good grammar and spelling.
    I follow about 10 Affilliate Marketing blogs, and Problogger is one of the few and very rare ones that does not have grammar and spelling mistakes.
    I don’t understand why many bloggers pay little or no attention to this issue, it drives me bananas. Spell checkers do not catch all grammatical and spelling errors, and time needs to be spent reading your post,article, or ebook over and over again to find these mistakes and correct them.

  10. Tim, I already hate you, so don’t rush to become an ‘A lister’.

  11. @ Tom – In an ideal world, I’d be right with you. However, this isn’t an ideal world and I am confident that you’ll not find an ‘A’ lister that hasn’t encountered some form of jealousy towards them. Prove me wrong ;-)

    @ Judy – Please feel free and glad to hear you have your blogging voice!

    @ Dave – Not as much as I hate you scumbag!

    We love each other really.

  12. @ Terry – If you read the hardback version of my book you’d probably end up killing yourself because it’s littered with errors. I had a complicated publishing deal that meant I was responsible for editing and I thought I could save a few bucks by doing it myself! LOL, that was a mistake I now admit!

    When the book came out I was mortified, but then my wife brought me down to earth by asking me whether the message was more important than the grammar?

    She was right. 90% of the readers wouldn’t give a damn.

    I understand your thought process, but I have to say it’s not one I would follow. If I lose 5% of my readers because of bad grammar then so bet it. I’m a Life Coach that inadvertently butchers the English language on a regular basis. I honestly don’t care (in a nice way). I’d rather I was a better typist and knew more about what goes where, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. I know my strengths and grammar aint one of them ;-)

    Doesn’t this fit under the perfectionism bit?

  13. Tim’s last point really hits home. If you aren’t sure about how you want yourself portrayed online, you really need to take a moment and develop a very detailed idea about what and how you’re going to do that.

  14. Great post and very usefull article.
    Thank you

  15. I definitely agree with the points on perfectionism. That has been a great downfall of many of my projects. Very nicely developed post. :)

  16. what a terrific post. as a psychologist I am all for motivating others just starting out. I have been blogging for a year, and loving it. Finding the time has been the hardest, juggling other priorities first. Now that I have the time I am really having a blast. And the students tell me I am helping out…:-) cool

  17. Great post – very motivating and true for other facets of life not just weblogging !


  18. I understand the whole patience is a virtue thing, as I have been sooo tired of waiting 3 months for my blog to be accepted in “paid to blog” websites. Even then they say you need a certain amount of backlinks. Whoa this is exhaustingbut in the long run, it should work out.

  19. There are some great tips in this article and I agree with much of what is said. However, I’m looking at the psychological differences between successful bloggers and those who don’t make it. Whilst patience and having a thick skin are important, the most significant feature of successful bloggers I find is passion. The successful bloggers are deeply passionate about their subject. The unsuccessful bloggers have yet to find their true passion in life – no amount of patience, thick skin, focus etc will actually make them truly succeed. These things will help, but the most important thing an individual can do to turn a blog around is to spend time analysing their real passions and enthusiasms.

  20. excellent post Darren. I always read all of your posts…

  21. great tips darren.

  22. before this i don’t about psycology in blogging.Today i know what it is all about.

  23. Hi Darren; I’m a new reader/subscriber and just wanted to click thru from my reader and tell you that I’m learning so much from reading your blog. Even if I don’t become an A-list blogger, I know your tips are making me a better blogger overall.

    Thanks & nice to meet you!

  24. Perfectionism is pointless!!… Totally agree with that…. Some times in online as in offline business, procrastination and perfectionism are the real Project-killers as Darren Rowse here writes,

    I have left hundreds of dreams through the years and unfinished books and eBooks because a deep desire of having everything perfect. Now is different. If you think to much about most material online, you will never read it. In other words, you will never learn.

    It’s important to learn to read between lines with this avalanche of information to avoid knowledge overload.

  25. Wow this taught me alot! thanks so much. I look foward to reading the book as well. I love this crap!

  26. Focus and patience is right. You have to stay focused on where you are going and have the patience to get going even when the road tells you that you should turn back. My problem has been more on focusing than anything else. All too often I focus on what really isn’t that important rather than the brand id. for example, I don’t blog everyday because most of my entries are quite long. I should have a balance with this. Have the quick reads plus the endepth ones as well. Thanks blogger.

  27. You had me with the headline.. terrific post! Thanks.

  28. Great article! Staying focused is so important.

    Small incremental movements forward will ultimately result in a positive outcome. Just keep at it! Darren and his contributing writers lay it all out for you.

    I started blogging again on Oct. 3 of this year (after a brief break) and have had 1400 visitors and 2300 page views as of today.

    I just take a little time each day working on networking and driving traffic to my site. I stay focused on what my goals are and keep re-adjusting as I meet those goals.

    Thanks Darren and thanks for featuring Tim. I read his blog all of the time too!

  29. I think number 4 hits home for me. Since I am Pro McCain – I have gotten a few not – so – nice comments on my blog when I post about things that make you go “hmmmm,”

    You most definitely have to have thick skin when it comes to politics.

  30. Could not agree more with point 4 .

    Getting a thick skin is very important,I have personally seen flaming just because someone sees a technology article which might be of common knowledge to them but not to others,so they consider the whole blog “lame”.

    Would really like to see more on the psychology aspect of blogging full time.


  31. Wow – this was perfect timing for me as well. I have been trying to write two blogs (am I crazy?) since September 1 while working full time.

    While blogging has been a great release for me, it has also set me up with a certain expectation that people will see my ideas as unique and interesting. While I have had some positive response, the numbers aren’t growing the way I had hoped!

    Patience is my biggest issue! Thanks Tim.

  32. Hi Tim,
    This could be the next sermon on the mount. Sounds just like the sort of truths I hear about every Sunday. Well said!
    Mel Menzies, author of A Painful Post Mortem

  33. Just seen Graham Jones comments. Couldn’t agree more. The first post on his website is spot on too. I’m trying to build my brand on my passion, which is to give hope to people who are hurting. People who’ve been through bereavement, those who are struggling to learn to write better, and those who are eaten up with unforgiveness they’d like to get rid of. As an author of twenty-five years, I know that my readers sometimes simply want to know that someone understands what they’re going through. Whatever your blog’s about, let your passion shine through.

  34. Hi Tim, thanks for the great post again! Excellent tips, especially #2, #3 and #5. I can totally identify with #2 – I have to constantly remind myself to stop paying so much attention to a pebble and look at the entire forest. On #5, it is especially true given our cluttered internet community – having launched my personal development blog for a few days, I’ve experienced how easy it is to just get lost in the whole flood of information in the internet and have to remind myself to always keep my end goal in mind.

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