So you’re thinking of spending more time on your blog.
Actually, you’ve been thinking about it for quite a while.
Thinking about it. Talking about it. But not doing it.
Something is holding you back. In fact, a whole list of things. You lack time, confidence, money, ideas.
You’re tired, stressed, busy, sick.
So you’re waiting for the perfect blogging circumstances.
Waiting until you have buckets of spare time, an overload of great ideas, a guaranteed audience, perfect health… the list goes on.
I’m sorry to break it to you, but those perfect circumstances will never occur.
Your reasons for not blogging will always be there in some form and in some combination.
You will always have to face down the demons of no time, no support, no money, no confidence, no ideas, or ill health.
And when you realize that almost everyone faces these same problems, your reasons start to look a lot like excuses.
So let’s call them out, one by one.
If any of the following excuses sound like what’s holding YOU back from becoming a serious blogger, consider them busted.
1. People might not like what I have to say
Blogging can be jarringly personal – like ripping your heart out and offering it up to strangers. Even if you’re blogging on a non-personal topic like business, pet care, or math education, your writing is out there for the world to see and judge.
Like it or not, putting your ideas in the public domain and running the risk that someone might not like them – even hate them – is the price of entry for being a successful blogger. If you think your blogging heroes aren’t nervous each time they click “Publish” then you’re kidding yourself.
But putting yourself out there yields some major benefits. You’ll attract a crowd of like-minded readers and get to hone your blogging skills the tough – but highly effective – way: in a trial-by-fire.
Yes, you may have to deal with haters. Everyone does.
Like the time someone left a 400-word comment on my blog complaining about two typos in my post and saying he imagined me as a crazy-haired, frazzled woman who couldn’t take the time to proofread.
But over time the haters become more amusing than frightening. You’ll realize that while they’re complaining, you’re blogging.
Remember, if someone has a negative reaction to something you wrote, that means your writing is powerful. Your writing caused someone to react.
And that’s got to be a good thing.
2. I don’t have anything new to say
Everything under the sun has been done already, right? Feeling like you can’t add to the conversation as a new blogger is only natural.
But it’s not just about what you say, but rather how only you can say it.
Take this post for example.
It’s certainly not the first post ever written on busting your excuses and writing through your fears, but I’ve put my own spin on it by viewing the topic through my personal lens of experience. No one has had exactly the same experiences as me, no one has worked with the same students and mentees on the topic, no one has read exactly what I have read, and no one thinks just like I do.
The truth is that genuinely original ideas are rare, even for the top bloggers and writers.
Instead, bloggers attract fans due to their personality, writing style and personal viewpoint – not because they pack their blog with hundreds of startlingly unique, never-done-before ideas. Few bloggers can do that.
3. Lots of people blog about my topic already
Let’s say you want to start a blog on gluten-free baking. You run a quick Google search and discover that someone else – lots of people, in fact – already had the same idea. And some of them have been blogging for years.
Why would anyone want to read your blog?
Let’s flip this viewpoint:
Lots of blogs on your topic exist because lots of people want to read about your topic.
And they’re hungry for new information, better information – even the same old information written only the way you can write it.
Let’s take writing as an example, since that’s my topic. You’d think that niche would be at its limit, but every year I see new writing blogs starting up and succeeding.
Even within the sub-niche of blogging, you’ll find dozens of variations on the theme. A new blog might focus on the craft of blogging, the use of psychological techniques to draw more people to your blog, using guest blogging to get more traffic, blogging to generate affiliate sales, blogging to sell information products, blogging to sell ads, blogging for clients, or another of the many slants you can take on that topic.
Lots of competition isn’t a valid excuse for not blogging – it’s a cast-iron reason to blog. In fact, Jon tells his blogging students: “If there are not already popular blogs in your niche – get out of there!”
So don’t be afraid to plant your stake in a topic that others are already covering. You can approach a subject in an infinite number of different ways, and put your own personal spin on it.
4. I don’t have time to blog
Your days are packed. You’re running around from morning till night, and you sure as heck don’t have spare time to work on a blog every day.
Let’s get something straight: we’re all busy. We all feel like: “Everyone else is just kinda busy, but I’m really, truly, jam-packed busy”. But if we all feel like that, we must all be wrong. Right?
Successful bloggers are just as busy as you are, if not more so. The guy you’re so jealous of who churns out post after quality post doesn’t have a trust fund and a maid. Like you, he has a job, a family, volunteer commitments, pets, school functions, chores… the list goes on.
So the question isn’t “Where are you going to find the time?” It’s “How are you going to make the time?”
Carry your smartphone and tablet everywhere, and take advantage of those random 10-minute blocks of free time to write – while you’re in line at the supermarket, in the dentist’s waiting room, or in the car waiting for your kid to get out of school.
It’s not perfect, it’s not pretty and sometimes you might look a little crazy or obsessive. But you have to do it because it’s what real bloggers do.
And don’t just work on your blog in the scraps of time that open up in your “real” life. Schedule blogging time into your calendar. Make it a non-negotiable date with yourself.
If you wait until you have the time, it will never happen. So make the time.
5. I don’t have a clue where to start
You make a list of all the tasks that need doing on your blog and become frozen with indecision. Should you work on your blog design, brainstorm some post ideas, build your social media presence, or do one of the other 200 things on your list instead?
It’s enough to make anyone quit in frustration.
Here’s a tip: start anywhere. Seriously.
As long as you do something, anything at all, you’ll be ahead of the game.
It’s the only reliable way to break through the paralysis of indecision.
My secret is to make a list of everything I need to do, and then choose tasks based on how much time I have, how much energy I have, what I’m in the mood to do at that moment, and my intuition on which tasks are most urgent and important.
So you may find me working on a guest post for 30 minutes, then writing a post for my own blog for another 30 minutes, then spending 10 minutes writing one of my Morning Motivations for Writers emails for the following week.
As a blogger, often it doesn’t matter what order you do things in.
Create a list of everything you need to accomplish and start chipping away at it.
6. It’s not the right time
Maybe you have a chronic illness and don’t want to commit to a blog until you feel better. Or you’re in the middle of a divorce. Or your bank account is too empty.
Every time you think about starting your blog, you tell yourself, “It’s not the right time. As soon as I take care of problems X, Y, and Z, I’ll get started.”
But the truth is by the time you’ve fixed X, Y and X, new problems will have taken their places.
So guess what? There’s never a perfect time to do anything. As a wise person once said, sh%^ happens. So if you wait until conditions are perfect, you’ll be waiting – well, forever.
You don’t have to go gangbusters on your blogging goals when times are hard. But if you take tiny steps towards those goals – steps so small that they’re easy no matter what your situation – you’ll gain a sense of control over your life that helps put your problems into perspective.
When life calms down, the smart blogger takes the opportunity to get ahead of themselves, in preparation for the next perfect storm.
And before you know it, you’ll make the subtle transition from fair-weather blogger to all-weather blogging hero.
7. I’m too exhausted
You’re running around all day taking care of little ones or working the 9-5. Then you make dinner, clean up, put the munchkins to bed – and you’re too wiped to do anything but melt into the sofa and watch Top Chef.
In other words, you have no energy left for your blog.
This excuse doesn’t fly. You know why? Because nothing gives you more energy than working toward a goal you’re passionate about.
So if you’re too tired at the end of the day to work on your goals, the answer isn’t to abandon your goals – it’s to set more exciting ones.
Using myself as an example, I run my own business and homeschool my four year old, so at the end of a typical day my only desire is to delve into my Kindle and sip a hot cup of English Breakfast.
(And when I don’t have a project on the go, often I do just that. Why not?)
But when I was struck with the idea for my last e-book, I was so excited that I magically had the energy to work on it every night until 1:00 am, and then again in the morning. I got that sucker done – all 180 pages, including the marketing plan and organizing interviews with 20 writers – in just three weeks.
Try it yourself and see. Fire up the laptop and work on your blog after hours, and see if you’re not hit by a burst of energy and inspiration.
8. What if I fail?
You don’t want to fail. Of course you don’t!
So you take the safe route by not working on your blog. No blog = no chance to freak out as a quick check of Google Analytics tells you no one cares.
But guess what? Not getting started is just another type of failure. You end up in the same place whether you try and fail or whether you don’t start at all: without a successful blog and kicking yourself.
At the risk of sounding cliché, the only way to fail is not to try.
If you try blogging, you have a chance of succeeding and a chance of failing.
If you don’t try, you have a 100% chance of failing.
Which is the less risky choice?
9. What if I succeed?
At the same time bloggers fear failure, they often fear success too.
Subconsciously, you may worry that you’ll lose your friends, because they’ll envy your success and no longer want to socialize with you.
I hear similar worries from my mentoring clients who want to write for magazines. One minute they’re afraid they’ll never make a sale and their pitches to magazine editors will be met with a big fat silence. But the next minute they’ll say to me frantically, “What if two editors accept my idea at the same time? They’ll hate me!” Whaaaaa? Which is it?
But you are right: if you do succeed wildly, you will probably lose some friends. It’s happened to me and honestly you’re better off without them. The problem is theirs, not yours. If friends spew envy and make catty remarks about your blog’s success every time you see them, they’ll just be holding you back from becoming your best self.
Don’t let the thought of losing fake friends at some point in the future stop you from getting serious about your blog today. There are so many “ifs” here it’s not even funny.
10. I don’t have enough knowledge yet.
There’s so much to know about blogging! You’re inundated with tips, courses, books – even other blogs – on how to start a blog, and that next one might have just the information you need to skyrocket yours to success.
So you keep learning, and learning, and learning – and never getting off the launch pad.
The problem is no clear finish line exists. No one can tell you, “Okay, you know enough now, you can stop learning and start blogging.”
The best way to learn is from experience. Sure, take a class or read a book to get you on your way, but then set up your blog and start posting. You’ll learn directly from your readership’s response – or lack of response – what works for you and what doesn’t.
And don’t worry: even if your early posts are terrible, they will soon be lost in the sands of time. Check out my first posts on the Renegade Writer blog, from 2006, if you want proof.
11. I don’t have enough good ideas.
This is the biggie.
Even if you can get past the other excuses, this one is usually bubbling beneath the surface.
What if you can’t come up with enough good ideas to keep your blog going?
How do you remain passionate enough to generate idea after idea and write post after post on the same topic? You may have some great ideas now, but can you sustain posting week after week, month after month, even year after year?
The good news is, you don’t need to worry about having hundreds of post ideas in the bank to keep you going forever.
In the early days, you’ll want a bunch of knock-your-socks-off post ideas to get you going. But once you’ve hit your rhythm, you have many ways to keep the ideas coming.
For example, to come up with fresh ideas you can:
- Be prepared for inspired moments. You’ll have times when you’re suddenly hit with a dozen great post ideas at once – usually in the car, in the shower, or while drifting off to sleep. Carry a notepad or your smartphone so you can take advantage when the muse visits. You can even keep a pad and pen in the bathroom. (Hint: Do not take your smartphone in the shower!)
- Get your readers to do the work. If you’re running short on ideas, survey your readers on a free platform like SurveyMonkey to learn what they want to read. Prompt them to ask you their burning questions. You may discover you’ve been neglecting topics that your readers crave.
- ‘Steal’ ideas from social media. Hang out on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to find out what friends and followers are actually talking about right now. Which topics are trending? Which provoke the fiercest debate? And which the most confusion? Use one of these topics as the starting point for your next post as a surefire way to deliver the goods even when inspiration eludes you.
And remember, you don’t always need fresh ideas. Instead you can:
- Invite other writers to the party. Once your blog garners enough readers, writers will be clamoring to write for you. They’ll pitch you so you don’t have to be the source of all the ideas. And it’s great to have a fresh voice on your blog now and again.
- Refresh posts from the archives. After a while, older posts are buried by newer ones. Resurrect them by updating old information, expanding on the points made in a list article (each one can be its own post), or combining several short posts on similar topics into a roundup.
- Take your cue from the season. For example, many bloggers used Thanksgiving to run “thank you” promotions, share lists of what they’re thankful for in their industry, or offer tips on how readers can use gratitude lists, journals, or meditations to enhance their own lives. In January, many readers will be looking for a fresh start in their careers or personal lives, so posts full of ideas and strategies to help with this are bound to do well. And posts like these practically write themselves.
See what I mean? You don’t have to have hundreds of fresh ideas in the bank before committing to your blog for the long haul.
It’s time to ditch the excuses
If these excuses – or heck, any excuses – are holding you back, keep in mind that every successful blogger faces their own demons. They’re not naturally immune to the fear, the uncertainty and all the other obstacles – they’ve just learned to plow through and take action in spite of them. Take a page from their books and let your passion guide the way, instead of your fear.
Don’t tell yourself and others what you can’t do. Tell them what you can. Ditch the excuses – and just write.
About the Author: Linda Formichelli has written for more than 150 magazines and two dozen corporate clients since 1997. Linda’s new e-book, Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race… And Step Into a Career You Love, will help you quit your job to write. She also offers two free e-books and daily Morning Motivations for Writers to people who subscribe to her mailing list.