It’s pretty easy to start a blog, especially when you’re excited about it. Brainstorming names is fun! Deciding on a platform takes some work, but it’s still pretty neat. Making a banner? Fun. Before too long your blog is set up and you’re ready to write your first post. The whole thing might take a few hours or maybe a few days, but it’s not terribly difficult.
It’s also easy to publish your first few posts. That whole time that you’ve been setting up your blog you’ve probably had ideas swirling in your mind and now you have somewhere to put them. Hooray!
A new blog comes with a bit of an adrenaline rush. It’s exciting. This thing could be anything! The future is so bright
And then as the weeks pass it begins to get hard. All the initial ideas are used up. It seems like a lot of effort, hours and hours of effort really, to write and edit and photograph every post. And for what? Where’s the benefit? What’s the point?
This cycle doesn’t just apply to blogging, of course. It applies to anything new that you begin with gusto. The beginning is propelled by the project’s novelty and your enthusiasm. Once those two begin to fade, things can start to fizzle.
It’s possible to get through that fizzle stage. If you’re able to keep going even when you really don’t feel like it, you’ll come out the other side with more devotion than you began with. And over time you’ll begin to see the rewards of your work.
I often run out of ideas, or just don’t feel like working on my blog. When things seem endless and without reward here are some strategies that I employ:
Get back on track as soon as you can. Did you set out to publish a new post on Mondays and Thursdays, but failed to publish anything last week? Yep. That happens. When you slip up, just get back on track as soon as you can.
For several years I went to Weight Watchers meetings every Sunday morning. We had a really exceptional group leader and I learned so much from her about our internal dialogues and how they get in our way. She used to say don’t tell yourself, “Screw it, I blew it.” In the context of weight loss this meant you shouldn’t say, “I ate a piece of cake at a birthday party today so now I’m off my diet and can eat a four slices of pizza for dinner.”
Instead, the self-talk should be, “I ate a piece of cake today so now I’ll have a healthy dinner and get right back on track.”
Monday will be here before you know it. Write a great post and keep going, no apologies needed.
Restructure the project so that it’s achievable. Were you planning to publish a free tutorial once a month, but now feel overwhelmed at the thought? Change the project to make it work for you. How about every other month, or once every three months?
Or maybe you were only going to blog about polymer clay, but you’re also passionate about science fiction and find yourself wishing you could write about that as well? Just do it. You can have a polymer clay and science fiction blog. I have a softies and creative business blog! It’s entirely okay to edit a goal to make it something you’ll enjoy doing if that will help you to keep going.
Pull on your own strength. Think back to a time in the past when you tackled something that felt really hard. All of us have done it, whether it was living alone in a new city and having to make new friends, or working a demanding work at home job, or taking care of an aging parent. If you got through that, you can do this, too. It might seem dramatic to say that in the context of blogging, but continuing on with any project, even a craft blog, is difficult and it’s helpful to remind yourself that you’re strong.
Impose deadlines. Almost every aspect of running a creative business on your own involves self-discipline. Knowing that you have a bunch of things to accomplish with no deadline is dangerous. Since they aren’t going to come from a boss or someone else, the deadlines have to come from you.
I blog Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I air a new podcast on the first and third Monday of each month. I send out my newsletter on Wednesdays at 10:00 EST. These three things structure my week and my month and all of them come from me putting stuff on my calendar and then sticking to it, even when I don’t feel like it.
If you’ve started something like a blog, or an Etsy shop, or a podcast, or even a quilt, and are now in that dreadful uninspired middle phase, get right back on track. Restructure the project, pull on your own strengths, and impose some deadlines. Instead of feeling badly that you let things slide, just get going again. Soon you’ll likely remember why it was you started in the first place and be energized to continue.
I *really* needed to read this. I find the whole project so overwhelming at times. I feel like I finally have all of the tools in place to keep it up, but I am worried (I’ve taken a lot of months-long breaks in the past). It’s hard too, to give myself permission to take my little blog seriously.
Everyone who has a big blog (much bigger than mine!) was once someone with a small blog that they took seriously.
This was also just the right moment for me to hear all this. I have just written a newsletter that I hope will connect with people, because I absolutely refuse to go more than two weeks without saying ‘hi’, even though I haven’t blogged this week or last. It was hard and I don’t want to be in this situation again. (I may not have been blogging but I have been working very hard on other business related projects).
One thing I am also thinking about is trying to come up with blog posts that are shorter and deliver quality insight and value without taking up so much time! Maybe not all the time, but say once a week, taking the pressure off.
Thank you so much, Abby. Next week is another week and two posts will go out!
I think Geninne Zlatkis does an especially good job at the short but great blog post. http://blogdelanine.blogspot.com/ On average her posts are two sentences, plus one (or several) beautiful photos. That’s it! And it’s so lovely.
WoW! two sentences!!! I’ve gotta go check that out…thanks, Abbie!!!
Rebecca Owen says
Thank you so much for this blog post. It’s just what I needed to read. I’ve dreamt of selling my handmade items for years and finally done it this year but it hasn’t gone how I’d imagined. I know I need to give it time and dedication rather than expecting the orders to come to me. It’s hard to do when working alone and no-one to report to! Thank you.
What an encouraging, proactive post–thanks! Something I find helpful is to keep a “brain dump” file in Evernote (or wherever); I often get ideas for blog posts, products, etc. in spurts. If I have an idea I drop a brief description of it in my document; then, when I hit a dry spell and “can’t think of anything” to write or develop I look at my brain dump and instantly have a wealth of ideas.
That’s a great idea! I don’t use Evernote (although I should!), but I do try to write down those ideas that are sorta half developed, or even begin drafting them in my post drafts. Sometimes nothing comes of them, but there have definitely been times that those tiny starts have developed into posts I’m really proud of.
Love this 🙂 Come this July my blog will have been running for 3years — how time flies when your having fun 🙂
I have been through many of the things you mentioned. Personally I’m not the biggest fan in general of deadlines but I have learnt to appreciate them with my business and found that they have helped me. Organization in general is not a strength of mine, but I am always working on trying to improve.
I used to post once a week, but this year I have found I need to make some adjustment to accommodate some new responsibilities I have taken on, so now I post fortnightly.
For myself I have also found I need to occasionally give myself permission to take extra time on a project, for example, last week we had a crazy busy week and to try and write a post in the middle of all that would have stressed my out to much, so instead of posting Saturday, I did it Wednesday — I still got it done, I wasn’t stressed and the world didn’t end. 😉
I’m sure there are many most things I have to learn, but it’s all good fun 🙂
Shelly Rhodes says
Just what I needed to read this morning! Thank you for taking the time to inspire others!
I don’t have a blog so maybe this is easy for me to say, but I have somewhat similar obligations in my job as a university professor. I can’t skip a class, of course, and I never want to be in the position of preparing a lecture the day or or even the day before. Therefore I always have at least the next two ready, and that way if something comes up, like a child’s illness or sudden demands at work, it is OK. I start to feel behind if I’m only one day ahead, so then I’ll stay up late or do whatever I have to do to get on track, but to those who are expecting my regular efforts, they always see them arrive on time. It seems to me you could apply a similar tactic to blogging.
It’s very similar! I like to work ahead whenever possible because things inevitably come up at the last minute that prevent me from getting a new blog post written. Great analogy, Justine!