Correct me if I’m wrong: you know you should write a blog post. After all, it’s been a while since you last hit that publish button. Yet, somehow, without you realizing it, you spend hours on Twitter and Facebook “working,” only to wonder later what happened…
You comment on other blogs, telling yourself you’re “networking,” never mind that none of those comments actually lead to anything.
You have a growing collection of books and courses promising to teach you all the secrets in the universe, but they have been labeled “to be read” indefinitely.
In the back of your mind, you know you can do better. Technically, you even know what to do.
But something inside you refuses to let you, and every day you struggle with whether or not you should just give up or find some other shortcut.
You know how I know this?
Because I’m just like you.
The realization that changed my (writing) life
Most bloggers/writers do this: they wait for inspiration to hit them.
They wait to feel like writing, and it’s then that they write. The rest of the time, they find a bunch of excuses: not enough time, too much to do, too tired, to angry, too this, too that…
But about 1% of all bloggers/writers do this instead: they know that if they start punching those keys, sooner or later, the feeling will come.
Yes. This works both ways.
Even when you don’t feel like it, if you force yourself to start, and you keep doing it… you’ll feel like it. You’ll actually feel inspired, and you’ll enjoy the process of writing just as much.
How to stop holding yourself back
Truth is, when you know your work is great, but feel you don’t have the recognition you deserve, you’re arrogant too.
You don’t have to walk with your nose high to be arrogant. I mean, isn’t it arrogant to think just because you’ve created something good, you deserve to be recognized?
This was a hard one for me, but eventually I realized doing good work is only the first step.
Less talented people will always get more recognition when they hustle harder to get their name out.
You can’t rely on, nor should you expect, your readers to do your promotion. It’s not their job to make sure you’re seen.
Instead, adopt mindsets and systems to improve your output and expand your reach.
And stop doing silly things. Here are some of the biggest offenders:
1. Not taking your blog seriously
“I have to write for this other website.” “I’ll write when I’m a little less tired.”
I tell myself these things all the time.
But if you want to be successful, you have to realize they’re just excuses. They’re reasonable, yes, but they’re excuses nonetheless.
The reality is successful bloggers take their blog just as seriously as their day job. It’s that important.
Yes, you have to eat and sleep, or you’ll keel over dead, but you don’t have to watch TV for hours every night, check your email every five minutes or get sucked into the social media vortex. So, stop screwing around with all that stuff. I’m serious.
You HAVE TO be the first person to respect your blog. If you don’t, how can you expect others to respect it too?
It means stalking your competition to near obsession, so you can predict their every move, and beat them at their own game.
Is it a lot of work? You bet your ass it is.
But it’s the only way.
2. Thinking you can work without a schedule
There are two kinds of schedules:
THE WRITING SCHEDULE
The writing schedule is all about the creation process.
When your workload increases, saying you’ll create “when you feel like it” is the same as saying “I want to never have time for anything please.”
Instead, block out times for you to work on your different writing projects, and set deadlines. The point of a writing schedule is to create as much as possible in the time you allow yourself. You’re won’t always be satisfied, but the only way to polish an idea is to pull it from your brain and put it on the page, no matter how much it writhes, kicks, spits and swears at you.
Ideally, you want to get into the habit of writing a set amount of words every day.
Learn your rhythms. Edit when you’re critical.
No doubt, you’ll be walking through spider webs at first. But underneath it all you’re training yourself to be a helluva good writer.
THE PUBLISHING SCHEDULE
Just because you write every day doesn’t mean you have to publish every day.
The whole point of the writing schedule is for you to create a volume of work while refining your skills.
Your publishing schedule curates the best work to your blog. Some blogs are only publishing only one or two extremely useful articles a month on their own blog.
When you take your writing seriously, and you put yourself on a schedule, you don’t have any choice but to produce a large enough volume of work that’ll grab people’s attention.
Not everything has to make the final cut to your blog, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used somewhere else. And if you commit to publishing on a schedule, both on and off your blog, people will notice.
3. Trying to make everything perfect
Set a goal for how long you’ll dedicate to a single article.
If you plan on writing one article a week, only spend a week on it, don’t go over. If your limit is 3 days/article, make it the best it can be in 3 days time, then move on.
Even if you’re only writing one article a week, by the end of the year you’d still have 52 articles. (if you’re publishing on your own blog once a month, you’d have 40 articles left over to publish in other places.)
4. Reinventing the wheel
Originality is a sin.
There’s a reason why every Cosmopolitan’s headline looks exactly the same.Those headline templates sell.
There’s a reason that every popular blog within a niche formats their posts similarly. It’s easier to read.
Does that mean you have to be a copycat?
No. Don’t think for a second that borrowing someone else’s format means you skimp on individuality.
For example, imagine your content is an apartment. The floorplan might be the same as every other apartment in the building, but you change the furniture, paint, and decor to make it your own.
Content works the same way. You take the framework and adapt it to your own individual style.
Less guesswork. Faster content creation. More traffic.
Speaking of traffic…
5. Promoting your blog only sporadically
Promoting your blog is a marathon, not a sprint. One good guest post every few months will not sustain you.
Our attention spans are too short. (Honestly, can you point me to an article you read a month ago?)
To grow your blog, you need regular support from other bloggers, on a steady basis. That means writing lots of guest posts.
Don’t limit yourself to posting only on A-List blogs either. Look to some of the other B and C list blogs too.
Hang with the cool kids, but form your own posse. That’s how all of the popular blogs I can think of got to where they are, and that’s how you can do it too.
The bottom line?
You know, reading this is well and good, but if you really want a popular blog, you have to earn it.
You want to be a successful blogger? It has to be a choice. Your choice.