Believe it or not, being successful as a blogger does not mean blogging is somehow easy. Sometimes it can be fun, while other times it can feel like a daunting chore.
The truth is that we often focus obsessively on failure, but don’t realize that success has its own cons as well.
Curious to know how it feels to be a successful blogger? Read on.
Almost Seven Years
I started my main blog back in April 2012. I have blogged on an almost daily basis ever since. I have managed to build a following on almost 136 thousand readers ( I am as of right now two followers shy of 136,000, so it would mean the world to me if you could click this link here and subscribe).
I’ve wanted to quit countless times. I have blogged full-time, earning anywhere between $100 to $800 a day, but I also went through periods of drought, when I had to find various part-time jobs to manage to pay the bills.
I know that many of you think (and maybe somehow expect) blogging to be a rather effortless endeavor. The bitter-sweet truth is that, at least from my experience, blogging is anything but gracious – even though some readers I talk to are under the impression that I quickly write a post over a cup of coffee in the morning, and then don’t have to worry about the blog until it’s time to write a new blog post.
It’s not like that. It wasn’t like that.
It took me a long time to even figure out the stuff that I wanted to blog about. Yes, I spent months writing book reviews, movie reviews, and wondering why no one bothered to read my stuff.
I spent years writing like all the people I admired (sometimes trying to sound like all of them at the same time) before I ended up writing like myself.
Oh, and did I mention that for every dozen or so comments from folks who adore your stuff there’s an e-mail from someone who absolutely loathes you?
Truth be told, there’s so much pressure at the top, because reaching the top is not the difficult part. Staying there is.
1 – Struggling with consistency
If I don’t post for a few days, will my readers forget about me? If I do not network with other bloggers, will anyone visit my blog?
What if there are no more words? No more ideas? What then?
It has been said that there is such thing as posting too much, but what about not posting often enough?
2 – Expectation is the root of all heartache
Once someone experiences some degree of success, they want to keep feeling like that over and over again. Thus, you must keep raising the bar.
Quality over quantity proves to be an issue when you are impatient because you’re addicted to the feedback you receive from your readers.
Trust me, that one time I got some 2,000 visitors in an hour because both Random House and Neil Gaiman tweeted an article of mine gave me this odd sort of high.
And, yeah, you tend to forget that blogging is/was supposed to be fun. You even forget to relax and enjoy your own success.
3 – There’s no safety in numbers
Writing for an increasingly larger audience can be quite intimidating. Also, it becomes all too easy to forget about your one reader, your why, and what you stand for.
One reader may love what you wrote while another might think it was garbage.
What can you do about that?
Do you try to write something that everyone will love? And if you fail? What then?
It’s a real issue, and it messes you up. You stop writing what you want, but instead try to write in a vague enough manner that no one could ever say something negative.
When I first started blogging, I was playing to win. Simple as that. I had nothing to lose, so it was the obvious thing to do. But as my audience grew to tens of thousand of folks from all over the world, I instead opted to play not to lose. To play it safe. And my blogging suffered. My self-esteem suffered. The joy I felt when blogging diminished.
4 – No confidence
As a beginner, I felt like a cow trying to walk on ice. It was not pretty. Not at all. I kept asking myself why. You know, why keep writing when no one read my stuff, no one gave a damn about my words. Why keep doing this if it didn’t make me feel good…
I didn’t feel good when writing my articles, I didn’t feel good after I published them. It felt awkward, because I wasn’t confident about the topics I was writing about, I wasn’t confident about the quality of my writing.
Here’s the thing: love at first sight is rare. And we often think that in order to do something, we must love it, and that those who are good at what they do, they somehow loved it from the start. This could happen, I am not saying it’s impossible, but don’t count on it.
Let me give you an example: I started working out some four years ago, when I suddenly realized I was hideously out of shape and only weighed about some 135 pounds. I hated working out. I didn’t even sign up for a gym membership. I worked out at home for a few months, and then went to the gym for a total of three days, and then quit. I felt… like I didn’t belong there. I started and quit and started and quit a bunch of times, until one day I started going to the gym on a daily basis.
And then, after a few months of working out daily, without even being aware of it, I caught myself thinking: man, I love this. I freaking love running, I feel like I could run forever. I love that I am able to do things that I never could have imagined myself doing. I freaking love the gym.
The same goes for blogging.
Some days, yes, I feel like I am wasting my time. I’d much rather stare at a wall than write a blog post. Or go to the gym. But I still do it, because I know that this feeling will return.
What I am trying to say is this: you have to fall in love with the process, and that’s okay. And you will also fall out of love with this process, and that’s okay too. Because you will fall back in love too.
What you must never, ever, under any circumstance, give up.
A few years ago, this bodybuilder friend of mine told me that when he started working out, he had this idea that once he achieved his dream body, he could just give up and that was it.
He didn’t know that you lose muscle mass if you stop working out.
If you blog with the idea that one day it will become effortless, or there won’t be anything to be afraid of, or you won’t feel pressured in any way, you’ll be terribly disappointed the moment you reach the top.
The pressure is always there. The obstacles. The frustrating bits. The desire to procrastinate, to postpone, to obsess over the stuff that doesn’t matter.
But do you know what matters?
How you choose to act under pressure.
“Pressure can burst a pipe, or pressure can make a diamond.” – Robert Horry