How to Overcome Your Three Greatest Blogging Challenges

image of climber at Mt. Everest

Let’s say you thought it would be pretty neat to climb Mount Everest.

You find two “how-to” web sites that explain what’s involved.

One details a tough training regimen, spells out all of the financial costs, has a serious conversation with you about the risks, and gives you a complete list of the gear you’ll need to maximize your chances of a successful ascent.

Another tells you that since you go for a 20-minute run every day, you’ll be totally fine. Nah, don’t buy a bunch of fancy equipment. Just wear your flip-flops and a sweater.

Who’s doing you the favor?

There are plenty of people out there who’ll tell you that if you want to promote something — anything — you need to start a blog.

Don’t be intimidated, just jump right in. Start with a free account on Blogger, do a bunch of Google searches for good content, rewrite it with some cheesy automated blogging tool, and that juicy search engine traffic will just start rolling in.

Think that person is doing you a favor?

Or might they be sending you to the blogging equivalent of eternal rest as part of Everest’s permafrost?

Here’s the really good news

Publishing a successful blog that supports your business goals?

So much easier than climbing Mount Everest.

Also, much, much less chance of dying or losing your nose to frostbite.

But there are times when you start out when it doesn’t feel easier than climbing Everest.

  • Maybe you’ve been wrestling with installing *$%#^ self-hosted WordPress for a month and every time you think about it you burst into tears.
  • Or you’ve been stuck at 22 readers for a month and you’ve already nagged everyone you know until they refuse to take your calls any more.
  • Or maybe you haven’t posted in a month because everything you write looks kind of stupid to you.

Does this mean you’ll never figure out how to run a decent blog?

Not at all. It just means you haven’t done your training. And that well-meaning person who said, “It’s really not that hard” was either full of baloney or forgot that when you’re starting out, damned right it’s hard.

So here are some ways to get over three of the toughest hurdles bloggers face. The sooner you get these out of the way, the sooner you can get to the fun part.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. But it’s also not as hard as it looks right now.

If the technology is killing you

I’ll admit it, I’m not a technology moron.

I’m worse. I’m almost a technology moron. Because I have mastered formatting a bulleted list in HTML, I believe that I can do anything.

This belief is incorrect.

I have been known to spend days trying to fix technical problems that a well-trained chimp could code up in 20 minutes.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s all learnable. Apply a little stubbornness and some focused attention and you will figure it out.

But is that actually what you should spend your time doing?

If you’re pounding your head against the technology and trying to make stuff work, allow me to suggest that you forgo your favorite treat for a few weeks (Starbucks, cute shoes, that iPad that’s been calling to you so sweetly) and hire someone to help you get this thing done.

There are plenty of people who will set you up with a WordPress blog for an impressively reasonable price. And there are thousands of other very capable folks who can help with the related stuff.

Eat ramen for a month if you have to, but get some help.

Then take the time you’ve saved and develop a simple, inexpensive product. Get it onto your now-functioning blog and pay yourself back.

If your reader numbers aren’t budging

The hardest, loneliest part of your ascent is right at the beginning, when you’re writing and posting and you’re not at all sure there’s anyone there to hear you.

The first training tip is to spend that time making your blog someplace worthy of all that traffic you want to attract.

If you got 10,000 visitors today, what would they see? Three posts about your cat, one about how you can’t figure out Twitter, and the “Hello, world” post that you never bothered to delete when you installed WordPress?

So while you still have some privacy and the utter freedom of anonymity, write some good cornerstone content. While you’re at it, get an email autoresponder up and running. Make your blog someplace worth going to.

Once you’ve got the place presentable, it’s time to get out there and do some guest posts. Make friends with people who blog about the same topics you do. Make intelligent comments on their posts. Follow the people they follow on Twitter. Be interesting and helpful.

Then offer to write some guest posts. Start with smaller blogs at first, then work your way to medium and then larger blogs.

Guest posts are still the best way to build your audience, find new loyal fans, and grow your subscriber numbers.

If you’ve run out of things to say

This is an interesting moment.

One possibility is that you’re midway up the ascent and you realize, “Oh crap, I actually never did want to climb Everest. I’d much rather swim the English Channel.”

The difference between climbing Everest and running a blog is that your attempt at the summit takes a day. (It needs to, because if you stay on the mountain overnight you die.)

Your blog is something you’ll think about every single day until the day you shut it down or sell it.

So if it’s not where you want to be, the right answer may be to shut it down now, or to radically change direction until it’s something you actually want to spend this much time on.

That’s why the experts all tell you that passion matters. Trying to write on a topic you don’t care about is really, really hard over the long run.

On the other hand, you may just be chickening out. You may need to deal with your own fear of failure, fear of success, or fear of mediocrity.

If it’s not one of those, it might be something very, very simple.

Just write. Write every damn day. Write when you don’t feel like it. Write when it’s stupid. Write when it’s not coming out right. Write when you think that no one in his right mind would read what you have to say.

You don’t have to be an amazing writer to be an amazing blogger.

But you do have to write. A lot. (Even if you’re a podcaster or a video blogger, you need a smart, sharp script or outline.) The more you write, the more ideas will come. Sounds weird, I know, but it works.

So get off on your backside and do it.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and the founder of The Remarkable Marketing Blueprint.

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Reader Comments (74)

  1. says

    Great post, especially the Everest metaphor. I’m definitely on the bandwagon to provide good content, what you’re calling “cornerstone content” here, that will be there as people start to come ot your site. If people are drawn to your site and find nothing but COMING SOON, they won’t be COMING BACK.

  2. says

    This is some fantastic practical advice. I found my ability to think up good post topics tripled when I forced myself to write a 3 posts per week (even though I only publish one or so).

    Another tip to add perhaps could be to read… I find reading other blogs and books (I know! Old fashioned or what?!) helps get the content-engine in the brain ticking.

  3. says

    Hey Sonia,

    This post needs to go viral in huge way! Whenever I’m stuck I’m not hesitant to pay someone to help me out. Time is Money!

    Chat with you later…

  4. says

    @Peter, if you’ve actually got a plan, that’s one thing. But many folks who have a “coming soon” page aren’t in a particularly strategic frame of mind (yet). :)

  5. says

    @Peter to add to Sonia’s reply, I was going to add that if it’s a new site, if there’s still content somewhere to back it up, some other old space that’s pointing to the “coming soon” new/improved site, there can be a buzz. But yeah, most of the time, it’s just filler and it’s losing impact from the start from what I’ve seen previously.

  6. says

    Sonia, I enjoy it whenever I feel a writer crawl inside my skin and capture my situation in words.

    It’s only been 2 weeks and already I’ve been going through phases. First few days I wrote like a madmen to an audience of zero. Lately I’ve been obsessed with optimizing pages and widget content to create some style… Putting lipstick on my piglet blogs.

    Now that it’s looking more attractive, I’ve got a perfectionist’s cramp. I don’t want to write anything unworthy.

  7. says

    I think another useful thing is not to be complacent when you get that first wave of interest in your blog. Like a lovely glass of wine, it needs to be topped up regularly!

    So many times last year I’d get an increase in visitors and think the hard work had paid off, only to spend less time on it and wonder why the interest had died off as well.

    It’s like a spinning top, you’ve got to keep whipping that stick to keep it moving.

  8. says

    @Peter – I agree with writing more posts per week than you plan to publish. This trains you to write better and faster, allows you to truly perfect a post before you publish, and provides a cushion against those weeks when you can’t/won’t write.

  9. says

    Great advice … and I agree with Josh. Let’s help this article go viral. There a many bloggers, myself included, who may benefit from these suggestions.

    Have a great day,

  10. says

    Very relatable and very applicable.

    Even though similar advice is always being said around the blogosphere, I feel that you captured the essence of blogging and motivated me even more to keep on truckin with my blog.

  11. says

    I totally agree with you Sonia. You have to have something to say and you need to have a gameplan for saying it. No one cares about your cat and no one cares about what you ate for dinner. They just want their problems solved.

    Blogging is a marketing tool just like many others. It should be part of your marketing mix, but not your soul provider. Make sure that you have a multi-legged marketing stool or else your business is going to have a really hard time going for the long haul.

    Sonia, your blueprint class looks very well though out and I think it should be a huge asset for anyone that’s willing to put in the effort, especially after seeing all of the advice that you give gratis on Copyblogger and elsewhere.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  12. says

    ‘The hardest, loneliest part of your ascent is right at the beginning, when you’re writing and posting and you’re not at all sure there’s anyone there to hear you.’ Really? God help me, why am I even considering it? I love your stuff Sonia but maybe you could try a ’10 great reasons to get off your ass and start blogging’ post? Scrap that, I’ll do the research and try to be helpful and interesting before I beg for help.

  13. says

    Agree with Harrisonamy above who gets more visitors and then loses interest in writing at all. It’s the challenge that’s “conquered” that is no longer challenging, so every time your numbers hit another peak, move that goal again.

    Personally, I have to focus, focus, focus on the point of my blog. It’s good content, for entertainment sake, but it’s not very well pointed yet.

  14. says

    Great post! It is hard to get started! I am still new to this and it is still hard. But I don’t give up because I am learning new skills along the way. I have a dumb question. How do you find out if anyone is getting your blog posts by email. I have Smartspace on godaddy and I can’t seem to find it. They don’t seem to know either!

  15. says

    The best way to know is, are people emailing you back? I haven’t used Smartspace — do they send it from an email that people can reply to?

    @Jax, if I said, “Hey, it’s super easy and you’re going to get dozens of people commenting right away,” is that doing anyone a favor? The truth is, there are some challenging spots on the path. I see too many people who are in that hard spot and thinking, “I must be doing it wrong, no one said it was going to be like this.” So I’m saying it.

    @Toronto, looking forward to seeing you there!

    @Joshua, thanks. :)

  16. says

    I love it, Sonia! Why should effective blogging be any different from learning a musical instrument, or becoming a great business person (or climbing Everest)? It takes daily effort, focused commitment, and a whole lot of passion.

    The “write every day” part is what I need to kick in. And the temptation to do the tech-tinkering yourself is a strong one! And a dangerous one.

  17. says

    The technology is killing me! I really feel comfortable with 2 and 3 but this first one…wow. You said there are people one could work with to take your blog at a wordpress. com to my domain ( I have but am terrified of trying to do myself). Where does one look to find those people! I’d be glad to pay!

  18. says

    Let’s see:

    1. Excellent, pragmatic advice
    2. Ideas you can implement immediately
    3. Encouragement to work through the hard parts

    It must have been written by Sonia Simone! Great post.

  19. says

    I really appreciate this advice for neophytes. Especially the point about starting your guestblogging on small blogs first. That seems so much wiser than the standard advice to aim for the top blogs. Unlike climbing Mt. Everest, I am also recognizing that it’s OK to go at my own pace.

  20. says

    I have a pretty reliable internal detector that let’s me know when I’m writing something of no use to myself or others. It feels enervating and I get stuck. When I’m excited and writing something that I care about, the first draft often flows. Then the rewriting is lots of fun.

    I also find that if I can’t think of something to write about, I can find some way of writing about not being able to find something to write about and link it in some way to the needs of readers.

  21. says

    It’s always great when you find good, practical information just when you needed to read it. It’s even better when it’s packaged with humor and fun.

  22. says

    @Sandra, great point about being able to go at our own pace. :) Don’t make it a race, because someone will always be faster than you. And slow and steady can do pretty darned well!

  23. says

    Great post Sonia.

    It’s true. To become better at something, you need to do it and keep doing it. Writing everyday, just something, will help tremendously. I try to write something everyday…no matter how small or bad it may be. I remember reading it in Stephen King’s book as well – you need to write everyday.

  24. Dorothy Ray says

    Well put, Sonia. Looking forward to getting into Remarkable Blueprint, shiver, shiver.

  25. says

    I really enjoyed reading this article for two reasons.
    1) I`m not a big fan of technology but have come to realize that all it takes is a little patience, a lot of support from the world, and realizing it`s never the end of the world as it seems. Technology isn`t worth stressing out. It`s important to realize that we can`t be a slave to it.
    2) Writing everyday for the sake of writing is great. It`s like exercising, some days it sucks, some days I`m in a great mood to, but the overall picture is that it leads to great health. And writing everyday leads to great content.

    Thanks for the article.

  26. says

    Thank you Sonia for this great post. Loved the way you compared the two websites and how one is doing more harm than good.

    Plus I agree with you that you don’t have to be a good writer to be a good blogger. Writing takes practice. It gets easier as you do it more often.

  27. says

    A great analogy :-). Even if you’re full of ideas the greatest challenge is the traffic — low traffic means almost no comments, hardly anybody knows you, and nobody links back to you.

    If you’re putting all your energies into creating great content, that’s good, it doesn’t harm, but you can take, let’s say, 25% of that time and start interacting with other bloggers, leaving comments and writing guest posts. This way you keep on building your content, and also get some initial eye balls.

    There are always dry spells when you don’t know what to write for your blog. This is a good time to write guest blog posts.

  28. says

    Hi Sonia,

    Thanks for the wonderful insights. I could really relate to this post.

    The technology isn’t killing me. In fact, I could actually help other people out with their wordpress issues or any other techie stuff. No problem. But I really got hit by 2 and 3.

    I’m just starting out with my blog and I definitely understand how lonely it feels at the start. I agree it’s a very good idea to make things presentable while there is still some privacy and anonymity.

    I hate to admit it but I have a feeling that I might be chickening out. But I guess I will have to deal with the fear ASAP. Thanks for pointing that out.


  29. says

    Some interesting thoughts, but climbing Everest is a poor analogy. You could die climbing Everest. The worst consequence most people face in a blogging mistake is embarrassment.

    All bloggers make mistakes, and getting good advice can prevent most of them. But the biggest hurdle for most people is just getting started. That’s why some of us encourage people to just start, and learn as they go: from good advice (plenty out there) and occasionally by making a mistake.

  30. says

    Awesome post. I particulary liked “I have been known to spend days trying to fix technical problems that a well-trained chimp could code up in 20 minutes.” that is me! I spent a weekend working on a shopping cart site before I finally realized that I didn’t have enough stuff (only 1 ebook at that time) to bother with.
    Good post. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to get back to writing. :)

  31. says

    This is a great post. I’ve recently went “all-in” on one personal blog, one business-related blog and another related to my full-time work. I signed up for Twitter, and had ambitious goals for posting. I quickly realized that this was not going to work due to the actual amount of time I have available to give to the blogs.

    Since then, I’ve scaled back and decided to take a slow and steady pace and to focus on creating good content. I’ve also decided to stay on instead of specifically so I don’t waste a lot of time focusing on technology instead of my writing.

    Once again – great post!

  32. says

    Hi guys,

    Thanks Sonia for the prep talk. Because now I feel like I don’t have any more excuses. So I’m going to write something down right now.

    Kind regards,


  33. says

    Great post. Thanks for contributing.

    I’m also new to blogging and trying to get into the vein. My best lesson learned happened accidentally.

    As I was going about my research and engaging in like-minded blogs I started to tailor my Tweets, LinkedIn status updates, etc. to different audiences. With LinkedIn in particular I was “guiding” my former boss, my boss and others who always needed to better understand online marketing.

    As soon as I started to write with specific people or groups of people in mind, this made blogging so much easier. Try writing a post as if you are explaining something to a client, your boss, a colleague or whoever… it worked for me.

  34. says

    haha I love the tone of the post.

    Sidenote: A 13 year old boy recently climbed Mt. Everest – if he can do it, you best be able to install a damn blog.

    • says

      “A 13 year old boy recently climbed Mt. Everest” — yeah, but not without support staff and a team of 3 Sherpas.

      Where are my blog Sherpas? I want my blog Sherpas!

  35. says

    Blogging transformed my mainline business. Two years ago I started blogging on my favorite hobby (brewing), and over the last two years went from a few thousand visitors to almost 200,000 last month.

    I recently started a second blog on my other passion- small business. I’m no great writer, but I believe that persistence and consistency in blogging will ultimately pay big dividends.

    Thanks for the post!

  36. says

    great metaphor! I always write totally unique and original stuff from the heart and so keep out of trouble with GG’s duplicate content filters. readers can get more enthused with what you feel, too …

  37. says

    You learned the essentials of what it takes to be a pro blogger, that’s what I liked about this post.

    & @Brad that’s an inspiring comment. To many give up too soon.

  38. says

    Well, you helped in one small way: I was going to blow off tonight’s post until reading the bit about posting every damn day. Yeah, I’ve heard it before, but seeing it right then dared me to do it.

    My problem is balancing quantity and quality. If I really do post EVERY damn day, I’m either going to end up telling my readers what I had for dinner, or I’m going to do it right … and never get any sleep.

  39. says

    I think starting a new blog definitely feels like climbing Mt. Everest (not that I’ve tried to do that!) LOL. But what about if readership falls off? You may have started out OK and then slowly dropped off the radar. What then?

  40. says

    I included your url on my blog page, The Enlightened Blogger, Part 3: (, as a link for new bloggers to find helpful blogging advice . As a novice blogger in April, I had much to learn and only found you after I launched. I want everyone who sees my articles to know there is a reliable source for everything they need to know to get started – and keep going. Thanks Copyblogger. I am excited when I see your newsletter in my inbox.



  41. says

    Blogging is hard. The hurdles of getting over a small subscriber list, and finding that only a couple posts are bringing in all the traffic can be frustrating. Or how about when you find out the site is running slow on everyone’s computer except the super awesome machine you developed it on? The hurdles are small in comparison with the rewards if we stick with it. So, I am sticking with it. 😉

  42. says

    Johnny, you have me in stitches the way one can only be at 2am.
    So true, everything you write, so, so true.

    If a blogger keels over in the middle of posting and nobody notices, did he really die?

    Keep up the great work!

  43. says

    Point 3 can still affect bloggers even after they’ve been blogging for several years. I’m about three years into blogging and, man, I still get days (or the occasional week) where everything I write feels awful. On the first try, at least.

    Seth Godin would say it’s the Lizard Brain screwing you up or that you’re feeling the effects of a Dip. Steven Pressfield would say that it’s Resistance trying to keep you from getting work done.

    Every time this has happened to me, I have had to just keep on pushing through. Maybe I might need a short psychological breather to resteady myself, but if I keep pushing on, some kind of breakthrough usually happens.

    Great post, Sonia!

  44. David Kamau says

    Commenting on other blogs is important, I keep hearing. What if that plug-in called Akismet takes a liking to trashing your comments? This keeps happening to me (and apparently hundreds if not thousands of others) as soon as I use my URL in the right place on the comment form.

  45. says

    I think your best bet is probably to try contacting Akismet directly and seeing if someone can help you out. At some point, someone (or several someones) probably mistakenly thought you were making spam comments. Akismet has an FAQ at You could also comment on friends’ blogs and ask them to go in and manually mark you as “not spam,” which will retrain the plugin.

    If it was me, I’d probably use my Twitter URL or even something like a Squidoo lens so I could start commenting and building relationships right away. That will make it easier to make friends who can get you marked as “not spam.”

  46. says

    Thanks Sonia. But asking “friends” or even friendly webmasters is not going to help. You see, the comment does not even get to the “in moderation” stage: it gets blocked as soon as I hit the submit button and the form goes blank or I get sent to a blank page. The webmaster won’t see it. It is a terrible waste of time and really annoying especially after you have taken time to craft a meaningful and useful comment. Using Squidoo and/or Twitter is something I thought of. Great idea, thank you!

    Apparently Akismet didn’t even think of inserting some kind of courtesy message to let you know what is going on. I wasted lots of hours before finally getting to the bottom of it.

    By the way, I’m starting right here using my Twitter URL.

  47. says

    This blog reminds me of the Art Class story…

    Some art teachers decided to do an experiment. They had two classes of students and created a different pottery program for each class.

    One class was graded on QUALITY. You only had to hand in a single piece and would be graded according to the quality of work.

    The other class was graded on QUANTITY. The students were graded on the total bulk weight of the various pottery pieces they created. If they reached certain targets, they would be graded accordingly.

    At the end of the year, the teachers made an amazing discovery… The students being graded on quantity were producing far better work than the ones graded for quality.

    Why? Because they were getting lots of practice!

  48. says

    It’s great the way you write these posts.You write about writing and in that writing are the ideas themselves. in other words you practice what you preach – that’s a refreshing thing on the web. It means fresh content and it’s worth reading-all of it.
    Like John Braine ( a great writer) said in his book about writing, ” don’t sit and think about writing, because if you do the thoughts will come and then they will be lost because you weren’t writing them down.” You won’t find that exact thought again as it came to you. Hence a copywriters notebook is a cool thing to carry about for note taking.
    Well, I can still base camp and so after reading the above I better look up to the summit and get something good written before sunset. Thanks

  49. says

    Hi Sonia,

    I always learn something with each and every one of your posts – thank you. I’ve always heard read, read and read some more but combining that with just write is a great partnership.


  50. says

    You are so right on. I write everyday. Sometimes its good and I post it other times it is not so good and I don’t post it or I only post part of it. Just like you said, just write.

  51. David says

    Allow me to modify my response to Sonia (and my earlier assertion and belief). I’ve had one or two of my comments “rescued” from the spam box by some friendly bloggers. So the comments do actually get into the spam box. The problem is getting a blogger to check their spam box.

    Most bloggers don’t check their spam box, believing that just spam goes there. I didn’t know to do this (check spam box) myself till I ran into problems with Akismet.

    It is gross waste of time to make a meaningful, lengthy comment and then have to write to the webmaster requesting a “rescue”, hoping that your email will be read in the first place and your request granted in the second.

  52. says

    I just found this post today and I have to say it’s awesome. So many great tips. As a newer blogger, I can totally relate to the technical things as well as the numbers not budging in the beginning.

    I think the best gift I have given myself is the commitment to read other blogs and comment on them daily. It gives me awesome ideas as well as helps me to learn what’s working and what doesn’t. If I find a blog that speaks to me, teaches me something, or I feel drawn to linger around, I try to dissect what I like about it and duplicate it on my blog.

    It’s working, my site visitors are going up, my opt-ins are more frequent, and I’m getting more comments. It’s really about just getting in there and doing it, that’s working for me, and I hope other bloggers realize that by doing it they will get better and better.


  53. says

    Thank you for this post. I believe you. When I was a school teacher, I kept on telling my students to write everyday.

    Now, no matter how busy I am, there is no excuse to not writing anymore. I am climbing my Mount Everest. I must do it now.

    Thank you.

    jef menguin
    inspirational speaker, Philippines

  54. says

    Another great article! I have to admit, your blog is quit addictive. There are so many great information and more great information, and then a lot more great information. I keep reading articles after articles because you cleverly kept putting great keywords anchor text to new informative articles. You should just put a warning, that this blog is very addictive. 😉

  55. says

    Heck Sonia, your Everest analogy kept working well, didn’t it? Being well prepared and trained goes a long way in this online world. I love your natural writing style and agree that you’ve got to write something daily.. and practice will make you poifect – after a while you connect with creative thought and writer’s block becomes merely a ghostly memory of something years back…..never to reappear. Business at the speed of thought, said Bill Gates. :^) GD.

  56. says

    Motivational post that gets the brain thinking about what to write. I agree with others that writing everyday is essential and if you are stuck for a topic or subject then reading is a great way to get the brain cells rumbling and come up with good ideas.

    Quality content is much more fun to write than keyword stuffed babble…therefore more motivation to do a good job.
    Great post, thanks.

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