Let’s talk about your blog.
You might just have mentally winced — blogs can be a painful topic.
You know you should have one, because everyone tells you so. You know you should write blog posts on a fairly consistent basis. And you know you should publish regularly too.
But you don’t.
Just thinking about blogging makes you cringe.
You’re not alone. A lot of business owners feel the same way, and for three good reasons:
- They don’t know what to write about — maybe you don’t either? You think of ideas, but they all seem lame. It becomes stressful, and you start to dread writing for your blog. You might even stop blogging completely, hoping no one notices you haven’t updated your blog in weeks. (Maybe months.)
- They can’t get past the first few paragraphs before quitting — sound familiar? When you do have a good idea and try to write a great post, it doesn’t take long before your motivation ebbs. You start thinking maybe it wasn’t such a hot idea after all. And now that you reread what you wrote, you feel your post sounds dumb, so you give up completely.
- They aren’t confident about what they wrote — are you? Sometimes you do have a good idea and write about it, but when you’re done and read your post over, you don’t feel confident about it anymore. You think the writing’s terrible, or the post isn’t “good enough” to publish, or you feel nervous about what your readers might think of you when they read it.
These are huge blogging roadblocks, and they’re the reason that most business owners slowly find themselves beginning to dislike their blog.
A serious dilemma
More blog posts hit the trash can than business owners hit the “publish” button on.
The blog doesn’t get updated for weeks … sometimes months.
And when a post finally does get finished and that “publish” button gets clicked? The blog owner often suffers a sudden spike of fear the second after it happens, followed by an immediate wave of worry about what readers will think when they read the post.
It doesn’t surprise me. I don’t know many business owners who shout, “Yeah! I LOVE blogging!”
But that’s exactly what you should be shouting, because blogging creates attention, credibility, traffic, sales, and revenues for any type of business. Blogging means money, and I don’t know any business owner who wouldn’t cheer about that.
It’s a serious dilemma, and something has to be done.
A simple solution
Thankfully, there’s an easy, pleasant, pain-free solution for those who dread blogging, feel guilty about putting it off, or spend hours trying to write something while hating the obligation to post. Here’s what to do:
Don’t blog. At all.
When blogging becomes an activity that makes you feel tense, stressed out, frustrated and fed up, it’s time to call it quits. No joke — this is important.
Go on a blogging holiday, and allow yourself full, unadulterated permission to not write a damn thing.
Walk away from your blog.
Not permanently, of course. That’d be silly. (After all, there’s money involved.) You’ll come back to writing for your blog in a few weeks or so — and when you do, you’ll feel very differently about it.
But right now, you’re burnt out and stressed to the max. You need to step back and get some distance between you and that blog you hate.
Your sanity and health matter far more than churning out content.
Don’t worry; your blog’s not going to suffer. After all, how long has it been since you’ve written a blog post anyway? And your readers won’t yell at you for not posting something new. (They may not even notice you’re gone.)
Your traffic won’t disappear overnight either — this isn’t the apocalypse. Your Google Analytics numbers may drop a touch, but not immediately and not much. It’s a temporary dip you can recover from later on when you feel better.
The world won’t end.
This isn’t complete abandonment of your blog. It’s just a break, a holiday from writing blog posts, and everyone deserves that.
But what about all those ideas that will start flooding in?
Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be proactive or productive during your blogging holiday. You can stop writing, but you should still focus on something that benefits you and your blog in the meantime.
What should you do instead of stressing over blogging or trying to slog through writing yet another post you hate? Try this during your holidays:
Don’t write at all. Just capture your ideas.
Jot down the ideas that come to mind on their own, as they come to you. Don’t try to force it to squeeze out ideas. Don’t attempt any brainstorming sessions.
Forget about blogging and just let new blog post ideas come to you of their own accord.
Start carrying around a notepad. When those ideas start popping into your head (and they will), you’ll want to jot them down. Write a brief note or a sentence or two.
You can use the Notes feature of your smartphone, a voice memo app, or send yourself emails, like I do.
It’ll take some time. At first, you might not have many ideas at all. (Perhaps even none). If you do have ideas, they might not be very good ones. Jot them down anyway.
As your stress eases away the longer you’re on holiday, you’ll find yourself having more ideas, and better ideas … usually when you least expect them.
- Standing in line and suddenly think of something interesting? Jot it down.
- In the shower and something comes to you? Stick a hand out, dry it off, then write yourself a quick note. (Or buy some shower markers!)
- Driving along and something comes to mind? Pull over and make a quick voice memo. Send yourself a text message. Scribble notes on the back of a receipt.
A few easy things you should do while you’re taking time away
You don’t want to completely slack off. Capturing ideas is nice, but you can still be proactive about your blog, even while on holidays.
Do the smart thing first: enjoy your time off.
Take advantage of it; you need it.
Play. Rest. Do fun activities. Reward yourself. Screw off. You need this to recharge your batteries.
But every day, before you go play, schedule in a short half hour to hang out on social media.
Here’s why this is crucial to your rehabilitation: It’s very easy to forget that your blog posts are read by actual human beings, individual people with names and faces and feelings. It’s far, far too easy to start to think of them as “audience” — a vague, shapeless, faceless mass.
You need to reconnect with your audience as individuals.
So go hang out on Facebook or Twitter or G+. Chat with your audience, those loyal fans and followers. Restore friendships, rebuild neglected connections, see some old “friends,” joke around and laugh a bit. Remember who these people are.
While you’re hanging out …
Look back through your archives and revisit old posts.
You’ll certainly find some you don’t like so much or that weren’t very well written. That’s cool — you’ve come a long way since then, and now you can make a list of which posts to rework into better ones that you can republish. (Reduce, reuse, recycle, after all.)
Keep an eye out for old posts you really enjoyed or that had a great response.
Remember what you liked about them in the first place, and share them with your social media fans — slip in a quick, “Here’s an oldie but a goodie,” and link to that old post you found.
Ask for commentary from your followers, and pay attention to what they say.
Find out what readers liked most, or which points really struck a chord.
Ask them what they would love more of and would like less of, or whether there are new topics they’d love to hear about. You’ll gather great feedback you can put to good use when your blogging holidays are over.
Here’s an extra perk you probably haven’t considered yet, but it’s important: Your followers will get to reconnect with YOU, now that you’re paying attention to them again.
They’ll remember why they became fans in the first place.
Hey, you’re someone they liked! And not only are you chatting with them, you’re sharing good posts they either enjoyed before, or that they hadn’t yet read, or that they’d forgotten about but sure could put to good use now.
It’s a win-win-win, all around.
Want to know why this entire blogging holiday experiment will work?
You may be doubtful that not writing at all and just hanging around on social media for half an hour a day will eventually bring you back to writing.
After all, a lot of the advice out there tells you to build a daily writing routine, and to write every day at the same time, even if you’re not producing good work.
Even if you hate it.
Even if it’s painful.
Truthfully, that’s stupid advice. It’s akin to banging your finger with a hammer every day thinking that one morning, you’ll like the feeling and want to bang it harder.
It’s true that writing every day at the same time is an excellent idea because it does train your brain to write on demand. But forcing yourself to write when you’re in a hugely negative emotional state only reinforces that you hate every second of it.
Your brain makes the association: writing = bad.
And since your brain’s job is to help you avoid bad stuff, it’ll do whatever it can to get you to stop writing. Usually, the self-sabotage it creates is so effective you eventually can’t write at all.
Instead of fighting your brain, humor it. Listen to it.
Stop writing now before your brain heaps a bunch more sabotage and roadblocks onto your blog-writing efforts.
Your brain will heave a sigh of relief that you’ve finally paid attention, and it’ll be quite happy to let you just jot down your ideas instead.
After all, your brain sends you those ideas in the first place. It’ll approve of your decision!
By taking a break from writing and focusing on capturing ideas instead, you’ll accomplish several beneficial goals in one fell swoop:
- You won’t stress over forgetting any good ideas that come along, and you can keep them handy for later.
- You’ll put distance between you and the psychological traps holding you back from writing, so that you can examine them from a more objective perspective.
- You won’t feel like you’re slacking off completely, because you’re actually being proactive about your blog (even if you’re not writing).
- You won’t feel guilty anymore about not updating your blog with new content. Blame me, if you need to: “James TOLD me not to write!” The pressure’s off.
- You’ll rest, recharge your batteries, and rejuvenate your creativity back up to optimal levels — it’s probably stretched to the max right now.
But you have to commit fully
At first, it might be tough to not write.
You might feel guilty you’re not giving it a shot or feel like you have an obligation to your readers.
You might think the situation isn’t as bad as it really is. You might think, “Okay, I’ll try writing this post,” after a few days.
For the love of Pete, don’t do it.
Go on immediate, full-time leave.
You don’t even need to write an “I’m taking a break” announcement for your readers. No one needs to know what’s up. It’s none of their business. And in the grand scheme of life, it’s not important.
What is important is getting you back to feeling better.
Once you’ve been on your blogging holiday for a while, you’ll start to realize you feel more relaxed. You’ll be able to look at the situation more objectively, and even positively.
You’ll start to feel differently about this whole blogging thing.
One of four things will happen
It may take two weeks; it may take two months. Maybe more.
No matter how long it takes, there are only four possible outcomes to this blog holiday experiment:
- You’re itching to write and excited to get back to it full force. You’ll want to snatch ideas from your list and draft them out like a crazy content machine. (Don’t go overboard, of course. You don’t want to gorge after you’ve been starving. No good comes of that.)
- You still hate blogging and are plagued by a swift return of writer’s block, stress, guilt, and self-doubt. The experiment didn’t work. That’s excellent! You’ve learned that you need some help getting past these roadblocks, and you can contact a coach who’ll help you smash through them, once and for all.
- You feel better about writing and don’t have any stress, but you realize this blogging thing takes too much time to create a post. That’s excellent as well! This usually signals a lack of skills, and anyone can improve those. Take a writing course to learn how to speed up your writing process, and you’ll be off to the races.
- You have no issues anymore, but you’re still just not feeling the love. Fantastic! You’ve just realized that you probably shouldn’t be writing your own posts in the first place. Hire a professional blogger (I hear these guys are great), and hand over the ideas you’ve collected. Your new writer can dive straight in and write on your behalf.
Regardless of which of the four outcomes occur, you’ve won the blogging game.
You’ve shed stagnant, negative stress that dragged you down. You’ve rested and are back to good mental health.
And you’ve made some discoveries about yourself and your blog.
You have options at hand, and every single one is a better alternative than what you’d been doing … which was likely slogging it out, hating every minute, or silently dreading writing for your blog.
Your blogging holiday created positive change.
And change is always a good thing, don’t you think?
Flickr Creative Commons Image via Doug McAbee