5 Harsh Realities of Running Your Own Blog
July 19, 2017
I love writing. In fact, I love communicating overall. There's a freedom that comes from expressing yourself via the written word and I'm a firm believer that everyone should write something, regularly.
As of writing, I'm not only blogging here at Excellence Expected but I'm also preparing my first book and, not many people know this, I also keep a personal journal and a gratitude journal every morning as part of my morning routine.
Writing, for me, forms a link between what is inside my mind – all those intangible thoughts, unlinked ideas, emotions and fears – and what becomes reality.
Through writing, we can all explore things that our usual daily routine may not allow us to explore.
Time spent writing is our time and it gives us a rare opportunity to just fall into a flow.
It's therapeutic, to say the least.
As a business owner, early stage entrepreneur, product developer, founder or employee looking to make a jump I believe that there is nothing more powerful than sitting down and writing.
If people buy from people, then writing is the most basic form of humanising your business in the eyes of prospects and retained customers.
It forms a common ground and gives you a voice that can be related to; it gives you the chance to connect with your customers in a way that shows your open, honest and frank approach to doing business.
But blogging, and writing overall isn't easy
Unlike dancing, Writing and language have always come easy to me, I guess I got lucky with that.
Even so, writing regularly is hard. Super hard! It takes dedication, focus and balance. It requires you to be confident in putting yourself out there to be critiqued and the first time that you release something can feel like the most daunting thing you've ever done.
You're opening yourself up, you're vulnerable.
And you have to enjoy it, consistently.
Writing, in particular, blogging, which calls for regular, high-quality content has to be something that you do because you want to do it.
I've worked with so many businesses who thought that blogging was a short term strategy for increasing sales and who truly believed that throwing 200-word “articles” onto their company website was the best way to market to their audience.
Those same businesses were surprised, honestly surprised, when their quick-fire low-quality articles did nothing more than stagnate on their website.
If you don't enjoy doing it, then blogging simply isn't for you, in my opinion.
Can you learn to enjoy it?
Yes, I believe that you can.
But you must go into it with the mindset that every piece you write is one step in a bigger learning curve for you and not something that should be expected to deliver anything immediate, results or otherwise.
If you're a constant reader of Excellence Expected or have listened to any of the podcasts, you will know that this isn't my first blog.
My first “real” blog was a geek blog called “Two Shots to the Head“, something that I would LOVE to revisit one day.
My co-geek and driving force behind the project, Gaz and I published a post on that site every single day for a year.
To prove to ourselves that we could do it. Plain and simple.
Before that, I had tried my hand at blogging before but never stuck it out.
Because I was approaching it the same way that those businesses that I mentioned previously were. I was expecting too much of it, too soon.
There are so many misconceptions about running your own blog that I decided to dive a little deeper into my top five…
5 Harsh Realities of Running Your Own Blog
1. It takes much longer than you think for blogging to deliver a return for you
Ten years ago, it used to be the case that you could create a niche blog and monetise it relatively quickly with some Google AdSense and affiliate links.
And sure, you can still do that – not as quickly and some may say, not as successfully – but you can still do it.
More likely, though, you began blogging because you want to create a personal brand, a longer-term endeavour that you can build something much more sustainable around.
And the hard truth is that this will take time, a good chunk of time, actually.
People need to learn to trust you, people need to make that decision for themselves and one of the biggest factors in determining this trust is whether or not you stick around.
Trust is built over time and if you only publish sporadically – I know, I've struggled with this in the past – then people will simply not come back.
Just as a store must bring in new stock, your blog must remain a fresh source that can be relied upon regularly.
Build trust slowly and you won't lose it.
2. You're going to get it wrong
I have some AMAZING ideas for blog posts.
I write them, I publish them and guess what… no one cares!
The bottom line is that you will get things wrong. You will create content that you're sure is going to be a hit with your audience but that ends up falling flat.
Your job is to learn. It is to listen and deliver.
It's great to write the things that we want to write, after all, its why we do it, but as bloggers, we all have the responsibility to serve our growing audience.
If you're constantly creating content that doesn't gain any traction with your loyal readers, then there's a chance that you're simply writing the wrong kind of posts.
Dive into your Analytics and look at what your audience is really responding to. Then work on creating more content that serves in the same way.
3. You stand more chance of not keeping it up than keeping it up
I know, I'm a naysayer.
But seriously, life gets in the way and other more “important” things crop up that prevent you from sticking to a regular blogging schedule.
My issue with this is that if something is important enough to you, then nothing should regularly get in the way of it.
If we honestly want to create a blog that is not only valuable beyond measure to our audience but is also a genuine boost to our business then we MUST be present with quality content.
Luckily, I believe there are two simple hacks to ensuring you continue to blog with success:
- Diary blocking: My friend and virtual mentor Chris Ducker always states, “If it isn't in the diary, it doesn't get done!“. Use this approach in your blogging – actually schedule in time to write, treat it as an important part of your marketing and overall business strategy and assign dedicated time to achieve it.
- Batching: Writing one post at a time, week-on-week, means that you'll always feel as if you're playing catch up. You'll always feel “behind” and if something does crop up that forces your attention elsewhere, you'll simply not post. Instead, set out with the intent of batching at least three posts at a time – go from feeling behind to being perpetually in front.
4. It takes more work than you think
Blogging isn't just about writing. It's not even just about publishing.
There's so much more to it – sourcing and creating imagery for your posts, marketing your content out via social media, creating and building out content upgrades or assets for download by your users…
The list goes on.
The key to a successful publishing schedule is understanding what a package of content looks like for your posts, and creating a schedule that allows for the same, high-quality supporting content to be created alongside every single piece that you publish.
If consistency in your publishing schedule is vital, then consistency in how you deliver your posts is a close second.
5. You'll create without a plan, for the sake of creating
By creating and sticking to a publishing schedule, you create a level of accountability for yourself that should be adhered to in your mind. You'll feel awful if you let it slip.
But, there's a chance that you will fall into a process of simply creating content for the sake of sticking to that publishing schedule, regardless of the quality of content that you're releasing.
The great thing about being a blogger is that you're beholden to no other schedule than the one that you set.
When I first started out, I resolved to publish a new blog post every single week.
An admirable endeavour but one that left me a slave to that schedule and meant that I ended up creating content that I knew wasn't as good as it should or could have been.
Rather than beginning by setting a publishing schedule, approach your blogging from a “content first” perspective.
Outline the next quarter, the next six months or even the next year of posts and make sure that every single one of them can be created to a level that you're proud of.
Then, work your release schedule around that and be really sure to communicate that schedule to your audience.
The people who follow you would much rather have 12 blog posts that deliver helpful, high-quality value than 20 that are mediocre – that's a guarantee!
Blogging isn't just for Christmas
Running a blog has to be beneficial not only for you but for your audience too.
It isn't a quick win endeavour that requires minimal input – blogging is a serious consideration and should be approached as a project that needs your full input when you're working on it.
With a long-term approach, you can achieve long-term success. Don't underestimate the expectations of your audience, or potential audience, and give each & every blog post the full attention that it deserves.
Nothing good ever comes from rushing.
What are your top challenges when blogging and how do you overcome them?
Don't forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel!