This article is entirely dedicated to motivation. It actually took me a fair while to get to this topic because I had to clear the ‘research’ element of starting a new blog first and I was determined to publish these articles in order. This piece is more useful for the novice, but as a mid-term blogger, you may also find this useful. I would hope that those veteran bloggers with established blogs wouldn’t need to know this information, but it never hurts to remind yourself.
In the series, this is step 3, by now you should know what your blog is about and what direction you plan to take it.
This is the crunch point of your decisions. Beyond this stage, if you choose to commit, you are going to commit resource and if you back out after this expenditure, you will lose that resource.
Motivation Needed For A New Blog
This series follows on from part 1: How and What to Plan When Starting a New Blog and part 2: The What Where How of Research Before Starting Your Blog.
This is stage 3 of starting a new blog. A more in-depth look at step 3 from the 7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January.
This step is intended to make you think about what blood, sweat and tears you are going to be pouring into your new blog (potentially). This is the penultimate point where you can back out, the next article will detail the final stage where you can commit.
What Resources Do You Commit?
Time should be self-explanatory. Your time is valuable. You will expend time performing all kinds of work on your blog and the elements that go to support that blog.
Your time is also a shared resource. There will be lots of other tasks in your day-to-day that will separate you from your blogging. If you have a day job or a shift job, you aren’t going to be effective with a river of time through the week. You have to be tactical when you put works together. Your weekend might be sacrosanct for relaxation but you may need to find time.
Money is something you will require in order to operate to make money. You can do this blogging without investment of money but the returns will be far less than you are hoping for, and will take longer to develop. This adage is true; “you have to spend money to make money”. You can start out blogging cheap but in order to realise real returns you have to be smart and invest. Free only goes so far to satisfy.
Momentum is the odd member on the list and it needs explanation. Momentum is tangible in a sense that if you are not working on one project, your resource in terms of effort will be directed elsewhere. Momentum is also a direction, it is pressing forwards with focus. You can only attribute that forward drive to a few projects at a time, everything else goes on the back burner. Momentum partners with time. Humans only take on so many challenges at a time. Momentum is a finite resource.
Looking At Motivation
Blogging is something you have to perform consistently. I know this from my own experience. It is also something I personally struggle with, and I know many other bloggers struggle with.
Those who can keep to the rhythm and improve with each post, are the kinds that eventually win big.
Blogging is a long game, not a short one.
It is most definitely 10 marathons rather than a sprint.
Motivation in general, is a huge subject, a Human scientific study that has spawned countless areas of intrigue. NLP is one such area, Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
Motivation is an area that many self-help books concentrate on, many people have opinion on, and many people are lacking at some point in their life.
Discipline engenders motivation but in order to activate discipline you need to begin.
Commitment For Your New Blog or Your Mid Term Blog
In my original article, 7 Steps to Take Before Starting a New Blog In January, I framed this step as Ask Yourself, Can you Commit? In that step I poised the work of keeping up a blog as running a campaign.
What you have to realise about a blog is that it is war. Not only is it a war, it is a series of wars.
You are in the trenches, fighting for audience attention. Your Campaign goal, depending on whether you are for profit or not, is to reach as many people as possible to drive the harder stage of engagement. The point at which you get back from the audience, by providing to them.
For that to happen and for you to win those wars, you must have grit.
Staying power. Determination. Belief. Call it what you will. You need it.
Commitment for blogging is time. You need time. You need uninterrupted time to lay down your posts, maintain the blog and keep it all going.
You can’t start well then leave it to run. Once the machine’s belts are turning, they never stop and they always need feeding.
Doing What You Love and Loving What You Do
Doing what you love helps with motivation. If you are writing on a subject that sits inside your happy zone, finding motivation to write about it on a regular basis is child’s play.
A lot of people, and I’ve been reminded of this fact in a previous article, don’t do what they love; they do what they think will make them a lot of money, fame or reward.
I wrote an article a few years ago which instantly had someone argue that they don’t do what they love.
Not doing what you love is not a bad thing.
95% of the world population are committed to tasks they don’t like doing on a regular basis, that remaining 5% will do something they don’t enjoy at one part or another in their life, even the staggeringly wealthy.
The important lesson is that if you have already invested time in an activity that means something, you owe it to keep on building that legacy.
The Passion Prerequisite
Those who really excel normally have something beyond passion for what they are familiar with.
You need passion to hold your writing ambition on course when what you planned goes wrong.
If you don’t really do what you love, you have to love what you do. Sounding circular?
Loving what you do means that despite what path you have chosen, you commit in the spirit of enjoying the process and capturing a growing passion as you come more to terms with improving what you are doing.
You are never going to truly love what you have committed to but you at least enjoy and look forward to the challenge.
Work is work. There is always some drudgery involved.
It is always more preferable to do something you love but in that vein, you may become sick of what you love if you find the grind starts to take a grip.
Turning a hobby into a job can kill your love of that hobby. This does happen so be mindful of this.
There is a balance to be struck.
A Tip From Pat Flynn
This tip has stuck with me for a long time, it is simple but awesome, and it works.
Give yourself 30 minutes and write as many titles to articles in your chosen niche as you can.
If you are really struggling for ideas. This niche is too narrow to start.
If you have hundreds of ideas, this niche is too broad.
A niche is a niche because you have set aside some of the broader expanse of your topic zone to laser target a specific area.
If you have barely anything to write about, that niche is too specific and will severely limit the audience you can attract.
On the other side of the double-edged sword, too many ideas can be indicative of a niche that is too broad.
It could also mean that you are just brimming with ideas and if that is the case, you are likely to do well.
This exercise is going to become one of many routines that you, as a blogger, are going to have to come to terms with.
Early Blogging Days
These will be the most fun and the most rough on you.
When you have written your first couple of articles you are buzzing when you are a blogging noob.
It’s exciting to push content out.
It is also exciting to see green shoots.
Starting from zero is a great time.
You don’t really know what to expect.
The trouble is that you, as a new blogger, are going to be receiving views that are not large or significant. (unless you have planned to perfection).
You are bound to look at somebody else’s stats to get a gauge of where you should be at, and feel rather small in comparison. Human nature.
Early Blogs Don’t Have ‘Traction’
Traction is what you get when you have a small force of regular readers who are the beginning of your tribe. This nucleus occurs not only on your blog but on social media connected with your blog and the mailing list.
It takes a lot of grit, effort and patience to gain traction.
It is not an overnight event.
Only the very rare blogger is 100% successful out of the gate and you should not concern yourself with that kind of individual, they are out of your league, or in some cases have cheated the system to start more positively than you. It doesn’t mean that you can’t catch them and even pass them by later on.
Run your race!
Being ultra-fresh in any niche means that you don’t have any implied value and it is going to take you a while to be seen.
There are tasks you can perform to improve this but your initial posts are not going to attract as much audience as later articles.
It’s a numbers law.
I have no good advice on this beyond being better forearmed. There is only so much you can hustle and brute force in the beginning. The only advice I have is that you need to be consistent and keep up the hunt. You need to be committed, any less and you are wasting your time.
You need to put posts behind you to gain momentum.
A Word On Mentorship
Having a mentor in the beginning is a brilliant situation to be in. Having your hand held through the early stage makes you less paranoid about how badly you are doing.
The truth is that everybody does badly in the beginning. It is not worth striving if it was easy. Audience pleasing and retention is hard, don’t be under any illusions otherwise.
I didn’t start with a mentor, I started blogging cold and my learning curve was steeper as a result of that.
I made a lot of newbie mistakes in the beginning. It is the normal process.
If you are provided a golden opportunity for a mentor, take it. Shortening that learning curve will mean a lot. You will be more satisfied with your accomplishments sooner.
Quality is always more valuable than quantity but you don’t always win a war with quality.
Often you can boost your traffic, numbers and authority by posting slightly less, more frequently than you intend to for your standard campaign.
In 2014 I posted almost every day for a month and overall engagement increased considerably during that time.
It is the older, more incumbent bloggers, who can relax their pace and drop a large bomb slightly less frequently. You can’t do that. You don’t yet have people waiting for you with bated breath.
Quantity can be replaced long-term by consistency but early doors, the more you float to get you noticed, the better.
What you do regularly requires hustle.
It is a business situation even if you plan to run your blog not for profit.
You have to be in the mood to hunt down engagement with your content which means that you have to work on ways to bring your content to the right people.
If you are chasing the wrong outcome, your hustle is for naught.
The Question of Authority
What you are trying to gather in the first year of your blog is an overwhelming sense from a visitor, that you know what you are talking about.
The purpose of what you write is to provide your audience an answer to a question that has been troubling them.
What is ever so more important is that you have people returning for more, because they like the cut of your silk.
Hustle is More Than Just Writing
Hustle is finding your audience then making them engage, either through tailoring your content, or finding the exact person that benefits the most from what you have put together.
Hustle is not cornering someone and badgering them until they relent.
- Expending resources.
- Not sitting back and hoping they’ll come.
- Putting the next round in the chamber, or the next post in the pipeline.
Early Day Blogging is Failing
This is a point you will move past by applying patience. It is also a period where you have a good chance of learning from what you are doing wrong. Someone is either likely to tell you or you come to realise it isn’t working.
Some lessons come sooner than others, Some are harder learnt.
Failing is learning, and learning is more valuable.
Sometimes, as counter intuitive and as painful as it may seem, you have to fail more to start learning more. You have to put yourself in some uncomfortable situations to test if a solution is water tight or not.
Mid Term Blogging
This comes after you are a year into the process, you know how one year (not necessarily a calendar year from January to January) plays out.
You are getting some traction but not all that you hope.
People are starting to find you on the Internet through the search engine but not quite as many as you want.
You have expectations now. Ones that you didn’t have in quite such a grand scale as when you were a noob. These expectations have shape and scale. You know roughly what you are shooting for. You have number goals.
That expectation brings pressure. As a writer we always hope that with every piece we write, we gain a small bump each time. It doesn’t always work that way.
It Takes Time
Mid Term blogging can last for a long period of time, much longer than you would have thought.
There are some bloggers who take years to click into place with their strategy and find the magic engagers and influencers that catapult their name into the frame.
You have to stick with it to make that point and to validate your effort in the blog.
That, or you quit.
Mid Term Blogging is;
- Looking for gaps
- Shoring up your library of responses
Mid Term Blogging involves;
- Social media beast mode
- Person to person communication in spades
- Inventive methods and out of the box thinking
Mid Term Blogging can also become;
- A different kind of drudge
- An opportunity to rest on your laurels
- Lack of freshness
- Target fixation
As a mid-term motivational challenge it is easy to become complacent about increasing numbers. You have to remember that this is only achieved by continual effort.
Stepping off the gas can be hazardous for blogging at any time but especially before you have attained celebrity status.
Whilst you are still a potential nobody, you can quite easily sink back into oblivion, by not keeping up the pressure.
You have to constantly be thinking how you are going to chain things together and optimise the provisions you pass out to your audience and those you plan to become your audience.
Dangers of Mid Term Blogging
It is quite easy to get lost from your main purpose, your niche direction and your ultimate goals.
I’m going to explain some of the changes and challenges that will occur.
Your Writing Will Lose Some of It’s Softer Edges
Your rose-tinted ideas from early blogging are going to be swallowed by more cynical views.
If you ever read back some of your oldest works, from the beginning, you will see how your writing has changed.
You will construct articles differently, and be more mindful of constructs and means of presentation that now work, that didn’t before.
There will be a sharper edge to your works. Wham, Bam, Thankyou Ma’am.
Simply put, you will know how to please but don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t bear much resemblance to what you used to publish.
You will change;
- Reducing the amount of flower in your descriptions.
- Anecdotes, stories and imagery will increase.
- Language might change for a wider world audience.
It is important to realise that some of these soft edges might be required to make you a unique voice in a crowded market. Try not to lose too much of you by becoming a robot.
By following your audience you are not necessarily going to be charting the same direction as you had originally intended.
You may have forgotten what the point was to this steer and why you came this way.
Blogging is evolution. Even in the late game. Nothing stays the same, especially in a medium that is changing more rapidly than traditional writing.
In terms of motivation, you just need to keep the thread, wherever you are moving. Don’t think about the destination so much as the journey.
It is very easy to become caught up in what the Jones’s are doing by looking at your competitors and trying to steal the wind out of their sales, or being a Johnny (or Janey) come lately.
This should be replaced by what you need to cover and what is important in your frame of the niche.
Don’t be a clone. Don’t be vanilla.
Serve your audience.
Comfortable But Vulnerable
You might feel comfortable that you’ve covered off a topic, but actually, the way you wrote it didn’t work for your audience and the wider audience.
Sometimes going back to represent your ideas in a more cognitive fashion is better than updating what you already have.
It may not need a repost as much as a completely new direction, one you haven’t considered yet.
Complacent Marketing Strategy
There is a great likelihood that you have become complacent with your marketing mix and the methods you use to hook interested readers without depending on the search engines.
The methods you employ will change subtly over time and you have to move with new trends.
Your audience aren’t a fixed point. They are not binary in their makeup, they aren’t yes and no. Sometimes they are maybe, not sure, stop asking me.
Attrition Management and Retention
You will have to manage attrition and move with the times.
Attrition will form in losing people who followed you for a long while but chose to abandon you (either through neglect or change of taste or situation).
You have to remove these people from your mailing lists before they start listing your email as spam.
Otherwise you have try to tempt them back somehow or try to capture the reason why they left and try to improve on that shortfall/oversight for future retention.
In the same way, your social media will have dropouts and on some platforms like Twitter, you will have to remove people to maintain the balance.
You have to be disciplined to do this, even if your attention has waned.
Motivation is nothing without discipline.
As a blogger, one that may not see the recognition you hope for, the important point to keep in mind is that as long as you make the effort, you are not failing.
All bloggers, from all ends of the spectrum, have problems with motivation. It is human nature.
I’m sure there are the odd few days that bloggers like Pat Flynn and his ilk, can’t be bothered. They have the benefit of teams to fall back on and processes they have developed to get them past these feelings. These processes are ones you need to develop to be successful.
Guilt free holidays only come with precise tactics and strategies.
Next In The Series
The fourth step is the most important beyond Planning, Research and Motivation Assessment. In this step I will look at the notion of whether blogging is for you or not. You have to try it out and see if you like it, and I have tips on where you should go to try that.