This post is based on episode 57 of the ProBlogger podcast.
Today I want to talk about nine hurdles I’ve faced as a blogger, and how I got over them.
While you may never have to deal with them all, chances are there’s at least one you’ve either faced in the past or will face in the future. And so hopefully you’ll be able to get over them (or perhaps around them) without them slowing you down too much.
So let’s start with the first hurdle I faced…
1. Not understanding the technology
When I first started blogging back in 2002 I was a technological Luddite. For the first three months I didn’t even know how to make text bold. At that point all I’d really done online was email, a little bit of search and some IRC chat – none of which were particularly technical.
But I had no experience in coding, registering a domain, setting up a server or designing a website.
So I started by using a free blog platform. Back then it was either Blogger or Blogspot (I can’t remember which), which is now Blogger and owned by Google. It handled all the hosting, and provided WYSIWYG I could use without needing to write any code.
In a way I was outsourcing all the design work so I could concentrate on writing content.
These days I’m much more technically savvy than I was back then. But I’m still not an expert at some things, and so I outsource them to people who are.
And if you’re not overly tech savvy I suggest you do the same. Don’t let technology get in the way of you realising your dream or fulfilling your goals. Chances are you’ll learn how a lot of it works as you go along. And there are plenty of people in the blogging community and on YouTube who can teach you what you wish you knew.
Just keep in mind there will always be new stuff to learn. But you don’t need to learn it all at once, and some of it you may not need to learn at all. All that matters is that you can keep doing what you’re doing.
2. Being scared of looking silly
Given that I didn’t even know how to bold a piece of text, you’ve probably guessed that my blog wasn’t exactly a work of art. Compared to other people’s blogs it looked pretty awful, and I was worried that it might make me look a bit silly.
And it was the same with my content. I’d never had any formal training in writing, and compared to what other people were writing my content seemed quite amateurish.
Fortunately, I got past my fear of looking stupid and kept working on developing my blogging voice and skill set. And over time that fear of looking stupid began to subside.
One tactic I used to get over that fear was to change my focus. Instead of worrying about what I didn’t know (and how that lack of knowledge looked on the page), I started focusing on trying to solve problems that I knew people were having.
And when people realise you’re trying to help them, they’re more than willing to forgive the fact your blog isn’t a work of art and that you’re not a complete expert on the topic.
So just as you shouldn’t let technology hold you back, don’t let the fear of looking silly hold you back either. If your heart is in the right place, and you’re generally trying to help people, no-one will care how you’re doing it.
3. Lack of focus
As I mentioned in a recent post, my first blog was about churches, theology and spirituality.
At least to begin with.
As time went on I started talking about my other interests – movies, politics, photography, life in Australia, and eventually blogging itself. The more topics that I wrote about, the more I enjoyed blogging.
Unfortunately, I also got more pushback from those readers who didn’t share my eclectic mix of interests.
So I started to niche, creating a new blog for each topic I wanted to write about. They gave me a chance to focus on a particular topic, and get a feel for what it would be like writing about it for the long haul.
Out of the 30 or so I started, only two remain – ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. But starting the others wasn’t a waste of time because they helped me figure out what I wanted to write about (and what I didn’t want to write about) long-term.
If you have a general blog, you might want to give niching a bit of thought. It can make it easier to monetize your blog, as well as find a readership for it.
Of course, some bloggers do very well as generalists. But most successful bloggers have a particular focus.
4. Blogger’s block
I went through my first bout of blogger’s block a few years after I’d started blogging. Up until that point it had all been relatively easy. But then my creative juices suddenly stopped flowing, and I found myself staring at the screen wondering if I’d ever come up with another idea to write about.
It was soul-destroying stuff. Fortunately, that particular bout only lasted a week or so. But I’ve suffered numerous bouts of blogger’s block since then.
But they didn’t all have the same symptoms.
Some had me thinking, What should I write about? Some had me stuck at the writing stage, which I guess was writer’s block. And some had me blocked at the point between writing a draft and publishing it. (I still have dozens of unpublished blog post drafts.)
So what do you do when you’re suffering from blogger’s block?
I always try to work out where the blockage is, and then come up with a way to allocate more time, creativity and energy to that particular area. For example, if I’m struggling with ideas block, I’ll see if I have a list of ideas I’ve brainstormed earlier. If I don’t, then I’ll get away from the computer (and the dreaded blank screen) and try to brainstorm some.
(For more ideas on how to beat blogger’s block, check out this post.)
5. Blogger’s burnout
Similar to blogger’s block is blogger’s burnout. And it’s something else I’ve suffered on and off over the years.
Remember how I said I’ve had around 30 blogs over the years? Well, at one point I was running 20 of them at once, and trying to publish new content on them all every day.
As you can imagine, it was a recipe for disaster.
The quality of my blogging suffered, and so did my health. And the only way I could keep blogging was to scale everything back. I went from 20 blogs to just two – ProBlogger and Digital Photography School.
Having so much more time to devote to those two blogs meant the quality of my posts improved almost immediately. And so did my health. More importantly, I now had the time and the energy to sustain them both.
The truth is you don’t need to have multiple projects on the go. You don’t even need to publish every day. You’re far better off taking the time to produce quality content. And your body and your mind will thank you for it.
6. Personal attacks
Blogging is one of those mediums where you need to keep putting yourself out there by sharing your ideas, your experiences, your story, your photo, your voice and your videos.
And some people will feel the need to provide feedback on what you’re doing.
If you’re creating content that helps people, most of that feedback will probably be positive. But no matter how positive and constructive your content is, chances are someone will attack your ideas. It may even get a bit personal.
Unfortunately, it’s all part of blogging and putting yourself out there.
So how do you deal with these personal attacks?
To start with you may need to develop a slightly thicker skin so they don’t feel as much like an attack. Of course, that’s easier said than done. But over time you’ll become better at ignoring them.
Try to stay positive, not just with your blogging but also with your responses to people’s feedback. Again, that can be easier said than done, but you should still try. And remember: sometimes the best response is no response.
And finally, try to surround yourself with positive people – online and offline.
7. Lack of readership
While you don’t necessarily need millions of readers to be a full-time blogger, pretty much every monetization strategy relies on you having at least some people reading your blog. And the more readers you have, the easier it is to make money from your blog.
Which can be really frustrating when you’re just starting out.
I remember the early days of blogging where I almost lost hope. I’d spend hours writing great content every week, and then look at the stats and realize hardly anyone was reading it.
We’ve talked a lot about finding readers on ProBlogger, so I’m not going to dwell on it much here. But what I will say is that when it comes to building your readership you need to take a long-term view. Keep producing great content and your readership will increase. You just need to hang in there.
8. Choosing the right monetization model
Of course, having lots of readers doesn’t guarantee you’ll have a profitable blog. You also need to find the right monetization model for your blog.
And that can take time.
I’ve talked about my experiments with different monetization models in a recent post, so I won’t go into too much details here. But I would like to say a few things about it here.
Always be thinking about other income streams, even when the one you’re using is working really well for you. At one point I was making good money from AdSense. But I realized the economy was changing, and that it wasn’t going to last forever. And so I began experimenting with different types of affiliate promotions, as well as creating my own products.
As it turns out that advertising model didn’t disappear. But it has certainly changed, and it definitely good to have these other income streams working for me.
The other thing to remember is not to overboard. You need to balance the needs of your readers with your need to monetize your blog.
9. Time management
When I started blogging I was working three part-time jobs and studying part-time. I was newly married, and trying to keep my social life going as well as some voluntary stuff I was doing.
My life was very full.
When I became a full-time blogger I was able to give up some of those part-time jobs. But even though I was no longer juggling multiple jobs, I was still juggling multiple blogs with different income streams and lots of reader requests.
Now I have a wife, three kids, two relatively successful businesses and a team of people I outsource to. So I still have a lot of balls I need to keep in the air. And so time management has become vital for me.
And it’s something you should work on too.
For me it’s a matter of working out my goals and my priorities, deciding what I must do to reach them, and then getting organized and being disciplined about doing it. Your time management strategy might be completely different. The most important thing is to find the one that works for you.
What hurdles have you faced as a blogger? And how did you manage to get past them? Let us know in the comments.
Image credit: Jeremy Chen on Unsplash