In short, this new blog was my next business venture.
And then, as I’d expected, about two and a half months into it, I started to feel overwhelmed. I’m sure most newbies feel that way around this time. The stress, the constant struggle to come up with better strategies, the increased workload of a new project on top of everything else that you had been doing already…
Starting something new is hard. But believe me when I say this… it’s way harder to actually stick to it.
Thankfully, I’ve had experience, so I knew this was coming. I prepared for it. But even so, when it actually did happen, it sucked none the less.
And there I was, sitting on my butt, looking at the WordPress dashboard (the empty visual editor of a new post page), and reflecting on life and its many mysteries.
Not a single word on that visual editor, in case you couldn’t tell.
So what did I do?
Glad you asked.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Like I said, I was ready. I know from a string of past projects that in every project cycle, there’s a time when you feel overwhelmed and you feel like throwing in the towel and call it quits. That’s, in fact, the most crucial time in that project cycle, and if you can get past it, you’re pretty much solid.
All the signs were there.
My blog started to gain traction, daily traffic and engagement started to grow by leaps and bounds compared to before, and I even received an email from a reader telling me to continue writing because she’s found my blog to be so helpful!
And then it all came crumbling down.
One letter of praise and I now felt paralyzed.
Let me clarify what happened there. Up until that email from my reader, I wasn’t aware of what my blog was really doing. Whether or not it made a difference to anyone wasn’t of any concern to me. I was too busy coming up with new strategies to grow the blog, devising plans to sell more affiliate products, etc. The analytics numbers were just that… numbers. I didn’t think of the people who made up that number. In short, I was unaware of the actual audience of my blog. To me, they were statistics, not people.
But the moment I realized the true impact my blog was having to the real people out there, as happy as it made me, it also created this immense pressure I hadn’t felt before. And that’s what made me freeze on my tracks.
I didn’t know what to do anymore.
So, some bloggers face what we call the writer’s block. Presumably, a state where bloggers do not know what to blog about. They run out of ideas. In some cases though, this effect isn’t due to not knowing what to write about, but the exact opposite. It’s having too much to write about and then feeling stuck because you don’t know where to start.
Up until I received that sweet email from my reader, I had a list of topics I was going to type up. And this list was growing longer by the day. The more I posted, the more ideas I had coming my way. But I was fine because I wasn’t worried about the receiver on the other end of the line. I was just doing my thing in my own pace.
But now that I knew there were those who waited for my blog to have new content, and then actually read them, paid attention to what I wrote and followed the how-to guides and listicles I was whipping up, suddenly I was worried about things I wasn’t worried about before. Like… which blog post should I write first? Which one will help my readers the most? Which one will make the person sending me that email happy? Are all my readers like her? Do they also feel like she does? If so, what would be the ideal post to help all of them at this point in their blogging journey?
You see where I’m going with this?
So, even though I knew I was going to hit the “overwhelm” phase sooner or later, and even though I was preparing for it, when it did hit me, it was from an unexpected angle, and I didn’t know what to do anymore.
But I wasn’t going to call it quits. So I did what I could instead. I distanced myself from my audience. Not in the sense that I stopped caring, but rather, I had to remind myself that the best I could do is do me, and I can do me best when I’m not trying to please everyone else out there.
And I also had to remind myself that it was by being me that I had attracted the still relatively small fan base that my blog had garnered. So, all I have to do is keep doing me, and that is all.
But that’s easier said than done.
It takes some willpower to sit down and pick a topic from a list of 37 topics and then write a value packed post; to make sure I’m giving value, but not so much that it’s overwhelming. I have to know how to pace myself in my writing, constantly remind myself that my readers aren’t at the level that I am at. Things that are obvious to me may need to be presented in a way that makes sense to my ideal audience.
And when I start going down that rabbit hole, it’s like falling into a bottomless well.
And that’s the perfect time to take a break. Because otherwise, you really will end up throwing in the towel.
But a break cannot be a clean break. If you lose touch, you LOSE. Period. So you can’t be doing that either. So then, what DO you do to distance yourself from the overwhelm of having too much to write about, but at the same time make sure you’re in touch with your blog and your audience?
Here are a few ideas:
Write about Something Different and Unrelated
I know I know! Blogging is all about sticking to a niche and what not… NOT! I mean, don’t get me wrong, you need a niche and it’s helpful. But venturing out into the wild is also refreshing every once in a while.
So what if I blog about blogging and making money blogging? It won’t kill my blog to have a post about how I took photos of random strangers with a Polaroid during the summer of 2011 in New York City. So it’s random, yeah, I get it. But there may be some folks out there who will appreciate a bit of authenticity.
Not saying that you cannot be authentic if you stick to a strict niche, but that you can choose to do things differently if you want to. And it’s perfectly OK to do so every once in a while. It shows your personality, and it humanizes you to your readers. It’s nice, really. Try it every once in a while and see how your audience reacts.
And not to mention, doing things differently once in a while helps you get out of your head. And that helps! It gives you perspective and allows you to look at things differently. Otherwise, it’s easy to start developing a tunnel vision if the inside of your head is your only playground.
Get out and experience the world a bit differently from time to time. If nothing else, it will at least help you relax. And you’ll have a much better (and easier) time getting back on track when the time comes.
Get to Know Your Audience
So, you’re tired, you want to do anything and everything as long as it doesn’t have to do with writing the next blog post even though there are way too many topics that you need to be writing about. In fact, if you were to get them all out there, you probably should be blogging twice a day.
Well, NO! Trust me, as much as your readers love you, they have a life. They’re not going to die if you do not post twice a day. In fact, please DON’T. Your own health aside, you’ll only manage to drive your readers away if you douse them with too much information.
You may feel the urgency, but realize that your readers aren’t feeling the same level of urgency as you. It’s OK to slow down. It’s OK to take a break. It’s OK to take time to care of yourself. You’ll come back to it eventually, and your readers can wait as long as you do not quit on them. But if you keep going when you should be taking a break, you may not be able to continue for long, and/or provide the kind of quality your readers expect from you. That will have far worse implications than taking some time off.
But taking time off doesn’t have to mean you leave your blog alone for weeks on.
Instead, why not do something productive?
Ask yourself, how well do you know your audience? Do you follow up on the comments your readers leave you? Some of these readers probably link to their own blogs. How often do you take the time to check out their blogs like they check out yours?
Why not visit their blog/website and leave a comment? A blogger needs dedicated readers, and this may be the perfect time to nurture some of these relationships and forge a long-term commitment.
You could also reach out to your audience via email. All those people who’ve subscribed to your email list? Yeah, them! Instead of your usual weekly (or biweekly or monthly, whatever frequency you’re playing at) emails, send them a different kind of email. Ask them to tell you what they like about your blog, or what they don’t like. Ask them if they want to see any particular type of blog posts. You can get some very insightful information by reaching out this way. And when some of these people email you back, unless the number is overwhelming, try to follow up individually. Readers LOVE that sort of special attention!
How Else Can You Provide Value Other Than Your Blog Posts?
Here’s something I did when I hit my “overwhelm” period a few weeks ago.
I decided to open a template shop alongside my blog. You see, I blog about blogging. I’m constantly trying to come up with ways in which I can help a new blogger. And it made sense that I create a template shop for bloggers because hey! Do you have any idea how long it takes to create the perfect blog graphic? And it’s not one blog-graphic we’re talking about here! There’s a featured image, there’s one for Facebook and/or Twitter, there’s one for Instagram, and then several different ones for Pinterest…
A blogger’s life is misery wrapped up in pretty ribbons… yeah, we’re rather masochistic, aren’t we?
So, if I can elevate some of their burdens, then why not? AND it’s also a great source of passive income! It’s a win-win situation right there! So, I got cracking and whipped up a couple of products for a brand-spanking new template shop. And guess what? I had my very first sale within the first 12 hours!
Now that’s quite an accomplishment right there!
So, when you’ve hit your “overwhelm” period, ask yourself… how else can you serve your audience aside from writing? Surely they have certain needs that you can help fulfill? If so, pay attention to that and see if you can come up with a different way to help and connect with your readers.
And while you’re doing all that, hopefully, you’ve had enough time for yourself, and you’ve created enough distance from writing blog posts on one particular niche, that you’re now filled with renewed energy, and you can see things a bit more clearly.
And now, get back to creating those blog posts. =)
It's time to grow your blog already!
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