Over and over again I hear two stories: “Sorry I haven’t posted for a while…” and something like this: “My blog has become a burden.” Is this you?
- Feeling guilty for missing your own schedule?
- Feeling overcommitted with your blog?
- Feeling embarrassed about letting down your readers?
- Feeling disappointed that you’re not living up to your own standards?
- Feeling secretly resentful towards your blog?
You started a personal blog with one set of expectations, for example:
- that you would post daily (what were you thinking?!)
- that you would post on the same topic every Friday of the year
- that you would write something original and brilliant every month, or
- that your blog would continue forever to follow your original plan.
Except for No.1, these are not bad plans. (Sure, some writers can achieve No.1, but very few readers will visit the same blog every day, and some feel mildly annoyed if you overload them.) And in case you wondered, I do think it’s best to start with a plan!
Why you set your expectations too high
Actually, you learn how to blog by blogging. You learn what suits you by blogging. And above all, things change! You get a new job, start writing a new book, undertake extra activities, move house, complete your original project, get involved in another hobby, or just get tired of doing the same old thing. Maybe the content is out of date. Now the blog becomes a burden, a bore, a brute.
If you start to find it’s a struggle to blog, that’s not surprising. You’re good, but you’re neither Superman nor Wonder Woman — and you don’t have to be.
Why you feel so responsible
If you get the guilts it’s probably because you read some articles about how to blog. Those articles say that you MUST blog daily, you MUST keep it up, you MUST build your audience, you MUST stick to one topic etc.
But those articles were not written for you. They were written for people whose goal was to be “successful” — directly or indirectly increasing their sales, customer base, or level of influence. If you regard yourself as a personal blogger, that kind of success was never your aim, so why should you conform to professional rules?
Instead of beating yourself up, think about your values, your real life beyond the blog, your original reason for blogging, and your readers.
6 tips for when your blog becomes a burden
- Notice your feelings. When you think about your blog, when you settle down to prepare a post, how do you feel? Anxious, depressed, frustrated? If it’s not fun, take at least one of the next five tips.
- Take blogging breaks. Short ones just because, and long ones if you’re feeling stale. Tell your readers but no need to justify or apologise. A personal blog is not a job — and if it was, you would be entitled to paid holidays.
- Reduce the load. Cut back. Blog less frequently or provide less text and fewer photos. Explain if you like but don’t apologise: just do it. I’ll stick my neck out and say that your readers may care but they will not mind and you won’t get fired.
- Review your topic. Does your original topic still interest you? If not, feel free to change it: you are the boss of your blog. If you have lost interest in your original aim (e.g. to cover breakfasts around the world), switch to a new interest. This could be the start of a great new adventure. Explain the change in a blog post. You won’t get fired.
- Have a trial separation. State in a post that your blog is on hold or go-slow for a few months, and disable Comments. Change your About page to make the situation clear, and give people another way to contact you — if you want to. It will soon become obvious that your blog is winding down. People can still visit the archives at this point and you can still comment on your friends’ blogs whenever you want to. If you feel lighter and freer, one day you may want to close your blog permanently. You are going part-time.
- Close the blog permanently. It’s a big step, but other people do it all the time. Change the blog’s settings from Public to Private, or delete the entire blog. You are retiring from this blog. You have not been fired.
What not to do if your blog becomes a burden
Actually, you can do whatever you like — you are the boss of your blog. But I suggest you don’t carry on feeling bad about something that you chose, you control, and that once was fun.
Why do I care?
I’m not feeling bad about my own blog. But I feel sad for those who are struggling with ambivalence or worse, feeling trapped in a blog-prison — when they built the prison and they hold the key. It worries me greatly and this is my way of trying to help.