It’s a strange conundrum that is part of the blogging equation. The more popular and succcessful your blog becomes – something you’ve been working towards for long enough – the more you can start to feel detached or estranged form your own blog.
Some of the triggers might be:
- The number of your readers growing week by week
- Positive feedback from readers on the difference your words make
- A format, style and voice that works for you and connects with others
- A thriving conversation around your blog
- 100s of pages of quality content on your site
How could these positives possibly lead to negative emotions? Surely they’re the things that bloggers strive after and crave for?
Some of the reactions I’ve felt or noticed in others might be:
- Heightened expectations: the numbers can scare you. How on earth can you write something that will be interesting and engaging for 100s, 1,000s or tens of thousands of people?
- Puzzlement: the positive feedback is fantastic, but can also be puzzling. (Speaking for myself here.) What on earth did I write that made that connection? Are they talking about someone else? How on earth could I do it again?
- Resistance: finding a format that works might generate frustration, boredom or resistance (especially if you’re a natural resister). Lots of people enjoy the format you’ve got… which means it must be time to do something different
- Originality: you might fear that you’re going to run out of things to say, and that you’ll eventually just be recycling things you’ve already written
- Time and Energy: handling a lot of comments and conversation is time consuming and can be energy draining. Depending on how this fits with your bigger sense of purpose you might feel it’s just not worth the input any more.
I can see some of these reactions might be to do with fear of success (which would be a whole other post story).
But I think it’s more to do with the life cycle of a blog… which in turn got me wondering if there were natural peaks (and troughs), and points beyond which blogs (and bloggers) might just run out of steam.
Although I would encourage others – and myself – to stick with their blogging, to be tenacious… there must also be points when it just is the right thing to do to let your blog go.
That would be the last resort of course, which in turn got me thinking about the tactics you’d use to get yourself past the dips that (inevitably) occur when you’re in something for the long haul.
1. Accept that things change, including you. Don’t be surprised if the way your blog started no longer reflects where you’re at. Look for ways to bring them closer together again.
2. Keep the foundation as you. However much you might try to connect with readers, write for your readers, produce content of interest to others… if you are not directly connected to the material you’ll lose interest and enthusiasm for the project
3. Check in with your purpose, whether that’s your life purpose, business purpose or creative purpose. Does your blog still reflect your purpose? Could you re-align your blogging so it was? (If not… well that might be one of the signs that it’s time to walk away)
4. Reduce your focus. Go back to the tried and tested techniques of writing for one person, rather than 1000s of people you’re trying to please. Don’t scare yourself thinking about the impossibility of dreaming up content for another 500 posts, or writing for another 2 years. Brainstorm what you can write in the next month.
5. Build in review points Identify points in the diary when you’ll check in with yourself. This also saves you blogging on for ever without stopping to think why.
6. Experiment Playing with some different approaches might be enough to reawaken your enthusiasm and help you to reconnect with your own blog. You can experiment with frequency, format, and topics – after all, it is your blog.
7. Tell your readers If you’re going to make some big changes you’ll want to talk your readers through it. You might also find that talking through some of your own feelings, whether tiredness, demotivation or ennui is enough to find your voice again, help you connect with your readers… and feel back at home on your own blog.
I’m feeling my way here as this isn’t something I’ve either experienced (other than in fleeting moments) or worked my way through.
If you’ve got direct experience of approaches that worked for you please do chip in below.
10 Blogger Best Practices: What Guides You as You Extend Your Reach? by Liz Strauss at Successful Blog
What Do You Do With a Blog? by Barbara Swafford at Blogging Without a Blog
Photo Credit: we built this city on… by Darwin Bell on flickr