Blogging rules worth breaking when the pressure is on
A good client of mine noticed recently that I seem to be publishing fewer posts than usual. Has my approach to blogging changed? I think it has. Discovering a few blogging rules worth breaking whilst feeling under stress, seems to have a lot to do with it.
Initially I thought the diagnosis of my chronic illness had caused a shift in my thinking. It was certainly affecting my creative mojo.
But then I remembered it had all started earlier whilst troubleshooting a few frustrating issues with this website. I think I had already reached my saturation point.
(Please note, my tips below may not apply to blog owners who write for a living)
1. "Readers won’t trust you if you do your own thing"
You probably know how much it helps to have a plan for your blog as well as a writing and a publishing routine. Especially at the beginning when your blog is new or part of the marketing strategy for your small service business.
Of course, that’s all well and good if you're the kind of person who thrives on deadlines. But not everyone does.
Blogging pressure is everywhere
There can be a fine line between a goal that spurs you into action, and one that causes unnecessary pressure. Especially if you're a creative person who likes to think outside the box.
You certainly don’t want the boring routine either that has become a mundane chore. It doesn't really matter here why you blog. No blogger should ever churn out content for the sake of it or, primarily, to send traffic to their site.
Then there's the self-inflicted pressure, e.g the pressure to be perfect in everything you do. Or the pressure to publish several times a week or month.
And to make matters worse, it's often all too easy to compare yourself to more successful bloggers.
Pressure can so easily lead to unnecessary stress. And stress may not just block your creativity, it can also cause you to feel frustrated with blogging in general.
So saying 'no' to pressure is the first of the blogging rules worth breaking!
Doing your own thing may be easier when you already have a well-established blog. But even as a new blogger you mustn't forget that what really counts is what you bring to the table when you 'show up'.
The more authentic you can be the better, so free yourself from some of the pressure. And always make sure you write when you feel you have something to say. Make your writing come from the heart and share your story, your learning and experiences.
Now is the time to stop comparing yourself to others. You are unique and can afford to feel confident in doing your own thing. It will strengthen your message and give you the authentic voice that readers will love.
They will remember you too because you stand out from other bloggers in your niche! (And all this could just make blogging more enjoyable and meaningful for you too.)
2. "You have to create new content all the time"
I know from clients and fellow bloggers what a struggle it can be to always come up with new ideas.
We’re told that search engines like new content, as do our readers. We often think that by presenting them with new information all the time, they will stay loyal to our blog.
But truth be told, readers can be busy people with a short attention span and memory. They don't always have time to read every word, let alone turn your handy tips into practice.
So would they really notice?
Still, as someone who has blogged consistently for 10 years, it was hard to ignore all that without feeling guilty.
How not to feel guilty
It suddenly occurred to me how much mileage we get out of the posts we’d already published.
I knew, as I had automated most of the blog promotion on Twitter where even the older ‘Attract Readers’ posts get shared all the time. Useful proof that we created a good resource of timeless (also called ‘evergreen’) content.
Evergreen content is quite special as it resonates with the reader long after it is written. Especially if it doesn’t show a publishing date (a plugin like 'WP Author, Date and Meta Remover' can help you here).
Create the right content
If you’re a new blogger – especially if you’re promoting a service – you might want to put up your most important, helpful or inspirational posts first. These will form your evergreen content and will be a useful resource for your reader.
As an existing blogger you may want to check your older posts. Do they have a strong and timeless message? The right keywords?
Out of date content can put readers off. Often, all it takes is a little tweaking here and there to bring it up to date (e.g. by removing references to old events or news).
Maximise what you have
Once you have a good collection of evergreen posts, you could do what I do – treat them like an asset and keep sharing them on social media.
Getting your existing (evergreen) posts to drive visitors to your site is such an easy thing to do. It can make a huge difference to how you feel about your blog and the pressure to always write new posts.
So this is one of the blogging rules worth breaking when you feel under time pressure! It's nice to know that you can relax once in a while knowing your blog readers can still appreciate your evergreen posts.
3. "You can’t take a longer break as search engines and readers will stay away"
Depending on your situation, sometimes taking a slightly longer break from blogging is by far the most sensible thing to do.
Ok, so strictly speaking taking a break isn’t actually a new blogging lesson for me. Wearing my business coaching hat, I’ve been helping my clients for years to stand back from an issue to achieve more clarity.
But in this case, not publishing anything for a while did feel risky. It was hard to ignore all the reasons why blogging regularly is so important. Would Google really make readers drop off?
Don't worry about the risks
When I decided to take a break, I quickly realised how I’d let myself get into a rut. It can be all too easy to ignore the warning signs that you or your blog have lost their oomph. Although I’d like to think that the lonely writer’s existence has something to do with it.
In my experience it doesn’t usually pay to miss the point where you control what happens next.
This is where being kind to yourself and listening to your own needs can make all the difference. After all, you might like to return to blogging with renewed enthusiasm once the time feels right.
But what about Google?
If you’re at all worried about the search engines punishing you, please relax. Due to evergreen content and my well-oiled social media activities, neither the Attract Readers site nor my own suffered that much during my 3 month break from blogging.
Ok, so the stats may have reduced a little but, who really cares when your blogging isn't a direct source of income anyway?
I hope you can see that there are some blogging rules worth breaking. Being confident in your own approach, publishing less often or even having a longer break can be real life-savers. And they can lead to more clarity too and a happier you!