Kent Newsome has a good post outlining five stages of blogging, from creation to abandonment at Newsome.org. They are:
- Excitement: While setting up a new blog, the blogger is full of great ideas, is inspired, and expectations are high.
- Expectation: When starting from zero, little things mean a lot and progress seems exponential.
- Frustration: Blogging meet diminishing returns, turns into inefficient work, and the blogger finds it harder and harder to get attention amid the multitude of other blogs.
- Alienation: Rejection of the blogosphere.
- Abandonment: A dead blog.
I could instantly relate to these stages as I usually oscillate between 2 and 3, while on a really bad day (perhaps after a blogger calls me a moron) I can drop to number 4. After one year, I have yet to give up on blogging completely, but I’ll be honest — I’ve come close.
Currently, much of my fatigue stems from the realization that blogging can be hard work, and if I were to pick a blogging metaphor, it’s that of a long, endless jog. I’m somewhere in the middle of the pack – runners passing me while I pass others – but nobody knows how long the race is or where’s the finish line.
My traffic is increasing but not at the rate it once was. I seem to have stalled out in terms of Technorati links coming in and feed subscribers. Many of the “wow” moments that inspired me in the early days aren’t especially motivating anymore.
But still, I persist.
So what keeps me at stage 2? Where do I find inspiration?
- Comments left by readers. I really enjoy reading responses to what I’ve written, even if they disagree with me. A funny comment always inspires me to continue blogging.
- Responding to what I read on other blogs via my own. It’s wonderful to have the ability to read a blog article and write a response on my own.
- Setting internal goals that don’t rely on external validation. Stats like traffic, ad revenue, or page views are “external” validations. An “internal” validation might be challenging myself to write four posts on Sunday and publish them ahead of time so I can have a few weekdays off. Meaning, success is totally in my court. Mixing up goals keeps things fun.
- Writing series of posts. I’ve experimented with writing several posts on one subject (Radiohead album reviews, James Bond movies, Battlestar Galactica) that provide material even when I’m not feeling inspired to write anything else. And when inspired, the posts can write themselves.
- Giving back. I’m running a blog contest with a reader prize and have ideas for many more.
- Striving to be a decent blogosphere citizen. Reading and commenting on other blogs and linking whenever possible helps me feel connected and hopefully inspires other bloggers by letting them know I’m reading their blogs. In a sense, I’ve struck up conversation with some other runners in the middle of the pack near to me, and through subtle blog behavior – we keep each other moving forward.
And the last inspirational tip: Honest blogging.
When I write something true to myself without any consideration as to the result, I’m usually pleasantly surprised. An example of “honest blogging” was when I nearly quit my blog, but decided not to. I wrote a post called Some Reasons Why I Nearly Quit Blogging. The varied reaction raised me from stage 4 to stage 2 over a few days.
If at any point you’re slipping down Kent Newsome’s blog theory from stage 4 to the edge of 5, perhaps an blunt, honest post about your feelings would slow the descent. How about an article titled: “I’m Tired Of Blogging And I Want To Quit”?
I have a feeling your readers – even if they seem non-existent and indifferent – and some you had no idea you had – will read the post and lift you back to stage 2. Writing in this manner can take the dark feeling of slipping down the blog abandonment scale and transform it into interesting content – and hopefully turn your blog fatigue back into a positive.
Just make sure to link from your blog abandonment post to The Blog Herald, so I can personally give you a second wind!