If it’s happening to you, relax. It happens to almost everybody. Here’s how the scenario goes: Struck by inspiration, you decide to start a blog. THIS is the idea you’ve been waiting for all along. THIS is the idea that may even turn into your full-time dream job.
How long do you think it will take? Six months? Two years on the outside? You can’t believe it–you’ve finally struck it rich.
You start searching for the perfect domain. You land one that’s actually available. You buy it right away before someone else scoops it up. You set up the website platform and throw together a placeholder banner and create social media accounts and start blogging. It’s so perfect! You can’t wait to wake up and work on your blog every day. Everything else in your life feels like it’s just holding you back.
You start sending links to your closest friends. These are the people who have always told you that you should write. They’re encouraging.
A few months in your subscriber count is still low. You’re still spending more in the domain, hosting, and “research” fees (books you buy, freelancers you hire) than you can reasonably hope to recover right now.
And this is where it starts to break down. It stops being as fun. Your passion fizzles. You continue to grind out posts to meet your self-imposed deadlines, but then one day, you figure that no one is going to miss it if you decide to take a break. From there, you’re on the slippery slope to giving up.
This is the cycle of countless abandoned blogs on the information superhighway. Months (or years) later, you reflect back and you think, “I could have really had something there if I hadn’t given up so early.”
There’s a decent chance that you were right. You might have had an idea that would have eventually gained traction–if not as a moneymaker then as a resume-builder to help you get something closer to your dream job. You know the quote: “80 percent of success is just showing up.”
The only way to find out if your idea will pay off is to keep showing up. But how? When it starts to feel like you’re spinning your wheels for nothing, how do you get your butt back in the chair and write another post with some heart and soul in it?
The answer is to set goals.
The secret to using goals is to stick with small, realistic goals. Instead of saying to yourself, “Okay, this weekend, I want to go viral,” set a goal such as, “This month, I want a certain blogger to mention my website on her blog.” This gives you something to take clear steps towards.
How is that blogger going to know about you? Well, you’re going to have to reach out.
How do you reach out without coming across like a sleazy self-promoting salesperson? Well, there are whole books written on that subject. Find one, read it, and apply it to your scenario as you read it.
Here’s another realistic goal: “This week, I want five more subscribers to my newsletter.” How do you go about that? One way is to set up social media ads. Learn how to do that. Set up your ads. How much did that cost? How much can you afford to spend every month?
It’s a Learning Process
If you set realistic goals for yourself, you’re going to learn a lot along the way. You won’t just be writing your heart out and sending your blog posts out into the void, hoping that your friends will suddenly tell their friends, who for some reason happen to be the kind of people who make fledgling bloggers become rich and famous. The process of building a successful blog is like paying off a credit union car loan: You do it one payment at a time.
Keep grinding, friends.
First published in May 2020; republished March 2022