Focus on the Discipline, not the Results


Ryan Battles  • 

Blogging takes Discipline

The story has been told so many times:

You start a blog, promising that THIS time you’ll stick to it for one reason or another. You stay strong for a short period of time, posting regularly…you are loving seeing the posts start to add up. You check your analytics, watching for the hockey stick growth–that never comes.

Okay, forget hockey stick growth, how about steady growth? Nope. Not there either.

Nobody is reading my blog except for my Mom, and she just unsubscribed from the email list.

One day, with no explanation, you just stop posting.

You are not Alone

I said that this story has been told many times–it is very common. It has happened to me, several times over. I have been recently inspired by a number of writers who have explained the process of setting a daily goal of writing X number of words. These don’t have to be a blog post, they could be journal entries that are never published, they could be rough drafts of a book, or even short stories. The point is, there is a discipline to writing, and a discipline to blogging.

While writing takes discipline, the flip side of the coin is that blog growth takes a long time. Chris Brogan writes a blog with over 200,000 unique visitors a month, and yet he recently said in Copyblogger’s The Lede Podcast that it took him 8 years to get 100 readers.

Writing takes discipline + followers need time = most people fail at blogging.

Engagement is Going to be Low

Last week I put out a tweet asking for retweets to help me connect with Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer. I thought it made for a decent underdog story, and certainly I would get at least a few retweets.

That evening I received 1 retweet.

I thought to myself, certainly with hundreds of followers on Twitter some of them would be online, retweet my post, and then their followers would do the same. It just didn’t happen that way. I don’t take it personally though. I realize the following:

  • People are not always online.
  • When they are online, they aren’t always reading my tweets.
  • When they do read my tweets, they aren’t always moved to respond.

That is also assuming that I am writing something worth even responding to…which is sometimes debatable (and that’s okay). Bottom line is, don’t take it personally.

Chris Brogan also talked in the podcast about how he might put out a blog post and get 50 comments right off the bat. Great job, right? When you analyze how many people actually landed on that post in a given day, that seemingly awesome 50 comments actually only represents .001% of his audience.

It’s okay to have low retweets, comments, and replies. People are still reading and even enjoying what you write.

Committed and Steady Wins the Race

Nathan Barry is a wonderfully transparent writer that shares on his blog regularly what new challenges he is trying, and whether he is succeeding or failing at them. One of his posts talks about how committing to writing 1000 words a day changed his career.

By writing 1000 words a day he eventually:

  • Wrote a book
  • Wrote a chapter in another publisher’s book
  • Wrote consistently in his own blog
  • Regularly contributed as a guest author in other blogs

I’ve head others making this career-changing commitment, and even if it is just writing in your own journal, the commitment to typing out words will get that inertia going, and meeting all of those other goals won’t be so much of a challenge.

I recently stumbled across a blog post from Chase Reeves on The Sparkline entitled “How Content Marketers are Putting Themselves out of Business”. While there is a lot of wisdom in this post, one quote stuck out:

Discover who you are, decide who you’re going to serve, dig in, care, try, click publish and wish more people saw it and wonder why more people aren’t sharing it and make more stuff and click publish again and again regardless. Help and be honest and get better over time.

If you’re anything like me, the only way you get to a point where you’ve discovered who you are, how to be yourself and how to be useful to a crew is by clicking “publish”… a lot.

Chase has a well-designed, informative, and popular blog…so reading these words encourage me to stop worrying so much about the number of commenters or social sharing going on in my blog…but again, to focus on the discipline of “hitting publish”

My Own Challenge

I haven’t decided on a words-per-day goal yet, but I have set a “just write something” goal per day. My eventual goal is to have a consistent blog both here on ryanbattles.com and on the Harpoon Blog. For the Harpoon Blog we do have hired writers to get us 75% there, but I’d like to be able to use my own writing style to write more in-depth articles that would be too expensive to outsource at this point while we are still on a tight budget.

Eventually I’d like to publish a book, or at least a free eBook…but I think that needs to wait until I get more experience writing on the blog and honing the craft a bit more.

How about you? How has your blogging experience been? Have you ever abandoned a blog? If not, what has kept you going?



Photo Credit: Manuela Hoffmann via Compfight cc