Diary of a new blogger 2: Blogging overwhelm. What…already?!
You might have noticed quite a gap between my last post and this one. The reason – blogging overwhelm.
I’ve already mentioned my struggle to find the balance “between learning, doing and marketing in my first diary entry, citing time management as my solution. But as my blogging journey continues, I’ve come across this ‘blogging overwhelm’ phrase with alarming frequency.
Apparently it’s a thing! I didn’t realise - did you?
I’m all for seeking help when things get tough. I’m not the first to experience this and the support is out there. So I want to share what I’ve learned so you can avoid it by building in preventative measures.
Why do people get ‘blogging overwhelm’?
Feeling overwhelmed has similar causes, no matter what the circumstances. Too much to do, no clear priorities, not enough time, every task seems urgent, lack of support and the responsibility for everything being entirely yours.
All very familiar to me as an ex-teacher. It’s crushing. And there’s no energy left for creativity.
This is not what I want for my blogging life.
Do I have blogging overwhelm?
The first thing to do is figure out what's behind your feelings. Is it simply the pressures of work? Or is it other life stuff? Health issues, family worries, all the usual suspects often add up to that feeling of being submerged.
Once you’ve addressed the external factors, you can home in on what's directly contributing to blogging overwhelm.
Other experienced bloggers have written about the specifics that have led to blogging overwhelm for them. Common reasons are:
- Immediacy of everything. Writing the thing, doing SEO, finding copyright-friendly images, getting views and followers, building your Domain Authority, networking with other bloggers, finding paid opportunities. All of it, ideally, to be DONE RIGHT NOW!
- Social media pressures: ‘engagement’ after posting, keeping up with replies, seeking constant positive feedback, the sheer 24/7 relentlessness of it all
- Comparisons to others: unavoidable when you’re in the beginner stage. You’re looking at other blogs to figure out your identity and watching others boasting of their DA and passive income. This just feeds your imposter syndrome monster!
- So many platforms: “you should be everywhere all the time” – no pressure there then.
What do other people do?
I’m all for learning from the experience of others. There is no point reinventing the wheel. And I’m immensely grateful to those in the blogging community who have shared their wisdom with me. The spirit of support is one I intend to embrace and extend.
Some things are practical and quick to implement:
- Turn off your notifications
- Assign parts of the day to answering emails
- Breaks: daily coffee breaks, long weekends, actual weeks off – plan them and actually do them!
- Support: from experienced mentors, social media groups, forums and chats
Other things need thinking time. And whether it’s through housework, exercise or creative pursuits, a change of pace and environment can provide the mental space to become re-energised and get those ideas flowing.
Prioritise your learning
The internet is a wonderful thing, but it’s also a rabbit hole, leading to an extensive warren, turning left to womble dwellings, crossing the road to underground gnome factories and round the corner to a whirlpool of wishing!
You know what I mean.
Information overload is difficult to navigate. Especially when learning new things, like SEO. It’s easy to say ‘keep your focus’, but it’s not that easy to do in practice. There are obvious things, like bookmarking interesting articles for later. And concentrating on reading things that only relate directly to your search question. Assessing the authenticity and authority of sources is equally important.
But there are just so many books, blogs, websites, newsletters, courses and podcasts about everything. The accepted wisdom is to pick the best 3-5 in each area and stop. For me ‘best’ means the most experienced - people with shared values, or engaging writing styles. This way you avoid having 87 tabs on your browser and can actually retain some focus.
And honestly, sometimes it’s worth paying for quality information. Yes, everything can be learned for free, but it’s very much the slow route. So I’d recommend Productive Blogging’s Jumpstart course and the Blogging for New Bloggers’ Fast Track course (these are not affiliate links). The latter has all the legal angles and necessaries, as it’s written by a former lawyer. Because sometimes the rabbit hole, with all its wrong turns, isn’t worth it.
Raise the drawbridge
Brains need time to process. There must be a limit placed on how long you input information. There comes a point when you have to raise the drawbridge and think. Listen to your gut. Decide what you’re saying. Take breaks and do other things. You will get sick of blogging if you are on it all day, every day. Set boundaries for yourself.
Get it all out first. Then you can see and organise your ideas. I’d always recommend stepping away from your first draft for a couple of days then coming back to it. There’s no substitute for looking at a piece of writing with fresh eyes. You will see with greater clarity and spot errors easily.
This is the bit I’m really working on right now. Marketing gurus Andrew and Pete advise applying the 90/10 rule to get success. This means devoting 90% of your attention to one marketing outlet so you can really gain traction.
How does this work in practice?
- You can’t be everywhere all at once. And you don’t need to be. Find where your audience is and hang out there.
- Create long, medium and short term plans.
- Use automation to your advantage.
- You don’t have to do absolutely everything yourself – consider collaborations and outsourcing.
- Focus on platforms you actually like.
Obviously, this is just the start for me and I expect to make adaptations as I go. But you’ve got to start somewhere!
Planning is key to getting organised (no surprises there!) and I’ve found a great tool to help. Trello’s the one for me, but there’s a load to choose from. You can pick one that best suits how your brain works.
My 3 key planning areas are: writing, learning and marketing. I have separate boards for each. Marketing includes setting a social media schedule to make sure I’m always driving traffic. Then these tasks are divvied up into chunks of time. From this I create a manageable weekly timetable.
The key is being realistic. This takes a bit of figuring out. That first timetable, accounting for ten hours of my waking life when I only had seven available, was an absolute disaster. I’d set myself up for failure. No tasks were completed because I couldn’t possibly have achieved them in the time I’d given myself. Overwhelm can lead to inertia which it did to me for a while.
Moving on from feelings of abject failure, I realised that I’d have to spend more time really thinking about my planning. Cue Trello and a severely reduced work schedule.
The Result? The tasks I planned to do actually got done! My blog grows whether I spend 20 hours a week or 5 – it’s all moving towards the same goal, even though it may not be at the speed of light. My confidence has soared and my motivation boosted. There’s no more terrifying, never ending to-do list. Just a well thought out plan, with clear aims and manageable deadlines. I feel like I’ve got so much more brain space now.
I hope that I’ll end up with a work structure that helps me avoid blogging overwhelm by getting the foundations right.
If you have other helpful suggestions, please comment below - I’m all ears!
I’ll keep you updated on how my actual plan is translating into reality. I’m also going to talk about going self-hosted and all the decisions around creating an email list. If you’ve got any questions about either of these topics, I may have just researched the answer.
Read my first blogging diary here
No time to blog? I can help. Get in touch here and we’ll have a chat.