“What’s the biggest mistake you see aspiring bloggers making?”
This is a question I’m asked a fair bit on panels or in interviews, and it’s one that I suspect the people asking the question would like a technical answer to.
The reality is that the biggest mistakes I see bloggers making are usually things that are going on in their minds, rather than on their blogs.
Your mindset and attitude is as important more important than which blog platform you choose, your blog’s design, or how many posts you make a day.
There are two very common mindsets that I see in many bloggers (and prebloggers), and which I think hold them back.
1. I’m gonna…
One of the things that frustrates me about blogging conferences is that many of the conversations I hear in the hallways and networking meetups involve bloggers talking about the amazing dreams that they’ve concocted … but never seem to act on.
Dreams and grand plans are great — but unless they move beyond the dreaming stage, they’re pretty much worthless.
The “I’m gonna…” statements that I hear range from those at the beginning of their blogging careers (I’m gonna start a blog), through to more established bloggers (I’m gonna write a book/develop my own product/start a new project).
While there’s nothing wrong with brainstorming and dreaming and then later rejecting the idea because it isn’t feasible, some bloggers are serial “ideapreneurs” who never put anything into action.
For some, the ideas never leave their minds; others are so addicted to the creative process of dreaming up new things that they start lots of projects but never see them through. These types are always looking for the adrenaline hit of the new idea, but can’t bring themselves to face the hard work of seeing the ideas through to reality.
2. I’m not … enough
- I’m not creative enough.
- I don’t have the technical ability.
- I’m too late to have an impact.
- I’m not old enough.
- I’m not young enough.
- I live in the wrong part of the world.
- My writing isn’t good enough.
- I don’t have the budget.
- I’m just not smart enough.
The list of excuses for not taking action on some aspect of blogging — whether it be starting out, or developing an established blog — is endless.
Sometimes they come as we compare ourselves to the great things that others are doing; sometimes they’re related to our own feelings of inadequacy and self doubt.
Either way, the end result is usually inaction. Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we’ll take action “one day” — after we get better, smarter, older, or improve whatever it is that we’re not good enough at — but the reality is that we’re never going to do it.
The secret of many bloggers’ success
So what is it that sets some bloggers apart?
It’s simple really: they get things done. They don’t allow what’s going on in their minds to distract them from actually blogging and completing the things they set out to do.
- They still have ideas and dreams, but they put action items around them that take them to reality.
- They still have doubts and insecurities, but they don’t allow that to hold them back.
I look at my own experience of blogging over the last eight years, and I see times where I’ve suffered from both these mindsets.
I have notebooks full of ideas that never amounted to anything. But I realized a few years back that unless I actioned some of them, my business would never reach its potential.
I also had periods, particularly when I started out, where I had so much self doubt about the things I was writing, and my lack of ability in some aspects of blogging, that I was almost paralyzed by fear. However, I managed to put that aside and blog on, only to discover that the more I did it, the better I got.
All of this reminds me of a great video I saw last week from Seth Godin. It runs for 18 minutes and I think much of what Godin says applies to bloggers. Many of us are paralyzed by our “Lizard Brains”, which often stop us from taking action, and actively sabotage us.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you overcome these mindsets. I know so many of us do struggle with them. How do you snap yourself out of the “I’m gonna…” or the “I’m not … enough” ways of thinking?
This article was first published on September 30, 2010 and updated August 11, 2022