My Blogging Mantras

In a workshop I gave for some bloggers earlier this year, I opened by talking about my three blogging mantras…

In a workshop I gave for some bloggers earlier this year, I opened by talking about my three blogging mantras — and then had a “facepalm” moment when I realized I’d never shared them with you:

Nothing is permanent.

Don’t panic.

This is supposed to be fun.

If they sound self-evident, that’s because they are . . . but we still lose sight of them from time to time. Today, let’s take a break from phoneography for a moment of perspective.

We can all get caught up in the glamorous whirlwind of blog life: watching our stats go up, up, and away. Responding to a slew of comments on our latest gem. Finding the perfect graphic to use as a new logo. We also all have our not-so-great days. Writer’s block. Misbehaving themes. Fewer readers than the day before.

On those days when your blog makes you want to tear your hair out, take a few minutes and remind yourself:

Nothing is permanent.

From an out-of-place comma to a post you’re having second thoughts about to a new theme that you don’t really like, nothing is permanent. Frustrated with the way that widget looks? Move it. Hate the new theme you just bought? Get a refund. Thought of the perfect conclusion for the post you published last week? Edit it.

Nothing on your blog has to be permanent, and that includes posts; things don’t turn static when you hit Publish. Everything’s editable, changeable, delete-able. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to live with it — so don’t. It’s your blog, and you’re the one who has to be happy with it.

Don’t panic.

road sign

Whatever you do, don’t turn left — it’s a dangerous and confusing place. Photo by stevebkennedy

In 2010, I was doing jury duty for a criminal trial. I checked my email during a break, and learned that my site had been hacked: 3.5 years worth of posts gone, with no backup. I wanted to FREAK OUT and get it fixed RIGHT THEN. I wanted to yell at my host, the registrar for my domain name, the person who built my theme, and the guy who drove the bus that brought me to the courthouse. I wanted refunds for everything, including the bus fare, so I could start from scratch. I also wanted to cry. Instead, I had to go back to a courtroom and impartially listen to evidence for another three hours.

You are smarter than I was and blog with, so this is something you never have to worry about, but let my moment of panic be your cautionary tale: panic wouldn’t have helped me (and it definitely wouldn’t have helped the defendant). What helped? Forwarding the email to someone who knows more than me about the guts of websites, and then waiting, painfully and patiently, until she’d had a look around. And remembering that in the grander scheme of the internet, a day without my blog would not grind things to a halt.

Yes, it got fixed. Yes, it look more than five minutes. Reaching out for help and having patience were the best things I could have done. The online world moves fast and we want everything to be just so, but sometimes, you need to take a deep breath to stop the OMGs, get perspective, and figure out what the right fix is. (See also point #1, “Nothing is permanent.” Whatever it is? It’s fixable.)

This is supposed to be fun.

I assume you didn’t start your blog so you’d have more deadlines to worry about, right? In which case, it’s supposed to be fun. If it stops being fun, it’s time to take a step back and figure out why. Are you trying to maintain a posting frequency that doesn’t really work for you? Are you so worried about your statistics they feel like must-exceed quotas, rather than the helpful information they’re meant to be? Are you concerned that what you’re publishing isn’t resonating with people, or with the “right” people? Are you so worried with crafting the perfect post and executing a flawless social media strategy that the joy is gone? Maybe you’ve an overachiever  and you’re worried about all of the above — I’ve been there.

This is your space, so if your blogging isn’t creative a net positive effect, it’s time to make a change. For me, running advertising on my site made me too focused on statistics and churning out posts; I nixed the advertising, reclaimed the blog as my own, and the fun came back. For you, it might be posting once a week instead of three times a week, or writing about what’s really in your heart rather than what you think people want to read. Take some time to experiment and you’ll find your sweet spot again.

Have you ever had to give yourself a blogular pep talk? What guidelines help keep you blogging happily?

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  1. Thank you, I LOVE the “this is supposed to be fun”. I feel like I am often swept up in some made up competition with stats and “likes” and other blogs that takes away from the real reason I started blogging which was to have fun.

  2. 1. Write ideas down as backup for days when inspiration is low.
    2. This is not a homework (or as you say “this is supposed to be fun”)!
    3. Believe in your ideas..

  3. Thanks for the sane advice! When I started feeling overwhelmed with everything – especially keeping up with everyone’s posts – and feeling I need to do that b/c how could I expect people to read my work if I’m supporting theirs – I brought it out in post about feeling overwhelmed with it all and how do others feel/cope. I got a lot of great feedback from bloggers – and assurance that they feel the same and realize that not everything can be read by their followers. The nicest thing to hear is that even if I can’t read a particular post of theirs – it wouldn’t make them not read one of mine b/c it’s not about that. It made me feel the fun of this world once again.

  4. I sometimes stress because I haven’t thought of what to write as my new post, I am too tired to compose something or life got in the way. I have to reign myself back in and remember that it is ok if I don’t always have a new post and it is supposed to be fun and serve a purpose but not at the price of losing my sanity. Thank you for giving us your mantra.

    1. You’re welcome! I think we all run up against that sometimes. But when you force it, people can tell — it’s not really *you* any more. We all have to find our own ways of keeping it fun.

  5. LOL @ Paudearphotography above!!

    My learning has been: If it’s a personal blog, and you want to have fun, keep it personal. Don’t mix it with populist elements (like writing thesis-styled blog posts everyday) in order to get more hits.

    Also, write for the reader, not for the search engine. Ultimately, it’s the reader who is the most important element of your blog. Search Engines would be happy to refer you, if you can make the reader happy!!

  6. Thanks for sharing. I gave up looking at the statistics and how many people read my blog which is not very many. But that is okay. I do it mostly for fun and hopefully give some people some good recipes and information.

  7. This has been one of the most useful and comforting posts I’ve ever gotten from wordpress. I get a cold feeling around my spine when I realize how much time and work I’ve put into my blog and how terrifying the idea of losing it is. It’s good to know that should something happen, it isn’t the end of the world … though it would feel like it! Thank you for the words of wisdom.

  8. Great and true advice. A blog should be fun to write first and formost. Why would you want to have something that is all about deadlines, statistics and how popular you can be. I have a Wanderlust Wednesday weekly photopost on my blog and yesterday I did not do it, the reason? I was having a evening with my fiance, it had been too long since we turned off the laptops and spent some good quality time together. Life comes before blogging for me. So many blogs (mainly travel ones) are idintikit versions of each other and they do not work for me; I want an individual voice not a post created for search engines or popularity.

  9. What helps me to blog regularly? A full life! Each day presents so many unique moments, I have trouble deciding what balls to drop so that I can focus on one. Painting and writing balance well against the other; when the physical preciseness of painting exhausts me, I can sit at the computer, manage photos and decide which topic I’d like to share!

    My other biggest problem with blogging is the very-slow connection in this rural area of Ecuador. When I hit the submit button below, my comment will swirl on the screen for half a minute or more before ‘sending’ or will bounce back with an error message. If I touch any other button the screen during that time, I will lose my comment and have to reconstruct it. I have learned to ‘copy’ before submitting!

    Such are the perils of living in paradise, but sharing that life through WordPress is a great honor. Thanks WP for this platform!

    1. Even for people with good connections, it’s never a bad idea to write your post offline and then insert it into your blog.

      And: you’re welcome! Thanks for being part of the community.

  10. This is a great post. I absolutely agree that blogging is fun and if not, then one must stop and think about why the experience is not working for them.

  11. Blogular. Awesome. My pep talk usually consists of, “stop taking yourself so seriously.” Then I whip out a graph that makes me giggle and I’m back on track.

  12. Your don’t panic reminded me to do a backup. My new blog 2 weeks on tomorrow, it’s not the 3.5 years, but I’m sure the experience would be the same.

    1. There’s nothing wrong with them, though in my experience, they’ve never actually deterred anyone from lifting my content. Is there something you’re not sure about re: Creative Commons?

  13. Great mantras! Sometimes you might get too caught up in day-to-day blogging and forget what it all is really about. This is a good reminder!

  14. Great post. After three years of almost non-stop blogging, I’ve hit a wall this week. Not a literal wall you understand, that would be painful. And stupid. Just a metaphorical wall.

    So this has come at exactly the right time. Here’s to the next three years.

  15. Great mantra: THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN. I can use that in my mantras list. Sounds like a good one for Mondays 11-12AM.

  16. i had to quit checking my stats for a week or so. i also post things without expecting comment-i love it when someone responds though. but i rid myself of the expectation. i love blogging-once a week ,7 days a week. its my blog. i do as i please n i absolutely love blogging

  17. I love the sentence “things don’t turn static when you hit Publish.” I am always a little afraid of hitting “Publish”.

      1. Now there’s a thought. An acquaintance approached me after reading one of my posts. He said it was amazing and he couldn’t wait to read my next post. Sometimes I think of that and don’t publish. :/ I really need to get over that especially b/c that particular post was written to encourage those who were feeling defeated. Go figure.

  18. This is a helpful post. I agree with 99.9% of it. But with the “Nothing is Permanent” point, I wonder if this is completely accurate. I fully take your point that we can access our old posts to change them, make them better, or delete them altogether if we so choose. And I get that knowing that we have this option can keep us from hesitating about publishing a post or freaking out after we’ve posted it. However, I’ve found that operating as if something were permanent can sometimes be more effective in making sure that I thoroughly proofread my own work and take the utmost pride in everything I publish. I’ve gone back to edit many posts later because I noticed an unnecessary comma or a repeated word. And I couldn’t help but wonder if those mistakes were noticed by others in a position to offer greater writing opportunities, if I missed out because of those errors. I admit that it is highly likely that I over-think things like this, but I’ve been surprised at the number of things I was able to retrieve online later (not just related to my blog, but many other areas) that I and I’m sure the content’s author thought they’d sufficiently edited or deleted. For this reason, I operate under the mindset that EVERYTHING is permanent on these internets, LOL! Again, thanks for writing this post…I found it very useful!

    1. It’s true that lots of information lingers on the internet, for sure — that why I operate under the “everything is permanent” assumption when it comes to embarrassing photos :)

  19. Great advice. I am quite new to blogging but I have found my own voice here at WP. It’s something to come back home to. thanks for the mantras – love them.

  20. If I lose my post, no problem. They are just thoughts. Thoughts will come and go. And you are right, this is suppose to be fun. If it starts to impede in my dreams, time to go with the wind.

    As for stats, it’s just a number game. I mostly write for myself to empty my mind. It reminded me of this one site I thought it’s a healthy attitude and it says “LIke my post” if not, I don’t care. :lol:

    I have tons of note pads and it just accumulates. I decided to go paperless and the only way to do that is join WordPress. Thank you for this excellent service.

    1. I really enjoyed reading your comment. I agree, thoughts are just thoughts and I think I have read that “Like my post” if not, I don’t care.

  21. Well, maybe this is very personal, but to me the best “guidelines” are summarized on just remember the times when I had no any feedback and yet I was so willing to write and post it without expectations of any kind. Those mantras are very useful indeed.

  22. I often stop myself from worrying too much about what I write. Its natural for people to want to please others and therefore create something that we think others would like to read. Therefore we can lose sight of the purpose of writing and having a blog to share.
    I try write from the heart and remember to ” be myself, as everyone else is taken! ”

  23. Lovely points. Cyril Connolly says, “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” I have it up on my blog page too. It is nice to have readers and feedback, but if you enjoy writing per se, then it does not matter.
    I can imagine myself panicking too, if my blog is lost. But then I have a back up :)

  24. You’re right on about writing what’s in your heart instead of what you think people want to read. Every time I come at from that point of view, usually while I’m driving home from work, I think about the main ideas going through my head that day and usually an idea will start percolating.

  25. I never even thought of a blog mantra but now I know that these are great to piggy-back on. Thank you for the post and inspiration.

  26. Thanks for reminding me ” it’s supposed to be fun”. Although my blog is more informational than journal-style, it is still hard to share. And I do get sidetracked by the stats, as a means of seeing acceptance.
    Technical question…blogging from an iPad, but occasionally access to a laptop…I’d love to further the sense of community by reblogging someone’s post. But it just spirals around the ” reblogging” button, and never takes. Any ideas?
    Thanks for these posts!

  27. Of course there are five million comments here already. I didn’t read them, so, if this is a repeat, feel free to…well you know, disregard it. I like that you reminded us this is supposed to be fun. Most days it is great fun for me. When I first began blogging, I thought its was crucial to post EVERY day. Now I know better. I hadn’t thought of a blogging mantra. I forced myself to use “marketing is fun” as a mantra for a while, but now I know better. Nice post!

  28. I will confess to feeling theses things. I want to be successful in my blogging. I would like to have a strong following. These mantras will be important to remember.

  29. “It’s supposed to be fun” is probably the most important thing for me to remember. I do get bogged down in statistics from time to time, and have to take a deep breath and remember why I started my blog. As a relative newbie, it’s hard sometimes not to obsess over page views, but stopping to think about why I got into this in the first place absolutely helps. Thanks for sharing the great perspectives!

  30. Thank you for reminding me why I started blogging. It’s been tough to find the time to write lately, but I love writing and will find a way to keep going and keep it fun!

  31. I’m fairly new to blogging. I’ve only been doing it since Sept 2012, but I don’t put any pressure on myself. I do blog on a schedule – 4 times per week, Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun – and there have been times that I have missed a post because I’ve been too busy to blog, but you know what I do, I write a post and then predate it for the day that I missed and voila! problem solved! :D

    Blogging is supposed to be fun, not stressful.

  32. Please bring back the old page for viewing comments you’ve made. The new one is horrible and awkward and ugly and confusing. Please don’t try to fix things that aren’t broken. Now the whole commenting system is broken, confusing and impossible to read comments except your own. This is a horrible awful and unnecessary change. I know my little comment won’t change a thing and WordPress won’t care but I had to say it, the new page for viewing your comments is AWFUL. Had to add my voice. Didn’t know where else to except here.

  33. Reblogged this on LadyBuddha Speaks and commented:
    It’s early yet, but so far this 30in30 has been pretty fun. I have less time this round, and less angst. I’m more relaxed, perhaps because I’ve done it once and I know I can accomplish it. Or perhaps because I realize I can’t always publish thoughtful, well-crafted posts. But I’m exercising my writing muscles, and carving out more time to think about a variety of things, and that’s the main reason I took up the challenge. For bloggers out there feeling a little burned out, this one’s for you…