Nothing makes me happier than helping people gain clarity about their blogging process. Blogging can be hard work, but it should be satisfying hard work, not stressful. Am I right? (I’m right.)
Simplifying blogging, for me, has two distinct branches. You have the nitty-gritty, well-defined simplifying of your blogging processes (I’ll define that in a second) branch and the squishy, not-so-easy simplifying of your blogging mindset.
Mindset is one of my favorite concepts because it’s key in success and happiness, but is often overlooked in challenges like these because it’s squishy. We’ll tackle this one last, since it’s also the most difficult. That leaves us with…
Simplifying your blogging processes
What’s a “process”? A process is how you do something. It’s a step-by-step list. This process is probably instinctive for you, in that you don’t write it down, but you probably do it the same way every time.
Think of writing and posting a review. Here’s an example of On a Book Bender’s review process. I give this to my associate reviewers to help them understand what to do.
You don’t necessarily have to go into as much detail as I do, but consider this: writing your process down can help you identify areas where you can streamline the process. (It can also help you just REMEMBER what to do. For example, I wrote out my process for formatting books for Smashwords and it made formatting 10 times faster.)
Streamline can mean a few things: 1. ELIMINATE, 2. AUTOMATE, or 3. COMBINE.
Here’s how you do this:
1. Write out your processes. (I chose review writing, but you could do post creation or whatever fits what you do)
2. For each step, ask if you can ELIMINATE the step, AUTOMATE it, or COMBINE it with another step.
Do you post links to all the bookstores in your review? How many people actually click those links? Decide if it’s worth your time and effort to continue — but it might be a good step to eliminate.
Do you write and post social media updates in real time? Try automating it with a social media tool — Jetpack plugin, Buffer, or IFTTT (and bonus, Brianna has an IFTTT challenge to help you).
Do you cross post your reviews on Goodreads? I used to wait until my review posted on my blog before I cross posted my reviews to Goodreads. But you know what happened? I’d forget and they’d pile up and it became a chore. Now? I write my review in Goodreads, then copy/paste to my blog.
3. Talk yourself through resistance.
When you find yourself saying, “But I do this way because…” follow up with, “Do I have to do it this way?” or “Why do I do it this way?”
Sometimes we hold onto complicated processes because that’s what people around you are doing or that’s the “convention” or whatever, but you’re making your life more difficult than it needs to be. You’re never locked into a process — try something for a month or two and see how it works. You never know what you’ll learn!
Simplifying your blogging mindset
What is mindset? Mindset is all about how you think about blogging and yourself as a blogger.
Let’s ease into this. Start by answering the following question:
What is a book blogger? (If you’re not a book blogger, just insert what you are where “book” is)
I’m guessing your answer is probably something like… a book blogger is someone who blogs about books.
You know what your answer shouldn’t include? Something that creates unmanageable expectations. Unmanageable expectations might take the form of any of the following:
A book blogger is someone who…
…posts a specific number of posts every week
…must comment on all blogs she follows
…should read every single book in her TBR
…reads as many books as her fellow bloggers
…reads and reviews ARCs on a rigid release schedule
…has to vary her posts so it’s not just all reviews or promo or discussion or book-related posts
…needs to pay attention to all her Twitter followers
We complicate our blogging lives by giving ourselves arbitrary “rules” to follow. And yet, Twitter and blogs are filled with bloggers apologizing for being absent or not posting enough or calling themselves a “bad blogger” for not having time to do what they want to do. <— A sign you’re over-complicating blogging.
Just because you want to doesn’t mean you have to, and just because you want to doesn’t mean you’re able to.
1. Learn your limits.
Everyone has a different amount of time they can devote to blogging. Whatever yours is, be okay with it. Embrace it. Knowing your limits — and accepting them — reduces pressure. And less pressure = simplified blogging.
2. Stop comparing.
Seriously. STOP COMPARING. You are you, no one else. Find your strengths and celebrate them. Comparison is the reason so many bloggers suffer from jealousy and feeling like they’re failing.
There’s no rule book that states what a blogger must do to be successful — you define what success means to you.
3. Forgive yourself.
If you don’t post when you want to, forgive yourself. If real life rears up and you can’t read, forgive yourself. If you haven’t read the book that “everyone” is reading and reviewing, forgive yourself.
For the most part, the only person who cares about these things is you. People care about you, not how many times you post. Do what’s right for you, practice some self-forgiving, and blogging becomes simple again.
4. Don’t overcommit.
The best way to learn how to do this comes from my book blogger remedial class post. Here are the steps.
1. Set priorities.
2. Understand what’s already on your plate, what’s required of you, and how something new will affect that balance.
3. Learn to say NO.
Read more on the post itself.