Simplify Blogging {Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge}

Posted 21 March, 2015 by Amanda / 34 Comments

Bloggiesta-S15

Hello Bloggiesta-ers!

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.

Examples:

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.

Hit the comments and tell me what you’re going to do to simplify your blogging life — are you tackling your blogging processes or mindset… or both?

PS. Got a question related to simplifying blogging I haven’t addressed here? Drop it in the comments.

Filed under: Event,

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34 Responses to “Simplify Blogging {Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge}”

  1. Love this challenge! We complicate our blogging lives by giving ourselves arbitrary “rules” to follow. <–I do this, though I'm trying to loosen up on the 'rules' I've set for myself.

    reads and reviews ARCs on a rigid release schedule <–That was me. One thing I'm doing this year (though I'm not going to be strict about it) is not request books. Of course, if I see a book I'm very interested in reading I'll request it. But I'm taking a moment (however long that moment might be) and I'm reading through my TBR pile. I can't tell you how freeing that is. No pressure in my reading (because I put pressure on myself when it comes to ARCs and time frame).
    Brianna (The Book Vixen) recently posted…Sign Up: Write On Review-a-Thon {14}My Profile

    • I still work on loosening the rules I set for myself (my blogging schedule, for one), but even just acknowledging it’s a problem and attempting to work on it still helps.

      And YES! I stopped taking review requests a loooooooong time ago, and it was one of the best decisions I made. Without the constant deadlines and pressure of finishing a book to review, reading AND blogging is more enjoyable.

  2. This is one of my favorite posts ever. I think it’s really easy to get caught up (especially during Bloggiesta) with feeling like you need to DO EVERYTHING or fix everything instead of figuring out what works for you. Just adding the affiliate part to my book links was taking up so much of my time, but I was getting nothing in return. Plus, they were no follow links…so I was doing myself a double disservice. Affiliates may be HUGE for someone else, but on my end, they just weren’t worth it. Figuring out things like that are so important.
    Shannon @ River City Reading recently posted…Improving the Disqus ExperienceMy Profile

    • Exactly! There’s a lot of self-imposed pressure to blog like “everyone else” does, and I think that’s a big part of why blogging can get so overwhelming so quickly. But it often doesn’t seem like it’s a self-imposed pressure — and learning/acknowledging that can be pretty freeing.

  3. What a fantastic post! Rules smules ;) I ended my sign-up post for Spring Bloggiesta with “Good luck all, have fun, and be kind to yourself!” specifically as a reminder to myself (and hopefully to others too) that blogging is supposed to be fun!

  4. I was on hiatus for over a month rethinking blogging big time. Simplifying on my end simply means cutting down on books to accept to review, not posting as often, and generally just being less hard on myself. i remind myself constantly that “this is supposed to be fun” … and is it, in smaller doses maybe but more satisfying because there is less busywork.

    • Yup! Your simplifying sounds a lot like mine, though I spread out those decisions. The end result is the same: less pressure, more fun. :D

  5. Yes to all of this! I’ve recently made the decision that I will no longer be accepting review requests. I’ve realized over the last year that I really only feel good about doing book reviews when I’m wowed by a book, so it’s better if I’m choosing the ones I’m reading, not having the guilt of reading them because they’ve appeared in my inbox or shown up on my doorstep.
    Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie recently posted…Spring Break!!!My Profile

    • Not accepting review requests was one of the most freeing decisions I’ve made. Then I can embrace my mood reader tendencies and enjoy it. :)

  6. I “want” to do so much, but I know realistically that I just cannot. I have one main book blog, and two off-shoots. The off-shoots because I really enjoy those particular genres of books, one of them because I don’t see that particular reality addressed (mature couples – not mature meaning sexy, but above the age of 20). When I made the decision to add the off-shoot sites I knew that I’d never be able to keep to the schedule I have on my main blog… so I don’t. I post when something touches me like a book review or a subject that relates to the blog. But I do not get frantic about it. I enjoy all three of my book blogs, they all serve a purpose and fill up a need in me. And they’re fun. That’s why I started book blogging in the first place, because I love novels that let me escape… not bind me in endless rules. It’s the same reason I blog.

    That was a long winded (sorry) way to say that Yes, I totally agree with your definition of mind set. My blogs are mine – and I create them my own way. If I compare, or do the bind to a rigid schedule thing then they are no longer fun. And when they are no long fun is when I shall simply quit.
    Marsha @ Keeper Bookshelf recently posted…Bloggiesta Starts Now!My Profile

  7. This is great! I have social media shares automated when a post is published since I rarely remember to go share manually. I’m with you on posting to Goodreads right away instead of waiting, and agree about not taking the time to include bookstore links. They’re not useful to a blogger unless you are an affiliate anyway.
    Julie S. recently posted…Spell Bound ReviewMy Profile

  8. I really think the hardest thing on that list of yours is to stop comparing! I’ve gotten to the point where I just can’t keep up the blogging pace that I had before and need to do only three or so posts a week…and I need to be fine with that. I’m impressed by those who can do more but it’s just me and, well, I can’t. And that’s okay! :)
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Comfort ReadsMy Profile

  9. Love this challenge! I think our two mini-challenges are well suited for a blogger to tack at one time. :) I’m a huge fan of creating processes, and documenting them in checklists for each post. I’ve got my Zapier Pro account maxed out on automated processes, checklists on checklists on checklists, and spreadsheets tracking all the things just in case. I could do more automation for my monthly blogging challenge in terms of linkups, newsletters, etc. but I need to find a weekend where I can just knock it all out.
    Brittany @ Book Bumblings recently posted…Bloggiesta Challenge: Create a Blogging ScheduleMy Profile

  10. I’m eliminating Google Plus. I get less than 1% of my traffic from there, so cross-posting my links isn’t really worth the time/energy. The people I connect with there, I connect with them already on Twitter and Facebook. I’ll keep my account open in case I need it (I do like to check in on the Book Bloggers Do It Better community and love the Bloggiesta reminders) but otherwise, it’s out! Thanks for this challenge, I needed something that said “it’s okay to let gooooooo.” ;)
    Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf recently posted…That’s Not English by Erin MooreMy Profile

    • Yes! And you could even write something like, “I’m not on Google+ much, so connect with me on Twitter and Facebook!” and share those links in your profile, so your profile still works for you even if you’re not there. :)

  11. I like this challenge, and perhaps I could simplify things a bit….like not linking to everything. But for the most part, my process and mindset are pretty simple. I had a very stressful career for 30 years, with lots of deadlines, so everything about blogging already seems easy-peasy to me.

    Of course there are technological things that I don’t know how to do…but I don’t worry about those things.

  12. If you can simplify, you should! Clutter (physical, mental, and digital) can creep up so gradually that you don’t even realize how much it affects you. For example, I didn’t realize how my messy desk was affecting my productivity until I cleaned it. Just because you find blogging easy doesn’t mean it’s simple. ;)

  13. What a great post! I need to do this. I tell bloggers all the time to blog for yourself. And, while I do that usually, I stress about how often I post. I stress if I have the same types of posts all the time. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I enjoy what I’m doing and I post when I have something to say. Thanks for reminding me!
    Jenni Elyse (@jenni_elyse) recently posted…Bloggiesta: Best Blogging AdviceMy Profile

  14. I’ve already started this. I do post daily, but I schedule my posts out at least a month ahead of time. I think the best thing I have done is stopped comparing myself. I was so busy trying to make sure i was being a “good” blogger and it was stressing me out. Now i post what I want, when I want, and don’t pressure myself. It took off a lot of the stress of keeping up.
    Katrina @ Bookish Things recently posted…2015 Audiobook Challenge UpdateMy Profile

  15. What a great challenge! I tend to over complicate things, but am working on it. For instance, I knew that I was taking part in the March TBR challenge, so didn’t accept any review requests for March. It’s such a nice feeling to read what I want, when I want that I’m going to really cut back on accepting ARCs. And scheduling my posts 1-2 weeks ahead of time has taken a lot of the pressure off too, so going to try to keep that up. Thanks for the good advice! Now I just have to implement it. :)
    Terri @ Alexia’s Books and Such… recently posted…Trial by Fire book reviewMy Profile

  16. Love this challenge! I stopped taking books for review last year and I really enjoy it, but then I started feeling a bit left out… So, I started taking them again, and life happened! Everything slowed down. I felt guilty about not getting the reviews written or the books read. I think I’ll stop taking books for review again, except those I request to read. But really, I have plenty of my own to read! :)

    Learning to stop comparing my blog to others is key, too. I know this, but sometimes I need a reminder. Thanks!

    I’m going to try to see what I can eliminate or combined to simplify my blogging process. That’s another good idea! :) Thanks again!
    Candy @ So little time… recently posted…What are you Reading? ~ Mar. 25, 2015My Profile

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