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Blog Bashing: Beware Complacency

Blog writing tips and articlesIn “5 Ways to Rid Complacency From Your Blog” on Daily Blog Tips, Bob Bessette writes about how to mix things up in the new year on your blog:

If you’ve owned a blog for a while there’s a good chance that complacency may have already set in. Dictionary.com defines complacency as “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.”

The key expression in the above definition is the phrase “unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like”. Maybe you’ve been writing for a while and have gained some notoriety through guest posting and have built up a pretty good following in terms of subscribers. It’s only natural that we think that all is well and we just have to put our blogs on auto-pilot.

While I agree with many of Bob’s recommendations, I want to take a different perspective on this, having been bashing a bit at blogging since before 1994.

Don’t Touch That Design

The first thing most people do when they get bored or down on their blogging is to change the look and feel of their website design or WordPress Theme. STOP. Don’t touch that button. Don’t click the search function to find a new Theme. Don’t activate a new Theme you’ve poked before. Take your hand away from your mouse now!

Crossed out WordPress Theme selections

This is like saying, “I’m depressed, so I think I’ll paint my bedroom a new color.” It only changes the colors of the walls. It doesn’t fix what’s really wrong.

Peel the Onion

Ask yourself why you are really losing interest or feeling dulled by the lack of word slices and hacks across the world’s perception. What’s really going on?

Is it that it’s easier to spend most of your time microblogging, tweeting, tumblring, or facebooking your “I like sharing” way? Is it easier to click “like” than it is to put some thought and effort into a comment?

If you are taking the easy path to communicate, maybe you need to get back to your blog and remember how to have your own say. To share stuff your way, and not through the limits of microblogging. Maybe you are taking the easy way because it is easy and you’ve forgotten the joy that comes in pushing yourself a little harder.

Start digging into your whys. Peel back the excuses. Peel deep the layers into the depths of the why you blog in the first place to see if the purpose is still clear and your intentions pure.

If not, make a change. Change your mission, your purpose, your identity, your intentions, whatever it takes to get to the truth behind your passion and blog that.

Have you really run out of things to say, or did you ever have true motivation and passion behind what you were saying in the first place?

Learn to Write

I’ve always found that the more I learn about writing, about putting the words together in new ways to tell story, make a point, or change a perspective, the more I enjoy writing.

We live in the most literate time in the world. More people know how to write, type, and speak coherently around the planet than every before in history. We all have something to say, and there are more ways of sharing it than ever before.

Learn from all the different writers and writing styles out there. Take a class. Read a different type and style of a book genre. Go read some blogs. Pick up a how to write book and do some of the exercises.

Since you write all the time, be it Twitter, Facebook, emails, blogs, or notes around the house, why not take a little time to master the art.

Comment on Other Blogs

Honestly, it’s just too damn easy to “like” something. Take an hour out of your day and read 10 blog posts and leave a comment on each one. Or do one a day for 10 days. Just go out there and comment on other blogs and tell them what you really think about what they said and how they said it, and give them your opinion on the subject.

Sure, this will bring tons of link juice but comment with no expectation of return. Just comment for the sake of commenting. You love getting comments, right? Why not give some and see how it makes you feel.

Clean House

If you are having trouble writing new posts, why not clean up your old posts?

Begin with the most popular posts on your blog and give them a spring cleaning. Do they still say what they need to say? Is there new news on the subject? Is there something you can add?

While digging through the dust of old published content, you might find that you overlooked a point or two in the telling. Inspiration can come from anywhere. I find a lot in my old posts to give me incentive to fix mistakes, clarify, and find a new way of helping people with topics today that I covered ages ago.

Once you clean them up, publish a post summarizing up the posts you cleaned up and why. That will be one new post that highlights some goodies on your site.

Then hit your Draft bin. Got a few good ideas that you started and went nowhere with? Maybe it’s time to finish those or delete them.

Get a Life

Brent VanFossen standing in the prayer labyrinth at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OregonI’m asked frequently about where I get my blog post ideas. The answer is everywhere – and usually not in front of my computer.

Get a life. Do things away from the computer. Leave your phone at home and take a walk, or better yet, take a trip. Spend a few days away from technology. I spent a week recently at a hot springs in the Oregon Cascade Mountains with no links to the outside world. No cell phone. No computers. No wifi. Nothing. My first vacation in many years and longest I’ve been away from technology with intent. Scared me to death.

I talked to people. I listened. I learned. I spent quiet time in my head. I got to know me a little better, and learned about things beyond technology. It was amazing – and while I was terrified to be separated from my beloved web – not long enough.

Maybe all you need to get you back on the blogging track is a change of pace, switch of perspective, and to just get a life.


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24 Comments

  1. Posted December 30, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I think this post is very informative, as all the post i have read from you; i want to thank you for this. I am just starting to learn the whole blogging routine and website owning as of sept 22, 2010. I honestly have always loved to write and promised 1 day i’ll have a few book published the same day because i always carry so many topics around with me (in my head, in my bag everywhere). I am committed to my mission/cause (Improving the lives of youth in every community). However, i did lose focus when i started to get more into the “look and feel” of my site as suppose to the message and mission. I grew very fond of web developing and actually went and got 7 books on web design, HTML and css, WordPress and more. I felt enthralled by all the cool coding and what it does, how the web works and more that i actually havent posted anything new in about 2 months. i must have changed my theme or it’s style @ least 30 times; liking this and not that, replacing this social tool with that. this is the 2nd time i have read a post that felt like it was directly aimed @ me, lol. I just wanted to offer the best “absolutely free” website with a cause and social networking capabilities. Doing so i have limited the content and it’s importance that it should display. I havent really made any effort in driving the traffic. I guess im trying to say thank you for putting me back on track. Your words are encouraging as well as inspiring. I have taking everything in consideration and see that all your ideas are actually cool and worth following. Your logic is concrete and commendable. please if you have any more information or advice to offer feel free to contact me or post it i will be back to read again (plus i have subscribed and get your post via email). Thank you again

    • Posted December 30, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      @Thomas: Welcome to the world of blogging. Too many get all caught up in the design and never get to content. Just pick something and go with it. Don’t put all this energy into the paint job when you haven’t even got furniture. Develop the furniture and you can paint the walls later. :D

  2. Posted December 30, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Lorelle, for all the good posts over the years. Blogging’s becoming a lost art what with the Twitter and all, it’s a new challenge to incorporate social media as well as keeping up with creating content people will want to read in “long form”. Happy New Year and keep the posts coming!

    MM

  3. Posted December 30, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you think blogging is a worthwhile artform Lorelle, it’s quality having more value than quantity. 8)

    I’ve always found more ideas for posts away from my computer, in the real world, but I hadn’t thought of revisiting old posts. I might give this a go, I can develop old ideas with a fresh perspective. 8)

    Thanks for the tips, and best wishes for the New Year.

    John

  4. Posted December 30, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I certainly agree and am thankful to you for reminding me of the importance of content as suppose to design. I think your comment was perfectly said and clearly understandable. enjoy your new year and i look forward to reading more from you.

  5. wirehunt
    Posted December 30, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    As usual another informative post. Thanks Lorelle, I enjoy following you here as the information flows.

  6. Laura Iriarte
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, I’ve been a subscriber of yours for quite some time now! Thank you for all your help and thank you for an inspiring post – I definitely need to give my blog more attention! I know the about me page is out of date…I’m not the same me I was a year ago! :)

  7. Posted December 31, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    This was just what I wanted. I have been complacent from blogging for quite sometime now. There was once a time where blog post ideas were everywhere and I was brimming with thoughts and opinions and somewhere down the line I just sort of lost connection with writing. I miss it! I miss the time I used to have a life, think, learn new things constantly. Now I’ve got stuck in a rut! Thankfully now I know how to get out of it. Thanks to your post. This has really opened up a lot of doors for me to wander, experience, reflect and most importantly document through blogging.

  8. Posted January 1, 2011 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    omg ! i changed my blog design / websites so many times this past year, now i think i have a good one and even if its not perfect after reading your post im making a new yearsa resolution to not change it at all!!

  9. Posted January 4, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I read somewhere recently that our readers like structure. When we start getting bored with our theme or blogging topics, our readers are just starting to see what we are writing.

    I like the idea of sticking to topics because it takes the pressure off of me of what to write about.

    I like that for the last two years I have come to your site that the theme has stayed the same (if you changed it, I couldn’t tell).

    Great post Lorelle!

  10. Posted January 5, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks a lot for this great article! It’s a nice reminder to many of us who, though have not really lost the passion, have lost the conviction that one really has something to say.

  11. Posted January 7, 2011 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    Thank you for writing this post Lorelle, I stumbled across it today via Twitter and feel as though it is exactly the sort of post I needed to read at this moment in time. I’m trying to improve my blog at the moment, the quality of the posts, the communication and the layout as I feel I have sometimes become that complacent blogger in the past year. It’s always good to have a ‘Spring Clean’ every now and then and this post gave me some great ideas.

  12. Posted January 9, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    That was a good read, Lorelle. I’ve got to say that at some point of time complacency just takes over. These days I just don’t seem to have the energy or any motivation to write something new :/
    And reading up on how active I once used to be on wordpress, I just wonder….

  13. Loc
    Posted January 10, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Excellent idea but sometimes when I’m on the computer I get so immerse in it that I loose all sense of time. It is a bad habit I know. Now I try to take a break every once in a while, to clear my mind and when I come back to my work station, ideas seem to flow instantly.

  14. Posted January 11, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    perfect timing on finding this post…i have been mulling over whether or not to re-theme my site, when all i really need to do is work on building my voice and, perhaps, alter my style of writing. damn it, with this new found knowledge i can no longer procrastinate :) happy new year, lorelle. you’ve been a source of inspiration for many years.

  15. Fabrizio Van Marcian
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Amazing post enjoyed reading very much, thanks. I love your inspirational take on getting a life,thanks.

  16. Posted January 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Kudos to you Lorelle for reminding bloggers to brush up on writing skills, engage actively with other bloggers, and get out into the real world; these approaches make the conversations so much more interesting!

    Cheers and best wishes for 2011,

    JLB

  17. Andrea
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    I had never thought to re-read what’s already published on my blog. That’s smart, as some of the information becomes dated, and people can access your blog from random places.

  18. Posted January 21, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    Thanks for the useful tips. Are you in Oregon?

  19. Posted February 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Great article, very instructive and simple! I love when people use the simplest way to say complex things! I’ll keep reading :)
    Patricia

  20. Posted March 3, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    No thanks.

    I would rather post picture of my meals on Facebook, and wait for people to comment “YUM!”. :-)

  21. Posted March 3, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Great post, thank you for sharing. Getting serious about my blog (now that I finally have clarity about my message – been a long time coming) and setting goals for myself, this post came at a good time.

    You are so right it is way to easy to go hit that theme tab and find something more “inspiring” rather then “peel the onion” and take a closer look. Yep done that a few times myself.

    Something else I am doing this year is stepping away from the computer, intentionally and getting a different perspective. Some of my best ideas come in the morning walking the dog :).

    Marta
    (a fellow wet, moldy Oregonian longing for spring!)

  22. Jamy
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    These are all very helpful tips. The goal of my blog is to write one thing, every single day for a year, that makes me happy. Sometimes it can be HARD! The topics range from the absurd to the sublime and there have been some days that I’m feeling so grumped out that the last thing I want to do is “think a happy thought.” I have found that the very best things are the parts of my life that happen naturally and easily. Thank you for taking the time to help people fine tune and polish up their blog skills.


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