A marathon is an endurance race with rich rewards. Blogging is much the same, but remember, a marathon runner does not make reckless bursts of speed. It’s all about a consistent and steady pace.
For those who haven’t been blogging very long, one of the biggest challenges can be keeping consistent with blogging every day (or on some kind of regular basis). One of the best ways to kill your blog is to run a few posts, spaced a week or two apart, that say, “I promise to post more regularly from now on!”
It just sends the message that you’re not serious about your blog. Which is fine, unless you’re trying to build up a regular readership. If you want to become a regular blogger, you’ve got to develop the habit of blogging. Not an easy task, I’ll admit, but thousands of bloggers have done it, and so can you.
Personally, I had a hard time keeping a regular journal before I started blogging … but I’ve learned the habit of blogging, and now I write not only a daily post for my own blog, but a couple of posts a day for other blogs (such as NorthxEast.com). It’s been one of the most rewarding habits I’ve ever developed.
Developing the habit of blogging is a matter of understanding how habits are formed, and then applying those concepts to blogging.
Let’s take a quick look at how habits are formed:
- Your brain gets programmed to do the habit on autopilot, by doing the habit regularly and consistently.
- There should be a trigger for the habit … stress can trigger smoking, for example. Once the trigger happens, if the habit is ingrained, it will happen automatically.
- The more consistent you are in doing the habit right after the trigger, the more ingrained the habit will be.
- It takes at least a month to ingrain a habit.
- To make a habit change more successful, you should focus on one habit at a time.
With these in mind, let’s take a look at how to form the Habit of Blogging:
1. Read other blogs. Getting into the habit of reading other blogs leads to the habit of blogging. Why? Because other bloggers will inspire you, especially if you make it a point to read good bloggers … not just the popular ones, but ones who consistently write well and honestly. You’ll also get more ideas, and often want to post a response to other posts. Inspiration is important when it comes to writing.
2. Set a time for writing. If you tell yourself you’re going to write your posts “when I have the time”, you’ll never get to it. We never have the time. You have to make the time. Set aside a chunk of time (an hour is usually good, but you might want 90 minutes or two hours) for writing each day. Early in the day seems to work really well, because if you set it for later in the day, other things will come up, disrupt your plans, and your writing will be pushed back to the next day. And then the habit will never be formed. Writing before you go to bed works for some people, but if you find yourself getting too tired to write at night, you may want to consider morning writing.
Whatever time you choose, make that a sacred time. Nothing can intrude upon your blogging time. And don’t use it for email or RSS reading or anything like that. Strictly writing. When that time of day comes around, that’s your trigger … you must write every single time that time of day happens. Alternatively, you could use part of your daily routine as a trigger … say, after you eat breakfast, or shower, or whatever.
It’s extremely important that your blogging be daily, and not at irregular intervals, if you plan to make it an actual habit.
3. Clear distractions. When it’s time for writing your daily post, you can’t have your email open, or any of the dozens of distracting sites you love. Turn off the phone and IM. Tell others that you’re not to be disturbed. If other things are allowed to disrupt your writing, you will get sidetracked and the habit won’t form.
4. Keep a post ideas list. This has been a crucial point for me. I keep a simple Google Doc as a post ideas list, and every time I think of something, it goes on the list. With a healthy ideas list built up, you’ll never run dry of post ideas.
5. Make it easy. Don’t set out to write a novel each time you do a post. Keep your posts relatively short, so that it’s not a difficult habit to form. Once you’ve got that habit firmly ingrained, you can do more difficult posts. But don’t sabotage yourself from the start: make it an easy habit to form. If you can write the post in 15-20 minutes, that’s actually best (use the rest of the hour you set aside for writing to research tomorrow’s post).
6. Keep a chart. Either a simple spreadsheet printed out, with days of the week, or a calendar, or use JoesGoals.com … basically, you just want to check off the day if you did the habit. And you want to see how many days in a row you can check off in a row. Keep that streak going!
7. Get feedback. Reader feedback is one of the best ways to encourage the blogging habit. It really motivates you, and keeps you accountable. If you don’t have a lot of readers, be sure to have a few friends or family members commit to reading your posts every day. And be sure they check every day. If you have that accountability, you will be motivated.
8. Don’t focus on any other habits. When you’re trying to form the habit of blogging, focus on that and nothing else. Trying to form more than one habit at a time is self-sabotage. You need all your focus and energy to form just one habit.