How To Blog For The Long Term Without Losing Willpower
Staying motivated to keep blogging for the long term isn’t easy. Showing up at the blank page every day to write for an invisible audience that may not engage is challenging.
Motivation and willpower research
To better understand what bloggers must do to stay motivated long term, recent Technische Universität München research by Professor Hugo Kehr and Dr. Peter Gröpel showed how our unconscious motivation influences our willpower. They found motivation contains 3 key components.
- We have conscious objectives and desires that drive us to achieve our goals.
- We have unconscious motivations based on deeply held emotional beliefs that propel us forward.
- We can build on our existing skills and capabilities to achieve our objectives.
When these 3 elements occur simultaneously, people are happy and motivated. But if one ingredient is missing, we need willpower to bridge the gap. Unfortunately, by itself, willpower is insufficient to keep us going long term.
This matters for bloggers who may have a lot of incentive and energy when they first start blogging but that can wane over the time it can take time to build an engaged following.
The researchers recommend building on internal motivation using targeted incentives. These findings work for bloggers in some situations but not in others.
To motivate you to keep blogging for the long-term, here are 30 actionable blogging tactics to help maintain your willpower.
Attract positive feedback to motivate yourself
- Respond to comments. Understand that it’s difficult to get people to comment or share your posts. To this end, it’s important to show that you’re part of the conversation by responding to each comment with more than just a “thanks”. Your objective is to encourage others to share your information and to engage with you.
- Encourage your family, friends and employees to share your blog posts. Everyone you know has a number of social media contacts, even if it’s only 25 other people. Don’t beg. Rather show respect and give your current fans a reason to share your content.
- Get a blogging buddy. Don’t go blogging alone! Get support in the form of a peer who is also blogging. The benefit is that you can help each other out and cheer each other on. You can also edit each other’s work.
- Join a blogging group. Create a community around your blogging. You can do this in person or on social media. #BlogChat on Sundays at 9:00pm NYC is a great place to start.
Build the writing habit
- Show up at the page at the same time every day. For most writers, this means either early in the day or last thing before they go to bed.
- Create a special blog ritual. Have a special place and things you do to get ready to blog. For example, get a cup of coffee.
- Try writing in public. Pack up your computer or pad and go to your local coffee shop or park for a change of location.
- Skip the words. Use images or video to create content. This helps change things for both you and your audience.
- Take a blogging break. Use this tactic with care since it’s really easy to fall off of the blogging wagon. That said, everyone needs a break once in a while. Don’t just stop one day because you’re too tired or have no ideas because it’s easy to lose the blogging habit.
Plan for blog motivation success
- Use an editorial calendar. A calendar is a great way to plan your content in advance around other promotions and events. This helps get you thinking about articles that are relevant to your audience.
- Maintain an on-going list of potential topics. This is insurance against “blank screen syndrome.”
- Capture post ideas when you have them. Don’t assume that you’ll remember them (because you won’t!) Evernote and your smartphone’s recorder are good for organizing and keeping track of this elusive information.
Gather blog inspiration
- Answer customer questions. Marcus Sheridan calls this the “secret sauce”. It works well for any type of business. Collect a list of questions your customers or audience has.
- Collect ideas from employees. This is another great way to gather information from your peers. Alternatively, interview your colleagues or train them to help you.
- Survey readers. Not sure what your audience wants to read? Then just ask them.
- Interview thought leaders and authors in your field. This helps you to attract attention by association. Often, these people will help promote your content.
- Tap into current blog controversy. Express your opinion or perspective on a hot topic. For example, I did this with my column on content marketing’s 80-20 rule.
- Leverage current news in your category. Read widely in your field to stay abreast. Find an angle that applies to your niche. It’s also called newsjacking.
- Attend live events. Use these meetings to engage with other thought leaders and to gather ideas for new posts.
- Live blog conferences and events. Share information developed by other people to keep your idea pipeline going.
Get social (Here are 27 tips to promote your blog on social media)
- Answer questions on forums and LinkedIn groups. This will provide material and ideas for new posts.
- Ask a question on Facebook to get input. This is another way to get the conversation started that you can continue on your blog.
- Participate in Twitter chats. You can either write a post in preparation for a chat or in response to one.
- Use Twitter to determine what’s trending that has implications for your niche.
- Troll Pinterest and other visual social media to get ideas. Use other platforms to spark an idea.
- Comment on other people’s blogs. This can start another conversation that you can move to your blog.
- Share other people’s content. Just as you want people to help extend your reach, add your commentary and share other people’s content.
Study what works on your blog
- Examine your analytics. Discover which topics and specifically which posts resonate with your target readers. This can also help you brainstorm new related post ideas.
- Break posts into 2 or more articles. Don’t pack the kitchen sink into each post. While it’s important to provide real value, don’t slam 2 or more columns into 1! Often this is easier to discern once you’ve written an epic post. But that doesn’t mean that’s how you have to publish it.
- Use comments as inspiration for future posts. Instead of writing a few hundred words as a response, craft a post as an answer to questions raised on your blog and in your email.
To stay motivated to blog for the long term requires a variety of different tactics to help you build the habit. Understand that as your blog and readership grows so will your ability to increase your willpower.
What other blogging tactics would you add to this list to stay motivated?
BTW–Here are 37 steps to get your blog posts distributed.
Join me at Social Media Marketing World this coming Spring in sunny San Diego, California, where I'll be presenting a session on Blogging.
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