Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on December 11, 2023.
Blogging is, we will admit, a dream career. We won't sugar coat it- achieving blogging success is a huge milestone that many of us work to daily.
But what happens after you hit your target for success? Well, for bloggers who have been around a long time, hitting this level also comes with many fears, anxieties, and the push to keep the momentum going as long as possible.
So in this one, I thought I'd share why these are so common and give some advice to help you deal with the issues as they come- because they most certainly will.
Fun Becomes Work, Which Stops Being Fun
For most of us, we got into blogging because we were excited to share a passion we had with the world. For Chris and I, that was sharing travel stories on our respective blogs. For others, it could be just about anything- cooking, gardening, reviewing video games, and so much more.
But a common story goes along with that when any given blogger finds success. It goes something like this: “I started my blog because I like to [do a thing], and now I have to do [x, y, z] on top of [the original thing], and now blogging is no different than work and is now less fun.”
We can illustrate this better if we briefly go back to the travel blog example. Most travel bloggers started by sharing their experiences online- taking photos and writing stories recounting their experiences as they went. When a blog starts taking off, a series of subtle shifts begin to capitalize on future travel based on what is best for the blog as much, if not more, than what is best for you.
“I am sharing this photo because it turned out nice” turns into “I want to take this specific photo at this place and time to share.” “I always wanted to visit Egypt because it was on my bucket list” gets replaced with “a brand hired me to review their property in Egypt, and I have more after that to visit, too.” For many, thinking about the potential for how something will play out on a blog begins to compete with the intentions you had when you first started traveling- enjoying the hobby outright.
Are you doing something because you want to? Or are you making concessions for social media, search volume, payment, or something else that will impact your business? When you realize that you are at that point, your original niche will feel less fun than it used to.
How to deal with this: As this one can be highly variable depending on your niche, the first step is to stop and identify what is causing you to not have fun in the first place.
Is it staging photos when you would previously shoot a bit more naturally? Is it going out of your way to accommodate brands and partners versus doing everything yourself? Is it working when you should be on personal time? Doing something you just don't want to be doing at all? Or a bit of all of it?
Identifying the problem(s) may help you find an acceptable solution. If photography is the pain point, maybe you should stop staging every single image and shoot more casually. If “working” while traveling is the problem, perhaps you go back to your roots of travel first and write about whatever comes from it later- even if that means producing less in the long run. The list is nearly endless and variable based on your niche.
Take whatever ideas you have, and then ask yourself one simple question- “would anyone else actually care if I make this change, or am I the only one who would notice?” We are our own worst critics, and in the vast majority of cases we may be the only ones who care at all!
There are natural concessions with this approach, however. When I stopped taking sponsors for travel, I had to pay for it all myself- requiring new revenue to compensate. When I stopped traveling for specific content and let the ideas come naturally, my production volume dropped accordingly. But, on the flip side, I feel like the quality of the content that came out improved, and, more importantly, I enjoyed travel blogging once again.
The Anxiety to Keep Your Momentum
One of the biggest problems in running a successful blog is the anxiety of keeping momentum. In an algorithm-fueled world, you can have this on any source of traffic, social network, or other specific outlet within your venture.
Those who chase keywords for SEO start to chase bigger and bigger prizes. Social algorithms often reward those who continue to publish new content day in, day out when in growth mode. Those who found success with one random element may decide to double down to see if it continues to work, going bigger and bigger with each passing post.
Things can really trigger anxiety in a hurry here.
Much like in the previous point about blogging becoming less fun, the chase to keep (or build) momentum can be a terrible one for your mental health. “I'll post when I have good content” often gets replaced with “I have to post every day.” “I must publish three new articles per week to build our readership” replaces “oh, cool, our traffic is up!” And, for trend chasers, “this wild post really blew up, now I have to do something even bigger for the next one!”- being “on” all the time is draining, too!
So not only does blogging inevitably become work when you find success, but there is also a growing sense of anxiety over building on the momentum you've achieved outright.
How to deal with this: There is, unfortunately, no easy cure for anxiety in blogging. All business owners have anxiety in some fashion when it comes to keeping up with [insert metrics here]. And for blogging, stability is not a luxury we get to enjoy in this industry- ever. The only constant is change, after all.
But where we've personally turned a corner with this, mentally at least, is simply recognizing that momentum for the sake of growth is not necessarily an end-all, be-all goal for bloggers. Yes, growth is great when you can get it. But no, not every blog or social profile needs to grow at all times.
Did you achieve a goal you have been working on for quite some time? Celebrate that win over immediately moving the bar higher to the next bigger, shinier, and more anxiety-inducing goal. This isn't to say that you should change your posting habits once you find a stride- you very well could lose that momentum you've been building after all if you do. But consider this our way of saying it is okay to be happy with where you are at right now over always striving for the next level.
Where you are now was likely a goal a past version of you wanted, after all. So give yourself permission to take a victory lap and enjoy it before pressing yourself to move on to the next.
The Fear It Will All Go Away
A final downside to having blogging success is the general fear that it will all one day go away.
I wanted to separate this one from the anxiety component because they are, to me, distinctly different. The previous example was more about the challenges of maintaining and growing what you have now, whereas this fear is more about dealing with the uncertain future that this industry naturally has. Both have anxieties involved, of course, but they are different. The fear of the future is not giving me grey hairs today the way other present challenges are, but I am thinking about it all the same.
For some, we had a teaser of a blogging apocalypse during the COVID-19 pandemic in the early months of 2020. Many traffic sources and revenue streams simply dried up overnight. There was one month I had well over an 80% drop in income year-over-year, and everything looked, well, completely dead! Thankfully, my overall business mostly recovered, but the fear of an uncertain future remains even now.
The truth is that all media production plays in rented space, relying on something else to survive. Google gives traffic and takes traffic. Ad revenue comes and goes with the economy. Any given social network can be the hot one of the day that sponsors pour tons of money into and be a pariah the next. Even non-blogging forms of media, like podcasting, vlogging, and more, all fall prey to the same struggles.
Will the changes in cookies be the death of advertising revenue and by extension a lot of blogging as we know it? What about changing privacy laws? Will an algorithm change effectively delist you from search, mess up your podcast's indexing, or the viral potential of your Reels? The answer to all of these is they very well could, and that is a risk that makes a lot of us very, very fearful for the future.
How to deal with this: Out of all of the topics in this article, you can never really get rid of the fear of the future- but you can manage the risks associated.
Most bloggers suffer from the issue of having all of their eggs in one basket. That is to say, you have one traffic source (Google, a social network, a media listing like YouTube, etc.), and any change to that can seriously impact your business. Others may only monetize an audience in a single channel (Reels, TikToks, etc.) or via a specific revenue stream (sponsored posts, ads, affiliates, etc.) outright.
The biggest way to shield yourself from the uncertainty that is the future of blogging is simply to diversify. Whether this means running more websites, building up more social channels, tapping into more traffic channels, growing an email list, or expanding into more revenue streams is up to you. Throw that on with working toward a blogging end game (like retirement, selling, or something else), and you are now creating hedges against the uncertain future we are marching towards.
But at the end of the day, if the rug gets pulled out from under us in any one market, those who diversify will weather the storm best. If Google kills traffic tomorrow, those with appreciable email lists and social traffic may still survive. If TikTok and short-form videos stop being trendy, those with other content styles can adapt easier than those without. If display advertising dries up, those with affiliates, sponsorships, freelancing/consulting, and other revenue streams can lean into those more.
This is not to say that it would be easy for anyone if any given market completely failed. But your ability to pivot, and pivot quickly, may make all the difference. So if there is any reason why I am building up five sites, with five unique niches and an untold number of revenue streams and traffic sources, it is most certainly because I do not want to be in a position to repeat April 2020- one cataclysmic month is enough for one lifetime, thank you very much.
But am I at the point I want to be? Not at all, and now my anxiety is going up thinking about all the work I still want to do to get there. So I am going to take my own advice and be happy for what I have right now, which is the ability to log off, have a nap, and forget about the future until, well, tomorrow!
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