You blog too much. Here’s one big idea that can help.
That’s right, I said, “You blog too much.” We’re friends, so I can say that, right? I’ve been meaning to tell you that for a while, but couldn’t find a graceful way to slip it into the conversation. It’s not an easy thing to say. But now that it’s out in the open, let’s talk. Because I think there’s a way to reclaim some balance and actually positively impact your site at the same time.
Notice that I didn’t say “You post too much.” That’s really none of my business. No, I’m talking about the craft of blogging. You know: writing posts, editing posts, adding photos, tweaking your site’s layout, moderating comments, checking stats, composing emails, reading other blogs, commenting on other blogs, checking stats, updating your FaceBook status, researching recipes, perusing the Daring Kitchen forum for tips on this month’s challenges, checking stats, stumbling a post, submitting photos, tweeting, tweeting and more tweeting. And breathe.
It’s a lot.
And that’s not to mention the time you spend in the kitchen developing recipes, testing ideas, photographing the process, staging your finished product, putting gas in your car to get to the farmer’s market, buying ingredients, prepping ingredients, ordering and picking up pizza for dinner after realizing that the grilled beet and gruyere sammies that sounded so good earlier in the day and look so lovely on your monitor, just aren’t going to cut it with the rest of your family.
Like I said, it’s a lot.
So what are we to do? I say we because I, too, blog too much. In fact, when I first launched TasteStopping I was downright obsessed. So much so that my new blog and the habits I developed around it became a point of contention in my marriage. And while moving the site to a new theme in November of 2009 alleviated some of that, I have also had to take a close look at why I’m doing what I’m doing, and how I might be going it smarter.
In the process I revisited an important concept that I want to share with you; an idea that could conceivably change your approach to blogging for good (and for the good). In subsequent posts, I’ll write about additional tips and suggestions to help us all find balance in our blogging lives. I’m sure you have some tried and true techniques as well that I invite you to share in the comments. What I hope is that this is the beginning of a much larger discussion where we can all support each other in our attempts to better manage our time and blogging efforts.
But first, the big idea I promised you.
What is your mission statement?
You have a mission statement for your blog, whether you realize it or not. The trick, however, is to purposefully create one that meshes with your goals for your site and how it fits into your life. After all, if you don’t put time and careful thought into crafting a mission statement, yours will end up looking like this: “I blog to waste my time and money.” Nobody wants that, but any of us could easily slip into that reality.
When I started TasteStopping, my mission statement was probably: “I run a site that publishes rejected food photos while also sticking it to the Man!” Kind of clunky, definitely not carefully thought out, maybe more emotional than anything.
Now my mission statement is: “TasteStopping supports food bloggers in their quest to increase traffic and visibility, while allowing me to develop strong and mutually beneficial relationshps within the foodie community.” Better. More focused and grounded. But still a work in progress. The question remains, how to get from there to here?
A little guidance in crafting your mission statement
- A mission statement exists now, in the present. If you write it in the future tense, you will always be putting your goals and successes just out of reach.
- Use vivid words that resonate with you and reflect your deepest desires for your blog. Only you can know what they are.
- Revisit your mission statement from time to time, as it should evolve. Mine has and will continue to as I learn more about what I want from my site.
- Write it down; print it out; look at it often.
Let your mission statement be your guide
If you use it correctly, your mission statement will help you make decisions, large and small, regarding your blog. Choices about how to spend your time, money and energy will now be easier and less emotional if you ask yourself, “Does this opportunity align with my mission statement?” You will find yourself eliminating projects and focusing on what’s truly important and beneficial to you and your work.
As you let your mission statement guide you, your stats and revenue stream will become less important. At the same time, I believe that you will become more marketable and more profitable from creating and using a well-crafted mission statement. Why? Because you will be finding your voice and pinpointing your purpose in having a blog.
Last summer and through the fall, I spent several hours each day scanning the elite food photo sites, reaching out to new (to me) food bloggers. My goal was to comment on at least twenty blogs per day. Of course, my hope was that this would grow awareness (and thus the readership) of TasteStopping. And it worked!
But now that my mission statement has changed, I haven’t perused the elite food photo sites for this purpose in months and months. My focus has shifted to working on making this site a useful resource for food bloggers, specifically through the addition of the BYO guest blogging series, for example, or the TasteStopping S’mores Tasting Party, as well as future projects that I currently have in development.
Full disclosure: even though I have stopped a practice that ensured a daily boost to this site’s traffic, my stats have remained steady or seen an upward trend as I follow my mission statement. And the site’s profitability promises to follow suit.
One last analogy
Think of your blog like a recipe and your mission statement as the title. For a recipe you are developing, the title gives you a clear modus operandi, just as a mission statement does for your blog. After all, you wouldn’t think about adding tinned sardines to a recipe called “Blueberry Cheesecake with Lemon Graham Cracker Crust.” So you also wouldn’t host an Entenmann’s Frosted Devils Food Donut giveaway on your health- and fitness-focused food blog.
Adhering to a carefully crafted mission statement also acts like a recipe title for your readers, drawing them into your content. Once a mission statement is integrated into how you approach your blog, your voice becomes more clear, consistent, reliable. In fact, you’re well on your way to branding yourself and your blog. And that’s a great thing. Consistency, reliability and a sure-handedness with your material will give readers a reason to return, a confidence that you will deliver on their expectations. Similar to how a title attracts a reader to a recipe.
This of course, is just the tip of the blog development iceberg. It’s not even an exhaustive overview of this particular topic. (Or, maybe it is. As I scoured Google results for “How to Craft a Mission Statement” I found very little compelling advice. I did find this article by Guy Kawasaki which advocates mantras instead of mission statements. So if brevity is your forte, try developing a mantra which consists of three or four words, tops.)
I encourage you to leave a comment with one or more of your hard-earned insights about managing your blog, so that we can all learn from each other. After all, if I had to turn my mission statement into a mantra, it would be “Food Blogger Resource.”