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You blog too much. Here’s one big idea that can help.

Submitted by on June 7, 2010 – 8:30 am34 Comments

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.”

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34 Comments »

  • Jenn says:

    Excellent post! I think it is very very easy to get caught up in the mechanics and details of blogging – one of the best lessons I learned actually is to not post so much. I was stressing myself out trying to post so frequently, so I ended up changing my schedule from every day to every other day, and then every third day. I thought this was going to be terrible for my site, but I noticed something odd – my stats actually increased when I did this. I think the reason is because with more time between posts, I could better devote myself to writing something thoughtful and relevant; the quality of my posts increased when I started giving my recipes context from my own life, and the readership followed. Giving myself the ability to think more about what I was writing has also helped me to focus to define my mission and my niche in the blogging world – a process I’m always working on!
    Jenn´s last [type] ..Chicken Quesadillas, Gluten Free

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jenn Cuisine, Lana Stuart and mj, tastestopping. tastestopping said: You blog too much. Here's one big idea that can help. http://bit.ly/bpM65u [...]

  • susifriend says:

    Great post! Since I’m still fairly new to blogging I’ve gone through everything from minor to major freak outs. Stats drove me insane in the beginning and while blogging still eats up a big chunk of my time I don’t stress as much anymore. Either people like it or they don’t. In the beginning I thought I needed to blog 7 days a week. I have cut it down to mostly 4 days a week at this point and traffic is still holding steady. It is definitely a learning process and I still have a LOT to learn :o )

  • There is so much here that is so true and one of my goals for this summer is to figure out a routine that work better for me. Last year I posted pretty much every day then in Jan/Feb I went down to posting 3-4 times a week and that seemed like a great rhythm. Recently I have actually had a LOT to blog about and have been posting every day because some stuff is time-sensitive and can’t wait but I don’t like it. Steady stats but less comments because there is too much there for people to take in. So I apologize to my readers for that. In the next couple of weeks things will slow down again and I can’t wait to figure out a do-able routine for me. Thanks for helping me take a step back and think about this.
    Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite´s last [type] ..Easy and Elegant Dinner Party (shorties welcome!)

  • manda2177 says:

    Great thoughts!

  • Gisele says:

    Great stuff, Casey. Goes along with Patti@WorththeWhisk’s advice on running your blog like a business.

    I have had the “informal” mission statement floating around in my head, but sitting down and crafting it on paper will surely clarify things for me.

    Best,

    Gisele
    http://www.smallpleasurescateringblog.com/painperdu
    Gisele´s last [type] ..Birthday Celebrations

  • Great post. My favorite part is the “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 fun to see it put in a list like that. No wonder I run out of time in the day.
    Barbara Bakes´s last [type] ..CSN Stores Giveaway and Apple Blueberry Brown Butter Bliss

  • Great article Casey! You completely nailed the conundrum that is having a website.

  • What a great article Casey! I agree, it is getting overwhelming and, like Mardi, I need to work on finding a rhythm. Right now I try to post M-F, but most weeks it is a struggle. Plus I find myself rushing through the background story, taking photos, etc. all to get a post up. I tend to feel that there would be more quality to my posts if I did them less frequently. I am going to work on some trial and error to see what feels right to me and also gets a good response from readers.
    Michelle @ Brown Eyed Baker´s last [type] ..Pea in a Pod Baby Shower Cookies

  • Naomi says:

    Great article. I find myself everywhere sometimes with my blog, especially since it is only 3.5 months old-glad to know I’m not the only one.

    Yes, I’m still trying to find my exact tone. As it is now I’m blogging like crazy!
    Naomi´s last [type] ..Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes

  • Satakieli says:

    Wonderful post! I know I can get caught up in the whole “blog” thing way too much. On the one hand spending hours on food blogs has really helped with my confidence in the kitchen, which is great. on the other hand I spend far too much time “tweaking” my blog layout and doing blog related things when i should be cooking! ha!
    Satakieli´s last [type] ..Knitted Floor Cushion

  • emvandee says:

    I’ve recently (sort of) started figuring my own mission out, and as a result my reading and commenting has sort of dropped off. Now I read a much more reasonable number, and comment because I want to, because I like the e-friendliness of my little community and it’s because that’s how we keep in touch. Once I realized I was less interested in blog stats than in relationships with interesting people, things became a lot easier to manage.
    emvandee´s last [type] ..Beurre blanc: A tasty conclusion to a very good day.

  • Jenny says:

    I… am guilty… /cries
    Jenny´s last [type] ..Random kid chat stuff…

  • Wise words. There are certainly times where it feels blogging takes over life, or your lose focus. These are excellent tips for staying on track and true to your ‘voice’. Thanks :)

  • Excellent piece. When I started my blog three months ago, I intended to post frequently, at least three and preferably five times a week. But I realized pretty quickly that the posts I wanted to write were going to take more research and time than I’d initially planned. So now I post only once or twice a week, but traffic still keeps rising anyway. And I get a lot of really thoughtful comments, which I’m not sure I’d get if I were posting more often.

    Since part of my mission is to build community around my topic (raising kids to think about the food they eat), that kind of commentary is important to me.

    My blog is young, so I still spend a lot of time looking for opportunities to get the word out, which means I’m still trying to find that balance between blogging and my other writing work (oh, and life). But I do have a pretty clear goal in mind for the blog, and that definitely helps me choose topics and opportunities strategically.
    Christina @ Spoonfed´s last [type] ..Real food on the road

  • Casey says:

    Jenn–I think your experience is important for other bloggers to pay attention to. It really reaffirms the idea that it is quality and not quantity. The blogging world is saturated with mediocre content, so rather than add to the numbers, separate yourself by focusing on crafting one high-quality post at a time. I hope that your story inspires a lot of us to back down from posting so often, and instead bring more of ourselves to the process. Thanks for your insight!

    susifriend–I think having “a LOT to learn” describes all of us, no matter how long we’ve been doing the blogging thing. We can always learn, but sometimes we need a little support to try something new or let go of old ideas with our blogs.

    Mardi–I think your experience along with Jenn’s will help a lot of us see that less frequent posting can actually be beneficial in many ways. It’s a bonus for you that you have had success with a certain rhythm, so cutting back to that won’t be as scary for you as it might be for others who feel pressured to post every day or close to it. Thanks for sharing!

    Amanda–Thanks!

    Gisele–Yes, many of my conversations at Camp Blogaway added to my suspicion that too many of us are running on a wheel when it comes to our blogging lives. I would love to hear back on your results if and when you put your mission statement to paper!

    Barbara–Yes, I would like to have a few hours added to my day as well. But in all seriousness, even as it is nice to know I’m not alone, it pains me to hear of fellow bloggers toiling over their blogs and feeling frustrated and anxious about it. I think together we need to find a better (or smarter) way to do it.

    Pamela–Thanks. It is quite a conundrum some days, isn’t it?!

    Michelle–Thanks so much! I would love to hear what comes of your posting experiments. I think you’ll find, like Jenn did, that less may actually yield more! Good luck with it.

    Thanks, Naomi. No, you are certainly not the only one. My hope is that collectively we can support each other in finding a way to balance all of the demands of our blogging lives (and beyond).

    Satakieli–It’s tougher to be a food blogger than perhaps any other kind for just that reason. You always have two places (kitchen, computer) calling to you, wanting your energy! Good luck balancing it all.

    emvande–I agree! Relationships are key. Glad that you’ve had success following your own mission.

    Jenny, we are all guilty of this to some degree!

    Thank you, Emma. I hope that you will find some relief in creating a mission statement, because having a blog is certainly no fun during those moments when it takes over your life!

    Christina–I think what you’re saying is important to remember as we look at the draw of maintaining a blog versus other forms of communication. Blogging is two-way, it is meant to be a community experience, unlike print and television mediums. You are wise to keep that mission close to the heart of your blogging efforts!

  • Mac says:

    Casey,

    Brava!

    My blog is only weeks old, but I’ve already learned that, for me, staying focused on building community helps me calm my nerves every single time I begin to panic about how many times per week to post. For now I’ve purposely stayed away from visiting too many other blogs, which gives me time to focus on creating quality posts for my readers/listeners.

    It’s really about finding the right balance for yourself. It does take time, along with some trial and error, but over all a balanced blogging life will lead to a more balanced life in general.

    Sure, I have goals, and a real sense of where I want my blog to take me, but for now it’s one step at a time, or one post at a time. ;-)

    Off to write my mission statement. Seeing it in print will be a valuable tool to help stay focused. Thanks for sharing, and for caring!
    Mac´s last [type] ..La Fuji Mama

  • excellent post. I struggle with this sometimes too, especially when it comes to choosing how to use my (very limited) writing time. Knowing what my focus is will help me decide whether a post or project fits with that. Great food for thought, thanks.

  • [...] Okay, when I say “gave up” I mean that I didn’t spend every waking moment on social media sites.  But, still, it IS amazing how productive I was for those few months—proof that sometimes we spend too much time “blogging.” [...]

  • Rita says:

    Hey…great advice. Focus is so important, not always easy but important. I think this will help me an other bloggers immensely. Thanks!

  • [...] way to do this is to create a mission statement. This is invaluable for any blogger. You can read this article for an in-depth discussion of the whys and hows. Viewing your blog as a business from the outset [...]

  • Jackson Hill says:

    i always bookmark food blogs becuase i want to look at new recipes.`*;

  • [...] a previous post, I declared my mantra to be: Food Blogger Resource. Kitchen Play was borne of my desire to connect food bloggers with PR [...]

  • Serene says:

    I started out thinking my blog was in existence to preserve my own mother’s foods and recipes, and to tell stories about that. Almost immediately, I realized it was really going to become a place where I can connect with other people as they become excited, even animated, about sharing THEIR stories with ME. Flipped my ideas on their head, and it’s even more joyful this way.
    Serene´s last [type] ..Come on in the water’s fine!

  • My blog is only a little over a month old and I am definitely obsessed! In the last week or so I have tried to take a step back and really try to figure out my focus. It’s hard when your blog subject covers so many areas. I am trying not to be too hard on myself at this point and am learning a lot by reading other blogs and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Thanks for this article!
    Jody Gladstein from The Party Zip´s last [type] ..Unique Host-Hostess Gifts- For the Beer Lover

  • Lana says:

    I’ve had my blog since May, and everything you describe in your article applies. But I have learned so much in the process and obsessing over every little detail is not on the top of my list anymore.
    I am still boggled by the technological aspect of blogging and try to teach myself a little every day.
    I post a couple of times a week, because it takes me a lot of time to write a story, prepare the food and take a photo (I have enrolled in the photography course to improve my picture-taking skills),
    From the beginning I had a pretty clear idea of the kind of blog I’d like to have and so far it has not changed. I enjoy writing my little food-inspired stories. It brought to my life some amazing people and gave me a much needed retreat from a job I hate.
    But, you are right, the mission statement should be an essential part of blogging. And I am guilty of not taking it seriously.
    Thanks for inspiring me!
    Lana´s last [type] ..So That’s Why They Call It Comfort Food

  • Thank you. I seriously needed to read this. Lately the blogging world has felt like a job. A wonderful creative supportive job, but still. I’ve been thinking hard on my focus, my goals. So it was a very happy surprise to see your post to reinforce that search for focus and mission.

  • Hi Casey,

    I’m not quite two months into food blogging and the timing of finding this post is perfect. Your words have reaffirmed my instinct that quality reigns over quantity. Thank you for your candor and wisdom. May we all remember to shift focus back to our mission statements when the mechanics of blogging leads us astray.

    Cheers,
    Brooks
    Brooks at Cakewalker´s last [type] ..Gran For Short

  • Casey says:

    Hi Brooks,

    Thanks for taking the time to stop by and have a read. Your comment has caused me to re-read this post, with the realization that it may be time to dust off my mission statement once again! It’s a continuous process; great to have you join the fun here at TasteStopping.

    Best,
    Casey

  • Casey says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Yes, blogging–as rewarding as it is–can be a lot of work. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of it and then wonder how we’ve become so out of balance with the rest of our lives! Take my word: if you strive for balance, your blog won’t suffer, and you will have time away from it to become renewed and refreshed. Which, in turn, will only benefit the work you’re doing online.

    Good luck!

    Best,
    Casey

  • Kimmy says:

    Great post. I’ve never been able to post M-F, I’ve tried and found it to take away some of the fun of it all (which is what I do this for, a creative outlet from the paying job). I found 3 times a week to be enjoyable and do-able.

    Love the idea of a “mission statement”. I try to revisit mine from time to time to make sure I’m staying true to what I believe and enjoy.
    Kimmy´s last [type] ..Winter CSA Cooking- Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Casey says:

    Hi Kimmy,

    I think you’re on to something by scaling back how often you post. I think it’s actually counter-intuitive to post every day. You’ll wear out your readers (not to mention yourself). Thanks for stopping by and joining in the conversation.

    Best,
    Casey

  • [...] TasteStopping : You blog too much. Here’s one big idea that can help. Ahh isn’t this always the case with blogging! A really refreshing post! Notice that I didn’t [...]

  • I’m blogging too much as we speak! Thanks for this.
    TastefullyJulie´s last [type] ..Grilled Pizza with Roast Chicken, Caramelized Onions, and Goat Cheese

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