August 06, 2008

Relax, Bloggers: Nobody Is Keeping Score, and There's No Quota.

In May of last year, noticing how some bloggers I read often had slowed their publishing, or found alternative routes to express themselves, I asked if they were suffering from what I termed "Blog fatigue." With the dog days of summer upon us (in the Northern hemisphere), I'm seeing the issue crop up again, as peers are talking about taking time off from blogging or social media, explaining holes in their publishing schedule, or openly questioning their enthusiasm. And while I understand the occasional self-assessment, I believe many are feeling pressure to hit a certain number of posts in a given time period, or are feeling challenged to keep pace with much more visible, prolific, people for whom this is much more aligned with their career.

See:The truth is that unless you're being paid specifically to blog:
  • You don't need to blog every day.
  • You don't need to post more than once a day.
  • You shouldn't feel guilty about "gaps".
  • You don't have to explain yourself to anyone.
Unfortunately for many of us who participate in the tech blogging space, there are many examples of blogs or individuals who can crank out more than one post a day, every single day. There are examples of people who seemingly offer strong content with every article. And there are also the uber-connected, who are seemingly ever-present in a wide variety of social networks, always seem to get to things before you do, and are "ahead" in every statistic, be it number of contacts, comments, or posts. And this doesn't even begin to take into account the professional multi-author blogs, run like an assembly line.

The fact that these individuals are both visible and measurable can bring others to feel inadequate, or challenged to "keep up" when it's actually not necessary. It makes more sense to "be yourself" than to try and match up with somebody else who has different goals and set of circumstances.

I had lunch with a friend this afternoon who said he often won't post to his blog for upwards of a week if nothing strikes his fancy. For him, there's no inner push to meet a quota, to post every day, or provide a take on the last 24 hours' happenings. And I found his counsel wise - to not forget why you started blogging in the first place. For most of us, it wasn't to compete with the professional blogs or to get a scoop to a story, or to have the most followers on the favorite social network of the month. Instead, it was to communicate and share ideas, or just to act as a log of your thoughts and activity.

In the world of business, your revenue starts over at zero every fiscal quarter. If you just had a great quarter, well, good for you and get back to work, because you need to hit quota and make your number in 90 days, or you and the company might be in trouble. But in blogging, assuming you don't have a boss paying you for each entry, there is no quota to fill. If you don't post in three days, you're not going to be fired. Instead of adding stress to your life by setting artificial standards on what you need to do, and posting for the sake of posting, or not giving it your best effort, it makes more sense to let the content drive your effort, and not the other way around.

So don't stress out. The only person keeping score is you.