I’m convinced that the #1 issue that people face with building a blog (or any creative endeavor, really) is The Resistance.
It’s not a lack of time, it’s not a lack of knowledge, and it’s not a lack of skill.
It’s The Resistance.
Resistance comes as a voice in our heads. The voice tells us not to work today and it gives us a reason. Our daughter’s dance recital starts at seven; this headache is killing us; the boss wants us to organize the Penske file.
Sound familiar? I know it does for me. I’m fighting that voice right now.
“You’re in Chicago, Bjork. You can write the post when you get back home…”
“It’s New Year’s Eve…”
“You’re heading out in an hour. It’s not worth it to start now. You’ll have a good chunk of time on the car ride home, you can do it then…”
“What will people think if they read that sentence and know that you were writing a blog post when you were in Chicago with friends on New Year’s Eve?”
“The Pinch of Yum email campaign is broken. That needs to get fixed. The post can wait…”
The Resistance is real and it’s powerful. I’ve fallen victim to it more times than I can count. But the good news is that it’s not all-powerful. You can overcome it.
More realistically, you need to overcome it. And not just once or twice, but each and every day.
Here are some things that can help you slay The Resistance and do The Work.
1. Build your castle
The incredible thing about publishing content online is that it continues to live…forever.
That Food Blogger Pro post called 5 ways to make more money from your food blog? I just checked and someone is reading it at this very moment.
The Red Curry Lentils post that Lindsay published in 2012? 11,385 people visited that page in the last 30 days.
The video we made when living in the Phillipines about making hummus? It's been viewed over 17,000 times on YouTube.
When you’re building a blog or a website it’s like building a castle. A castle needs bricks. A blog needs content. In order to build a solid castle you need lots of sturdy bricks. In order to build a blog you need lots of sturdy content.
The wonderful thing about laying a brick for a castle is that once it’s put in place it will be there for a really long time. It’s part of the structure. Same with a blog post. It lives forever as part of the structure. The more quality bricks you lay the better your castle will be. The more quality blog posts you publish the stronger your blog will be.
No one cares about a castle on the first day it’s built. It’s not very exciting after a month either. After a year it might start to be interesting, but it definitely won’t be noteworthy. It’s not until you’ve been building your castle for years that people will start recognize it for what it is: a sturdy and awe-inspiring castle.
Bottom Line: The Resistance will tell you that your castle needs to be big and beautiful in the first week, month, or year. But you know better than to listen to The Resistance. You don’t focus on what it’s not, you focus on what you’re doing: Laying bricks that will someday (probably not someday soon, but someday) be a big and beautiful castle.
2. Shrink it down to the first step
A lot of work has gone into Food Blogger Pro. It’s a membership site with over 800 members, 300 videos, an active community forum, an affiliate program, and a blog (that you’re currently reading…thanks!).
When Lindsay and I were first thinking about starting Food Blogger Pro it was a bit overwhelming. So much so that I put it off for almost a year. It was just too much to think about (classic Resistance).
It wasn’t until I shrunk the project down to the first step that I overcame The Resistance and finally started to make progress.
In this case it meant searching “Membership Site” in iTunes and listening to all of the podcasts on membership sites that I could find.
This led me to an interview with Nate and Jon of Forty Seven Media, where they talked about building a membership site. This led me to sending them an email asking if they could connect to talk about our idea for Food Blogger Pro.
Nate and Jon,
Greetings! My name is Bjork Ostrom. I heard about 47m while listening to a recent podcast interview that you did. I checked out kicktastic.com and really love what you guys have done with it (I’m a member)!
I put together a quick video to formally introduce myself – https://www.dropbox.com/s/hx4urj20c4z1al6/hi-there.mov
Here’s the URL of my wife’s blog that I reference: http://www.pinchofyum.com
I’d love to chat more!
Food Blogger Pro wouldn’t be what it is today (or, maybe more accurately, wouldn’t exist today) if I hadn’t shrunk down the project into that first step of listening to podcast interviews.
The same can be said for this blog post. When I was thinking about it as “writing a blog post” I thought of a whole slew of excuses for why now wasn’t the best time to work on it. But when I thought about it as opening up a text document and writing the intro paragraph I realized I could do that. Now, an hour later, I’m 1,000 words in.
Bottom Line: The Project is almost always overwhelming. The Resistance uses this to keep us from starting. The first step isn’t as intimidating. Shrinking a project down to the first step helps you to start, which is one of the hardest things to do with projects.
3. Reward The Work
My mom and dad have a system for making sure their dog Sophie goes in the kennel each night. They give her a quarter (yes, you read that right…a quarter) of a cracker. Want to know the funny thing? It works. Sophie loves going into her kennel because she knows that she’ll get that tasty morsel of saltine.
Want to know something else funny? I’m pretty similar to Sophie. I know that every time that I engage in The Work instead of The Resistance that I’ll reward myself with a quarter of a cracker.
Okay, that last part isn’t true.
Instead of a cracker it’s usually coffee. I know that if I train my brain that The Work = coffee then my chances of engaging in The Work will be higher.
Bottom Line: Find ways to build in small rewards for yourself when you engage in The Work instead of giving into The Resistance. Drink your favorite drink, listen of your favorite music, or wear your favorite sweater. The Work is hard, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. The more you enjoy doing The Work the less likely it is that you’ll listen to The Resistance.
4. Embrace brokenness
If I listed out the number of things that are broken in our business right now this would be a 10,000 word post. I’ve come to realize that things will always be broken. If things aren't broken then we’re probably not moving quickly enough. The design will never be perfect, the email will never by entirely mobile-friendly, the analytics will never 100% accurate, and our posts will never be 100% error-free.
The problem isn’t that things are broken, the problem is that we prioritize fixing the small broken thing over creating the big important thing.
This is my biggest struggle.
I’m a fixer. I love troubleshooting, investigating, and repairing, which keeps me from doing truly important work.
Truth be told there are times when something is broken and important, but usually that isn’t the case. Usually we’re fixing things that don’t really matter, or fixing things in order to avoid The Work.
The Resistance convinces us that we need to adjust our logo location, change our blog’s font color, organize our email list, tune up our Google Analytics, organize the towels in the cupboard underneath the sink, or take our car to the car wash.
Those things aren’t inherently bad. They’re just bad when they’re done in place of doing creative important work (which is usually when we feel the call to do that type of “work”).
Bottom Line: It’s important to develop your ability to resist fine tuning and tinkering with things. There’s only so much time in a day, and if you spend it fixing things then you’ll never actually create things. Outsource the fixing as soon as you can. Hire a designer, developer, WordPress support person, or ad network management company as soon as possible so you can focus on what’s important: The Work.
5. Quit things
You are too committed.
It’s true for me and it’s true for you.
If you’re going to really “do this” blog thing then you need to quit some things that you’re currently involved in or committed to doing. Simply put: if you don’t scale back your commitments then you won’t have the time you need to work on your blog.
It’s going to be really hard (read: impossible) to maintain an outstanding blog if you’re trying to squeeze it into the margins of your day. You can maintain a crummy blog in the margins of the day, but it’s darn near impossible to maintain an outstanding blog in the margins of your day, and an outstanding blog is what you need if you really want to build your blog into “a thing.”
The Resistance tells us that we can (and should) be involved in lots of things. It tells us that we should say yes more than no and that being busy means that we’re maximizing our potential. It’s a lie.
The truth is that in order to do The Work we need to have space and time to truly engage in it. Day-after-day, week-after-week, year-after-year.
Bottom Line: There are things in your life that you need to quit. This will open up the time that you need to do The Work. The Resistance tells us to say yes to things so we avoid doing The Work, but our biggest impact comes by saying no to things in order to build in time and space to do The Work.
What about you?
What’s one thing from this list that you’d like to improve on?
Leave a comment below with your answer.