How to Know When to Press the Brakes or the Gas

When to hit the gas

Copyright Jarungthip Jarin|123RF.com

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that when it comes to blogging I’ve been singing the same song for a long time. The song has simple lyrics: Blog often and consistently if you want to get any traction in the search engine results pages. But there’s a time to press the gas pedal gas and produce more content quickly and a time to put your foot on the brakes and focus your attention on other necessary tasks.

For me, the time has come to put on the brakes.

I am not going to stop blogging! I am going to cut back on how often I blog. Instead of producing two posts per week for this site, I will now just produce one—on Wednesday.

Why I’m Putting on the Brakes

Deciding to blog less has not been an easy decision for me. In fact, I struggled for almost a year to decide.

Cutting back goes against what I teach and know works. Plus, I am still trying to reach my goals on all of my blogs when it comes to readership and subscriber lists.

Simply put, I have felt afraid to blog less.

When a coach of mine pointed out how often I complain about not having time to do other things because “I blog too much,” I realized something had to give. I couldn’t see any other place to cut back.

Unlike most authors, I have four blogs, not one. I blog consistently and frequently on three of them. I increased my posting frequency on the blog at ninaamir.com back in January to twice per week. Some of you might remember when I posted to this site five days per week! I’ve been posting twice a week for about a year. Prior to that, I posted three times a week for some years. Over at howtoblogabook.com I began by posting three to four times per week and have posted twice per week since about 2011. I hardly ever post to (mysoncandance.com) because I simply don’t have time.

With my current posting schedule, on a normal week I write six or seven blog posts, not counting guest posts. (I did have a standing guest-posting position at The Book Designer as well, but I have just given that up as well.

I often get asked how much time I spend writing. I usually respond, “I write at least a blog post per day, which means I write for at least an hour per day. If I am working on a book, I write for another hour or two per day.” I am not always working on a book, but I always blog.

Fitting in writing a book—or doing anything else—around my blogging commitments can be tough. And going on vacation or away to speak at an event means writing double the number of posts prior to leaving. Then I can schedule the ones that need to publish while I’m out of town, so everything appears “normal” on the site when I’m out of the office. You see no break in the publishing of posts.

As you can imagine, this type of regimen can get quite grueling at times—even if you love what you do (which I do)! Not only that, it leaves little time for “other” work.

For example, those posts need to be promoted. I do that now, but only for about a day.

And the other aspects of my business need to be given attention and promoted. I have to admit, I could have done a better job of that over the last few years.

That’s another reason for putting on the brakes. I need to focus more time and energy on my business—writing books, speaking, and coaching as well as marketing the numerous products I have created (and possibly even creating a few new ones).

I simply must free up more time if I am to grow my business and fulfill my purpose: to help people make a positive and meaningful difference in the world with their words, find their passion and purpose, live inspired lives, and fulfill their potential.

How to Know When to Put on the Brakes

At this point in this post, I must admit that I am teaching what I most need to learn. I am not good at setting boundaries, saying no, or quitting things that don’t work well anymore (if they ever did). I do not see myself as a quitter, but sometimes the best way to move forward and succeed is to stop and let something (or more than one thing) go. That means setting boundaries—healthy ones.

Since I wouldn’t (yet) call boundary-setting my area of expertise, I’ll keep my advice to blogging. You should put on the brakes—cut back on the frequency of your posts or stop worrying as much about blogging consistency—when:

  • You are no longer writing quality posts.
  • You feel burned out or uninspired for more than a few months and can find no way back to the passion or purpose you felt about your subject.
  • You don’t see your efforts achieving the results you desire, and, after serious and careful evaluation, you decide those efforts are not going to achieve the desired results.
  • Your could put your efforts to use better elsewhere.
  • You’ve accomplished your goal.
  • You’ve worked long and hard and feel it’s time to put your time, energy and focus on something else.
  • You are spread too thin to do a good job.

I want to qualify the list above by reminding you that it takes a long time to build a successful blog. It’s rare for one to grow virally overnight. Most successful bloggers will tell you it took them years to achieve the traffic and engagement they desired. I’ve been blogging since 2006. (Or was it 2005?) I still wish my blogs had more traffic, more followers, and more engagement.

Blogging is hard work. Don’t put on the brakes just because it’s hard, and you’re tired this week or don’t want to make time. And don’t decide your blog isn’t successful and it’s time to quit if you haven’t done the hard work—all the things I’ve discussed here, such as promoting each post well and blogging often and consistently for a decent period (six to twelve months minimum).

Also, please, don’t decide to put the brakes on your blogging because you just want to write. (That is not what I am doing.) Don’t use that excuse; it won’t get you far. As a nonfiction writer, you must have an author platform if you want to get published traditionally or if you want to self-publish successfully. Blogging forms the foundation of your platform-building activities.

How to Know when to Press the Gas Pedal

That brings us back to when not to hit the brakes. This advice I can offer more easily and with a greater degree of expertise. Press that gas pedal and speed ahead—publish posts more consistently or with a higher frequency—when:

  • You have just begun to blog a book.
  • You first set up your site and start blogging.
  • You launch a new book or product (although I prefer to see one set schedule all the time for a blog).
  • Things are going well, which could mean posting on the same frequency, but doing everything better.
  • You have a goal you want to accomplish, such as gaining more subscribers or finishing your blogged book.
  • You need to build author platform.

Until you achieve the type of traffic or engagement you want, or until you complete your blogged book or build your email list or platform, put your foot firmly on the gas pedal. Maybe you don’t need to move faster, but you do need to keep moving forward.

What You Told me…and What I’ll be Watching

While making the decision to post less often, I took into consideration the feedback I received from the survey I posted on this site a few months ago.

Those results showed me that almost 40 percent of you read howtoblogabook.com in addition to this blog. (If you are in this group, you will see a similar post on that site tomorrow…) Of the number of respondents who competed the survey, 42.86 percent did not care if I reduced my posts to once per week; 33.33 percent said they wanted me to continue posting twice per week; and 23.81 percent wanted me to reduce the number of published posts. When I combined the “don’t cares” with the “blog less often,” the decision was clear.

As I post this, I still feel some trepidation, but it is coupled with a good bit of excitement and a sense of freedom. 
 
I’ll be paying close attention to see how things go… If I don’t like the results of my decision to cut back on my post frequency, you might find me posting twice per week again at some time in the future!

And then there is always November and National Nonfiction Writing Month. I haven’t quite decided what I’m doing about posts that month yet. But it will be different than in past years, especially given that readership dropped off during the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge in 2014.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I thank you for all your support! If you want to be sure you don’t miss any posts, please sign up for my newsletter (see above right). I’ll be sharing the posts there each week! And you can read posts from me Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday—four days per week! Just subscribe to all my blogs, or subscribe to my newsletter to get a post digest once per month.

Comments

  1. Nina, you don’t know me, but you have been an amazing mentor in my life. Because of you I have a successful blog and multiple books (with more on the way). As someone who is disabled, I really empathize with a need to pace yourself.

    We must have good boundaries and self-care to be of optimal service to our readers. Sometimes, less is more. No matter how often you post, I will still devour every word, and I think it is safe to say thousands would agree with me.

    I think you are doing your readers a great service by teaching them about this vital component in maintaining a blog and a writing career for the long haul. We just can’t do it all … all the time … without experiencing negative consequences. I took many months off from writing my blog due to my health and came back renewed, and wrote the first book from the blog after that period!

    Thank you for the great gifts you have given me. I am 60 years old. Because of you, despite my disability, this has been the most creatively fulfilling time of my life.

    Susan B.

    • Awwww…Susan B. That’s just what I needed to hear. Thank you so much for telling me your success story and the little part I had in it. You made my day. And I’m so proud of you and happy for you!

      Yes, sometimes less is more, and I’m hoping this is one of those times.

  2. Good for you, Nina! I can’t imagine trying to keep up with 3 or 4 blogs at once. 8-o
    I’ve had to step back a few times on my blogging schedule as well. Just being a mom, breaking into podcasting (which I do ever other week even though that isn’t at all recommended) and wanting to write/market my books has forced me to do this.
    Now I’m sending out a blog post twice a week and the second one is almost always just something pulled from my archives. I suppose I should ask my readers if they would prefer to only see one post from me a week like you did.
    At the end of the day the goal is to connect with people, build relationships and engagement, and make a difference. If my readers are more excited to hear from me once a week, all the better!

    • Thanks, Cheri. Actually, I’m also trying to make time to add in a podcast, which would fill one day per week…on several blogs, if I so choose.

      I’m grateful for your encouragement and support.

      Good luck to you! It sounds like you are kicking butt with a full schedule yourself. You go, girl!

  3. Nina, we know each others’ names because of social media, but we don’t really know each other personally. However, I consider you one of my writing mentors I found when I first started my writing journey. I would guess I’ve been subscribing to one or more of your blogs for at least 5-6 years. I applaud you in taking this step toward setting boundaries and gaining back another life that waits in the wings.

    Also, those of us who know you as a mentor, leader, coach, etc., also know where to find your posts if we need to dig up something. And we’ll be OK with your new regimen and will grow accustomed to it.

    Go, friend, and find ways to maintain a happy, healthy writing existence as well as enjoy your “other life.”

    • Thank you so much, Sherrey…and, of course, I know who you are!! I appreciate your vote of support. I’m not going away, just making space/time. And I will do a better job of serving this way as well.

      Also, I’m very grateful that you have been with me so long…

      And yes, anyone can subscribe to one or all my blogs and stay in touch!

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