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The amount of blogs online grows by thousands every day.

There is no way we can read, or even find them all, but we try.

Over the past year, I’ve read hundreds of blog posts (possibly thousands).

There’s some good stuff out there.

In the beginning, I remember reading posts written by seasoned bloggers. I was often in awe. Their posts were so eloquently written. Some intimidated me.

I would ask myself, “Can I ever be that good?”

I marveled at the dozens of comments they had, the massive amount of RSS feed readers, their high page rank, low Alexa rating (lower is better with Alexa), and their archives which were filled with hundreds of blog posts.

In someways I felt pretty “small”. I had zero comments, zero feed readers/subscribers, a 0/10 Google page rank, an Alexa rating that topped 2 million, and my archives were looking pretty pathetic.

My enthusiasm and motivation were quickly becoming depleted.

Finally I realized what was happening.

I had been comparing myself/my blog to longtime bloggers.

To set myself straight, I figuratively slapped myself upside the head.

I stopped visiting so many blogs, and concentrated on my own. I wrote from my heart and quit comparing my blog/myself to others.

It was then that I found my voice.

Lesson 11: We will always find blogs that are better than ours (in one way or the other). If we continually compare our blog/ourself to others, we will never be satisfied. We will always want more, even if we don’t know what more is. In the process of striving for perfection or trying to be like the “big boys/girls”, we often lose our voice.

Sometimes it’s better to stick close to home and play in our own sandbox.

Today’s Assignment

Do you look at other blogs and think, “the grass is greener on the other side”?

Do other blogs intimidate you and make you feel “less than:?

Do you want to be like the big boys/girls? Be popular?

Or have you already learned this lesson and and write from your heart?


Photo Credit: BlazerMan’s photostream

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  1. Barbara,

    Thanks for this post. I just started up my blog and it can really get me down how few people I have visiting and commenting – especially when I put so much effort into every post.

    It’s difficult for me not to compare myself to other blogs because I want to learn from them. At the same time, I know I have to learn to find my own voice. It’s a tricky balance.

    I’ve recently subscribed to you RSS feed, and I find the advice you offer really helpful, and very honest. Thank you.

    Best,

    David

    David | beplayfuls last blog post..Aspects of Playfulness: Deliberate Delight

  2. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    Very true Barbara, there’s this one personal finance blog I read and this guy cranks out some serious posts…so serious, I can’t even bring myself to comment on most of them. I feel like I should be sitting in a corner with a dunce cap on. I only hope to write so well. His posts are also incredibly long which makes it difficult to comment on because there’s just so much info, it’s overwhelming, but the info is great.

    It is helpful at times when you don’t worry about what other people are doing and just concentrate on yourself. I wish I had a lot of comments, but truth is I probably wouldn’t be able to keep up responding to them. I’m thankful I can manage the comments that I have without feeling overwhelmed with replying. So I might look at what other people are doing and say, wow, I wish that were me, part of that is true, but hey, is the grass really greener on the other side.

    I want to be known, but not so popular that I can’t handle the pressure.

    Thanks Barbara, good post, great questions. As always!

    Naturals last blog post..Shameless Blog Promotion

  3. It’s tough sometimes when I see a blog that seems to be doing so much better than mine, especially when I can’t tell why. (Ex. Why does this tiny blog rank higher in a Google search for my own name? Why does this blog with average content have millions of loyal readers?)

    Steve Pavlina wrote: “What’s unfair about easy-entry fields like blogging, acting, or music is that white belts and black belts are thrown into the same pool. White belts are forced to compete against black belts who’ve been honing their skills for years. It’s totally unfair. But that unfairness is what provides the challenge and makes it fun.”

    So that’s how I try to see it.

    Hunter Nuttalls last blog post..Mastering The Most Powerful Force In The Universe

  4. Barbara,

    Ooooh…comparing ourselves to others is always a recipe for heartache. I wonder sometimes if I can ever compete with the big boys/girls or if I even want to devote that much time to trying. If I truly believed there was a huge financial payoff to be had, I might be more motivated…but I am beginning to wonder if blogging is more like network marketing. Everybody selling the dream and only a few people at the top making any real money.

    The more pressure I put on myself to make this blogging thing produce income…the more time-consuming and the less fun it becomes. I’m trying to look at it more as an outlet for creative expression and a way for me to share helpful information with others. If any money comes from that it will be a wonderful surprise…but I can’t make myself crazy and devote my life to blogging for dollars. Maybe that attitude will make it impossible for me to ever make money at it…I don’t know. What I do know is that my back and my arse hurt from sitting in front of this damned computer all of the time and my friends and family barely recognize me anymore!

    Yes…comparing ourselves to others…and blogging for dollars…therein lies the root of all evil.

  5. JenniferNo Gravatar says:

    Yes, some blogs are intimidating and I just ask “What is it that makes them more popular?” I can’t really figure out what it is. That’s really the only thing that bothers me. Because I’m looking and trying to learn how to make mine better and better . It’s no that I want to be like them in every way. I just want to learn from them what to do right. Does that make sense? I think it’s really just because they’ve been doing it longer. It all just takes time and consistency as I have seen so far. The more I’m around and provide valuable unique information the more subscribers/comments I get.

    I think the best way I have found to handle it all is to just be myself. Laying it all out in my head and on paper exactly what I want with my blog and where I want to go with it helps to keep me from comparing myself with others when I may be tempted to do so. I have found this clear focus to be very helpful. That was a big reason I just recently switched my blog. With all that said, I know I’m still learning and figuring it all out (but at least I know where I’m going – Nothing will stop me.)

    This is just something I thought of: Have you ever known anyone who made a difference by being like everyone else?

    Jennifers last blog post..Welcome! Come on in and Relax…

  6. John HoffNo Gravatar says:

    Your post reminds me of my thought process – from beginning until now. The best answer I can give you is I want to be me in my blog and not rehash the same content written over and over again.

    Oh yeah, and it would be nice if my blog would convert to sales LOL.

    I think everyone goes through that intimidating period when they first start blogging. I know I sure did the day I visited Copyblogger. But then I went back to my roots in business and realized even the small guy can get a voice amongst huge corporations.

    John Hoffs last blog post..How To Buy A House Like A Real Estate Investor: Part 2 – 7 Methods For Covering Your Down Payment

  7. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi David,

    Welcome to the BWAB community. It’s always great to see a new blogger join in the conversation.

    Us bloggers do walk a fine line. We want to get found, learn all there is about blogging, keep a consistent blogging schedule, and still enjoy our daily life. Based on my experience, it takes time and patience. Add determination to the mix, and you will see success.

    Thank you for subscribing.

    Hi Natural,

    Like you, I love my comments. It’s become my favorite part of blogging. But with comments, comes the responsibility of allocating time to answer them. That is time you pull from somewhere else.

    I don’t think the grass is greener on the other side. Our blogs are an extension of ourselves, and if we try to be like others, our own voice could easily be silenced.

    Hi Hunter,

    Those are wise words written by Steve Pavlina. He’s one that would know. He started as we all did, and with time and perseverance he has made a name for himself in blogosphere. He’s one blogger I really admire, and apparently you do too. He’s good!

    Hi Lori,

    I hope you’re feeling better.

    Blogging is very much a form of social networking. And the sad part of trying to make money with a blog is that most bloggers are not ad “clickers”. With that being said, if a blog is targeted to attract other bloggers, chances are it won’t be a money maker. (there are some exceptions – i.e. Problogger).

    This year has taught me to blog for the enjoyment of it, and to share what I’ve learned and continue to learn. Hopefully it will change a life or two in the process. If I make a few coins, that’s just a bonus.

    Hi Jennifer,

    You hit the nail on the head by saying you learned to “just be yourself”.

    We can learn some stuff from others, but our blog needs to reflect our own personality. Copying others will only throw us into the category of a “cookie cutter” blog, and that’s not what most of us want.

    BTW: Your new theme is fabulous.

  8. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi John,

    Your comment reminds me of being in business. We look at the “big boys” in awe, but soon realize they fill a specific niche. As a “small guy”, we too, find our niche. If we can all learn to get along it benefits the masses, and the world becomes a better place.

  9. Debbie YostNo Gravatar says:

    This has been an interesting series for me because it has made me think about what I really want out of my blog. I do want to be like the big boys/girls. I want to be known for my writing, knowledge and opinion. I have come to terms with the fact that I am not going to be there overnight. This is going to take work and time. I read somewhere 3 years, so I’m giving it 3 years. We’ll see where I am then. In the mean time, I’ll keep plugging along one day at a time, one post at a time and see what happens. I’m trying to find my own style, my own niche. Just this morning I thought I want to be more than a mom blog. That’s too much like a family journal. I want to be considered more of a parenting blog. Sure, I still want to share silly stories about my family, but I want to provide knowledge from being a parent and things I have learned along the way. I think that is my goal. That and Down syndrome awareness of course, but those two go hand in hand as far as I’m concerned.

    Debbie Yosts last blog post..Just Call Me Gimpy

  10. ChrisNo Gravatar says:

    Great Literature become great because they’ve captured the essence life or part of it. This post just accomplished it. At least in my humble perspective.

    I always taught my students to write from the heart. So, I’m following my own advice with my blog.

  11. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – I only ever heard of blogs through finding Problogger by accident. And that was lucky in a way, because Darren explained how long it took him to get to where he was blogging full-time.

    I must admit, I used to find some blogs that were far newer than mine with mega-wonderful alexa rankings and wonder how they could be so average, yet so popular. But, I think the new changes to Alexa ranking answered my question. Although a lot of blogs fell a little, some of these blogs that ranked quickly dived to the bottom, because they relied on nothing more than social networking to get traffic. They had created a false perception of popularity in order to gain commenters.

    It seems the message is – keep writing, don’t rely on one form of marketing and as Debbie mentioned – be realistic re: timescales.

  12. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Debbie,

    I think three years is a reasonable time frame. Although some blogs may skyrocket in the beginning, I wonder how hard it is for them to retain that readership. Taking it day by day will give you time to adjust to gradual growth.

    Changing to a parenting blog would be quite easy for you, as you’re already writing about the subject. Down syndrome ties into that, so the transition could be fairly simple.

    BTW: I love your new theme, and the footer is something I’ve never seen before. Great job.

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for the nice compliment. I like being compared to “great literature” 🙂

    Writing from the heart is essential, isn’t it?

  13. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Catherine,

    You do bring up a great point about how some blogs gain a great Alexa rating fast. Apparently Alexa realized their rating system was skewed and have corrected it, thus causing some ratings to decline.

    Social networking can drive tons of traffic to a site, fast, however, as you know, most of those visitors don’t stick around. So in a sense, the traffic spikes may be all for naught. (Except they are great for the ego).

    Being realistic about the time involved to grow a blog is crucial.

  14. Barbara –

    In our life, we get frustration, disappointments and low self-esteem mainly for trying to be someone who we are not. We all have unique gift of the creator and we shall cherish that rather than feeling apathy for what we do not have.

    Great post again,

    Shilpan

    Shilpan | successsoul.coms last blog post..Guest Article at TheChangeBlog

  15. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    It reminds me of John Wooden’s advice — don’t try to be better than others, but never cease trying to be better than yourself.

    One of the lessons Ward Cunningham (father of the Wiki) taught me about Wikis is — think in great pages. Applying that to blogs, I think the guideline is, “think in great posts” … one post at a time. Each post is a new chance to say something a little closer to how you meant it.

    For me, if I deliver on my purpose — it’s success, and I know that I have more time ahead of me than behind me, and I get by with a little help from my friends.

  16. Pat RNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara – I was encouraged by your words in this post tonight. I can relate to everything you said. I did the same things and wondered if what I said even mattered.

    But, like you, I’m finding my voice and am discovering something within me coming alive in learning to write and my focus has changed. I’m no longer watching the stats and reading to find ways to attract traffic.

    I haven’t gotten to where you are yet but I’m making progress, learning as I go and enjoying the journey.

    Thank you for confirming what I have felt in the importance of being authentic and writing from your heart and I trust that they will be words that will give people a lift and comfort.

    Blessings,

    Pat Rs last blog post..One Hundred Posts

  17. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Shilpan,

    What you wrote reminds me of the peer pressure young people face in school. It’s unfortunate many don’t learn the lesson of authenticity early in life. It would save them so many heartaches.

    Then as adults, we repeat that behavior, and compare our work to others, feeling we’re not good enough. But we are, because of our uniqueness.

    Hi J.D.

    I love how you always share such great quotes. I always find them extremely thought provoking.

    For me, I have more time behind me than ahead of me, and like you, I get by with a little help from my friends, too. 🙂

    Hi Pat,

    It is the journey we need to learn to enjoy. It’s one blog post at a time, one comment at a time, and one foot in front of the other.

    As long as you are writing from your heart, you will touch the lives of others. When you write for the whole world to see, there will be also be some lives you touch, you’ll never be aware of. I find that pretty profound.

  18. Oh yeah, I used to be quite intimidated by other blogs. Not so often now – but it still happens. A big girl on the block – eh – eventually. I think its because I pour my heart into my writing with the complete intention to help somone out and I want to learn how to write in a way that will attract the people it can help.

    It’s easy to forget that some blogs have been here for a long time. And nulling the comparison syndrome for younger blogs helps with focus and keeps you close to your own reason for blogging. (You can sometimes think hmmm I think I can blog about bowling pins too! or whatever lol)

    I am really enjoying this series Barbara!

    JEMi | Tips for Life, Love, Yous last blog post..25 Terrific Tips to Help You Conquer Your Money Struggles

  19. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi JEMi,

    It is easy to get intimidated by other blogs/author’s writings. I wonder if that ever ends.

    Now you’re not going to start blogging about bowling pins, are you? lol

    I’m happy to hear you’re enjoying the series. I think it’s about over, maybe…depends if I come up with any more lessons….

    Stay tuned! 🙂