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The Write Question is a weekly video podcast about writing that I started in 2017 and that ran, more or less weekly, until April 2022. This is a republication of issue #40, about when to give up on your writing. The post first ran on Dec. 8/17.
Welcome to The Write Question, I’m Daphne Gray-Grant. Today we’re talking about when to give up on your writing. [Spoiler: never!]
Today I’m going to answer a question from Bob Preziosi in Davie, Florida. Here’s what he’s asked:
[recording] Hi Daphne, I’ve written about 65 blogs on leadership, and all were being read, some more than others, of course. I kind of stopped a couple of months ago – actually four months ago. I’ve lost my confidence, and I don’t know how or why. I would like to know if you have any ideas or suggestions that can spur me on to get me moving again, and shake this avoidance behaviour that’s keeping me from writing the blogs. Thank you very much.
Thanks for the question, Bob. I’ve been blogging five days a week for five years now. And, before that, I published a weekly newsletter that I began in 2006. So, I have a LONG HISTORY of finding and cultivating readers. Here’s what I can tell you: It doesn’t happen overnight.
I know that 65 blog posts will feel like a lot, but, really, it’s a drop in the bucket. I calculate that I’ve now written 740,000 words for my blog alone. And that doesn’t include all the writing I’ve done for my clients and other people’s blogs.
Understand that a few people might get a lucky break — they could get their book featured by Oprah or perhaps blogging superstar Seth Godin decides he wants to mention them in a post. But the vast majority of us must toil in relative obscurity. And the ONLY way to break through is to be persistent.
If you do have that persistence, here are some other ideas that might help you:
- Don’t publish in just one place. When I started out, I guest-posted for a wide variety of other websites. I would put a link in those stories back to my own website and a number of readers would follow that link and end up subscribing to me. I’ll never forget the day when one guest post led 200 people to sign up at my website.
- With that in mind, make sure you have your own website. I post to LinkedIn once a week but I get far more value out of subscribers to my own site. With your own website, you can collect the email addresses of your subscribers. This list will be very valuable to you and it’s not something you can build on a site like LinkedIn.
- Get ideas for topics FROM your readers. Don’t assume that you are the only person with story ideas! If you can address topics that your readers are most interested in learning about, more of them are likely to read. I also include comment boxes at the end of all my blog posts, and I offer a book prize, awarded by draw, to someone who posts a comment every month. This type of engagement is very effective.
- Promote yourself every chance you get. I’m active on Twitter and Facebook. I also have a signature line on every email I send out promoting my blog.
- And finally, be in the process for the long haul. You can’t build an audience in a day or a week or even in a year. It takes time. Don’t worry if it seems to go slowly. Only worry if your numbers start dropping.
On the subject of persistence, let me conclude by quoting American author Harriet Beecher Stowe: “When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you till it seems as if you couldn’t hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that’s just the place and time that the tide’ll turn.”
Thanks for your question, Bob. Don’t give up! Instead, reapply yourself and I’m certain you’ll have the chance to enjoy the changing of the tide.