Over the years, I’ve watched myself and countless clients start and build businesses using content, and without exception, every single one has been undermined at some point by the author self-sabotaging their own blogging efforts.
Take it from a girl with well over a decade of blogging experience, bipolar disorder, anxiety, PTSD, and (probably) ADHD, the path to blogging success is riddled with self-sabotages. (For those interested, I say probably because I never had that one made official, lest I be crushed beneath the weight of so many initialisms.)
But despite my many labels, you don’t need to have mental health issues to self-sabotage your blog. Some of the most self-assured, charismatic, business-savvy entrepreneurs I’ve ever seen (personally, professionally, and just from fangirling them all over the internet) fall prey to self sabotages. They sneak up on you like Sméagol after the precious, and they’re equally wicked, tricksy, and false.
Recognising them in yourself, however, can be a bit of a bitch. So, it is with much love and many hugs that I drop this list and call y’all out on the various ways you’re screwing up your own blogging success…
#1 You Don’t Prioritise Writing Your Blog
I hold my hands up to this one, it’s the WORST thing I’m guilty of. It’s also the BIGGEST problem most people experience in terms of self-sabotaging.
I run a business. I have clients. There’s work to do for those clients, deadlines to meet for those clients, and I frequently get so swept up in delivering all my client work that I struggle to find time to create my own content.
This is true of anyone both running and marketing a business. It’s not just one that solopreneurs fall victim of, however. While it’s definitely something I did as a solopreneur, it’s also something that regularly happened while I was working for a digital agency. The agency policy was always ‘client work first’. If people didn’t get to writing that blog, posting on social, updating the website, it was irritating but also kind of expected.
They’d never had time to market themselves properly, so they were accustomed to their own marketing never getting done. I’m ashamed to say I started out with the best of intentions. I was going to revolutionise that, and ensure everything was done regularly and consistently. And for a time, I succeeded. But then COVID hit, everyone but the bare essential staff went on furlough, and it was back to ‘client work first’.
It’s an understandable philosophy whether you’re working for yourself or managing a team. Your client work or the delivery of the products your customers have ordered must take priority. They’re paying you, they expect (and deserve!) the highest quality, for deadlines to be met, and you want them to be happy so they come back for more.
The problem with upholding this philosophy is that it fundamentally damages your ability to function as a business.
I’m not exaggerating.
Your business lives and dies on its ability to generate regular revenue. Whether that’s by selling products or providing a service, it doesn’t matter. If you focus solely on the clients or customers you currently have at the expense of a system that constantly generates new leads and new conversions, you’re going to run out of revenue.
That’s just fact.
Even if your current customers have a high chance of repeat business unless 100% of the revenue you’re generating this month is guaranteed to repeat next month, and every subsequent month, you need new prospects. Sure, you may have enough retained work to guarantee your income for the next six months or the next year, but what happens after that?
What happens when your current clients decide not to continue working with you? When the customers currently buying from you get everything you have on offer and can’t spend any more with you? When those who came to you for one specific thing unsubscribe from your list, and you never hear from them again.
How To Prioritise Your Own Marketing
Your blog is an incredibly powerful tool for driving consistent traffic to your website and ensuring you have a steady stream of new prospective clients. But it hinges on consistency. If you’re not posting regularly, because you don’t always have time, you’re not going to create that organic traffic stream. In fact, you’re going to struggle to gain any new business through your website at all.
I get it; writing your own blog is for you, therefore, not as worthy of your time and attention as other things – client work, family, friends, the dog, your goldfish, helping out random strangers.
Here’s the thing. YOU ARE WORTHY.
Your business is worthy.
Your blog is worthy.
The mindset shift you have to make here is to start valuing yourself and your own business success as highly as you do your client or customer satisfaction, your spouse, your kids, or whatever else it is that always takes precedence over your blog.
It’s not easy. Many of us (particularly women) are hard-wired to put the needs of others before our own. So think of it this way: when you fail to effectively market yourself, you’re depriving all the people who could benefit from your product or service. If you prioritise your own marketing, you’re ensuring you reach (and therefore help) as many people as possible.
#2 You Procrastinate On Every Blog Post
Another huge form of self-sabotage when it comes to blogging is procrastination. You know you need to get it done, but you put it off. A lot of the time this is tied to a struggle to prioritise your own blog and marketing. But equally, it can be down to a lack of motivation, lack of confidence in your ability to do a worthy job, uncertainty over what you should be writing about, writer’s block, or any number of pesky mind monkeys bothering you while you try and write.
Imposter syndrome is a big one – who am I to be writing about this? I’m not an expert!
Little old me is another common complaint – Nobody cares what I think. Not little old me!
Maybe you start writing and then remember you’ve not put the washing in, or didn’t send that email, or that now is the perfect time to do that job you’ve been avoiding all week. There’s always something else claiming your attention, largely because you’re desperately looking around for something – anything – to give you an excuse to put off writing that blog post.
Or maybe you sit staring at an empty screen, waiting for the muse to strike, and finding it’s not quite that simple. The words have abandoned you. You know exactly what you’re supposed to be writing about, but you can’t think of a single intelligent, witty, or even vaguely relevant thing to write.
Research is another rabbit hole of procrastination, and believe me, this one doesn’t just apply to blogging. When I was writing my book on content marketing, Divine Blogging, I fell head-first down this one. I got so caught up in ancient mythology and so obsessed with ensuring I got everything factually correct I neatly avoided writing a word of the actual book for about three years.
Procrastination at its finest.
Don’t think that because I’m a professional writer whose full-time job it is to write content, I don’t procrastinate. I do. Massively. Particularly if it’s over a piece of writing I don’t really want to do, like a new sales page for one of my own websites, or a new email nurture sequence to promote one of my services.
How To Stop Procrastinating And Get Blogging
Over the years, I’ve developed three strategies to beat procrastination. Which one works depends on the moment, my mood, and exactly what it is I’m procrastinating over.
Option 1 – Just write whenever you’re in the flow.
Standing in line at Starbucks, on the train, at 3 am when you can’t sleep, it doesn’t matter. If you have an idea for a blog post, write it down right then and there. If you don’t have anything to write on, improvise. I have a notebook app on my phone for days I’ve had no notebook in reach. I’ve also been known to write on napkins, paper bags, and myself when needed.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of something else. Stop. Write down whatever is in your head, in a big messy jumble if need be, and keep writing until the words run out. It may not be elegant or pretty, it doesn’t matter. You can sort it out later.
Option 2 – Ask yourself, do I really need to write this myself?
If the answer is no, and you’re able to outsource it, do so. As I said, there are times I outsource blogs, website copy, and emails, because when I’m completely honest with myself I just don’t want to write them. The beauty of running your own business is that you don’t have to!
Option 3 – Set a timer.
Put a ten or fifteen-minute timer on. You only have to work on this thing for that long, not a second longer, but while that time is ticking you have to write. Doing this, I often find the buzzer goes off, and I keep going because I’ve made it past the wall. For those of you who have never run, the wall is a term used to describe the point where your body decides it can’t possibly carry on and your brain is telling you to stop.
Many people give up when they hit the wall. They either stop their run for the day or stop running altogether, believing they don’t like it. But if you can push past the wall, you finally find your stride. Running from that point o becomes effortless, easy, enjoyable, relaxing even. In other words, by forcing yourself to write for ten or fifteen minutes, with the promise of an end in sight, you make it through the procrastination and the tough part, to the other side, where writing is enjoyable, and you don’t actually want to stop until you’re done.
#3 You’re Avoiding Visibility
You’re writing your blogs, posting them to your website, basking in the glory of your own achievement, BUT you’ve failed to do anything to actually make that blog post visible.
You skipped out on optimising it for search, telling yourself you don’t need it. Or you failed to share it on social media because you ran out of time/forgot/didn’t have the right scheduling software / the dog ate your Instagram login. You thought about sending it out to your list but figured if they were interested, they’d go read it anyway.
In short, you’re doing the writing part but failing to do all the other parts that ensure people actually see what you wrote.
Most of the time it’s because visibility bothers you on some level. You don’t really want people to read your post, snoop around your website, and generally get all up in your business. And that’s fine. Social media isn’t for everyone. You may not utilise your email list as a primary marketing strategy. And you make have plenty of new business coming from other sources, so you don’t really need to make SEO a priority.
Here’s the problem with that way of thinking: you’re self-sabotaging your blog’s success.
The more people see your blog, the more lucrative it will become. Whether you’re directly monetising your posts, generating passive income through traffic, or relying on your website traffic to convert new customers and clients, the more visible you are, the better.
So while you don’t (necessarily) need to do all the things to promote it, you need to ensure you have a clear strategy to make your blog visible. SEO is always the core strategy to incorporate into your blog. Failing to optimise any website content for search is leaving money on the table. Sharing to social media and your newsletter after you’ve done that can be as easy or complex as you like.
Maybe you create dedicated content for every platform. Maybe you just share a link and the introduction you already wrote. It doesn’t matter how you make your posts visible, as long as people can – in one way or another – easily find them.
How To Overcome Visibility Fears
The easiest way to do this is to get visible in the least visible way possible to ease yourself into it. As I said, optimising for search should be the bare basics you’re doing to make sure your blog has visibility and people find you. The great thing about this is that, while it makes your blog visible, YOU don’t have to personally be visible in order to do it. Your website may have photos of your and your team on it, but you don’t have to personally show up on a weekly or daily basis to ensure your posts start to rank on SERPs.
In an ideal world – and you will always hear me say this – your blog posts should include multimedia. That might be a vlog version of your blog, a podcast or audio version, or an infographic. You don’t have to start with the vlog and the need to be on camera. You can start with the infographic, which doesn’t need you on it at all.
If you never want to be the ‘face’ of your blog and gain visibility in that sense, you don’t have to.
It’s not a requirement.
Many successful brands lack a literal person to spearhead them. Videos are created using whiteboard animation, cartoon characters, actors and voice-over actors. There are any number of ways to create great content without having to make yourself personally visible.
So, if you struggle with this one, take yourself out of the equation.
Focus on making your words visible, rather than yourself.
#4 Success Freaks You Out
Tied to fear of visibility is a tendency to freak out in the face of success. You start out strong, really get into the flow of things, you’re blogging regularly, and it starts to work.
Traffic is landing on your site and, in one way or another (be it through ad revenue or affiliate revenue, or direct sales), generating revenue.
This thing is actually working! Who would have thought?
Right around the time you realise this you suddenly become inconsistent in your efforts. You miss a week of blogging. Then two. Then three. Before you know it a few months have passed, you’ve only put out a handful of blogs in that time, and all that lovely traffic you’d created has dwindled.
Not to worry, you think, you’ve done it before, you can do it again. You step it all back up. Your consistency is perfection, your visibility has never been greater, and before long you once again have a steady stream of traffic flowing to your site and all the benefits that come with it.
And then everything inexplicably unravels again.
The problem is you’ve run head-first into an upper limit. We all have them. We all have a level of success we’re comfortable with. A level that feels achievable, that we feel we are worthy of, deserving. And when we start to go beyond that point, we find it deeply unsettling.
The specific reasons for this will vary depending on your personality, but they frequently revolve around how much money you feel you’re worthy of earning, whether or not you believe in the value of what you’re offering, and whether you genuinely view yourself as an expert in your field.
Again, imposter syndrome, and the ‘not little old me’ mentality tend to take over here. You may have a fear of what will happen if you become too successful – you’ll lose friends, sacrifice time with your family, be judged, or be exposed as a fraud.
The brain is a very peculiar thing in this regard.
For whatever reason, there’s a limit to how much success you can handle, and wherever you hit that limit your fight or flight response kicks in. This means you either run away from the problem (i.e. stop blogging, or stop blogging consistently), or start fighting the very thing that’s making you successful (for example, randomly blogging about different subjects that aren’t relevant, or creating a highly controversial piece of content that really alienates your audience).
How To Overcome Upper Limit Issues When Blogging
To get over an upper limit you’re going to have to dig into what triggered it. There could be any number of things, but the ones I see most often are number or revenue related. A blog suddenly starts getting a ton more traffic than it used to and the number of people viewing your blog starts to feel uncomfortable. A vlog goes viral on TikTok (or whatever platform you favour) and having a million-plus views makes you panic. Or you smash your revenue target for the month, and the thought of having made so much money brings up a load of money blocks.
The key to overcoming an upper limit is understanding exactly what caused it. From there, you need to figure out why that specific thing is an issue for you. Are you self-conscious at the thought of so many people reading your words, or watching your videos? Do you feel you’ve somehow done something wrong to earn money in a non-traditional way (i.e. digitally rather than putting in hard labour)?
Expose the underlying belief you have that led you to hit that limit, and reframe that belief, so you are able to move past it. I strongly recommend Gay Hendricks’ The Big Leap if you’re searching for ways to overcome upper-limit issues. And if you know your issues are specifically money related, Denise Duffield Thomas’ Get Rich, and Get Rich, Lucky Bitch, as well as her Chill and Prosper podcast are a great starting point.
#5 You’re Waiting Until You’re Thinner, Have Better Hair, A Better Website, Whatever
You feel too fat right now to film videos or take photos, and there’s no point writing your blog if you’re not promoting it.
Your hair isn’t long enough, bouncy enough, and it’s not the right colour. You best wait until you’ve had it done before you start.
You DIYed your website, and it’s crap. No point driving traffic to it until you’ve got a site worthy of sending traffic to.
You can’t figure out how to make TikToks.
You need to learn to make better Reels.
You’ve not had any professional photos taken yet. And before you do that, you need new clothes, you really should redecorate your house and make it look super posh so your videos and photos look chic and slick like all the Marie Forleos and Denise Duffield Thomases of the world.
Any of this sound familiar?
Newsflash, Marie Forleo and Denise Duffield Thomas both started out making videos on their iPads or laptops from their regular sofa or the desk in the box room. I started out from the desk in my mother’s box room (it wasn’t even my cupboard I was working from!).
If I can build a 6 figure copywriting business from my mam’s spare room while weighing a whopping 22 stone and sporting a range of wigs, believe me, you don’t have to wait for the diet to kick in. There’s no need to delay until your next hair appointment or the arrival of the Changing Rooms team to save your decor.
All these roadblocks are the same: your self-conscious fears try to save you from potentially humiliating situations.
Even if you’re opting to avoid literal visibility and are only showcasing your words (and not your face and body), self-conscious thoughts can and will still derail you. Fretting over how good your website is or whether your graphics for social media are okay, worrying that what you’ve written is stupid, poorly worded, full of mistakes, or has all been said before, are common fears to come up.
How To Create Content When You Don’t Feel Good Enough
We all have an ego. None of us enjoys the experience of that ego being bruised.
The greater problem here is that there are so many great content creators out there is difficult to do your thing without comparing yourself to others. And when we compare ourselves to others, we invariably find ourselves wanting.
There’s always going to be someone out there doing exactly what you want to do, but already successful at it because they started a while ago and stuck to it consistently, while you didn’t. There’s always going to be someone doing your thing in a really charismatic, funny, witty or wonderful way that you feel you can never match. There will always be someone thinner, fitter, prettier, with better hair, a better website, a nicer set, more followers, big partnership deals, and a fricking alpaca in their garden.
Stop comparing yourself to other content creators. Honestly, it does no good. If you’re just starting out it’s pointless because everyone is going to seem far more successful than you; they had a head start. It’s not a fair comparison. And even if you’ve been going a while, the odds are you’re struggling with a few of the mindset issues on this list, while the people you’re comparing yourself to either already dealt with them, and moved past them, or had different ones to contend with.
You’re assuming that the people you deem successful don’t feel exactly the same way you do. Don’t. They probably do, and if they don’t, it’s usually because they did in the past and learned how to move beyond it. Every new level you reach will bring you new people to compare yourself to.
Comparisonitis is a real bitch.
The only way to win is to deny it battle.
One Last Thing
You may have noticed a bit of crossover between these self-sabotaging behaviours. If you’re feeling self-conscious, the odds are you’re avoiding visibility. If you’re having visibility issues, the chances are good that upper limits will also kick in and cause you to freak out in the face of success. Those upper-limit issues may be why you’re failing to prioritise your content creation. And any and all of these issues can lead to procrastination.
The good news is, you’re not alone. I have personally battled every demon on this list, and somehow still created a steady income and successful business off the back of nothing but a blog.
If I can do it, I promise you, no matter how inventive your subconscious becomes at derailing your efforts, you can find a way to succeed.