Three Thoughts on Sustainable Blogging Resolutions

How to set goals you’ll be more likely to keep.

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, writing-related or otherwise. Something about the ritual feels contrived and ineffective — possibly because I’m an undisciplined, chronic procrastinator who loves finding loopholes in self-imposed rules. As esteemed behavioral economist Dan Ariely said a few years ago, “If you don’t have resolutions, you can’t break them.”

And yet here we are, mere hours before ringing in 2016. You want your blog to shine next year, you want to feel productive and energized, and you might think to yourself that maybe a little champagne-fueled commitment can’t hurt. And unless you’re one of the writing 1 percent — that group of three self-satisfied people who think that “writer’s block” is an actual block on which you write, prolifically — you’re right. Ceremonial rituals can’t hurt (why would anyone ever get married otherwise?).

So here are three ideas to ponder as you make — or consider making — your blogging resolutions for next year. They’re tailored to the skeptics among you, though true believers are certainly welcome to adopt and adapt them as well.

Make it about process

Every year, there are people who set out to publish a new post every week or even every single day (if that’s you, you deserve a badge!). Some follow our Daily Prompts while others come up with their own ideas. I genuinely admire anyone with that level of commitment to anything, but I also recognize that we can’t all aspire to a goal as lofty as that.

By setting up circumstances so that the good decision is the default, it takes more work to slip back into old habits.
— Scott Huettel, Duke University Psychology Department

Which is why a great resolution to make is not “I will publish every X days,” but rather “I will build an editorial calendar and stick with it.”

How detailed a calendar ends up being depends on your own temperament — for some, a loose statement like “I’ll post a couple of new recipes every month” is already more than enough. Others might need more specifics, and opt for a list or a chart to shape the serial posts they’d like to write (and their frequency), strategize how to balance their blog’s multiple niches, or make plans for contributions from guest bloggers.

The idea, in other words, is to create a framework that helps you succeed, rather than obsess over a number which you might come to see as arbitrary or even counterproductive.

Take pleasure in connections

Most of us live in cultures that valorize things you can quantify. That’s probably why writing events (and writing resolutions) often establish some numerical goal to achieve: write X words in Y days, publish Z posts over the next month, and so on.

It would be nice to change the culture, but it might take us a while. So, why not stick with numbers — but attach them to different, less output-focused goals?

If don’t already have a network of bloggers you care about and aren’t sure where to start, join one of our free Blogging U. courses in 2016 — they’re the perfect setting for finding other bloggers to interact with (while also working on your blogging or writing skills).

Sure, you can commit to three posts a week or 5,000 words a month or any other metric you feel comfortable with. But consider adding other types of goals to your list: find three new blogs to follow every week. Once a day, leave a substantive comment on someone else’s post. Try out a different blogging event every month.

You get the idea — make resolutions that push you to connect with people. These connections and stronger sense of community will only make it more likely that you meet your other, publishing-oriented goals.

Find a penalty you love

Self-flagellation shouldn’t be part of the blogging or writing process — all of us have work, family, and other obligations to attend to. Our lives are complicated, which is why they’re interesting and worth blogging about in the first place. (It’s also why you should never start a post with “Sorry I haven’t posted in so long!” — see #2 here).

Instead of feeling bad for falling behind on your publishing, find a productive way to penalize yourself. I mentioned earlier my knack for finding loopholes within my own rules. These often take the shape of bizarre, convoluted negotiations with myself: “if I don’t finish this post now, I have to spend 30 minutes looking through my photo library for featured images for future posts.” And so on.

Tip: You can start a list of to-do items for your blog, from design elements to general maintenance. That way, whenever the muses are gone for the day, you have a solid plan B.

The idea is to establish penalties that aren’t too severe (but also not too much fun, or you’ll just intentionally skip your initial plans!) and that still serve a purpose in the grand scheme of things. Come up with a couple of “if… then…” scenarios. “If I don’t publish today, then I’ll audit my tags for consistency.” “If I don’t finish creating those custom Image Widgets I’d been working on, then I’ll come up with three post ideas to explore down the line.” Your “penalty” doesn’t even have to be blog-related. A 15-minute stroll through your neighborhood is a perfect way to not write — and might just inspire your next post. Or it might not. And that’s fine, too.

Whatever your blogging resolutions for next year may be, we can’t wait to see you here in 2016! Happy new year!


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  1. I don’t seem to have a problem with scheduling, finding other blogs I’d like to follow (if only for a while), or getting my posts out timely. But, I have found myself a little disinterested in some of my topics lately. Presto! Wonderful Wordsday, a blogging event.

    I don’t do resolutions either. If I’m going to change anything for the better, I don’t wait until the end or beginning of the year. That’s ludicrous.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. These are good! Your 3rd one reminds me of the Ninjago cartoon my daughter watched where the kid couldn’t stop exercising. He would hit 200 and say, “If I don’t do 200 more, I must ….(I don’t remember his punishment but it wasn’t good). He ended up collapsing and the writer made his or her point.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you Ben for your post. As many people have mentioned here, these simple “resolutions” seem really practical. Currently I am trying to create a blogger network, and it was great to hear that Blogging U is a good way to do it. As a procrastinator myself, I need weekly goals to my post, or else I’ll always leave it for tomorrow, but after reading this post, I realized that thats shouldn’t be my only goal as a new blogger. See… I’m already applying meaningful comments on other people’s post!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. W. O. R. D !
    Besides, those bro tips are on point though. Thank you for this post. But I ain’t making any commitments since everytime I ended up making one, particularly the ones involving writing-blogging, I took slacking up to a whole new level. That being written, this year, I am just going to do it like that shoe brand.
    Survive a new year, fellow Bloggers. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This seems to be a very very realistic and nice post! It really is true that commitment (strong ones) should be made by this 2016 and every other new years but motivation must be to the utmost level! Anyway.. Would’ve want to read more of your posts by now. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great ideas you’ve shared, to reach those who have this same state of mind. Being able to just have minor self accomplishments along the way is all that any individual needs. Some bigger than others, but thats the way of life & living. This is why we all have a different role & way of achieving life happiness. Great comments & a relaxed guided plan for those to explore!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Hello,thank you so much for the good information!I’m only 17 and I’ve just started blogging,but I’m willing to learn and to discover so much more.I’ve registered for the Blogging 101 and I really hope I’ll get to find out the basics and how to atrract the public through my writing.Have a wonderful and blessed year!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I haven’t apologized for not publishing long….because I seem to so far, have a few new blog posts waiting in the hopper to be released like butterflies.

    My resolution to write blog posts like released butterflies, so that their uniqueness may hopefully readers, both returning as well as new readers. I haven’t worked aggressively on building a broader audience–though I do comment on other blogs ..a new one here and there several times per month.

    Appreciate the sustainable theme for this blog advice.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I am a “newbie ” and I feel so inadequate, I believe I don’t even have the right to write but I HAVE to, I’ll bet you know what I mean. Anyway, your blog gives me hope with these great ideas. Thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. As an additional comment to mine earlier:

    I’ve really found it helpful that allows completing blog posts and pre-scheduling a bunch in orderly fashion like a little ragtag army of soldiers. 🙂

    During these past 4 blogging years, my sister died, then 4 years. later my father. I also had an accident where I ended up in bed for several months, dizzy and unable to look at a computer screen (doctor’s orders.).

    So grief, medical problem would have not been sensed by the outside world nor appear to slow down my blogging. But in reality it did zap my motivation for different times but no reader would have known because I don’t blog about these problems as separate post topics.

    I don’t mind this illusion since I don’t expect strangers provide me much support compared to family and in-person friends. I want my words to be read, influence at any time…regardless of my blogosphere activity.

    During life’s major problems/setbacks, it’s just nice to have a nice little parcels of new blog posts ready for the world while blogger takes time out to regather with peace.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thanks for the advice. I like the part about doing something which contributes to the big picture instead of just simply penalizing ourselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I truly appreciate some realistic suggestions for encouraging blog consistency. I am horrible at maintaining my blog, I confess, and I can really make some sense of these ideas and how they might actually help me keep writing. Thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I’m brand new to blogging (about 20 days) and still not have published my first. I have about 3 blogs going (draft) but trying to still figure out all the tools and how to make it look just right. Your input is great and thx for the link to Blogging U courses.

    Liked by 3 people