Sam Holstein

If You’re Struggling as a Blogger, You’re Not Alone

If You’re Struggling as a Blogger, You’re Not Alone

People frequently talk about how great it is to strike out on your own and do something unique with your life, whether it’s becoming a blogger, entrepreneur, or rockstar. It’s not very often people talk about the shame that comes with it.

As an aspiring blogger, I feel a lot of shame. I’m 26 years old and live with my parents while I am working on building a six-figure blogging business. I’m past the five-figure mark, but I’m far from six figures. When my friends tell me they bought their first house, I feel like I’m a failure and a loser.

These feelings don’t reflect the facts. I may not have a house, but I have a published book, an online course, and 3,500 highly engaged newsletter subscribers. As anyone who’s tried to create those things knows, that’s hard to do (unless you really know what you’re doing).

What’s really funny about all this is I don’t even care. Homeownership has never been a goal of mine, and I really enjoy living with my family. I’m potentially starting a full-time job in December that will come with a full-time salary (in addition to running my blogging business), and I have no plans to move out.

Despite this, I still feel ashamed I’m not a six-figure blogger yet.

Ben Shapiro says facts don’t care about your feelings. Well, feelings often don’t care about the facts, either. Sometimes checking the facts helps bring unregulated emotions back under control, but sometimes checking the facts just demonstrates your feelings don’t care about the facts. The fact is that I have nothing to be ashamed of, but I still feel ashamed.

What drives all this shame (for me at least) is the feeling that if I were better at this, I’d be making six figures.

Some people are able to start blogging and six months later be making six figures. I’m not one of them. I’ve been blogging for three years and nine months and my revenue this year to date is $12,616 across all sales channels. That’s great fun money for a side hustle, but a dismal failure to create a six-figure blogging business.

Here’s another fact: Reaching audacious goals like becoming a six-figure blogger takes time. People who reach that goal faster than me invariably do so because they have advantages I don’t.

They usually don’t have a personality disorder, for one thing. The further I progress through treatment for borderline personality disorder, the more I realize how much it’s held me back in life. Anyone who’s ever been diagnosed with a major mental illness knows what it’s like to have to come to terms with the life you could have lived if only you’d gotten diagnosed and treated sooner. It’s a huge, painful feeling. I try to focus on being thankful I was diagnosed and treated now at the tender age of 26, instead of being diagnosed decades later or not at all.

Despite how difficult and slow-going the progress is, I’m determined not to give up. I believe for someone who refuses to give up, it is impossible to fail. As long as each attempt is better than the last, I will get there sooner or later.

Blogging is about more than making a buck for me. It’s about living in a way that makes it possible for my dreams to come true. Since I was young, I dreamed of being a nonfiction writer who entertains, educates, and enlightens millions of readers. Building a blogging business gives me the best chance of being that nonfiction writer for a living, regardless of what my annual revenue was this year.

The most crazy-making thing about blogging is that you never know when you will hit your goal. My boyfriend is in graduate school for his history degree, and his career path is fairly predictable: graduate his master’s program, find a job as a history researcher, begin and complete his doctoral work, find a job as a postdoctorate researcher, dream achieved. He estimates this will take him around five years.

How long will it take me to achieve my dream? No idea. I could still be a struggling writer ten years from now. Maybe this post will go megaviral and publishers will offer me $100,000 advances to write my memoir tomorrow. Maybe something else totally unexpected will happen. There’s no way to know.

That uncertainty adds to my shame, too. “Serious” people with “real” jobs have “plans.” They “know” where they “are headed” in life. Air quotes because, as my boyfriend with “a plan” points out, there is no way to know what the future holds.

If you feel ashamed of yourself because you’re working hard at blogging and don’t feel you have a lot to show for it, you’re not alone. Here is what we need to do:

Never give up. We can’t cross the finish line if we’re not even running.

Be better every day. A mediocre unsuccessful blogger who blogs for ten years will still be a mediocre unsuccessful blogger ten years from now if they don’t get better. One percent better every day is 100% better one hundred days from now. We only need to be one percent better today.

Work smart. Being one percent better isn’t enough. We need to be one percent better at the right things. I’ve focused on being a one-percent-better writer every day. Now I have great technical writing skills. My blogging business is still broke. I should have focused on being a one-percent-better businessperson, too. (That’s what I’m going to spend the next few years worrying about).

I know this kind of unstructured blog post about feelings isn’t what the experts say to write. But I’m tired of pumping out content at the blogging slot machine. Today, I wanted to write something to express my feelings and maybe strike a chord with other tired bloggers. Consider this an experiment. I’ll look at my stats page after it’s published to see what the data has to say.