Get Real: How to Beat Blogging Perfectionism


Perfectionism…the persistence which keeps great artists at their easels until their creation matches their conception” W.C. Roedell

A little perfectionism in terms of our blog’s appearance is something I’m sure we’ve all struggled with. You want it to look professional, but not like you tried to hard; you want to include all the important elements, but you don’t want it to look cluttered; you want to be original, but little to no html knowledge limits your options; and you know your content is great, if only people would take your blog’s design seriously…

You may think a bit of perfectionism isn’t all bad and, yes, it can often inspire and encourage you to reach your best, but, according to Elliot Adderholt perfectionism is actually a major factor of underachievement. He focuses on five characteristics of this, which I think are common consequences of blogging perfectionism:

  • Procrastination; ‘I’ll save that great post idea until my layout is more impressive.’
  • Fear of failure; ‘There are so many huge blogs out there already, what’s the point of even trying?’
  • The all-or-nothing mindset; ‘What’s the good of having 100 subscribers? I’m nobody until I have 100,000.
  • Paralysed perfectionism; I’m so afraid of getting it wrong… I think I’ll just hold out for a better idea…’
  • Workaholism; ‘I’m tired and it’s past midnight, but just one more hour to get this perfect…’

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly seen all of these characteristics in myself throughout my blogging journey, and know that they are all counterproductive to real success. Blogging takes a lot of energy, and sapping ourselves dry by tweaking and twiddling insignificant areas of our layout is one drain we could do without.

If we could be at last satisfied with our blogs appearance, we’d have more time to focus on the important things, such as content, SEO, traffic building, subscriber numbers and monetization.

So, how do we beat it? What are the ways that we can whip our blogs (and ourselves) into shape, overcome the elements of underachievement, and see some serious success without obsessing over every detail? Here are a few ideas:

If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.” Ivan Turgenev.

Start now, even if the idea isn’t finalised, even if you’re scared of the outcome; you’ve got to jump in head first, make mistakes and learn from them, or else you’ve totally stunted the possibility of progress.

Go with your first instincts. Generally, our rawest, most ‘in the moment’ ideas are the truest to ourselves; the more we question and talk around them, the more we talk ourselves out of them, and the right decision becomes totally obscured. Run with your first instinct, it can always be changed later.

Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS). Don’t set yourself up with a layout you can’t actually maintain on a day to day basis. If you’re not a webmaster, even customising a blogspot blog can be a real headache, so stick with simplicity. You couldn’t get much simpler than my current layout at Charade and yet I’ve never been happier with it, when I tried to do more, it just didn’t work with my limited skills.

Don’t compare your blog to anyone else’s. If you do go down this route, you’ll always find someone doing it better. Trust in your own ability, marvel at your own progress, and celebrate your own achievements. If you do find yourself envious of a top blog; use it. Find out what it is that they’re doing so well and channel it positively into your own blogging adventure.

It’s the content that counts. If you’re going to put your perfectionist energy anywhere, it has to be into the content. Spend your free hours tweaking an article rather than that tricky widget. A brilliantly written and engaging blog with a poor layout is far more likely to succeed than a fantastically designed site with nothing to offer anyone. Although aesthetics are important, you want to create value and a reason for readers to keep coming back above anything else.

Do you have any points to add on beating blogging perfectionism? Is it something you’ve struggled with?

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33 Responses

  1. Stylish Thought

    I needed to read this article as THIS VERY MOMENT! I’ve been contemplating doing a redesign for the last few weeks and reading this I’ve realized that my blog doesn’t really need it . I’ve changed Stylish Thought several times and each time it’s gotten better, but you’re exactly right when you write “It’s the content that matters!” While I’ll still tweak it, I won’t obsess over the design as much as I have and not compare myself to other blogs… Great post and great advice for bloggers.

    Stylish Thought’s last blog post..The Life of Ms. Thought

  2. Ashe Mischief

    This is a really great post for so many reasons– in many ways, I don’t know that any blog or website is perfect– it really means we have to let go of things that just can’t be fixed or that will stress us out, and for us to focus on the things that work well.

    I particularly love your points about going with our instincts and keeping it simple. For some reason, it seems like our society is moving more and more away from that, but struggling to move more and more towards it.

    Ashe Mischief’s last blog post..Mischief, My Dear Shop– On Vacation!

  3. lisa

    Great post. For me, it’s always been about content over layout. I think the people who are uber-obsessive over layout should keep in mind that there are many blog visitors out there who subscribe to RSS feeds and therefore might not even SEE your perfected widgets or beautifully laid out sidebar! Harsh but true.

    lisa’s last blog post..So Many Summer Sales…

  4. Gabrielle

    Love the post.

    I completely agree with the point about not comparing your blog to others. It can be intimidating when you see all these big, popular blogs and you then you look at yours and wonder if it will ever be that big.

    I think it’s all about finding your niche. The beauty of blogging is that it’s personal. You just have to find out what you love, what you’re good at, and how to reach the people who feel the same.

    And with new internet apps/websites like twitter, or even IFB, it’s becoming increasingly easy to target your blog to the right crowd. I definitely recommend checking out some of the SEO resources on this website.

    Gabrielle’s last blog post..Colonel Gaddafi Exhibits His Magnum Opus Titled “Ball Sweat On Canvas” At The Tate Modern

  5. Lauren

    Lovely article, really great. It’s so easy to over edit… quite often, however, I get so caught up in the writing that the editting can be forgotten! I need a happy medium!
    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..Wedding Fayre… =-.

  6. HauteWorld

    I agree that content should be a priority. When I started blogging, I coudldn’t wait to post and just used a standard blogger template. I gradually changed the layout bit by bit, so the blog design has evolved along with the content. I’m not sure I could have done it any other way or else I never would have started posting. At the end of the day, if I’m engrossed in someone else’s blog, the last thing I’ll look at is their widgets or what font they’re using.
    .-= HauteWorld´s last blog ..Miriam Ponsa (Barcelona, Spain) =-.

  7. Alicia

    Thanks for this. I’m NOTORIOUS for switching layouts when content should be the main focus. Now that I’ve settled on something fairly simple, I find that I get a lot more done. =D
    .-= Alicia´s last blog ..Hiatus Over =-.

  8. super kawaii mama

    FANTASTIC post! This one one that everyone needs to read. Too many people gets themselves in knots trying to get it perfect and forget about the content along the way.

  9. Frank Carr

    In professional software and web development we have a term called ‘creeping featuritis’ that means keeping adding features onto a project until it become unmaintainable. I’ve seen a number of bloggers fall into this trap.

    Another thing to consider is that constantly swapping themes or tweaking them can have a negative impact on your internal SEO. Only make small, gradual, changes if you must make changes. Wholesale changes can send a blog that’s on page 1 back to page 8 or worse.

  10. Mikelle Street

    Thanks for the advice I am CONSTANTLY procrastinating… and I really don’t have any evidence of a good readership so I use this as an escuse to not post.

  11. Ambar

    This is a really good article. I’ve just started, so I’m still learning and articles like this are very helpful.

  12. vinda

    yes. sometimes i do spent too much time tweaking an entry. i feel afraid that it’ll look bad. thank you to this article, now i realized that perfectionism is, although important, should be put aside compared to the good contents. :)
    .-= vinda´s last blog ..haven’t seen you since monday. =-.


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