The Blog Library
The Nine Words That Should Not Appear On Your Blog. Anywhere.
Meet Angry Jenika:
(Why yes, that is me wearing a shower cap covered in shaving cream. I have no explanation other than: Such things happen when you hang out with Kristen Kalp.)
Not many people ever meet Angry Jenika – but you know what the quickest way to meet her is?
To blog (or facebook, or newsletter) the following nine words:
“Sorry I haven’t blogged lately – I’ve been so busy!”
Holy. Freaking. Tizzy. Batman.
Look, I realize this is irrational. My reaction is outsized relative to the crime.
But do me a favor, okay?
Stop it. (Hear me out.)
YES: Blogging (or Facebooking or newsletter’ing) consistently is a good thing. It builds trust. It shows reliability and professionalism. It makes Google happy. It teaches people what to expect and when to come back. It acknowledges that hey, there’s a ginormous mountain of content out there and if I’m not producing regularly, people are going to forget about me and I might as well not bother at all. All these things are true.
But what happens is, you know everything I just said. And yet you don’t always blog consistently (amiright?) so you get this massive guilt cloud raining shame down upon you.
So when you do come back to blog, this shame-rain makes you feel like you have to confess, explain, or otherwise excuse your lack of consistency.
Your blog is not your mother. You don’t have to explain why you haven’t called.
The vast majority of the time, all this line – “Sorry I haven’t blogged lately….” does is call even more attention to the fact that you haven’t blogged lately.
I, your reader, don’t feel any better about you after receiving this nonpology. Most likely I didn’t notice you were gone because I also read 8,463 other things per day, but if I did, I assume that life got in the way and that you’d get around to it.
I bring this up because I land on dozens of photographers’ blogs where I start going through the archives and 7/10 posts start with lines like “It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, so….” or “I haven’t blogged since last summer (oops) hehe, sparkle sparkle…” – and so their blog is essentially nothing but a big parade of statements that they haven’t blogged.
And all this makes me think is “wow, they sound kinda flaky, maybe I shouldn’t follow this blog….”
But if each post was just a solid piece of content, I probably would never have noticed, and just would have enjoyed what they said and bookmarked for future info.
If you do need to explain, “being busy” is not an explanation.
If you normally blog 3x a week with a boatload of regular readers, and then have three weeks of radio silence, then maybe your readers would be confused, sure.
Add a simple, cheerful one-liner: “We’re back to our regularly-scheduled programming after the kiddos had an unexpected bout with Mr. Flu” or make it relevant to the post: “Hey! I’ve been in Rio this week [photo] and boy do I have tales to share!”
Not only is this far more interesting than guilt-induced bowing and scraping, it reinfuses the blog with energy and generally gets on with the show.
These human touches are good. But “busy” is not human, “busy” is just annoying. No one wants to hear how busy you are. Your readers are busy, too. And yet they’ve honored you with five minutes of their attention, so honor them back by regaling them with something other than your scheduling woes.
Also, saying you haven’t been communicating because you’ve been “busy” is vaguely insulting. It implies that you have so many cool things going on in your life that you just didn’t have time for me, your reader. That doesn’t exactly instill a warm and cuddly feeling. (For more on why “busy” is toxic, check out this article from Harvard Business Review).
Whatever you do, keep in mind that this post is going to be archived.
Most people don’t track the dates when they dig through archives, so all you do is engrave your past inconsistency for all future readers to see. So consider whether this is something your readers really need to know right now. Future readers probably don’t, at least.
If it’s a newsletter or Facebook post, I’d still avoid the word “busy,” but consider whether you truly need to offer an explanation. Just because you feel it doesn’t mean you need to say it.
Overall: Most people just want to see good stuff.
They aren’t terribly interested in your inner angst about whether you’re bloggging or social media’ing often enough. They just want to see what you’re up to that’s cool, and feel like they can rely on you to be cool. Far better than saying “Sorry I’ve been busy” is just to provide something awesome and calendar in time to be consistent in the future.
And if you can’t or don’t want to be consistent – own it. Admit it. Let go of the angst, it shows through anyway. Blog when you blog. Move to a quarterly newsletter. Hire out social media. It’s okay. The world is not sitting there tapping its foot waiting to hear from you – it’s waiting to be dazzled. Connected. Loved. Served. Just focus on that, okay?
Then Angry Jenika can go back to only appearing when people use their phones in movie theaters. 😉
Angry Jenika – out.
P.S. If you’d like to learn how to write a blog post in 20 minutes, check out Irresistible Words.
The shaving cream photo reminded me of a song I lip sinc’d in 6th grade… the chorus line was – Shaving Cream, be nice and clean, shave every day and you’ll always look clean.
Oh, how I needed to read this. Thank you. I haven’t written in almost a week (my usual is 5/wk) and I couldn’t get to the writing in my head without getting through an explanation first. Now considering your advice, I’m just going to write. TADA!
Holy freakin’ amen!!!! I have thought the same exact thing for so long! I hate going to read a blog post and see that opening liner. We are all busy, that’s life, don’t remind me. I hope a bazillion people read this! Thank you for writing this! 🙂
Great tips! I agree 100%. There is no such excuse as “being busy”. If you really WANT to do something you will find the time to do it!
Amen! This is seriously one of my biggest pet peeves. And I know I was guilty of it in the beginnings of my blog, but I stopped when I started seeing all over other people’s blogs. And suddenly when I began to see that as a consumer I realized all those tacky things that you’ve pointed out so nicely here. Thanks for the awesome post, as usual!
I heard of the ‘touch it once’ idea in relation to emails a few years ago and it’s something I have found particularly helpful. I’d never thought to apply it to education! What a great idea, excuse me while I slink away to finish Irresistible Words…. 😉
So sorry! I replied to the wrong blogpost!!!! haha
This is so true! For any platform.
My sister and I also have a vlog and our only rule for ourselves is not making videos about how we haven’t made videos. So many people do this!
After all as a reader when the blogger/vlogger/newsletter is back we want to hear more of what they’re good at… not excuses.
great tip and I always feel guilty not posting on my blog enough but will no longer feel I have to apologise! thank you!
I LOVE this post Jenika! Showcasing poor time management on your blog like that is NOT a good idea.
I agree! except for one thing: I’m a sporadic blogger and I’m sure my loyal readers are quite used to that and they don’t seem to mind. Still, when I blog, the views are good. Post tags. They do wondrous things such as bring in new people who haven’t the faintest idea or concern about how long it’s been since your last post. No, you won’t disappear into nothingness if you’re sporadic or away for a while. No, you don’t have to be regular. Yes, we all have plenty of other things to read. I prefer blogs that aren’t too constant, to be honest. I can’t stand to go read a blog post that sounds like filler just so the blogger is constant. Waste of my time.
Hey Loraine! Thanks for your note!
I don’t think we actually disagree; I’m saying consistency (e.g. expectation-setting) is important, not regularity. If you’re consistently sporadic, you’ve set an expectation for how often they should hear from you so they know that they should come back later. That’s what I was arguing for at the end – if you can’t or don’t want to blog regularly then own it.
I also can’t stand filler. I understand why people do it. But if they feel compelled to create filler, they should just set a new standard of consistency (“now blogging 2x a month instead of 4”) so people know when to come back.
I get what you’re saying though – that you can leave without explanation and come back. Of course. I think so doing will probably lose you a far amount of traffic unless you do it regularly and people know that they should come back. You’re hurt the most amongst new readers who haven’t made visiting your site a habit yet…if you’ve already got a pack of faithful followers then they’ll probably wander back. I do think expectation setting is a good principle to be teaching though, so that’s why I wrote what I did 🙂
Jenika, agreed! And if you’re sporadic, you should have the email when updated option available. I shared your tag line blog on my FB page. Great post! Glad I found you through Project Underblog.
Thank you!!!! I needed to hear (or read) this. I do feel guilt, but I will never say sorry for being “busy” again. I truly just hate blogging.
I’ve never really thought of it like that, but so true! I’m going to have to go and check my blog now and see just how much I’ve done this, if I have done this on my business blog, I know I do it too much on my personal blog 🙂 Thank you!
So true! That’s why I also omitted the dates at the posts in my blog. I am not sure that they were of interest to anyone, let alone they were giving away if I was late in blogging or not!
I found your blog through themoderntog.com top 10 blogs of 2014 and I absolutely love your writing style already!
When I started off with some of my other projects I made some of the above mistakes listed but the whole “Sorry, I’ve been busy.” line is a total cop-out on most peoples part. I let go of that line a long time because seriously with my day job and my personal life and side businesses yes I may be busy but so is everyone else.
Personally this is my favorite segment though – “And if you can’t or don’t want to be consistent – own it. Admit it. Let go of the angst, it shows through anyway. Blog when you blog.”
I found out a long time ago if I try writing when I’m not in the mood or really feeling the topic it becomes harder and harder to write and stay focused on the subject. However when I get that feeling of being creative at a certain time I put pen to paper and let the words flow.
Makes sense. I read (sorry, cant remember the book) that when starting presentations, even if you’re late, dont start with an apology and explaining why you’re late. It diminishes your credibility. Good advice.
I know for many people it is hard to remember WHEN to blog. You get caught up in your day to day life and work that it just sometimes slips. I found it really helpful to set a weekly reminder when my blog post is due using the Asana to-do list app.
It is just a gentle reminder that I am do for a post. Personally, I try to post once a week. Whether that be client sessions, or information that my potential clients will find useful!
Thank you so much for the great advice!
OMG, thank you for this post! I am embarrassed to realize that this is so me! And after reading this, I realized I hate it too. I just went back through my blog posts and deleted some of those sentences. At first I wondered if that was something I should do, but then I thought, “hey, it’s my blog” 🙂
So thank you again!
I had a yoga instructor recently tell me, “I hate when I ask people ‘How have you been?’ and they respond, ‘Oh, just SO busy!’ – it’s like their time and to do’s are more important than anyone else’s.” It was a slap in the face but ironically a welcome because I know I had been guilty of that. It really was selfish of me and honestly a little pretentious to think people were sitting around their computers waiting for me to post… and if we really are all “so busy,” then goodness knows I don’t need to make excuses or remind people of my whereabouts because it’s LIFE for cryin’ out loud. I think for myself I felt like I was falling behind; but once I realized I was taking time to produce quality work, I didn’t feel that at all. Great post and thanks for getting this out there!
Dagnamit! I’m afraid this is me from time to time. I love my blog, it’s a great asset to my business but when I’m shooting lots it gets neglected. I’m guilty as charged for apologising to my ‘readers’ and making weak excuses! Thanks for the post, really good to get a sharp rap on the knuckles to steer me in the right direction! x
OMG – I could not agree more!!!!!! Thank you for this awesome article.