Freedom is a perk to travel blogging that lured many of us to the profession. We’re free to travel where we want, write what we want, and we don’t have a pesky boss peering over our shoulder.
Who would have guessed that freedom could become a source of stress?
If you’ve been blogging for long, then you understand that freedom from management, deadlines, and corporate guidelines can backfire. When you become your own boss, it’s all on you to manage your time, create deadlines, and stick to a schedule that allows you to make progress with your goals.
So, you haven’t written a blog post in over a week. But the sun is shining, and you want to be outside! Another day won’t hurt, right?
Your site design seriously needs an upgrade. But contacting and vetting designers sounds exhausting, so you choose to focus on less challenging (and less pressing) tasks, like Facebook.
Your inbox is overflowing with messages from readers and potential partners. You should spend an hour answering them, but you’re enjoying the process of editing photos from your latest trip. So you ignore your inbox for another day.
These scenarios probably sound familiar. In each of these cases, it would be helpful if a boss was waiting on the task that needed completion. But when you become your own boss, no one is going to put the pressure on but you. (Unless you’re working for brands or tourism boards who expect you to meet certain deadlines — but even then, as a contract worker, it’s all too easy to let those deadlines slide.)
So how do you hold yourself accountable as a blogger?
Members of the TBS course, Blogger to Bylines: A Guide to Freelance Writing, recently participated in a group challenge that demonstrated the power of accountability. They set goals, checked-in with each other, and saw incredible results.
Let’s take a look at some of the lessons we learned about accountability, and how you can apply these tactics to your blog.
Set goals and make them public.
At the start of our pitch challenge, participants were asked to set a goal for the number of pitches they hoped to send each week, and record that number in a public Google doc. By making our goals public, not only did we know whether we were meeting our own goals — everyone else did, too. Watching other people record their number of pitches each week was great incentive to send our own.
Sometimes the best first step you can take to tackling a big challenge is telling people you’re going to do it. Once you’ve made that information public, other people will know if you don’t follow through. And since we all have a natural inclination to want our peers to see us succeed, making it public forces us to take the necessary steps towards success.
Need some motivation to start planning your next big trip? Tell your newsletter subscribers that you’ll be outlining your itinerary next week.
Not all of your goals have to be public, though. Create a list of short and long-term goals. If there is a big one that you need motivation for getting started on, find a way to make that one public. Tell your friends, your family, your dog… whoever will be interested in knowing whether you stick to your goal. (So, maybe not your dog.)
Having a community of peers gives you a supportive place to make your goals public. Speaking of community…
Find a community and check-in often.
Here at Travel Blog Success, we’re all about community. TBS members understand the power of connecting with peers and having a place where they can ask questions, discuss challenges, share ideas, and collaborate.
Travel bloggers, for the most part, are independent workers. We work from our laptops, wherever we find ourselves. That might be a co-working space, a coffee shop, or a hostel kitchen. Wherever we are, we aren’t often surrounded by others who do what we do.
Thanks to this great invention called The Internet, however, we’re able to connect with a community of peers — just like we would in an office.
By connecting with communities of like-minded entrepreneurs, we stay motivated to work hard by bouncing inspiration off each other. You see someone else succeeding, and you want to succeed, too! When you’re struggling, those people are there to pick you up, offer advice, and get you back on track.
Travel Blog Success is currently working on an exciting new resource for our members that will allow for smaller groups to form and keep each other accountable. If you’re not familiar with the concept of Mastermind Groups, this article from Forbes will get you caught up. In short, they are small, dedicated groups that meet digitally on a regular basis to navigate their individual challenges together. TBS members have expressed an interest in making these available, so we’re making it happen!
Stay tuned for more information about TBS Mastermind groups. For now, our Facebook group is an excellent community to help keep you accountable. You can also find groups related to your specific industry through sites like Meetup.com.
Give yourself incentive.
Everyone loves to win stuff! For the Blogger to Bylines Pitch Challenge, TBS offered prizes for each week and a final prize for the most pitches sent by the end of the month.
Since travel blogging and freelance writing can both involve a long period of trial and error before we see quantifiable success, like finally being published in a big travel magazine, or forming your first partnership with a travel brand, it helps to give yourself incentives along the way.
When I need to get something done, I often set a timer. I especially like using SelfControl which blocks distracting sites like Twitter and Facebook while I focus on writing. Then I promise myself a small incentive when I’ve made it to the end of that time. It can be something as small as a nice long walk after you’ve finished a blog post, or something as big as buying yourself that new camera you’ve been eyeing once the redesign of your site is complete.
What kind of incentives will motivate you? Give yourself a reason to work for smaller goals.
Feel like you need another cup of coffee right now? Make yourself check off three small tasks from your to-do list before you fill that mug!
Keep your eye on the big picture — literally!
I love whiteboards. I also love chalkboards. I also love big walls that I can write and doodle all over and no one will scold me for it. (A dream come true for eight-year-old me that apparently still applies, today.)
Professionally, I love to use these spaces to map out my goals — both big and small — in a way that is visual and easy to reference on a daily basis. By having things like to-do lists, goals, and even brainstorming right in front of my face while I work, I can’t ignore my priorities.
There are so many options for tracking things like goals and schedules online these days. But when you’re already checking in on 2,561 websites daily, they can quickly become buried in the rest of the stuff you should be working on.
Consider investing in a big white board or chalk board. Your eight-year-old self will thank you, and your adult self can start writing down priorities in a way that is big and visual. (Don’t be afraid to doodle, too.)
Members who participated in the Blogger to Bylines Pitch challenge saw amazing results from setting goals, incentivizing, and holding themselves accountable. Participants broke into new publications, landed paying gigs, and found grooves that will allow them to continue to see results.
“Thanks to last month’s pitch challenge I’ve had pitches accepted/expressions of interest for publications like Westjet, Refinery29, Saltscapes, and TERN. Definitely the motivation I needed!” – Candice Walsh of Free Candie
If you’re not a member of TBS yet, check off something big on your list this week by taking advantage of our Fall Sale! You’ll save over $150 on a membership to TBS, and you’ll suddenly have access to a huge community of fellow bloggers who will help hold you accountable on all of your blogging endeavors.
Partner courses, including Blogger to Bylines: A Guide to Freelance Writing, are also 35% off!
So, how are you going to hold yourself accountable for your daily tasks and your big goals? Tell us one thing you hope to accomplish this week in the comments below, and we’ll help you stay on track!