It’s okay to say no + other tips for maintaining your sanity

Today’s post is rather short (but hopefully sweet) and ties in a bit with my previous post on Blogger Organization.  It seems that it is so easy to get wrapped up in the blogging world – not necessarily a bad thing, but I’ve seen it effect myself and other bloggers negatively from time to time.  Because of this I have a few little reminders that I try to keep in mind.  They’ve helped me maintain my sanity in the blog eat blog world we operate in…and I hope that maybe they will help you too!

1. Only read (or link to) blogs that make you feel inspired and good about yourself.  I would be almost embarrassed to put this out there, except for the fact that every blogger I’ve personally talked to has shared the same feelings with me, and that is this: not all blogs (even the most popular ones) leave you with a good feeling and are worth spending your time on.  Yes, they might be pretty to look, have thousands or millions of followers and probably don’t mean any harm, but do you feel better about yourself and your life after a visit to their site?  I believe it is an important question to ask yourself.  After all, it is you who gets to choose what you will allow to influence your life, so why not be picky and invite only positive things in.  Once I personally determined which sites were causing me to doubt myself or feel like my or my life wasn’t good enough, I simply stopped visiting them.  It was a bit odd at first, but honestly my world feels a whole lot brighter now, and I am so glad I took action for myself.

2. It’s okay to say “no.”  At some point in time you will likely be asked to post something for someone (sales pitches, giveaways, non-profit causes, etc) or to create content for another site or publication (guest posts, magazine features, etc).  It’s great and exciting when people and businesses are taking an interest in you and your blog, but it can also feel as though saying no is impossible (even when your hands are already full and/or you don’t care for their products or site).  But the truth is that no matter how tough it is, you can and you should be picky about the content you share.  For me, this means that I don’t write about anything or provide content for any site/publication that my heart isn’t into.  I guess I realized pretty early on that if I were to post every single thing that came into my inbox or provided content to everybody who wanted it, I would be sold out and burnt out in no time at all.  So even though it is scary, and you might feel like you are throwing away an opportunity (especially when you are first starting out), but I really believe that it is worth it to stick to your guns and trust your instinct.

Tip: If you don’t want to give a hard no, you can always let the person/business know that you are not currently interested but you are open to receiving contact from them in the future.  This might be a little bit easier to manage and will not likely leave anyone harboring negative feelings towards you and your site.

3. Remember to take time for self-reflection.  In the busy, often over-stimulating online world it is very easy to get swept up in the shuffle for more posts, better content, newer ideas, etc.  For me remembering to take time to sit with my own ideas and not invite other people’s concepts of success or brilliance to overtake me is something that I often struggle with.  The two things that help me most of all with this are:

  1. Limiting the number of blogs I actually do read.  This isn’t because I don’t like other blogs…but because I personally want to know that the content I’m coming up with is my own and wasn’t inadvertently influenced by another blogger.  Not that finding inspiration in another blogger is bad either, but for my own sanity and peace of mind I like to know that I am being true to myself on a real level and not allowing myself to be fully formed by what is going on around me.  I guess you could say I’m choosy.
  2. And keeping a notebook for jotting down little ideas, inspirations and such that I can revisit whenever I want to.  This can be anything as simple as key words and sketches, to full post text and more.  It’s my little space to be as random and dream as much as I want to, and since it is always there I can rest easy every day knowing that I’m not forgetting something important.  If you don’t already have a little notebook to jot down your thoughts, I highly recommend picking one up.  It doesn’t need to be fancy…I actually prefer something that isn’t, so I’m not worried about messing it up.

I hope that you will find my little tips helpful as you continue on your blogging journey and navigate the almost always wonderful blog world.  Do you have any special tips for keeping your sanity as a blogger?  I’d love for you to share any advice and thoughts you might have in the comment section bellow.  xo Ez

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27 Comments

  1. vintagegirl / / Reply

    as always your posts are helpful and understandable.
    i love your blog and all the information you give to fellow bloggers.
    hope you are having a beautiful day,
    xoxoxoxxo

  2. Traveling Mama / / Reply

    This is really, really great! wow, EZ. Thanks so much for putting yourself out there like that. I still feel like I have so much to learn!

  3. Brooke H / / Reply

    Thank you! This was very helpful, its always so hard for me to say no and not feel bad about it, but I need to learn to take care of myself first and not let people take advantage.

  4. Rebecca / / Reply

    This is such great advice! While i have a small blog following, i don’t mind. People who are inspired will read, just like i read various blogs for certain reasons. I have finally found the courage to say ‘no’ and feel good about it too!

    Oh- and i have a notebook for my ideas, along with various pieces of paper all over my corkboards!

  5. liz t. / / Reply

    so very helpful as always Ez. Saying no is hard to do, but like you said, important for the sake of preserving our sanity. :)

    Thank you for this awesome post!

  6. Ellie / / Reply

    I’m just starting out (your idea about the journal occurred to me too the other day, oddly enough lol) and one of the things I’ve been doing is bookmarking things I come across. I have separate folders for artists, photographers, unique stores, DIY projects, and what I call "sources" (usually magazines, or curate photo sites). If labeled and described correctly, I think it can be a good practice especially for those days you’re not sure what to blog about, and even more effective when coupled with the journal. I also have a folder called "current" that I constantly delete and remake – when I’m searching for things for that day’s post, I dump my finds in there, that way I can move on and not worry about losing the link-back. When I’m all done, I delete it and make a new one.

    It’s taken me a little long to realize it, but organization does help you keep your sanity lol. Anyway, thanks a lot for taking the time to do these posts b/c it really helps ALOT :)

    <3 ellie

  7. jan / / Reply

    i totally agree with you Ez – I was following some blogs (because they were popular) – but they weren’t making me feel good/inspirational – or the blogger wasn’t; so I finally decided to let go, and I’m so much more happier now.

    Loving this series.

  8. amy / / Reply

    i couldn’t agree more about limiting the number of blogs to be read in a day! :) that and if it isn’t working – change. ie. i’ve realized over the last almost year of blogging that it is so so fun and great for me creatively – but it’s not quite right. so i’m hard at work on a new project that involves blogging, but doesn’t put it so front and center. i know this will increase my happiness yet still giving me the creative outlet i’ve come to love.

  9. Marichelle / / Reply

    Excellent advice Ez AND definitely a big amen to #1 :)
    OK back to cleaning/organizing the house, just taking a little break from my make believe nesting-instinct!

  10. france / / Reply

    thanks for this. although i’ve been blogging a long time i don’t take it very seriously. i’ve never really thought much about who reads my blog and some of these things don’t apply to me, but i really like the etiquette portion. I am guilty of forgetting links and i do think that saying i got it "somewhere" is not good enough. your organization post will surely help me to become a better, kinder blogger:)

  11. ilene / / Reply

    i’m still growing my blog and keeping up with my own shop have kept me pretty darn busy so this was good advice for me to mull over. thanks so much for your own quality content!!!

  12. Natalie Jost / / Reply

    I think this is my favorite post of this series. :) Such important things we don’t think about when blogging. I’m curious though, about the difference between personal blogging and blogging for a living. I don’t follow you too closely, but I think I remember you saying once that this blog drives a majority of your income, so if that’s true, I’m, so much more impressed that you’re able to relax and be true to yourself. I can imagine the pressure to keep sponsors happy to keep bread on the table. It’s much easier for me to take time for myself I think than if my blog were my primary source of income. Working bloggers have a harder time in this way I would think. No?

  13. Brandi / / Reply

    Thanks so much! I have been enjoying your blog how-tos. I think you do a wonderful job of providing relevant information with sincerity and honesty and I appreciate it. Especially being a fellow blogger, these tips have been inspiring and oh so helpful.

  14. Emily Boyd / / Reply

    What useful advice! Especially about being asked to blog about peoples products. I’m getting so tired of feeling guilty about being asked to advertise…that’s not what my blog’s about. It wouldn’t be as bad if it was products which would fit or I was genuinely attracted to design wise, but it’s for software and horrid bed linen. It really makes me sad when that appears in my inbox.

    I also totally agree that you should only read/link to blogs that you are really inspired by and not be swayed by the number of followers. Some of my favourite blogs only have a few…though that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love my list to grow. But hey, not all readers follow do they? So it’s pointless getting het up about it.

    Your advice on reflection, I should also follow, I get so depressed when I get blocked with my design work and I would definitely put part of the block down to over exposure to other peoples designs. It’s inspiring yes, but it also gives you a complex about your abilities. Thus why, despite being a jeweller, I rarely blog jewellery. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s a self preservation thing.

    Anyway, thank you so much for this advice, this is the first time I’ve read your blog, so I will be reading backwards for a bit. But it really does help when someone writes down and almost okay’s something you already know. Blogs, in the end need to be fun. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it! – Emily

  15. Casey / / Reply

    I have really been enjoying your Guide for Better Blogging posts! Even though I’ve been blogging in some form or another since 2004, I certainly do not know it all and have learned a few things from your insight as well as been reminded of a lot! I really appreciate this post, especially from the standpoint of picking and choosing which blogs you read/follow. I recently went through and whittled my blog reading list down a lot–at one point I think I have subscribed to nearly 400 blogs! Needless to say, opening up Google Reader after two days away and finding over 1000 posts just wasn’t cutting it any more. Not that I didn’t enjoy these blogs, but they no longer spoke to me, and it just stressed me out. So I started to slowly (and I mean slowly–it’s taken me six months!) to pick which ones I really enjoyed. Not only for their content, but the blogger’s personality and whether I felt inspired when I read it. Whether a blog is popular or not doesn’t matter to me–it’s the content that counts!

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

  16. Ez / / Reply

    Wow! Thanks so much for all your great comments and thoughts guys! It is so nice to see that some of what I’m sharing is helpful. :-)
    @ Natalie Jost – You are certainly right…blogging as a pastime has distinct differences from blogging as a profession. There is pressure to be sure that there is fresh content and that advertisers are happy…but it seems to me that those things kind of fall underneath the umbrella of blogging from the heart. If I hadn’t adopted this mentality early on then I’m sure I would have lost the interest and stamina for blogging a long time ago. So yes, there is more to think / worry about as a "professional" blogger, and I definitely don’t always get it right or even remember my own rules…but when I do things always seem to flow a lot better.
    xo Ez

  17. Felicity / / Reply

    I love your first point and I can totally relate. Last week I unsubscribed to all of the "big" blogs, except for yours and one other one. Seriously, it was becoming a burden reading so many blogs and while they are certainly pretty I didn’t feel like I was getting much out of them. Also, I feel like reading too many blogs stifles my own creativity. I was spending so much time looking at what everyone else is up to, when that time would be better spent creating and working on my own projects. It feels so refreshing now to have a clean slate.

  18. Vicki in AZ / / Reply

    This is just so sweet of you to write this it really is helpful and gives me so much to think about.

  19. Kitty @ lavender playground / / Reply

    I think what you said is so true, I’m doing some of the things you have suggested, like choosing the blogs that I really read. Otherwise I feel it is much to much and I will be influenced about what I post. I found that after I started posting what I really want to post, I feel happier about blogging. Blogging should not be so stressful!
    By the way, what do you feel about people who leave comments on your blog saying "visit my blog and follow me" ? I always feel kind of awkward about those comments, I’ve never wrote that on anyones blog, but I’ve received them.

  20. Jeanelle / / Reply

    Thanks for this post Ez! I started my blog last year and I committed a lot of blog no no's like sending my stuff to any blogs, and even making it my goal to get more readers. But after having a chat with myself about what I really want, I concluded that I blog for the enjoyment it and to have a creative outlet for myself. And like you said in your post, I stopped trying to look at what is in right now & modifying my style, and just concentrate in developing my own personal style. Thanks for all the great advice :)

  21. marta / / Reply

    ez.. i'm just now catching up on these incredible blogging tips! thank you for sharing your wealth of experience and wisdom in this blogworld realm. i always feel badly that i can't "keep up" with as many blog as i'd like, but find that i enjoy creating my blog possibly a wee bit more than browsing other blogs. (there are readers. and there are writers.) i'm so glad to hear that maybe my non-reading billions of blogs may a good thing. you inspire me to be me, which i love. and i definitely leave this space feeling uplifted. amen about the non-fabulous-feelings from blah bloggers.

  22. Elizabeth Rose / / Reply

    Hello Ez,
    Thank you so much for this post. I've just begun my own blog and still trying to figure out what I really want out of it. Not to mention what can really be deemed 'successful.'' I truly appreciate your advice and look forward to more.
    Sincerely
    Erose

  23. sharon / / Reply

    thanks for that post I really needed that. I'm pretty new at blogging (6 months) and I got swept away with it pretty quickly! Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by what's out there, and more recently by the demands (which I'm so flattered by), but like anything else in life it's all about the balance!

    Have a great day!
    xo
    Sharon

  24. mshunz / / Reply

    Thanksss.. :) it's so helping.. yes, i decided not to follow one popular blog with thousand of followers just because i don't get anything essensial from it.. guess i'm not a weird person then.. ^^ i will also making one blog about education.. hope i can get it long well too.. ^^

    GBU

  25. Holly / / Reply

    This was such a well written reflection and I really found it to be spot on. I've been blogging since May of 2011 and have really enjoyed it a lot. I've looked back on some of my first posts and it's been nice to see how much I have evolved. I was approached by someone to do a guest post at one point and I had never interacted with this person before at all, so I kindly declined but thanked them for the interest. So that was me exercising "no" which was really hard but I wanted to stay true to myself. I also really agree with you about limiting the number of blogs that one actually reads. I've made some wonderful friendships through blogging and I visit those friends often, but there are those that I just don't enjoy anymore and haven't visited much, so I'm going to put cleaning up my Google Reader list onto my to do list. Oh and I just got a marble copybook like I used to use in grade school to keep all of my notes/thoughts – it's been very helpful. I've really been enjoying your blog and thank you for this honest advice!

  26. Jessica G / / Reply

    I want to thank you for this post. It was linked from "My Little Loves" and it really resonated with me. I followed #1 on your list and it has changed my life. I had been following a very popular blog since being pregnant and as a new stay-at-home mom, I thought it was helping me feel connected. But after reading this post, I knew instantly that the blog I was following left me feeling bad about myself and my situation. Since cutting it out of my life, I have been incredibly happy and fulfilled by seeing the good right in front of me. I can't thank you enough!

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