Bloggers, Beware of Productivity Porn!

Do you steal a few minutes to sneak some glances on your break from work?

Does the dim light of the screen dominate your sleepless nights?

Then you may be a victim of productivity porn.

Productivity porn is an addiction to the self-help section of the internet. Contrary to a healthy approach to self-improvement, productivity porn puts the addict in a perpetual state. For freelance bloggers, productivity porn translates to a pretext for procrastination that ultimately handicaps us from doing the thing that we do best: writing.

Instead, productivity porn paralyzes its addicts with the idea that they are not good enough and that they need a new fix before they can be a good writer. This habitual insecurity will easily kill the most beneficial habits.

Here’s why:

You procrastinate on productivity porn.

When you’re reading about all the latest productivity trends, you’re not really getting anything done. While it may seem productive to learn about boosting your productivity, if you never get around to actually working then what exactly are you boosting?

Productivity porn is dangerous for this very reason. It convinces the best of us that what we need to do is read this or that article before we get started. What usually starts as one innocuous read often devolves into tabs upon tabs of click bait in your browser. You may even forget that blank Word document that’s open behind all those windows.

Productivity porn divides your attention among many approaches.

The trouble with many of these productivity articles is that they confront their readers with a hundred different ways of doing one thing. Every one of those methods may work, but the victim of productivity porn faces the dilemma of choosing between them — or worse, trying to combine all of them.

This noble effort will inevitably drain the energy and willpower that should have been directed toward the project.

After all, these productivity methods are supposed to save time and energy, not demand more of it. The addict of productivity porn, however, will go through this process every project. The cycle never ends.

With your attention divided you are liable to hesitate.

Productivity porn separates you from the task at hand. This distances you from the problem and its solutions. When the most important thing for you to do is to just start that project. Productivity porn will have you second guessing yourself. “What’s the best way to begin this project?” “How can I perfect my workspace?”

Please don’t get me wrong. I’ll be the first to point out that it’s crucial for you to be organized and to have a system — especially if you’re a freelance blogger — but color coding your sticky notes is not getting you any closer to finishing that project.

Productivity porn teaches false expectations.

It worked for them. Now they’re carefree, rich, successful, and they vacation in Thailand twice a year. Why shouldn’t it work for you? Because you’re not them. You are a very different person with very different inclinations and very different circumstances. Just because this new super habit system worked for them does not mean that it will work for you.

Productivity porn creates a false expectation for the same kind of success that you read about. When you don’t meet this expectation, for whatever reason, you are liable to become discouraged. This discouragement is one of the most detrimental forces to your motivation and momentum, and it perpetuates the cycle of procrastination on productivity porn. You find yourself thinking: “It didn’t work for me so I must be doing something wrong. There must be another article that explains what is wrong with me and how I can fix it.”

So… When are you going to get started with that assignment?

Productivity porn focuses on the means and distracts from the ends.

Do I value productivity more than the goal? Am I focusing on the means and forgetting about the ends? In this dilemma we can see why productivity porn can become so compelling. It allows us to not worry about the ends, that intimidating word limit or that scary deadline.

For a moment this may be OK. Sometimes it’s helpful for freelance bloggers to distance themselves from the idea of a finished article essay so that they can focus on the process of writing at hand. After all, aren’t we always improving as writers? In focusing on means, we allow ourselves the space to hide our craft.

By no means do I I tend to discount this crucial practice. Deadlines, however, have the nasty tendency to remind us of the reality of time and the expectations of others. If we distance ourselves too far from the finished project we may never arrive.

There is no end to productivity porn.

The Japanese word “kaizen” carries the idea of perpetual improvement. You are never done improving. Every writer, even if they have never studied a word of Japanese, should be familiar with this concept. This is a noble concept, and we would all do well to remember it and practice it in our daily lives.

Productivity porn, however, preys upon this positive disposition. It turns humility of well-meaning, hardworking bloggers into insecurity.

This insecurity drives bloggers to turn not to their own experience or their own craft but to that of others. What starts as the reverence for the wisdom of others becomes a crippling codependency on the latest tidbit or trend. Don’t let productivity porn rob you of your own artistic integrity!

Conclusion

So when you find yourself in that familiar situation with that familiar feeling of desperation I hope that you will remember something of these words. If you must read (and yes, if you’re any form of writer or blogger you must read!), don’t look for tips and tricks. Look for inspiration. Maybe turn to long form works. Learn from how others write. Don’t let them tell you; let them show you. And don’t think that I’m a Luddite here. I’m not telling you to ditch your blogs, pick up a dusty tome, and write with quill by candlelight.

I only ask that we all be more mindful of what we read and how. Create an information diet for yourself and stick to it. Limit how long you will spend reading it, and always write afterwards. It’s OK to read, but remember that you have your own writing waiting for you.

52 Free Tools and Resources to Superfuel Your Freelance Blogging

You know most people think we’re idiots, right?

I mean, why would we go through all the trouble of starting our own business when we could just get a job?

We could do as we’re told, quit working at 5pm, and watch TV for the rest of the night. Why make it hard for ourselves?

To be honest, they’re right.

It is a stupid thing to do.

Starting your own business requires a ton of hard work. It takes time and dedication to learn all the skills you need to get off the ground.

You have to know how to write. You have to know how to market. You have to know how to sell.

And we don’t have the luxury to stop thinking about our work when the clock hits 5pm. Once you choose this lifestyle, it creeps into your mind and you find yourself thinking about it all the time.

But once it starts working, man does it feel good. Seeing that hard-earned cash roll in makes it all worth it.

But again, it takes time. Lots of time.

To help you speed up the process, I’ve put together a list of tools and resources for you to use to supercharge your freelance blogging. It ranges from tools to get ideas quicker to resources that will give you a kick in the butt.

All of them are free or have a free plan. Don’t worry if it seems overwhelming, I’ll give you a PDF with all the links so you can keep it close. [Read more…]

3 Systems to Catapult Your Freelance Blogging Business from Zero to $4,000 a Month

Are you a systems gal (or guy)?

Even if you’re not, but you’re trying to grow your freelance writing business, this post is for you!

Systems exist to make your work easier. By having the right systems in place, you’re less likely to drop the ball and more likely to stay focused and on task.

I set out with the goal of leaving work behind when I launched my freelance blogging business in May of 2014. As the sole income earner for our family of four, I knew I needed to be successful with my side hustle if I ever hoped to take it full-time.

I’m happy to say that’s been the case. I’ve now quit my day job and I’m free – free to bust my butt and hustle to earn a living in order to feed the one big and two small mouths I have at home.

Here are the 3 most effective systems I’ve created and implemented to help me go from a brand new freelancer to one who earns more than $4,000 per month inside of six months.  [Read more…]

How to Build Your Freelance Blogging Career While Traveling the World

One of the biggest benefits to working as a freelance blogger is flexibility.

You can work when you want and where you want. But how often do you actually take advantage of this location independence?

My guess: not enough. Many freelance bloggers want to travel more — but they don’t know where to start.

How will you communicate with clients? How will you get your writing done? How will you do all the little things it takes to keep your business running, while traveling at the same time?

As a travel blogger and freelance writer, these are problems I have definitely struggled with. And though it’s often been a challenge, I can say without a doubt it’s also been worth it.

If you’d like to start traveling more, here are 12 tips for keeping your freelance blogging business thriving from the road:  [Read more…]

Why “No” Is the Most Powerful Word in a Freelancer’s Vocabulary

It’s short. It only has two letters and one syllable.

You’d imagine the word “no” would be easy to say. After all, it’s the 56th most common word in English.

However, the difficulty isn’t in its pronunciation but in the emotional charge it holds. Most people think it’s a negative word.

I’ve discovered that saying “no” can have a positive impact on your career as a freelance blogger.

Unfortunately, the word “freelance” often comes with misconceptions attached, too.

To some clients, “freelance” means you don’t have set working hours, so you can be at their beck and call 24 hours a day. To others, it means you work for yourself, so you’ll be glad for the money and take on any old gig they send your way.

Until recently, I would’ve been anyone and done anything a client wanted, simply for the sake of avoiding upset. But saying “no” makes better business sense.

Here’s why:  [Read more…]

5 Ways To Showcase Your Testimonials and Wow New Clients

As a freelance blogger, it feels so good to know you’ve made a client happy.

You wish you could capture the joy of the client at that moment, frame it, and display for all to see. But it’s sometimes difficult to get recommendations or testimonials from clients, because they’re too busy or too distracted.

In a survey by Dimensional Research, results showed about 90% of customers were influenced by online reviews to make a purchase. People put a lot of trust in feedback given online, hence the need for freelancers to collect glowing testimonials.

Without testimonials, it’s that little bit harder to get the gigs you want at the rate you deserve.

No problem. There are several options you can explore to capture the feelings of your happy clients.  [Read more…]

Behold! Proof That Freelance Blogging is a Valid [And Lucrative] Career Choice

You know that cringe-worthy moment when someone asks you what you do for a living, and then they say…

“You’re a freelance blogger? That must be fun, but it’s not exactly a job, is it?”

Take heart — next time that happens you’ll have all the evidence you need to show them blogging isn’t only a hobby. In fact, you can prove it’s a bona fide, lucrative career choice.

If you’re a freelance blogger ready to join the big time, you need to treat blogging like a business and get your knowledge and tactics ready. Studying the business case for freelance blogging won’t only build your confidence in dinner party conversations; it’ll make you better at understanding and negotiating with clients, too.  [Read more…]

Blogger Warning: Don’t Let Your Job Be the Death of You!

Blogging is killing you.

I don’t mean the stress of cranking out deathless prose or even the coffee you gulp by the gallon.

Blogging is killing you because you sit hunched over your laptop. All day long.

Science has spoken: Sitting will be the death of you — and me.

None of this is news, of course. We’ve known for a while that even if you faithfully get to the gym, all that sitting wipes out any benefit from the measly few minutes you spend huffing and puffing on the elliptical.

Dr. David Agus puts it bluntly:

[Sitting for more than 5 hours a day is] equivalent on a health basis to smoking a pack and a quarter of cigarettes.

Yowza.

Chair time is associated with all the heavy hitters: heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity. (That’s because sitting doesn’t make you less hungry. Darn.) This 2012 report on inactivity from the National Center for Biotechnology Information makes for especially gloomy reading.

I don’t know about you, but my first reaction was a kind of paralysis. (Ironic, right?)

Move? When I’m under deadline? Sure, those are those rare times I get out of my chair to go to the bathroom or get more coffee. But how can I move more when I earn a living hunched over a keyboard? (We’ll talk about your posture another time…)

It’s not just a 9-to-5 problem; after sitting at work, most of us rush home (or in our case, step away from our laptops) to plop down on the couch in front of a screen of one size or another. Not exactly helpful.

Being a writer, I decided to research my options before having a coffin fitting.  [Read more…]