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How to Re-Ignite Your Blogging Fire When You’re Feeling Burnt Out

A Guest Post by Glen Allsopp from ViperChill.

In 2006, at 17, I started a blog about marketing which was very successful from launch. In fact, the first blog post I published was linked to by 4 of the Technorati Top 100 at the time, and I felt like I was on my way to joining the ranks of A-list bloggers.

Yet, within a few weeks, I had already ran out of steam. I had plenty of things to write about, and loved the industry I was covering; yet I simply had no motivation to keep going. At the time, I just assumed that my lack of motivation was because the site wasn’t making money, so I left blogging and decided to start working on other online projects.

When I moved to South Africa at 18 in 2008, I had the urge to start up another blog. I didn’t want to write about marketing this time, but instead I decided to focus on the topic of personal development, which I was passionate about at the time. For some reason, things were different this time. Again, I loved the topic and I had a lot to say. And again I wasn’t making any money (by choice). Yet my passion was never-ending and I was left with over 150 blog posts to show for my first year of blogging.

I did end up selling that blog at the end of 2009, but that was when it was making $5,000 per month and had over 6,000 subscribers. Right now I’m doing the same with ViperChill – writing about a topic I love (marketing, again) – and doing so for a very small amount of money. Yet, I’m still highly inspired to write for the site and grow my audience.

If it wasn’t a lack of income that caused my to run out of stream on my first blog, then what was it?

The answer actually comes in four parts; all of which I believe can help all you regain the motivation to write for your own blog if you’ve found your interest to be waning. Some of these were made clear to me after reading the excellent book Drive by Daniel Pink, and I encourage you to watch this great video on Youtube which illustrates a talk he gave at a TED conference.

Challenge Yourself to Learn New Things

I think one of the greatest things about blogging is that there is so much to learn and test, especially when you’re starting out. Installing WordPress, customising a blog theme and writing compelling content are all things that can seem tricky at first but become much easier over time.

It’s this challenge that actually keeps us interested in what we’re doing. It’s a challenge I believe I was lacking with my first blog, but found in my next (building an audience in an entirely new industry) and the one after that (writing new content in a highly saturated industry).

Is there something you can challenge yourself to do with your blog?

  • Can you try to rank in Google for a certain keyphrase?
  • Can you get better at networking and build stronger online connections?
  • Can you write an eBook that helps solve a problem your readers have?
  • Can you post a better article about X than any other blog?

If you take the time to think about this, you’ll come up with a long list of things you can try. This alone may be enough to help you re-ignite your blogging fire.

Really Interact with Your Audience

You may be wondering how this can help bring back your blogging passion, but the reason behind the heading is actually quite simple. As Daniel Pink points out in the video I linked to earlier, the desire to belong to something is a strong desire within us all as human beings.

It’s why people spend hours upon hours writing articles for Wikipedia or coding fixes for open-source software for absolutely no monetary gain.

It’s partly why people support different sports teams and wear their colours with pride and it’s also why some feel passionate about their gaming ‘clans’ which exist solely online.

If your blog isn’t getting many comments and the big bloggers in your niche are ignoring you then it’s unlikely you feel like you belong to anything. Yet one of the greatest things about blogging is the connections you can create and sustain with others who have similar interests.

Instead of waiting for people to come to you, go out there and email fellow bloggers, comment on their articles and interact with like-minded people on Twitter or Facebook. You’ll quickly find a new urge to start writing articles to get the feedback of your new community.

Set Smaller Goals

If I offered you a date with your favourite celebrity if you’re able to grow your feed count by 5,000 legitimate subscribers in the next 30 days, how motivated would you be to even try? If you’re like most people, probably not motivated in the slightest.

If I set the target to 500 subscribers, however, I’m sure you would be far more interested at giving it a shot.

When you read the success stories of people with over 100,000 feed subscribers or hear about successful six-figure product launches, it’s easy to feel discouraged if you attempt to achieve similar results and don’t even get close.

It’s important to remember that exceptional stories like this are the exception. It doesn’t mean you can’t achieve them to, but you shouldn’t base targets like that as your blogging goals. At least not initially.

Another great thing about blogging is that it tends to come with a snowball effect once you grow. It took me 7 months to grow my personal development blog to 500 readers, yet just 5 more until it reached 4,000.

Don’t be afraid to think big, but set smaller goals for yourself so you’re constantly achieving things along your journey.

Identify Your Hurdle

If none of these seem to be helping, then this last piece of advice – as simple as it may seem – could be just what you need. Though it’s possible to misdiagnose the reasons you’re not feeling inspired to continue with your blog, it’s still worth attempting to identify the cause of your demotivation.

I had assumed the reason I lost interest for my first blog was because it wasn’t making money, yet looking back I think it was because I didn’t have any challenge to overcome and certainly didn’t feel part of the online community.

Common hurdles bloggers face include:

  • Struggling to see a return on your time investment
  • Running out of content ideas
  • Not having enough time to work on your site
  • Feeling like you’re not helping people

The best thing about identifying your hurdle or “block” – whatever it may be – is that you can then look at ways to get past it.

If you’re running out of content ideas, then read some books on your topic or sit down for a few hours and brainstorm new ways to help your audience. If you don’t have enough time to work on your site then log your actions on your next normal day and identify time-wasters which aren’t essential to your daily life.

I could go on with this, but I’m sure you get the point. It may be that the blog you’ve started just isn’t something you want to continue with which is fairly common, but don’t give up until you’re sure there isn’t just a hurdle getting in the way, or another one of these tips that you can try.

Glen helps people build remarkable websites and writes about viral marketing. If you liked this post, you may also enjoy his guide to WordPress SEO.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Marlee says:

    Wow Glenn! You’ve been reading my mail! You hit the nail on the proverbial head with this one. It is so easy to get discouraged, but it all comes down to perspective.

    I really like what you said about setting a goal within reach. I need to do that more. I always want to take things by storm.
    Instead, I need to focus on taking things in stride.

    Thank you for the encouragement and the reminder.

  2. Adam Wozniak says:

    Great article, Glen. I especially like your 4 major tips:

    * Can you try to rank in Google for a certain keyphrase?
    * Can you get better at networking and build stronger online connections?
    * Can you write an eBook that helps solve a problem your readers have?
    * Can you post a better article about X than any other blog?

    I recently hit a bit of a wall with blogging, but focusing on numbers 2 and 4 above have helped tremendously already.

    Just need to get around to starting the other two now! :P

  3. Terri Brooks says:

    Thanks Darren, these are great action steps I can begin to work on today. I was recently in a 30-day blog challenge, which I thought would be impossible for me, but I managed to blog 27 out of the 30 days, so I was quite proud of the accomplishment.

    But now I haven’t blogged in a week, so thanks for the “kick” to get back out there.

    Terri :)

  4. Glen,

    Awesome to see you here.

    Really super awesome post, as always. I really like your point on challenging yourself.
    Will Going to check out that video.

    Thanks for sharing this great Post. You’re really doing awesome work Glen ;).

  5. Thanks for the tips. I just started my blog and try to post to it everyday. I’ll keep these techniques in mind.

  6. Glen — great post. I’ve had my own mini burnouts several times since I started blogging. In a couple of cases that turned in to abandoning blogs entirely (the first three I started, back in 2003, just fell apart). I think that you’ve got some great suggestions here, but I think it’s also important to point out that you’ve handed off blogs. Not everyone remembers that selling a blog or bringing in a partner is truly an option at the end of the day.

  7. Xeerk says:

    Well,

    i have tried many times to re-ignite the fire of blogging but i try and try to stick at least making 10 post a day but, its so hard to write something which has some value..

    hope no one thinks my way, but keep blogging

  8. A good piece out there… Blogging like any other work or act, after years of being into it and repetitions, you would start to experience boredom.

    The article is on point and the idea to try new things is a good one. One can also start a simple small blog out of a new niche along side to work on there when bored with the usual blog he or she works on…

    It brings a lot out of you…

  9. Noel says:

    This is a very wonderful guest post. Identifying hurdles and setting personal objectives on a regular basis is a must for bloggers.

    I personally feel that it’s best to do this every 30 days. As in, every 30 days, accomplish at least one personal goal for your blog (such as the increase in subscribers) and completely tackle at least one hurdle (such as running out of content ideas.

    If you don’t create a schedule that makes sense to you, you’ll just keep going whatever goal or problem seems to be in front without rhyme or reason and eventually burn out.

    Pacing and realistic expectations are things that all bloggers need to learn.

  10. Steve says:

    Thanks for sharing an encouraging post.

    It is easy for people to get discouraged and move on.

    Perhaps often right before achieving success. Like you say the money coming in can be slow. Particularly at first. Overtime the “snowball” effect you talk about will hopefully kick in and make skyrocket a quality blog, but specifically early on there seems to be a lot of work for little headway.

    Thanks for sharing the encouragment that it can be done!

  11. Hi Glen,

    I appreciate the inspiration you provided.

    When your blogging fire has burned out it means one of two things: it’s time to try something else or switch gears with your current endeavor. Most times you need to switch gears by generating news ideas for content and better ways to interact with your audience.

    Ryan Biddulph

  12. Yogendra says:

    Dear Glan,

    Your post have worked as a remedy to me.I am new blogger and facing lot of challenges, specially not having enough time to work on my blog.I was thinking about to put a pause on my blog.But as your statement “It took me 7 months to grow my personal development blog to 500 readers, yet just 5 more until it reached 4,000.” , encouraged me a lot.Like you,I also do not blog for money and will continue writing.

  13. Moon Hussain says:

    Glen, Thanks for the inspiration. I like how you put to dream big but to make smaller goals so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

  14. Certainly, passion towards your work will make you work great! Finding out hurdles is really something people need to identify while at blogging. If money isn’t a hurdle, just as you said, people should concentrate on learning new things and share them to their audience because any reader will look for something useful and valuable things. Also, when people get bored of their works they need to re-invent themselves. Recreation is one such thing that can help them come out of such situations. What do you think?

  15. Julius says:

    Awesome point about identifying your hurdle. My common hurdle is not having enough time to work on my blog. Having a schedule and revising it if necessary is what I do to overcome this hurdle.

  16. Your absolutely right. Setting yourself small stepping stones makes goals both realistic and achievable. Anything else just results in stress.

    I’d recommend reading into CBT (Congative Behaviour Theory) if your a serial procrastinator whom never gets anything done – boundary rationality is something that you can change in yourself.

  17. Joshua Noerr says:

    Glen, good to see a guest post from ya!

    Thanks for digging into motivations. Sometimes, especially for those of us just getting started, it can feel like you are talking to a wall.

    I just keep in mind that no matter how many people subscribe (or don’t) I only need to touch one life to make it all worth it!

  18. Glad to see you over here @Problogger Glen. You are wise beyond your years. I was feeling pretty bummed just last night after not getting any comments on a new post. Next thing you know, a hilarious exchange with a new commenter & now I’m re-energized.

  19. Stacy says:

    Glen,

    This is an excellent post! Thank you! I visited your blog and see that you regularly post high quality information. I have definitely subscribed to your blog!

    Like you I’ve had other blogs before the one that I’m working on now (nowhere near your success) so I haven’t had too many chances to feel burned out yet. You provide great tips for when that day does come though.

    The tip to set small goals really stuck out to me. When I started my blog I was following the advice of some really big bloggers. It’s been freeing for me to know that I should be setting my own smaller goals – and I’ve been able to achieve my own successes which has been a great motivator to keep going with what I am doing.

    With each small success that I experience I am able to move on to something slightly bigger. As I keep building in that way I will eventually become bigger in my own right and in my own way.

    Stacy

  20. I love the idea of challenges and use them already to fuel me when I don’t seem to have my blogging mojo working at full speed. I also like doing timed brainstorming sessions to come up with topics in different arenas. Blogging is as easy and fun as we choose to make it. :)

  21. Outstanding guest post. Glen hits the nail on the head with many of his points. Thanks for the notes and advice!

  22. Wow, this whole post was dead-on! I’ve been struggling with motivation lately. I ended up making my first blog in 2008 when I was 18 (yep, we’re the same age). It was a lifestyle blog, and I was getting a pretty good response rate. I was pleased with how well I was doing, but motivation was really an issue. I stopped blogging after about 60 posts.

    Several months later, I decided to try my luck with another blog – this time on finance. I blogged daily in the beginning, but then my frequency started to decrease until I stopped blogging altogether. Funny thing was, I loved blogging for this new blog I had made. For some odd reason, I just didn’t have any motivation to continue.

    A few months ago, I started back up on my finance blog and now blog 3-5 times a week. I love it, and motivation isn’t much of an issue anymore. Now, taking some time to think about what possibly changed between now and months ago when I had first made the blog, here’s what I concluded:

    * I had purchased $300 worth of books on writing, blogging and finance. Most of the books I’ve read so far (and I’m not even half way done yet!) have been very inspirational. Just the introductions get me so excited to continue writing and publishing blog posts (even if I’m not earning much yet). When purchasing the books, I didn’t think they would prove to be such valuable motivational tools. I purchased them because I thought I would learn a great deal from them (and I did). But they have really helped boost my motivation. Now, I don’t suggest going all out and buying $300 worth of books. Just buy one (I suggest The 4-Hour Workweek to start), and you’ll see what I mean when I state that books have probably been the most valuable investment I’ve ever made in my life.

    * I started commenting on and reading a lot more blogs around the same niche as my finance blog. As stated in this article, it definitely works! I just felt so connected to everyone, it was amazing. The connection that I felt was what made me motivated to keep writing and sharing everything I’ve learned. I also read so many articles each day that I have tons of ideas for my blog in terms of what to write about. In fact, after reading this post, I might start a motivation series on my finance blog. Yes, I think I will!

    * Networking with other bloggers in the same niche is also something major that I have been doing that has completely boosted my motivation. Just by sending emails and getting to know other bloggers, what works for them and so on has completely changed my perspective of blogging. I can’t recommend it enough! Talk to other bloggers, even if it’s just to ask a question. Get to know the individual behind the blog.

    * Lastly, I started recording my success and keeping smaller goals (again, as mentioned in this article; See why I said that it’s “dead on”?). Before, I would set extraordinary goals that I knew was semi-impossible to complete. I did so mainly because I thought it would help me stay focused and work harder to achieve the goals. In fact, it did the opposite.

    Picture this example:

    If you decided to go on a drive to a destination clear across the globe, how motivated would you be to keep driving, knowing that you probably wouldn’t reach your destination? You wouldn’t, right?

    And so I didn’t. I lost any spark of interest in what I was doing or what I was writing about.

    When I started setting smaller goals, however, there was less stress on me to achieve them. I was able to work on my tasks knowing that I would get them finished in the time allotted. And I did. I was able to finish everything I needed to get done with still tons of motivation left in me to continue working.

    Great post! It was a good read.

  23. I think a big hurdle is people tend to over-estimate the effort needed to get to their goals. They see back linking,content, SEO, all lump together into one big to do list.

    The easiest way to overcome a big challenge or project is to separate it into small pieces and tackle them one at a time, this is what I do when I schedule my day,

    This will keep you motivated and active and essentially avoid burning out

  24. New Camera says:

    It;s really hard to have new ideas when you are in the same boat with others…. this article really help to overcome your day to day problem of blogging.

  25. It still amazes me how it took you 7 months to get 500 readers and then just 5 more to accumulate 4,000.

    The snowball effect in blogging is interesting.

  26. Thanks for this Darren. I’ve come across the metaphorical hurdle a few times and i always use the tactic of walking away from my computer and reminding myself that i have the freedom to do that now that i earn money online. no boss hanging on my shoulder all day.

  27. Alex says:

    Thanks for the tips Glen. Good to see your name on my reader, just had to come over and see what wise tips you are sharing this time.
    You certainly are wise beyond your years, and an inspiration for many.
    Thank you for continuing to share your stories.

  28. Sometimes someone just gets it. You got it! Great post, good advice, left feeling better than I did before. We are part of something – Blogging is a conversation and life is better shared. Good work. Thanks for the inspiration.

  29. Hi Glenn,
    Running out of content seems to be a problem many of us face.
    Trying to know exactly what your audience is feeling at the “moment” is another major stumbling block.
    Finding a solution to a problem that is hard to identify is even harder.
    My niche is the weight loss(obesity) one.I know people want to lose weight but with all the programs out there it is not easy to try and help people that feel they know what they are doing when in reality, they have no idea.
    My question to you is where do you begin?
    Thanks for all your insight.
    Pierre Trudel
    Thee Quest For Perfect Health
    theequest.com

  30. Allan Ward says:

    Glen, there’s some great advice and ideas in this post. I can relate to your comments about the need to keep challenging yourself, and the importance of setting realistic and achievable goals.
    Very inspiring. Thanks

  31. I have hit a wall lately, I just couldn’t get myself to post to save my life, I was relying on guest posts and syndicated posts just to put something on the site. I just finished a new redesign on the site, it’s fresh and fun and I hope it will renew my desire to keep it updated with content. So far I got a post up yesterday and today, so it seems to have breathed some life into me!

  32. I think a good way to delay or avoid burning out at all is not starting full out with too high goals. Immediately putting yourself in the mindset of HAVING to write one post a day and paying too much attention to sheer numbers from day 1 is going to both frustrate you and make you run out of things to say really soon.
    I think a good starting point for a new blog is finding materials to write at least 2 posts a week, in a steady flow, so readers will know what to expect and when to expect it.
    If what you write is valid and it offers a fresh view on the topic you’re treating, people will eventually stick to it, word of mouth will work, especially if you engage with fellow bloggers on Twitter or comment on interesting posts they have.
    Just don’t be afraid to write, of all people I was the least likely to start writing at all, in my mind, but I started and I am taking it easy according to the time I can dedicate to it, it’s not that horrible ;)

  33. Blog India says:

    I agree with you on this. This is my 4th attempt to my mind to NOT give up on me and blogging, but the fellow seems to be cursed.

    Anyone has any suggestions about how to just get over the hurdle of not seeing any returns for a long, long time? Would love to see how you folks see some meaning in it.

  34. This was a really good post. I struggle with these issues weekly. I get ready to pack it all in and then one of my readers will respond with an over the top compliment about one of my posts that I feel inspired to keep writing. It definitely is about making those connections but it’s tough when I feel like I just can’t find more readers. I’m not really looking to monetize my blog but to use it as a launching off point to do something else with my writing. I suppose I should focus more on how to do that than worry about having my blog do it for me.

  35. Hokya says:

    Glen, i agree with the Challenges

    do experiments and dare to try new things sometimes help you gain what you want…

  36. Yay ViperChill!

    I admit I’m a big (semi-recent) fan. It’s not everyday that you find a meaty blog and someone who believes in proofreading! ;)

    Great tips (as always). Blogging for a corporation and for myself, well, that’s a lot of words a week and some weeks are definitely easier than others. I definitely know about the “time” hurdle.

    Working on the “challenging” myself part. Working on a new theme that makes my head want to explode. Not cool.

  37. Marios says:

    I think challenge is what keeps us motivate, its not the final results but the journey that got you to the final point is what matters. You need Challenge and Passion, don’t worry about others because it will kill you inside, just worry about YOU. Do it because you love it and once others see your love and passion they will follow you.

    Marios

  38. Definitely agree here sometimes writing for a particular niche on a daily basis can stump you out of steam. It’s always great to have other passions write about to break the routine from time to time.

  39. DDG says:

    Setting smaller goals is best as mentally it can help you bit by bit.

    @Blog India

    Forget about the returns for now and focus on what you can provide to your audience.

    Everything in life requires some form of investment whether it be time or money.

    Generally you will get out what you put in. With Blogging you need to not focus on the return – but focus on the Blog itself. If you keep on focusing on the return, or lack of, you will end up in the situation you find yourself in now.

    Here is how I keep on going. I have written down what I want to achieve by blogging. Why I shouldn’t give up and what it would mean to become a success.

    I read this whenever I feel like giving up. It serves as a good reminder as to why I am doing this.

  40. Topps says:

    Great post and inspiring!

    Thanks for sharing.

  41. This was just what the doctor ordered. I come from a long history of blogging, but have recently over the last couple months, waned in what I do best.

    This was a great post to remind me of what I need to do.

    Some of the things I do to continue learning include:
    - Listening to pod-casts relevant to my industry
    - Listening to audio books on my iphone while I travel
    - Read blogs like this, ViperChill, Copyblogger, etc.

  42. jason says:

    I agree with challenging yourself. That is one of the best ways I find to re-enter the blogosphere after being burnt out for a bit.

  43. Sean Clark says:

    Identifying those time wasting moments in your day has certainly what has enabled me to write more. Also, the book Accidental Genius by Levy is a great guide to writing.

    He advocates writing in 10 minute stints without editing or stopping for corrections, “free writing” he calls it. This alone has improved my output greatly.

    Thanks for a great post.
    Sean

  44. Moneywise says:

    I think in life nothing comes easy and the same applies to blogging. Before you begin blogging you must realize that with will be like going up and down a valley. The best thing about it though a great reward awaits all determined blogger. Keep sharing these great ideas

  45. I love that you mentioned the snowball effect of subscribers – I am totally experiencing that right now. For a while growth was slow and I didn’t understand why, but then all of a sudden I saw a huge jump. Glad to know others experience this too!

  46. John says:

    Thank You ;
    It is really very important points that you put in here,Bloggers need to revise their strategies upon these great points.

  47. Motivation was a problem for me a few months back…and I was struggling to move forward. I wasn’t happy that I was only getting a 1000 unique visitors a day, then I went back and looked at the amount of visitors I was getting when I first started out and I seen the progress I had made. Also I suppose receiving a few nice marketing deals lately has made me feel more appreciated and I can see the long term potential of my blog if I keep on improving as a blogger and moving forward!

    Nothing worthwhile is easy…

  48. ClubBlogger says:

    Powerful post, as always, thanks. Motivation is the most important, second most important and third most important element of blogging. Because without it, there is nothing. Engagement is the fourth. We following great blogs, like PB, on Twitter and keep fresh. Keeping fresh has got to be where it’s at. Because if you’re not fresh, you don’t have motivation. It’s a circle.

  49. Osolean says:

    Great Idea’s Glen, thanks for the post!

  50. great article glenn. thumbs up. we have a lot to learn from this.