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7 Ways to Stay Inspired and Avoid Bloggers Burn Out

burn outWhat do you do to avoid blogger burnout? How do you stay inspired?

Monique Frausto asked the above question on Twitter late last week and because it was a bit too big of a topic to tackle in 140 characters, I thought I’d jot a few random thoughts down here.

1. Know Your Limits and Set Realistic Goals

We all have a limited amount of time and energy to put into blogging regardless – whether we’re blogging while juggling full time work or our blog is our full time work.

The reality is we always want to do than we can fit into the time we have. So I think it is important to be realistic and know how much time we can actually put into blogging and adjust our goals and expectations accordingly.

For example, my wife – V – recently started blogging (please be gentle – she’s in her first month). While she’d love to dedicate more time to it one day, right now she’s juggling work, kids and a crazy blogger husband (and a lot more) and the time she has available to blog is limited.

As a result she’s starting out with a 3 post per week goal. I know she has ideas to generate 1-2 posts a day – I think starting out slower is going to help her to sustain it longer over the long haul and will hopefully keep blogger burn out at bay.

Keep in mind: while some argue that posting every single day is the only way to go – there are no rules. There are pros and cons of higher frequencies of posting. You’ve got to choose a frequency you can sustain.

2. Find your Groove with a Routine that Works for You

I find that blogging is more effortless (it is never completely effortless) when I am in a ‘groove’ and have a bit of a rhythm in place. It helps me know what to do, when.

I set aside different times of the day for different activities. For example – for me mornings is for writing, afternoons is for editing and scheduling posts and evenings is for admin and social media.

In the early days, I would do the same but not on a daily basis because I was working part time jobs and studying. I would set aside days for different activities instead. Monday mornings would be writing time and I’d try to write a few posts to use during the week, most nights I would moderate comments and read other blogs.

3. Identify the Sticking Points

Usually, when you get ‘stuck’ and burn out it centres around a specific issue. It might be a lack of ideas, inability to get into the writing groove, lack of inspiration to interact with other bloggers… (the list can go on).

When you’re stuck, try to narrow down on the area that’s holding you back. I wrote about this recently in a post about the bloggers block I’ve had over the years. In each case the issue was different and by identifying the exact problem I was able to dedicate time to fixing it.

4. Taking Breaks

When it comes out to burning out I think the key is to not only work out how you’ll blog, developing rhythms and systems to help you do that, it is also important to work out how you’ll ‘rest’ and have a break from blogging.

In my early years I became quite obsessed with blogging – to the point where I was always thinking about it or doing it. Even when I was doing other activities I was still thinking about posts, how to grow traffic and how to monetize.

Build time off into your daily and weekly rhythms. Time off to have a normal life. This sounds like a no brainer but it really is so important.

For me – I don’t blog on the weekends until Sunday night. I also set aside regular times for vacations with the family during which I try not to blog. These offline and times of rest keep me going.

5. Socialize

One of the challenges many bloggers face is that we easily get distracted by social media. You get onto Twitter to share a post and connect with your readers and you see an interesting link… and then you see another… and then someone starts a funny hashtag… and before you know it you’ve spent 4 hours Tweeting funny things on the #ThingsIdSayToBillClinton.

Social media is full of distractions but it can be used for good to help you get inspired…. if you use it the right way.

I semi-regularly participate in hashtag chats that relate to my niches and almost always get ideas to write about from them.

For example, #BlogChat chat happens once a week and I often come away with a golden nugget of an idea that I go away and write about.

Similarly, I love webinars (both running them and participating in other people’s) because I often get a moment of clarity or inspiration that sparks a whole new direction for my blogs.

I also participate in a couple of good Facebook groups that are for bloggers in my niches and find that they often give me great ideas.

The other place I go for socialisation is conferences and meetups. It isn’t a super regular thing for me but definitely good to punctuate the year with some real life interactions with people who get you as a blogger.

The key is to find social interactions that are actually focused enough to add value to what you do – rather than distract you!

6. Charge Your Day with Inspirational Moments

Most days I like to pepper my day with inspiration bombs. Usually for me this takes the form of listening to a TED talk or reading one of my favourite blogs.

It doesn’t even matter if the topic of the inspiration has nothing at all to do with my blogs. I find that just putting myself in a place to be inspired or to see something that evokes some kind of emotional reaction is often enough to fire me up enough to go and do something worthwhile on my own blogs.

7. Do Something that Matters

Probably the number one thing I’ve found that keeps me fresh and inspired with my blogging is to blog about things that matter – to me and to others.

When you’re doing something that you have a genuine interest in and passion for, you’ll find that 99% of the time you can keep momentum going. I’ve had 30 or so blogs over the years and the two that I run today are on topics that I just really like and gain a lot of personal satisfaction from.

The other part of this point is to create something that matters to others. When you’re making other people’s lives better you’ll find that you get a lot of energy and inspiration. I know that while there have been tough times in building up ProBlogger over the last 9 years, the comments or emails from readers letting me know that something I’ve done has had a tangible impact upon them have helped me through those tough times.

So put your time into creating something real, something that makes your life and others lives better, and you’ll find that feeds you constant energy to help you through the tough times.

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. I couldn’t imagine having a blog post out every day. The time requirement is just too much.

  2. Prakash says:

    Great post for someone like me, who really finds it hard to focus for a long period of time. For me the best advice is to “work in chunks”

  3. I am one of those rare people who cannot listen to music while I work – I find I get too involved in it (I love my music!) and it distracts me. I do best in absolute silence. I know, I’m odd right? One of the worst things about working in an office/corporate job as a creative pro is the distractions of others who don’t “get” our need to get into The Zone and any interruption disrupts the flow. Even working as sole proprietor/freelancer from a home office is full of interruptions, from phone calls and emails, meetings, etc. It’s tough to balance that creative/productive time with the necessities of dealing with clients and running a business. I tend to do a lot of creative work on weekends, especially Sundays as they tend to be very quiet. It’s really the only way I can keep up.

  4. Chad Butler says:

    Great list of ideas. One thing that helps keep me on pace is using an editorial calendar. Then I can bunch things up and get a lot done when I am focused and inspired, then spread those posts out over a period of time.

  5. I tend to believe that as long as you are blogging about your intrests then life in the blogging word will always be smooth.

    What inspire me is my love for wildlife and that’s why I find it easy with my blogging.

  6. Donnie Law says:

    I like the realistic goals part. It’s easier to say “3 days a week” and then a few months later bump it up to 5 days a week. It’s more demoralizing to commit to 5 days /week and then have to scale it back later.

  7. Hello Darren,

    Thanks for sharing. I like your ideas and I agree with most of the points. However, I would also like to emphasize that too many people are blogging because they want to monetize it. Some of us, like yourself, are blogging because we love to deal with the topics. Great variety of source of motivation.

    Best,
    Anders Hasselstrøm
    Motivational spaker
    http://www.andershasselstrom.com

  8. Jim Makos says:

    I have found great inspiration in social media as well. Just hop into Twitter or Google+ and search for the topic you are interested in. Voila! You not only get some nice ideas, but you find out the latest trend in your niche, avoiding being a dinosaur.

  9. Some great ideas here. Thank you for sharing.
    I often listen to TED talks. Also, I spend time in Pinterest. The visuals gets me going.

  10. Azevedo says:

    Do you schedule posts for when you have time off?

    • Darren Rowse says:

      I definitely do!

      • I take this even farther, with the way I run my website. I write almost a month ahead, and list upcoming posts on my home page so readers always know that something new is going to be posted. I post about three times a week. So far I think it’s working good because I can write about a month ahead and take a break and not worry about anything for a while and write new content again. I was posting everyday and man it was a lot of work and I did feel burn out.

  11. Emmanuel says:

    With all of these coming from Darren himself, it can’t be taken lightly at all. Thanks a lot Darren for sharing this beautiful piece!

  12. Hi Darren and all readers,
    Blogging is indeed part of many people’s lives but it is not our life. I enjoy sharing with the goal of helping other people avoid the challenge of stress, but perhaps, like many people, I strive to make sure when I write is for a good purpose and an enjoyable experience.

    Personally, I recommend finding the right balance of goals for all your life and placing blogging in its place. Then set goals for blogging you can achieve. Recently, for example, I have been writing very short posts in the form of answer to questions and on this education site traffic has been increasing daily.
    And I can fulfill my daily post in minutes rather than hours.

    This time management really helps since with a family of children and two jobs time is precious.

    I hope this thought helps someone out.

    Thanks for continuing your great work Darren,

    David

  13. Number 7 is definitely my favorite tactic. My original blog was an attempt to make my blog fit the mainstream mold. My newest blog is actually the one I’m most passionate about, and it complements the non-blogging work I’m doing. It really is becoming more like an organization than just a blog, and that makes it easier to stay motivated, when the blog fuels so many other aspects of your life and work.

  14. scott says:

    I found this very interesting as I too am a blogger and I write about different things as well as have my own feature called What Burns My Goat.

  15. I know some bloggers who have burned out. I don’t want to reach that point, which is why I don’t push myself too hard. Some months, I publish 8 posts. Others, I publish 4. I follow my own pace, because I want to enjoy travel blogging for a long time!

  16. Hi,

    Your post is like a reference text. You include all the points in a nut shell (with out confusing readers) . Thank you so much for your great work and effort

  17. All good tips Darren. Taking breaks makes all the difference in the world. Once you learn to let go, you grow. On that note I am working 5 hours straight and running now….taking advantage of a good strong internet signal in Nepal for once…..Gotta go!

  18. Jane says:

    Hey Darren, awesome tips to stay inspired. Congratulations on your wife’s new blog and she is SO lucky coz she’s got her crazy blogger husband to guide her through :)

    Starting slow really does matter – especially while starting out; if we put pressure on ourselves on pumping out content, we will surely end up burned out. Rather it is more important that we reach out to people and engage in promotional activities to let the others know about our blog. It should be 20% publishing and 80% promotion.

    I also like to start my day by hearing to something inspirational. That really sets up the mood and gets my day going with much energy!

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips!

  19. Really inspirational for any blogger..

  20. Edson Hale says:

    In addition to the tips you mentioned in this post; Darren it is also much important to do exercise daily or at least thrice a week. To get a perfect time out is also good to do a hobby that has nothing to do with online world. The ultimate purpose of all these activities should be to enhance your productivity. But bloggers should think about this after establishing a strong monetary base of their blog to be able to earn while sleeping.

  21. mooisterion says:

    “When you’re doing something that you have a genuine interest in and passion for, you’ll find that 99% of the time you can keep momentum going.”
    The most important part probably – anything you force yourself to do rather do for pleasure will burn you our eventually. But maybe it’s just me…

  22. Kamal Hasa says:

    Talking about burnout, I am a classic case. My personal life intervened with my work now I am in the middle of nowhere. But giving myself some timeout to come out of this rubble.

    Otherwise I would like to suggest other people to have weekly targets than monthly. That is how I used to manage during my times of glory. I will be back soon, with my previous routine until then just giving myself some peace of mind.

    Google ain’t helping though!!

  23. I need to read this post about 10 more times :) I love the tip about Blog Chat.

    I have felt a little burnt out lately. But I think it’s because there is just too much going on right now. So I may need to step back on a few projects.

    I’m glad you wrote this because I’ve definitely been smelling a little smoke :) Thanks Darren :)

  24. Richo says:

    Hello, daren, I just started blogging a few weeks ago, I am glad to read this post because it really helped me to understand many things about blogging. I enjoy writing, reading and looking for inspiration to write. But sometimes I am too confused when searching for a topic and share their time … The main purpose I started blogging was to learn English because I’m Indonesian people! and I want to find many friends, share inspiration and build a pleasant business.

  25. I found the title amusing because I never considered drafting methods of shielding myself from effects caused by other bloggers, but I agree with you totally; we need to have some safeguards going forward

  26. Emily says:

    Agreed re: one post per day. I just read a post elsewhere saying it’s the only way to go. But if one post per day means you’re churning out crap just so you can publish, surely you’re not doing yourself any favours. Thanks for putting it in perspective.

  27. Mary Wright says:

    Balancing work and social life is the best way to stay inspired…

  28. Eddy says:

    I enjoyed the whole thing especially item 4, knowing the right time to take break has indeed been my major challenge, I spent all most all the time blogging and forgetting that I really need some bread in order not to be worn out. Thanks so much for the tips
    http://highteknology.blogspot.com

  29. Darren,

    I had wanted to address something you had mentioned in point #1.

    In it, you mention there not really being any ‘rule’ when it comes to frequency of blog posting. I agree that there isn’t a necessarily a “rule”, however, I have seen many bloggers be very successful who have adopted a “promotion” over content volume strategy. Granted, you can be successful either way (high volume of posting + little promotion VS. low volume of posting + ALOT of promotion).

    I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him, but Derek Halpern, of SocialTriggers, mentioned this in one of his blog posts. Generally, he only posts 1-2 times a week, if that….but, he’s a living/breathing example of placing promotion over the production of too much content. In fact, in his blog post “Why Bloggers Fail”, Derek actually goes on to say that “Time Waster #1″ (out of 3) is actually “Creating too Much Content”. He appears to live by the philosophy that it really is pointless to keep churning out tons of content….yet, noone ever seems to see/no traffic gained simply because they spend “80-90%” writing content and NEVER or very seldomly promoting it.

    In a world of limited resources, where building and maintaining blogs are (generally) one person operations,we really have to be proactive in picking and choosing what actions we can take where we can incur the most bang for our buck. I tend to believe it’s best to produce a small volume of extremely high quality content, yet promoting the heaven out of it. This strategy seems to have worked very well for Derek.

  30. Darren,

    I had wanted to address something you had mentioned in point #1.

    In it, you mention there not really being any ‘rule’ when it comes to frequency of blog posting. I agree that there isn’t a necessarily a “rule”, however, I have seen many bloggers be very successful who have adopted a “promotion” over content volume strategy. Granted, you can be successful either way (high volume of posting + little promotion VS. low volume of posting + ALOT of promotion).

    I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him, but Derek Halpern, of SocialTriggers, mentioned this in one of his blog posts. Generally, he only posts 1-2 times a week, if that….but, he’s a living/breathing example of placing promotion over the production of too much content. In fact, in his blog post “Why Bloggers Fail”, Derek actually goes on to say that “Time Waster #1″ (out of 3) is actually “Creating too Much Content”. He appears to live by the philosophy that it really is pointless to keep churning out tons of content….yet, noone ever seems to see/no traffic gained simply because they spend “80-90%” writing content and NEVER or very seldomly promoting it.

    In a world of limited resources, where building and maintaining blogs are (generally) one person operations,we really have to be proactive in picking and choosing what actions we can take where we can incur the most bang for our buck. I tend to believe it’s best to produce a small volume of extremely high quality content, yet promoting the heaven out of it. This strategy seems to have worked very well for Derek.

  31. Shana Norris says:

    Great advice, Darren. And best of luck to V!

  32. Love tips #1 Know your limits and #4 Take breaks. I think it’s super important to work on a schedule that fits you. Either once week or 7 times a week, that’s fine. Just decide how you want to do it and keep it ~consistent.
    Don’t try to do what everybody else is doing. When you reach the point where you hate blogging, it’s time to step back and reassess your schedule and post less often, there’s no problem with that.

    Also, taking a break is not the end of the world, schedule some posts for when you are away, or don’t and come back refreshed after you day off, vacation, or month off ;)

    • Vidya Sury says:

      Hi Delia…I’ve realized exactly that. Beating myself up for not doing it did not solve the problem :-).

      And the moment we let that load go off our minds, everything seems possible again!

  33. Marie says:

    I am a new blogger so I am experimenting with number of posts/week and what I can sustain. Right now it’s a simple post or a photo and one regular post/week. A blog about renewing your spirit should not be overwhelming.

  34. definitely writing about what matters – I also run a full time online counselling service and charity which I founded and am part time on a PhD – my blog gives me my “other” my time out to play and do what I feel like, yet I know it needs to resonate with my readers, so making it matter to me AND my community is key :)

  35. Adam Finan says:

    I like to vary my blogging techniques so I don’t get bored! Write, make video, edit photos, edit videos, read some inspirational blogs.. This is all part of the process also.

  36. Vidya Sury says:

    The past few days I’ve been staying up to even post the minimal twice/thrice a week on my three blogs – except that it adds up to more than 8 per week. I realized I had to plan better because my main problem is offline distraction. I usually overcome it by carrying a book and pencil at all times and jotting down stuff, but this time that wasn’t possible.

    I love how, sometimes, we read the things we already know and get encouraged/inspired. This is one of those wonderful posts. Thank you Darren!

  37. Stephan says:

    very nice article,
    I think there’s very common mistake for all the newer that they too concentrate about blogging in the very first time. I used to do it honestly, when i started blogging, i spent almost time for it, try to think new content, new ideas and it drived me crazy, that can be considered a basic mistake. Take a break and you can keep going easier.
    Thanks for your sharing.

    Stephan

  38. I would like to add that multitasking can quickly become our worst enemy too. Speaking from personal experience, it is natural for a person to find herself overwhelmed and eventually give up when performing two or more things at the same time. Staying fully focused on one subject without switching back and forth between goals and topics should enable us to create a successful post.

  39. Daryl says:

    Great tips for preventing burnout!

    I’d like to add one critical component: PLANNING.

    Proper planning will help you develop a good work life balance, and following a detailed plan is important in retaining both your sanity and productivity.

  40. Richard Benn says:

    Very useful ideas, thank you! Sometimes the hardest part about writing is just deciding on the topic. Another way to find topics that are of interest to often boring industry groups is via LinkedIn’s Group feature. By joining some of the industry groups that you regularly need to create content around, you’ll be emailed a daily digest of topics that are of interest to them in the group discussions. This can be a great source of relevant, current material on which to base blog posts or articles.

  41. Dr. Brett says:

    Thanks for the article Darren!

    Blogging has been the best way (besides PPC) to start driving traffic to my start up website. Lucky for me, I don’t have to write the blog articles, but as time has gone on I find it harder and harder to come up with relevant topics for our blogger to write about!

    Do you find that fresh content is the only way to go or does re-promoting a previous article legit?

  42. Sandra says:

    Thanks, enjoyed the post.
    I’m going to be like one of the previous commenters and read it over a few more times, I have so much to learn.

  43. Hey Darren great post. I especially like #5 socialize. You make a good point that socializing sparks new ideas. That’s actually the best way to keep it fresh. Attending, participating and producing webinars is a great way to get new topics to cover on your blog. Good stuff brother.

  44. Thanks for useful tips Darren, I am going to work on it and implementing in my way.

    Thanks again for sharing this.

  45. Jawbone Up says:

    I’ve read many similar examples of burn out prevention, but it always refresh and recharge me when I read these posts.

    Through reading, I’m able to know that I’m not alone in this world. I tend to feel left out, stress out and not getting what I deserve.

    However, my mindset will automatically change when I know someone else in another part of the world struggling with me. Let’s get this through together!

  46. Richard Benn says:

    Hello Darren,

    I am greatly inspired by social media and I am in search of best topics to read. I also get great relief by providing help to other people to other people keep away from challenges of stress. I feel writing is an enjoyable and purposeful experience. Blogging is a great source of motivation as we deal on different niches everyday. Great thanks to Darren for sharing this marvels piece.

  47. Paul says:

    Hi Darren,
    I like all these 7 ways. But I can say Setting Realistic Goals could be main solution to be successful blogger. Many of new bloggers skip this point. Rest of 6 ways I would count as auxiliary to set realistic goals.

    Thanking you for sharing.
    Paul

  48. Lisa Mallis says:

    Great tips! I have a “writing” routine that I’ve found helpful. I watch my “Mind Movie”, listen to some Afformations, put a big glass of water on my desk, then start writing. I post 3 times per week (unless I’m participating in a challenge) so my goal is to write all 3 at the same time, then shoot the videos that supplement the post. The next day I edit the videos, edit the posts, and find/create the graphics. This routine works for me! :)

  49. Tom Southern says:

    Ha! Darren, have you been peeping into my sitting room?

    You give some really great advice here, taking breaks for one. Knowing our limits and setting realistic goals nail it too.

    I think starting out blogging can be an overwhelming maze of: do this wonder-tactic & do that wonder-tactic.It can get really confusing and frustrating too.

    It’s important for people to do what works for them, but it can difficult to go for it and let individualism shine through because of all those wonder tactics being flogged as the only way to get success. And this makes people afraid to give their individual voice to their blog. And that’s a shame.

    It’s also what makes “doing something that matters” hard.

    What should I do to matter to people?

    Will what I do matter to anyone?

    These are questions bloggers struggle with. It’s having the faith in their skills, knowledge and ideas (ideas matter too) that other people want to hear about them.

    In the end, it’s all about going out there online and finding out what it is people are looking for, what they’re
    talking about, thinking about, struggling with, and lending a hand.

    Being yourself, being helpful and standing out as a fresh voice and a place where people can hang out and get answers. Yes, it may mean that you’re writing to yourself for ages. But eventually, if you keep going out there on blogs like this one, keeping on being genuinely helpful for the sake of it, people will want to hear more from you. And visit your blog. That’s where you should ensure they discover more about why they need to keep coming back.

    If you enjoy what you’re doing, and keep enjoying it, and talk about how and why you enjoy it, other people will enjoy what you do too.

  50. Averol says:

    I write almost a month ahead, and list upcoming posts on my home page so readers always know that something new is going to be posted. I post about three times a week