What 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.
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.