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2014 Reboot: Find Motivation and Inspiration to Blog Better This Year

We are mining ProBlogger content this week for super-useful information to kick-start your blogging year with gusto. Today we go all the way back to the early days of ProBlogger.net, where Darren encouraged us to put our best effort into our blogs, showing us how to find motivation and interest in the most inspiring of places.

This post “Declaring War on Blogging Apathy” was part of a series that originally appeared in 2005.

It’s time to talk about something that has the potential to KILL your blog….

Apathy.

A blogger can have the best strategic plan in the world but if they have no motivation, passion or drive for their blogging it will almost always amount to nothing at all. One of the keys to the success I’ve managed to have as a ProBlogger is that I’ve taken a long term approach to my blogging which calls for constant work over 2.5 years (so far).

Whilst there have been times where my spirit has been low and the drudgery of researching, writing, networking and dreaming has threatened to put a stop to what I do – I’ve continually pushed myself to find new and creative ways to beat down the blog killer of Apathy. I’ve seen other bloggers not been able to break through this and as a result their blogs today either don’t exist or have become something like the ghost towns of the Western Movie with breezes blowing around the tumbleweed of comment spam and out of date content.

So I’ve decided it’s time to declare war on Blog Apathy and want to share a number of the things that have helped me keep my motivation up in blogging. Feel free to add your own experience and tips in comments.

• Start a Series - it gets hard to constantly come up with new topics to blog about each day so why not pick a larger topic to break down over a week or so. I find that once I’ve got a topic to work on I often get the creative juices flowing – a series can fast track the process. The past few days have definitely lifted my own interest in ProBlogger (not that it was too low) – simply because I’ve been in ‘series mode’.

• Invite questions from your readers - get your readers involved in your blog by setting the agenda for you to write about over the next few weeks of your blogging. Once again this is about stimulating ideas for topics.

• Revisit old Posts - if your archives are anything like mine they are full of posts and articles that you’ve put hours of work into. Keep in mind that many of your newer readers would not have read your old posts and so from time to time it might be worth either reposting old posts, updating old posts or simply bouncing off old posts and continuing old streams of thought.

• Redesign - I always find a fresh coat of paint can really lift a room, a haircut can improve a mood and a blog redesign can get the creative juices flowing again. Tweak it, adapt it or completely redesign it – either way you might just inject a little more energy into something that’s grown tired and find that you’ve got more energy for your blogging.

• Write Posts Ahead of Time - this won’t help you now if you’re in apathy mode – but if you’re not and currently have some energy consider writing a few extra posts that are non time specific to keep for a rainy/apathetic day. When you’re inspired write more so that when you’re not you don’t have to.

• Keep an Idea Journal - this is similar to the previous point but just involves keeping a list of possible post ideas you could write on at a later uninspired point in time. It might include just titles of posts or even a few points that you could write about. I’m constantly jotting down ideas for posts or series and even new blogs all day everyday. Take your journal with you everywhere you go so that if inspiration strikes you can capture it.

• Develop a Posting Schedule - it’s amazing what you can produce if you give yourself a deadline. Whilst for some people the idea of schedules and plans might have the opposite effect – for many of us they help keep us going. My posting goal is 25-35 posts per day – knowing what I’m aiming for helps keep me on track. Whether you’ve got a goal of 2 daily posts, or 500 monthly posts some goals can help get your blogging into gear.

• Get a Guest Blogger - put a little new blood into your blog by inviting someone else to join you in posting either while you take a short break to rejuvenate or to blog alongside you. I’ve recently added a few bloggers to a handful of my blogs and have really enjoyed both the pressure that it’s taken off me but also the energy and fresh ideas that they’ve brought.

• Read other’s blogs - sometimes its easy to become so focused upon blogging that we forget to interact with other bloggers. I remember a few months ago realizing that I rarely really read other blogs any more (apart from those I scanned each day for useful information to blog about). Get back to basics and actually read other blogs – you might just find that in doing so you rediscover the reason you started your own blog in the first place. In addition to that you’ll probably find yourself stimulated to bounce off their blogs with your own.

• Interact with other bloggers - connected to the last point I also find it very useful to not only read the work of others but to converse with them. I regularly chat via instant messaging or phone with other bloggers – in doing so we encourage and inspire each other to break through the dry times. So leave a comment somewhere, start an IM conversation, send an email – talk to someone. Don’t let blogging become an insular lonely thing – rather take advantage of the relational aspects of blogging.

• Meme it Up - another way to get yourself a little more interested in and energised by your blog is to start some sort of Meme. Run a competition, start a blogging project, add a quiz or survey – do something fun, creative and interactive to get other bloggers involved in what you’re doing. To be honest this is why I started the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project - seeing the wonderful response from readers has definitely lifted my blogging spirits this week.

• Subscribe to a new Source of Information - sometimes it’s easy to get into a rut when you feel like you’re just seeing the same sorts of information on your blogs topic over and over again. So subscribe to some new keywords on Google News Alerts or Topix RSS feeds or find some new blogs to follow. If you put fresh content and ideas into your head hopefully some fresh content will come out.

• Short Posts - if you don’t have much to say – don’t say much. Keep your posts short and to the point. Even if they don’t feel profound to you, just the act of posting something might loosen the blogging creativity within you. Short posts can actually be incredibly effective communication tools also so it might just add something special to your blog.

• New Stimuli - one of the best ways to get your creativity levels up is to expose yourself to new stuff. Buy a book, watch a movie, meet someone new, go for a walk, spend time with your family, listen to some music – get out of your normal daily rhythm and expose yourself to some new sights, sounds, tastes, touches and smells. Remember that what you put into your life has a direct baring on what comes out.

• Just Write - it’s amazing what comes when you just start writing sometimes. Some of my bests posts emerged out of really dry patches when I forced myself to sit and write. The first few paragraphs might end up being scrapped – but if you keep writing you’ll eventually hit gold.

• Get a Coach - I’ve talked a few times here recently about how I’ve found myself a business coach. Whilst the two of us don’t catch up heaps these days – every hour I spend with him is invaluable. He forces me to take a step back from what I do and look at the big picture, he keeps me accountable to the direction I’ve previously set, he asks the hard questions and he encourages me when I’m in a slump. The great thing about him is that he has a very limited understanding of blogging and sees things from quite a different perspective. So get a coach or a blogging partner (you can coach each other). You might consider paying someone to do it or just find another blogger/friend/business person/family member to fill the role. Give them permission to ask questions and give you a kick in the pants if you need it.

• Take a Break - as many people have said in the comments of previous posts in this series – taking a break is often just what a blogger needs. We all need a holiday from time to time so I suggest bloggers build into their yearly rhythm extended periods of non blogging as well as shorter ones on a weekly and even daily basis. I would suggest that if you’re taking a break that you set an end time and date for it – this is important for a couple of reasons, firstly it gives your readers a sense of where you are and when you’ll be back (I find it frustrating as a reader when a blogger disappears for an extended period without warning) and secondly it puts a boundary at the end of you break which will help you to start up again.

I’m sure between us we can come up with many other strategies for breaking the back of blog apathy – I’m interested to hear the suggestions and experiences of others in comments below.

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Comments

  1. Samuel says:

    Yup, I’ve felt like so many times where the passion has dried up and you sometimes wonder where it went.

    But the only thing you can possibly do on your own is to keep pushing and move forward, even when there’s no creativity present.

    That gives me great idea! Revisit those hard-worked posts that many newer followers and readers haven’t heard about.

    It is a shame that those blog posts are forgotten. They are some of the best.

    If you’re stuck on the lack of creativity or production, the optimal solution is to read anything you can come across just like it was said in this post.

    Always keep moving forward!

    - Samuel

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      I love finding older posts that still resonate in the present day!

  2. Carlos says:

    Hi Stacey great post!

    I got to tell you that i´ve been feeling kind of apathic today. I wanted to write my weekly post, and haven´t had the energy to do it… I just loved how you started today´s post with Apathy.

    How do you really manage 25 to 35 posts per day?! wow… I´m having trouble with one per week… ha! You just helped me overcome my apathy! Thanks… by the way… people have to be careful with apathy, cause they might be having the start of a depression.

    Happy New Year! and blessings!

    • Sarah Bauer says:

      Have to agree with Carlos – the thought of producing 25-35 posts a day blows my mind! Are these Seth Godin-style thought pieces or full-on, epic long reads? I’ve been reading much about Google’s favouring of long-form (1500 words or more) articles, so I’m interested to hear if your thoughts have changed on the topic since 2005!

      Cheers,
      Sarah Bauer
      Navigator Multimedia

      • Stacey Roberts says:

        We’ll have to ask Darren, he wrote the piece all the way back when!

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      I know, it sounds like a lot! I’m positive I couldn’t come up with that many posts every single day. Whoa.

      • That is a lot of posts. I don’t think I have that much to say. . . to anyone! This is great post. A lot to consider. Thanks for posting it, or reposting it as the case maybe.

  3. I like the idea of keeping an ideas journal. It reminds me of my former boss who was also owner of the business. I heard that even late at night he would wake up and jot down any ideas that came Into his mind while in bed. He was a very successful businessman and I guess that one of the reasons behind it was he ideas journal. If it worked for him it can work for us Internet marketers as well. Many are the ideas that get lost due to our lack of recording them.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      So true. It takes two seconds to write down, but I often forget to.

  4. One of my favourite ideas you just mentioned is to create your own meme. I’m off to do this right now! Motivation for blogging has always been one of my main problems… I am considering buying a calendar and marking reminders for my blogging as one potential motivational tool. Thanks for the inspiration- great article.

  5. baconfan84 says:

    I can definitely go along with the bit about shorter posts. Sometimes I just don’t care about the word count of a blog post and just write about whatever is on my mind.

  6. Adele Gibbes says:

    I keep a list of blog ideas for posts on my GMAIL and WORD and update it as I get new ideas. I just started my three blogs last month and I haven’t gotten a ton of traffic, but understand it takes a while to build. I think it is important to write about your passions or posts that help you learn something new, bringing readers along on the journey. My ‘Into the Great Unknown’ Blog is travel, food, ECO, music inspired – a hubbub of my interests and expertise. I am doing a series on Winter in Yellowstone Country, Non-profit of the Week, Eco Tips and recipes. So a variety of topics but organized by topic. My ‘Inkspot’ Blog is geared to promote my books. I just released ‘Murder in Custer State Park’ and blog about travel highlights of the Black Hills tied to the book and Dakota inspired recipes. I plan to do similar series with new books. I keep doing it and try not to get frustrated if it takes a while to build. My focus is continuing to improve content and write things that are of interest to me and my audience. You may have a buzz topic, but what good is it if you are clutching straws to write it.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      Improving content is the best thing you can do. Good luck with all your blogs!

      • Stacey, does that mean you recommend rewriting old posts or just take what we’ve learned from old articles and move on to new ones? Thanks.

  7. Ryley Kade says:

    Apathy definitely killed my first blog. It is amazing how a lack of interest can kill something really fast. For this year I have been creating content ahead of time which is great for when you run out of ideas or even sometimes time. The idea journal is a great idea. I have a notebook that I write any ideas I have, but usually if an idea comes to my mind I try and take that idea and create that content right away if possible.

  8. Lisa says:

    I definitely go through phases of apathy. Sometimes the topics of my blog aren’t the topics I’m interested in writing about. Usually the phase resolves itself.

  9. Please tell me that’s 25-35 a month! not day…
    Apathy, it is a bad enemy for a blogger. And it hits once in a while whether you like it or not.
    I find that writing thoughts/ideas/sentences randomly whenever they appear helps me have material all the time.
    I completely agree about doing series. It’s stimulating and we get to choose what to write about, which is usually something we’re looking forward to sharing at the time.

  10. Hello Stacey,

    Sometimes, I really wonder why in hell I even chose to be a problogger in the first place! This hubby (and business) can be both a blessing and a curse – believe me.

    I can easily relate to the steps you mentioned to keep a blog vibrant. What I do on a regular basis is:

    1. Make sure that the first thing I do everyday is to post.
    2. I force myself to send a guest entry at least once a week (during weekends)
    3. I visit other blogs immediately after posting (I get fresh ideas about new posts most at times from there!)

    You won’t believe it, I already have a post idea just by reading and commenting here. And yes – the idea has been properly documented in a journal that has over three hundred ideas already.

    See what I mean?

    Happy New Year!

    Always,
    Terungwa

  11. When you have just started up a blog, with ZERO exposure, how do we get the traffic we desire? Its not always good to go spam around?
    I just started by personal blog day before and need some good tips for branding it as I will not need SEO for personal blog.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      It takes time to build organic traffic, but that’s the best kind.

  12. Shehzad says:

    Inviting people to contribute their expertise on your blog is much better idea and much natural. It will allow people to naturally link to you rather going after spammy links.

  13. Karleen says:

    Thanks Stacey for the great post. A lot of good ideas for keeping the blogging going forward. I do have a problem with apathy sometimes, or even just discouragement because I can’t seem to get enough traffic to the blogs that I do write. I’ve only been blogging for a few weeks, though, so I will keep plugging along.

    I like the ideas journal. I actually do that – write down ideas that I come up with when I’m reading others’ blogs – if I can just remember which notebook I wrote them down in! :-)

  14. James H. says:

    I definitely agree with interacting with other bloggers. Not only does it help you come up with more ideas for future post but it also revitalizes your inspiration for blogging again.

    Many people forget about the communal aspect of blogging. It’s the one thing that truly makes blogging rewarding unlike social media, where people just post whatever they want and leave. Blogging is so much more in-depth with soul. Bloggers should never undervalue that.

    Thanks for your list! I found it to be very spot-on.

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      I agree, connecting with others in the blogosphere is a wonderful thing.

  15. Erin says:

    Love the tip to read other blogs. A really great post, even if it’s not in the same niche, can really ignite a fire under your bottom. Works for me!

  16. I LOVE all of these suggestions. Sometimes I get excited by new things (Pinterest, for one) and it makes a huge difference in my blogging. I think of a photo I can write around! Thanks for the inspiration.

  17. Great post, Stacey! :)

    I love the bit about writing a series of posts. I myself love to write long post series. I always recommend it to others as well but many people are scared they will quit the series midway through and waste all that time writing. As a tip, I often recommend that they work on a series behind their actual scheduled posting times. So basically write a series first and then scheduled them to post after you have finished. This way if you decide to give up midway through, you can just turn what you have already made into a shorter series or just individual posts.

  18. Jack says:

    Content calendar, check. Journal, check. Varied inspiration, check check.

    But a great tip on doing a series! I don’t have nearly enough time to post every day, let alone 20+ posts a day. It may take some time, but I’m going to build up to writing twice a week, posting once a week. It will give me the bandwidth to do some of the more interesting things like a tip of the week series and build my returning traffic.

  19. Angelina says:

    love your post :-)
    So basically write a series first and then scheduled them to post after you have finished. This way if you decide to give up midway through, you can just turn what you have already made into a shorter series or just individual posts.
    Thanks…!!

  20. poorblogger says:

    Hm.. the tips very good.. invite questions from readers can attract others to visit the blog.
    wow.. posting goal 25-35 posts per day? it is a huge number.. even a post a day make my headache want to explode..

  21. Sai Krishna says:

    As you said already, redesign works great i think. It is best way to get more motivation for better blogging every year.

  22. Dave Shirley says:

    I enjoyed reading your Post! I find it challenging at times to keep up with the blog because it seems to not generate as much traffic and attention as I would like… I think I need to start reading more blog post on other Top blogs… that might change my perspective some. I would enjoy talking to you some time when you have 5 min to spare! Dave Shirley

    PS I also enjoyed the layout of your blog… completely friendly! Dave

  23. Rebecca Lutz says:

    Thanks for sharing! You have some great tips here that I will definitely be utilizing with my own blog!

  24. Corinne says:

    Hi Darren,

    I really do appreciate everything you do to teach us ‘newbies’ about how to make the most out of our blog.

    I have searched Problogger but cannot find anything on forums and was wondering if I had missed a post that you could link me to, or if you could write on about this topic. I have started a forum focusing on the subject of my niche, as I have searched for a forum like this but haven’t found any. I am getting plenty of views (day 4 of the forum brought in almost 2k views) but not as many members. Do you have any ideas or tips regarding how to get more participation going in forums?

    Corinne x

  25. Valeriya says:

    This is a great post. I like the aspect of ‘dont work harder, work smarter’. I just started out blogging and I learned that I need to constantly think about my actions and organize them. Thanks :)

  26. Jen says:

    Inspiration is required to really write a good blogpost so make sure you’re exited about whatever you’re writing about. Trending and Pinterest are two great platforms to use for inspirations. Images personally excite me.

  27. great post, thank you SR.

    one thing – ” Interact with other bloggers “, I’m afraid the big boys may not have the time to even reply newbies or beginners … Ive tried but just don’t work. gotta keep trying, huh ..

  28. Ally says:

    I know this problem too often. I find having a schedule keeps me motivated so I keep a calender with upcoming post ideas on my laptop because some days its just too hard to think of ideas.

  29. Angelina says:

    Trending and Pinterest are two great platforms to use for inspirations. Images personally excite me.So basically write a series first and then scheduled them to post after you have finished. This way if you decide to give up midway through, you can just turn what you have already made into a shorter series or just individual posts.Thanks..!!

  30. Steve says:

    Take a Break – as many people have said in the comments of previous posts in this series – taking a break is often just what a blogger needs.
    I think, this what every blogger should strictly follow. It gives time to relief and may help to come up with new ideas.

  31. Of course this is true that there must be a uniqueness in the blogging arena, but most of us are just writing our things without seeing the gratification of the article we are heading upon. So I also agree to have similar notion with the author to have good and readable blogs, otherwise don’t fill the net with nothing.

  32. Michael says:

    Thanks for this powerful post, Stacey.

  33. Elliot says:

    I’m really tempted to go for the whole redesign approach to try and improve my motivation although I am going to hold off a bit until I’ve got some fairly decent traffic and some decent income before I sink more money into the site!

  34. I think taking a break is a good idea but its like taking off of school sometimes you get to comfortable and never go back so that one should be used sparingly! The series idea has worked wonders for me it gives your readers a chance to see all your blog has to offer plus you get to see where you have been! Its a wonderful way to get idea

  35. Kenneth says:

    It’s hard to write everyday. I find that starting different projects (and sites) keeps me motivated.

  36. Its Hard to write everyday, so i usually do blogging on weekdays.

  37. Angelina says:

    I’ve got some fairly decent traffic and some decent income before I sink more money into the site!

  38. Rabbi says:

    Thanks for sharing this post, I love this site it is really cool.
    Thanks Again

  39. Vicki says:

    Writing posts ahead of time have saved my butt countless times when the low points of your energy/interest cycle rears its ugly head … set aside a solid week and pound out some solid content.

    You’ll still have the option to post something spur of the moment should inspiration strike, and you’ll have a safety net when the words just aren’t coming!

  40. Hi,

    Thanks for providing these valuable tips for finding motivation. I do agree, that taking a break is a healthy way to focus on your blog. In the beginning, working for long periods of times in front of a computer can’t be quite tiring. Will be sharing this post with my blog community.

  41. Saanvi Singh says:

    I like your idea of a “silo document”. What a great way to organize where we’ve used what keywords, etc. Usually I have a checklist that I go by, but not anymore, Thanks to you!

  42. metz says:

    Revisit old Posts – on the first fleeting look, I do not understand why you need to revisit. But then, I have come to comprehend that you need it. It reminds me of other bloggers that shares about their old posts and comparing it to their newly craft posts. It enables readers to understand that in time, you’ll improve.

    I found this post shared on Kingged.com, the Internet marketing social site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

  43. Pijush Mitra says:

    A great motivational article for bloggers. Nice work, Stacey :)

  44. james says:

    good luck for this experiment

  45. Carole says:

    Thanks, again, Stacey and Darren for another great post! Writing a series has helped me focus, plus I keep an idea journal and write ahead of time. I’m going to incorporate some of these other suggestions into my blogging life!

  46. Jeffrey D says:

    Hi Darren,

    Good point you made on getting a coach. I never understand why you need a coach until i hit a slump sometime back. I took a gamble and pay a coach for USD500.00 at that point of time and i never look back. What i thought was a gamble now pays back handsomely.

    Now that is an investment of a lifetime and what i learn was GOLD. He took by the hand, show me and ask questions which took serious thinking on my objectives. It was mind blowing and the amount encouragement was what i needed.

    Thank lord for that changes and your point really reinforce what i have learn.

    Thanks Darren and wish you good health this year.

  47. Jennifer says:

    Hello, I really like the idea of getting your readers involve in the discussion of the post. Now-a-days I am working on getting your readers’ friends also involve in the discussion. Create such a post that your readers must recommend it to their friends and family members.
    Thank you for great post.

  48. I really enjoyed reading this post, Thanks for sharing your Blog with others. You really share valuable information.

  49. J.D. Meier says:

    Great point about “just write.”

    It’s counter-intuitive but motivation often follows action.

    In fact, one of the best ways to get productive is to “just start.”

  50. David Black says:

    I tend to open a new post and put a few lines in every time I have a flash of inspiration – that way, whenever I’ve run out of ideas, I just have a quick look through and often find I have sometthing of interest ready to go.
    If there really is nothing to write about – go back to bed!