This guest post is by Ryan Barton, author of Smart Marketing.
You’ve got an editorial calendar, you’ve scheduled blog posts weeks in advance. Look how professional you are. Well done. You’re an inspiration.
You press Publish and bask in retweets, praise, and a flood of comments. You’re “resonating” with your “tribe.” You’re prolific. You’re a cocky so-and-so.
Then it hits: the loathing.
You’re exhausted. You’re ignoring your calendar. You can’t be bothered to think about new topics. Your writer’s well is bone-dry. You’ve met the resistance and it has won.
Your writing becomes programmed (verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus). It’s no longer art, and no longer an exercise in intellect. It lacks moxy. You’re phoning it in.
This is a low point. Have you been there?
If you bore yourself, how do you expect your readers to read, let alone share, your content?
What do you do when you loathe your own blog?
Find a way to restart, tabula rasa. And you’re the only one who can make it happen.
1. Do a design refresh
You buy new running shoes, and suddenly you want—need—to run. I must satisfy the shoes, it is their reason for existence. You buy a new car and instantly you cease dreading your hour-long commute.
It’s the same with your blog. Launch a new theme and you’ll feel the need to create new content that mirrors the sophistication of your new design. It pulls you back in and urges you forward. Clearly, your own boredom isn’t reason enough for a design overhaul, but it’ll certainly reignite your fire.
2. Narrow your focus
When I launched The Smart Marketing Blog in 2007, my posts were eclectic random. Readers didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what to expect. One day, a post about bus stop ads, the next day, how to set-up PDFs to open at screen height, and another day, musings on a new social network. There was no focus.
But now, when I focus only on smart marketing for small business success, my readers know what to expect. I have focus—a roadmap.
3. Take off the chains
Darren publishes daily. Sort of. Somebody on the collective ProBlogger team publishes daily. But I think he’d agree that expecting you, by yourself, to generate mind-blowing content daily is expecting too much.
At one point, I followed an editorial calendar that scheduled posts twice a week. But even those posts were rubbish. They weren’t inspired, they were the result of a self-imposed guideline. Sure, publishing more frequently drives more traffic, but also yields disappointed readers who are trying to digest your traffic-driven rubbish.
Write because you can’t help it, not because there’s a blank post to fill. Today, I write only when I can imagine giving a speech on my topic. The topic is that good. So good, I can visualize myself preaching from a soapbox. And you know what, my traffic has remained the same, despite publishing much less frequently.
4. Ship something
I don’t advocate shipping something simply for the sake of shipping; that only yields mediocrity. But shipping evokes pride and passion and a fierce sense of taking names. Last year I published my book on smart marketing for small businesses, this year I launched my newsletter, and in the months ahead I have two other books in the works. Each functions to inspire and refill my writer’s well.
Aside from your blog—because your blog is not your product, your blog supports your product—what can you create to inject that same inspiration?
5. Change your routine
Want to find new inspiration? Approach your trivial, mundane tasks in a new way. When you break your habits, you force yourself to problem-solve, expand your thinking, and consider other solutions. It’s that same thinking that yanks you out of your writer’s rut. Purposefully take the longer route to the office, travel to a foreign country, run instead of lifting weights, read a different genre book to stretch your mind, expand your palette with a new coffee brewing method, keep your phone off when it’s normally on, watch a documentary instead of that sitcom—or better yet, read a book … with pages, not a screen.
6. Change how and where you write
Last week, I sat in a dark parking lot waiting for takeout from a local eatery. I was isolated, undisturbed, and focused. So much so, I made great progress on a blog post in the matter of minutes. Just me, a journal, and a soft dome light. Working out of coffee grinder-dominated cafes doesn’t foster the same productivity. Neither does sitting in front of a television or high-traffic public venues. Sure, use the excuse that people-watching inspires you. Rubbish.
Take yourself seriously, hide yourself, sever ties to notifications, reminders, and the urge to make sure you’re always in-the-know. Your writing—your art—deserves nothing less than your undivided attention.
7. Read new, not more
How many blogs do you subscribe to? Right now, how many blog posts sit unread? If you’re no longer challenged—if you’re glazing over posts out of habit, if you’re no longer being inspired and challenged—unsubscribe and find new ways to be stimulated. Stop wondering if you’re missing out on anything, cut ties, and stretch yourself. You may be out of school, but that’s no excuse for not remaining a student.
8. Who’s your muse?
Who do you work for? Wake up for? Breathe for? Write for them. Is it your wife, your lover, your most loyal subscriber, or your unborn child? Use them as your motivation to keep driving when you’re not strong enough to persist yourself. Keep this person’s photo nearby as a reminder. Don’t get so busy that you forget why or for whom you’re working so hard.
9. Declare victory or failure
When starting a new project, name your goal. How else will you measure success? Seth said it best, “Declare one or the other, but declare.” Maybe it’s time for self-evaluation. Maybe it’s time to reflect and determine what you did right (to do it again) and what you’ll avoid the next time. Because there will be a next time. “Failure” isn’t never blogging again. No, failure is taking valuable lessons and proactively applying what you’ve learned to the next iteration of your blog.
We’re artists. We all feel the urge to tweak our logos and change our avatars. We see the same “us” every day, and we’re bored. But what we find repetitive and boring and loathe-worthy, our tribe views as consistency and resonation.
The real artists find a way to push through, put their shoulders back and chin up, and reignite their own passion.
Have you hit the blogging loathe-wall before? How did you bust through it? Leave a comment below so others might be inspired to do the same. And stick around—later today we’ll take a look at a case example of a blogger who changed their blog’s writing style overnight—and reaped the rewards.
Ryan Barton is a small business marketing, social media, and design consultant. He is the author of Smart Marketing, blogs at The Smart Marketing Blog, tweets at www.twitter.com/RyanBarton, and lives in Los Angeles.
I’m a blogger, sometimes I’m highly motivated and sometimes I’m not. Overall, I think you have put together an excellent collection of tips and tricks for anyone feeling a temporary lack of motivation. However, I would say the best advice to anyone loathing their own blog is simply to find something else to do. Even when I’m not feeling the most inspired to write, I still do, as overall blogging is something I like doing. What’s the point of pursuing something that one dislike or feel disgusted with? Well, I wouldn’t.
Excellent article. Definitely agreed to Point 3. I have written so many less valued article just to keep consistency in my blog.
Can you explain “Read new, not more” further. How to unsubscribe from unwanted content and how to choose what to read. My feed reader is filled up with too many posts.
Instead of reading the same blogs you’re comfortable with, challenge yourself with something entirely new and perhaps outside your industry. Sometimes just learning *something* will kickstart you again.
I’ve also found myself in your shoes. Every time I found I either hated my blog or I was too busy to write something interesting, I would simply put it in a small box in the back of my mind and let it die. However, I found that every blog redesign I did, it maximised my traffic for a short period as everyone was fascinated by it only for it to die to death weeks later.
Since then, I’ve changed how and when I write which has reflected in my traffic as well as audience figures as they have doubled. Thanks for reminding me how bad my blog was to a success it has suddenly become!
I find the best inspiration for me is to visit other blogs and comment. My comments often will trigger a great idea for a post. A story I had long forgotten about or a new point of view.
Not the same topic they have posted about but my own topic in my own way.
Most of upcoming bloggers lack in focusing their affords to one topic and writes what comes in mind. The blog should be well focused to build good and returning audience.
Smart tips here.
I have reached the point a few times in the past. Now I spend more time in silence before posting. You get sick of your blog if you stop having fun writing, and this is usually due to thinking through the process…i.e..intellectualizing, believing you need to post on a sked, or work off a set routine.
As you note, switch it up. Unplug entirely. Forget about trying to gain inspiration from all types of sources. Find a quiet spot. Let your ego chatter run out, tire itself out. Return to a creative, inspired state. If you do not feel ultra high energy do something to raise your energy levels. No sense busting your tail to write a substandard post which generates no interest.
The idea is to inspire. Educate. Inform. This means devoting all of your creative energy to one task at hand: writing a post, and a damn good one. Write good, informative posts, and you begin to love your blog again. Keep it up. Keep the love-momentum going and your entire blogging experience becomes more high energy, more inspiring for readers, and you will enjoy the heck out of blogging again. Loathing is replaced with loving.
Thanks for sharing your insight with us Ryan.
Unplugging entirely is huge for me. Seems like it would be counterproductive, but I come back completely refreshed with an entirely different approach.
Try something new. When I add a new element/feature to my blog or tweak its design, it brings to light a bunch of related issues that inspire new posts.
Great point Bryan
Hey Ryan, excellent points I will really try some of them.
On my fitness blog everything was going well early on I Had managed to grow decent traffic in a short space of time and posted regularly but then things like the google updates and the google dance affected me, bringing my traffic down and leaving me feeling depressed and uninspired. Ever since then I have been trying to get back to my good writing mood. I have made a few changes to post types and lengths and im still sort of looking for that first real breakthrough.
Do a design refresh for you to not feel boring while work by internet and also for the readers to unwind their mind and find your blog more attractive.
Doing Something New really helps, I usually get inspired and creative when I adjust one or two things in my blog design.
Great Post Ryan, it was worth the Reading.
*I sent in a guest post for problogger via the Contact form some days ago, hope to hear from you soon*
I’ve been told that if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. If that’s true, how could you ever hate blogging about it?
I maintain seven blogs (each one a narrowly focused outlet); I do not post by schedule, but purely by inspiration, so most posts I write actually mean something to me at the time I post them.
As I make the transition in my professional life to that point where I’m not working for someone else but fully engaged in my own thing, blogging will graduate to a more structured approach. Hopefully, I’ll also be able to hire a programmer to take my properties to that next level.
In the meantime, it’s always fun for me.
You don’t hate the topic, but sometimes you’ll loathe the process and the ‘burden’ of creating new content over and over and over again.
Wow. I so needed to read this. My blog is of all over the place and I know I need to find focus. I’ve been trying to figure that out (and secretly hoping the idea will more easily bonk me on the head in the middle of the night) and will now focus on finding focus. ;-D
:) Let me know how it all goes, Linda
Great insight and advice. I’ve found myself in this same position lately and haven’t had any idea as to how to move forward. I think that implementing and following your ideas it will help to reignite the fire. Thanks again.
Hi nice to be here.
Wonderful and informative and educative post to the bloggers.
Great tips here. I liked your conclusion.
“We’re artists. We all feel the urge to tweak our logos and change our avatars. We see the same “us” every day, and we’re bored. But what we find repetitive and boring and loathe-worthy, our tribe views as consistency and resonation. The real artists find a way to push through, put their shoulders back and chin up, and reignite their own passion.”
Keep up the good work.
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