This post is based on episode 170 of the ProBlogger podcast.
Most bloggers start off with a huge burst of energy and excitement. But then at some point (often in their first year or two of blogging) they come up against their first bout of “blogger burnout”.
And it can stop them in their tracks.
If you’ve been blogging for a long time then you’ve probably suffered blogger burnout a number of times. I’ve experienced it several times myself during my 16 years as a blogger.
So today I want to share nine ways to stay fresh and inspired with your blogging. They’ll help you spot burnout coming, and head it off before it hits you with full force.
But before we get into them let’s look at some causes of blogger burnout.
Why Does Blogger Burnout Happen?
Blogger burnout can materialise in different forms and for different reasons.
- You may have run out of topic ideas, and feel you’ve said everything there is to say.
- You may have become disillusioned with your topic, your niche, or blogging in general.
- Despite working really hard on your blog, you may not think it’s paying off.
- You may not be reaching the goals you set for yourself.
- You may feel overworked and worn out.
- Your blog may no longer align with the reason you started it. For example, you may have wanted to be creative at first, but now you’re focused on making money.
- You may be overwhelmed by everything you need to do to keep your blog running.
Whatever the cause of your burnout, here are some practical things you can do to tackle it.
#1: Know Your Limits and Set Realistic Goals
You need to fit your blogging in around the rest of your life. But some bloggers don’t take this into account.
For instance, they might believe they have to post every day. But for many bloggers that’s just not feasible. Once, twice, or three times a week would suit them (and their lives) much better.
And it’s okay to be a little flexible with your posting schedule. If you don’t post as often one week, or even take a full week off, the sky won’t fall.
You also need to be realistic with your expectations and ‘big picture’ goals.
You may have dreamed of having millions of readers and millions of dollars in the bank. But I suspect you now know that achieving that kind of success with a blog can take years. And you need to keep producing consistently useful content the entire time..
#2: Get Into a Blogging Groove
I find blogging easiest when I have a particular rhythm to my week. That means having specific times when I come up with ideas, write content, and edit content.
I went through my own routine in episode 40 of the podcast. So feel free to take a listen if you want the details.
I keep my routine in a spreadsheet. But you don’t need to make yours that formal. In my earlier days of blogging my time was limited – an hour or so in the morning and an hour or so on the evening – I’d write in the morning and edit in the evening.
What sort of schedule could you create for your blogging? Think about what you need to do, and how you can fit it into your week. It might help you get into a blogging grove.
#3: Identify Your Sticking Points
WIth blogger burnout, there’s often a particular area where you’re getting stuck. Perhaps you don’t have any ideas to write about. You might be feeling disillusioned and/or unmotivated about blogging, but the real problem is a lack of ideas.
Maybe you keep comparing yourself to other bloggers, and feel frustrated that your blog isn’t yet as successful as theirs.
Or perhaps you simply haven’t had a break from blogging in ages, and need some time off to rest and recharge.
In episode 83 of the podcast I talked about blogger’s block and three places where you can get stuck:
- idea generation
- writing your content
- completing your content.
These are all different types of blogger’s block. So if you’re feeling burnt out with creating content, you might want to give that episode a listen.
It may also help to chat with someone about your feelings of burnout, or even to get some professional help.
#4: Look After Your Body
The only way to sustain a healthy blog over the long term is to stay healthy yourself.
One of the biggest reasons bloggers burn out is they’re not in a healthy place. It could be their physical health, their mental health, a lack of sleep, or something else.
A few years ago I realised my blogging was suffering because I wasn’t looking after my body. My poor diet and lack of exercise took their toll on not only my body but also my mental health, creativity, and alertness.
I talked about my own health wake-up call and how I dealt with in episode 38 of the podcast. But here are a couple of quick tips.
- Build exercise into your routine. It might be fitting a walk into your day, or getting up from your desk a couple of times a day and doing a few minutes of exercise so you come back refreshed.
- Look at your diet. What changes could you make? They might be geared toward weight loss, or they might be about eating more healthy, nutritious food and less junk.
#5: Take a Break Every Day, Every Week and Every Year
Taking a break, resting or sleeping might seem unproductive. But they can help your blog in so many ways. The better you rest, the better you work.
It can help to think about rest and time away from your blog in different timeframes.
- Daily: I work on my blog during business hours (normally 9–5). But I take a walk in the middle of the day, and the beginning and end of the day are blog-free.
- Weekly: I try not to work on weekends. I may do a couple of really short bursts on a Saturday morning and a Sunday evening, but everything in between is time off. That weekly rest is really important.
- Yearly: I schedule time off during the year to spend with my family – usually a couple of two-week breaks and a couple of long weekends.
It’s important to unplug regularly so you’re not thinking about your blog all day, every day. Your blogging will be better, and other areas of your life will also benefit such as your friendships and your relationship with your family.
Which leads me to…
#6: Build Relationships and Look After Them
Taking breaks with family and friends is good for your relationships.
When we work online in social media, a lot of our interactions tend to be virtual.
While online relationships can be very positive, it’s important to have grounded, real-life relationships as well.
Over the past 16 years I’ve been on the end of some pretty vicious attacks from strangers online that had me on the verge of giving. But while I had some good online friends helping me through those times, it was my real-life friends that gave me the real support I needed – and a place to retreat from the stress.
Of course, online relationships matter to, because your friends and family may not understand what you’re going through as a blogger. One of the best ways to solidify online relationships is to attend blogging events whenever you can. Meeting other bloggers face to face is a great way to strengthen your relationships with them.
#7: Fit Inspiration and Learning into Your Day
One of the most powerful things I do is schedule at least 5–10 minutes a day to watch or listen to something inspiring. I used to watch TED talks, but now I tend to listen to podcasts.
I try to include two types of podcasts: ones that inspire me, and ones that teach me something. Both are important, because they give you energy in different ways.
What you listen to or watch doesn’t always need to be about blogging or your blog’s topic. Maybe you get inspired by wildlife documentaries, and the beauty of the animal kingdom.
You don’t have to make a lot of time for them. But spending just ten minutes watching a video or listening to a podcast can help you feel inspired,and potentially more knowledgeable.
#8: Play, Pivot, and Evolve
I tend to get bored. And when I’m bored I feel a bit dejected. Doing the same thing the same way, day in and day out, kills my passion for things.
Over the years I’ve learned that I need to look for new ways to do things.
One of the great things about blogging and podcasting is they’re always changing. There’s always something new to try. And while that can be a distraction, I think it’s important to bring play and experimentation into what we do.
When I started the ProBlogger podcast after 12 years of blogging, it gave me a huge rush of energy and motivation.
Another blogger I spoke to had the same experience when she moved from writing about her topic to creating videos about it.
Just changing the medium gave us both a huge rush of energy. Maybe you could try something similar with your own blogging.
Another way to pivot and evolve is to add categories to your blog. On Digital Photography School a few years ago I added a category about post-production – how to process your photos in Lightroom and Photoshop. It energised both me and my readers as we explored a new area together.
You could also try:
- Running a new series of posts
- Monetizing your blog, or launching a new product
- Changing the design of your blog, whether it’s getting a new logo or changing the colours
As well as energising you, these pivots and changes keep your blog fresh for your readers.
#9: Do Something That Matters
This is probably the most important thing you can do to avoid or get through burnout: do something that matters – both to you and to others.
When you’re doing something you have a genuine interest in and believe in, you’ll find you can keep the momentum going most of the time.
Over the years I’ve had more than 30 blogs. But today I only run two: Digital Photography School and ProBlogger. They’re are the ones I have the most interest in and the most passion for.
Of course, it will still get tough sometimes. But the fact you’re making other people’s lives better can give you the energy and inspiration to get through it.
Things that kept me going over the years of building ProBlogger were the emails and comments from readers letting me know something had a tangible impact on them.
If you’re experiencing blogger burnout right now, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. Give yourself a week or two off. But make sure you have a point where you come back to start blogging again.
You might bring in some guest posters to cover the time you’re way. Or you might just tell your readers that you’re taking a bit of time off. They’re usually very understanding of things like that.
And while you’re on your break, you might want to think about implementing at least one or two of the points we’ve covered:
- Know your limits and set realistic expectations
- Get into a blogging grove
- Identify your sticking points
- Look after your body
- Take breaks on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis
- Build relationships and look after them
- Fit inspiration and learning into your day
- Play, pivot, and evolve
- Do something that matters
If you’re going through a tough time right now, please look after yourself. And feel free to reach out for help and support in the comments.
Image credit: Luke Porter