Lately I’ve been coming across all kinds of tweets and blog posts from bloggers who are really burned out. I talked about my frustrations with blogging recently, and Chantilly, Elizabeth, Heather and San have all recently posted about their thoughts, experiences and frustrations with everything from finding their place online to struggling with community and connection.
I’ve been working through my questions about blogging slowly, and I wanted to share some of the strategies that have been helpful for me in the past month along with concrete steps that might be able to help if you’re feeling frustrated, confused or like you’ve lost some of the love & magic that blogging used to hold for you.
Release Your Expectations
Sometimes when I get into a rhythm or routine, eventually it can be hard to see outside of the pattern I’ve created. A few years ago I decided that being a “good” blogger meant I would post four or five times a week, comment back to everyone who comments on my posts, and spend a few hours on twitter a day between tasks. At the time it made sense to me, because I had been working in an unrewarding job where I had lots of free time, and I’m a Type A lady who loves to Do Things Thoroughly. Over time that expectation became a hurdle to enjoying blogging because it was impossible to succeed by standards that didn’t align with my life anymore. By letting go of that expectation and reassessing what being a “good” blogger means to me now, I can look forward to blogging instead of making myself feel guilty.
My version of being a good blogger now means posting 3-4 times a week, actively replying to comments on each post, and being active & encouraging on twitter. Once a week I pick a post and comment back to everyone who took the time to leave a comment, and I follow back everyone who talks with me on Twitter. It’s an unofficial system that works for my life, and it re-charges me instead of draining me.
Stand Firm In Your Worth
One of the reasons comparison is dangerous is that it’s inherently about value. When we line up and compare blogs against our own, we’re automatically looking at them in terms of better and worse instead of considering any of the other factors that make up our experience creating and sharing content, or in interacting with the greater community online.
As well, because so much of blogging takes place behind closed doors we often forget about the goals or circumstances of the people at the “Top of the Charts” in the blog world. Professional bloggers are inspiring and often present an aspirational picture of their life or craft. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of blogging, but if you have a mindset of unworthiness or inferiority as a reader those posts can make you feel like you don’t measure up… when the professionals have a team of people, funds to draw on, and a huge proportion of their time focused on creating each post. When we lose sight of the work that goes in behind the scenes, or buy into the trap of pretending it’s easy we can get discouraged before we even begin.
The thing is that statistics, comment count, post frequency, level of creativity and vulnerability online don’t determine your worth. You’re worthy just by waking up in the morning, but sometimes that can be very hard to remember. Thinking positively and being a cheerleader for yourself is a practice we have to work at every day, but remembering that you are enough as you are – not after the next post, once you become more stylish, or when you have a certain number of page views per day – is a powerful shift in how you approach your life & creative projects.
Forget Your Niche, Remember Your Story
Finding your niche is an idea you’ll find at every blogging conference and piece of marketing advice you pick up, but when you’re struggling with your online identity narrowing down to a defined niche can feel claustrophobic and impossible. Instead of worrying about which sub-genre of blogging that you fall into, remembering the overall story that you’re telling can be a positive way to connect all the pieces that make up your blog.
Your story can be as simple or elaborate as you like, but think of it like a mission statement. Consider the themes that your posts usually revolve around. Maybe you’re a girl trying to find her way into a job you can be really passionate about, or you could be sharing your craft skills and simple ways to make things beautiful. You might want to show a behind the scenes peek at what running a business looks like, or help people market themselves authentically. With your story in mind you can put that unique twist into any topic you share, and your readers will understand how each post connects to that overall story you’re telling.
Start a Journal
While it might be perfect for many things, it’s worth remembering that your blog isn’t the best forum for working through the issues in your day to day life. There are so many complications around sharing your heart publicly, and unless you’re really lucky there’s bad that comes alongside all the good. While I’ve been working out the changes I want to see in my blog I’ve been writing in a journal (which I haven’t done in years!) and having a private space to sift through my thoughts has been really fun and helpful.
Having a private space lets you work out what you’re thinking, go back and see what has or hasn’t been helpful for you, and it can be a direct line into the kinds of things you’re interested about posting or creating online. At the least it can give you a dedicated space where you know you’ll work through what’s troubling you so writer’s block doesn’t hit when you want to post.
Tune Out (Temporarily)
When I’ve felt overwhelmed by blogging it can be really helpful to pare down the amount of blogs I read so I’m focused on high quality blogs I really adore. Temporarily unsubscribing or purging your Google Reader account can be a helpful way to help stop comparing yourself to others (even if they have blogs you adore) by giving yourself a holiday from those feelings until your confidence in yourself is stronger. A quick Google Reader purge is one way to achieve this- but if you export your subscriptions first you can unsubscribe left and right without losing inspiration sources you might want to re-subscribe to in the future.
To export your Google Reader settings, click on the gear icon at the top right of your google reader and click “Reader Settings”. Click Import/Export and the word “Download” next to your subscriptions. Once you save the file somewhere safe your can make your daily reads more minimal without worry.
Everyone’s blogging journey is different, and there is no right way to do it. I hope that what’s helped me can help any burned out bloggers looking for ways to get back to the honeymoon phase :)