Five Tips to Avoid Blogging Burnout



Image Credit: Caroline Trentini shot by David Sims for Vogue, September 2014

Over the last five years, I've had the pleasure and privilege of drafting blog posts I enjoy for Cats in My Closet.  What started as a passion project has morphed into a side-business, and I've grown exponentially over the past year and hope to expand my brand in ways beyond my website within the next few years. Everybody who knows me knows that when I do something, I do it BIG. I put my whole heart into my work, and the proof is in the readership.

On the flip side, because I'm so invested in what I put out, there are times I feel extremely overwhelmed.   I guess it's natural that with any creative profession, you're going to have days, weeks, or even months where you get uninspired with what you're doing--I see it frequently with designers, creative directors, and yes, even other bloggers.  You'll think that everything you put out absolutely sucks; that there's nothing new that can be said on the subject you're passionate about; that nobody is paying attention to what you're doing; that you'll never get to the place you want to be; that you're not an expert and the truth is bound to come out eventually...Listen, I get it. As a girl who struggles with an anxiety disorder and a gnarly case of impostor syndrome, I UNDERSTAND.

I know from my personal life that these moments are extremely difficult to get through. While experiencing some level of creative crisis is inevitable (sorry), I've put together a list of tips to help you get through it and to avoid blogging burnout as you work through the process of self-doubt.

See five tips to avoid blogging burnout after the jump!





CREATE AN INSPIRATION BOARD

Because I am a visual person (much like most other bloggers), when I get in a rut, I like to put together an inspiration board.  I prefer to go the digital route and use Pinterest so that I can disperse images onto secret boards, this way I'm not getting influenced by any outside sources and no one can see my embryonic ideas before I'm ready to share. When putting together an inspiration board, I like to consider different aspects:  color, photography style, textures, shapes, clothing, angles, patterns. My boards are an amalgamation of magazine editorial photography, nature scenes, flowers, artwork, runway shots, hairstyles--inspiration can be found in the most unlikely of images!

Once you've gathered your inspiration, take a good look at your board(s).  What are some common themes in what you've pinned? Is there a prominent color scheme or subject matter? What draws you to these images in particular? What are some ways you can incorporate these images into your work? As an example, on one of my recent boards I had a massive amount of makeup looks, so I decided to to try a new lip color to complement my latest outfit post as a way to keep my content fresh. And you know what? I'm now more inspired than ever to add makeup posts to my site.

A couple of key points: 1) Be inspired by an image, DON'T copy it verbatim. This is a disrespect not only to the original creator but to yourself.  2) It's easy to get lost in a sea of inspiration and forget your original intent.  My advice is to limit the amount of time you spend gathering inspiration so that you don't lose focus. 



GIVE YOUR BRAIN A WELL-DESERVED BREAK

I'm only going to say this once.  STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER. Like seriously, go for a walk, take an impromptu road trip with some friends, lie down for a nap if you need to.  Stay off of your social media channels--in fact, don't even check your messages.  Sometimes the best way to recharge is by completely letting go.  Allow yourself to relax and take a break for once.

I like to think of my brain as any other muscle, like my hamstring for instance.  If I were to over-exert my hamstring from too much exercise (like that's even a real possibility for me, ha!), I would give that muscle a rest so I could get back to my workout regimen within a couple of days.  The brain is kind of the same way.  If you put too much focus on what you're trying to achieve, it can wear you down and the ideas sort of get bogged down in the mental mess.  However, if you give your brain a rest and avoid stressing about whatever project you've got going on, then you're letting your thoughts recharge as a means of getting the creative juices flowing once again to their full potential.  Make sense? Good, now go get that Lush bath bomb and chill, girl.




REACH OUT TO YOUR READERS

Very often, blogging feels like a solo endeavor, and it's easy to forget that there are people out there who are actively invested in your work.  Your readers are your audience, and they are so passionate about the blog posts that you put out that they continue to subscribe. Why not ask them what they'd like to see? Not only will this help guide your blog content, but it also gives them a voice and provides a sense of community. One thing I've learned is that people are always ready to give an opinion and, more importantly, like being heard, because it means that you give a fuck.

If you already have a content plan in place but are feeling uninspired, be honest with your audience. Because I struggle with depression, I've had some really bad days where I couldn't manage to get any blog posts out and I shared this vulnerability with my readers.  During these times, instead of ignoring me, my followers have offered support and have even said such sweet things that I immediately felt rejuvenated.  You're only human, and most people will empathize with that. Depending on your relationship with your readers, you could even offer some guest post spots on your blog during those particularly rough patches.

TRY SOMETHING COMPLETELY NEW

Right here, right now, I am giving you full permission to veer away from your editorial calendar. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes living and dying by the "schedule" can make everything feel monotonous and stale.  When I first started blogging, people weren't scheduling posts ahead of time.  In fact, everything was incredibly spontaneous, which is what made blogging so exciting! Occasionally, it's important to pull back from the routine and shake things up a bit, otherwise you're bound to get bored really quickly.

Try a new photography style.  Wear something that is a little outside of your comfort zone.  Write about a subject that intimidates you.  Take a day trip to a place you've never been.  Try your hand at a group post.  Don't worry about being "bad" at it or trying to be perfect, because you're giving yourself freedom to be a little experimental.  The best part is, if you tried something and didn't like it, there's absolutely no obligation to ever try it again.


JUST HIT PUBLISH ALREADY! (DON'T LOOK BACK)

I'm gonna be real with you: not all of your blog posts are going to be your best work.  AND THAT'S OKAY. Aside from quality content, consistency is key when operating a blog, because we live in the age of short attention spans.  If you normally post once a week but you go four weeks without a post, your readers are going to get confused, and you're likely to alienate your sponsors.

I'm probably going to get a lot of flack for this one, but honestly sometimes you just have to go ahead and publish something, anything, just to keep the momentum going. I had a very insightful talk with Stephanie recently about this very subject.  She told me that when she was in college, one of her photography professors said that any creative career requires that you continue to pump out work on a deadline.  If you're unable to continue to put out work under non-ideal circumstances, he said, then you should consider what you're doing as more of a hobby than a career.  When she first said that to me, I was flabbergasted and kind of insulted--I mean, us creative types, we have to have ~inspiration~ ya know? But after I thought about it, I realized that she is totally right.

There are gonna be those days when all you can come up with is seemingly mediocre content, but hey, it's better than no content at all.  Put it out there.  Just do it. You live and you learn, and you'll use this as fuel to push yourself to do better on the next go-round. Hell, most of the time, your readers won't be nearly as critical of your work as you are; they'll just be glad that they have a new post to read on your site!

*****

I hope you found these tips helpful.  Having any sort of creative career has its ups-and-downs, but I promise that the tough times will pass and you'll end up surprising yourself with how innovative you can be, especially under pressure.

Do you have any advice that you would offer to avoid blogging burnout?  Leave your suggestions in the comments!

'Til next time, kittens!

No comments

Back to Top