Blogger burnout is real. It can cause bloggers to lose focus and motivation, or even abandon blogging altogether. But the good news is, it can be easily avoided. Read my 22 ways to avoid blogger burnout and get your blogging mojo back!
I am pretty well known in blogging circles as being that slightly annoyingly over positive blogger who is always super excited about blogging. And most of the time that is 100% true. I love blogging – it has totally changed my life for the better and it’s always so full of fun, excitement and new challenges I just can’t get enough of it. And I am super passionate about helping other bloggers fulfil their blogging goals too – I am a total blogging cheerleader (If you’re in my Facebook group you’ll know this from first-hand experience!)
But I’ll let you into a secret – I’m not über chipper about blogging 100% of the time. That slightly over-eager puppyishness I have about blogging can lead to me doing way too much, which in turn leads to stress, overwhelm…and blogger burnout!
Blogger burnout is real. And it happens to all of us at one time or another in our blogging careers. In its mildest form it causes us to feel down about blogging, get sad because we feel everyone is better than us, lose our focus and our motivation. At its worst it can cause bloggers to quit blogging altogether.
I am always so sad when a blogger quits blogging. That’s a voice and a message we’ll no longer get to hear and, all to often, a friend we stop hearing from.
But as a result of being the sort of person who is prone to stress and overwhelm. I’ve also developed some pretty good techniques to avoid it.
Now I’m not going to sit here and say that I now have my ish together 100% of the time and never get burned out. That would be a lie. But using these techniques helps me to avoid stress and overwhelm most of the time and gives me the tools to fix things when it all goes a bit pear-shaped.
Here are 22 ways to avoid blogger burnout…
1. Take regular time away from your blog
This is a big one. As a blogger it’s easy to try and work 24/7. But working 24/7 is a sure-fire way to burn out fast! Make sure you are taking regular time ‘off’.
That could be ensuring you have one blog free day a week (I try to avoid working on Sundays) and/or ensuring you have specific evenings when you don’t spend any time on your blog at all.
I know this is going to look different for different people – it depends a lot whether you are blogging full-time or part time around a full-time job elsewhere and/or family commitments.
But try to plan in advance when you are going to blog and when you are not going to blog and do your best to stick to that.
2. Write down your definition of success and refer to it often
This is something I cannot say enough. Too often we get suckered in to what other people’s definition of success is – fame / TV appearances / massive pageviews/ huge numbers of social followers / 6 figure salary etc. etc. And it’s this chasing after unicorns which often which leads to burnout.
Either we get sad and down about everyone else being ‘so much better’ than us, or we redouble our efforts and work all kinds of crazy hours to try and achieve other people’s definition of success. Often without ever considering what our own definition of success is.
Instead, take time out to write down your definition of success. What is TRUE SUCCESS in your eyes? This is mine:
“To make a decent income doing something I love, while having plenty of time to spend with the people who are important to me AND to help other bloggers to achieve the same.”
3. Test your decisions against your definition of success
It’s no good having your own definition of success and then carrying on as before. Test every decision, every task, every emotion against your success criteria.
Let’s say your definition of success is the same as mine and you are currently spending 3 hours a day scheduling to social media. Is that directly helping you earn decent money? Probably not. Is it something you enjoy? Probably not. Is it something that means you get to spend lots of quality time with the people you love? Almost certainly not!
Having that definition of success has really affected the way I view various aspects of blogging – especially social media. I used to feel bad because I didn’t have as many followers as other bloggers, that I didn’t get as many comments or shares or likes.
But now I realise that none of that contributes to MY definition of success. This releases me to spend time on the things that do contribute to my definition (e.g. writing posts / SEO / email / the Productive Blogging Community) and has led me to take the decision to automate the majority of my social media scheduling, so I spend less time on a task I hate and more time with the people I love.
So, what’s your definition of success? Write it down now and start living by it. Testing everything you do by that definition.
4. Say no – a lot!
Us bloggers we are guilty of saying yes, FAR TOO MUCH – but in truth, we should be SAYING NO TO ALMOST EVERYTHING. If you truly want to achieve your blogging dreams and be your own version of successful, you need to be quite blinkered – focusing on the things that will genuinely help get you there and saying no to pretty much everything else.
I say ‘no’ to a lot of stuff. I say ‘no’ to the vast majority of sponsored posts I get offered – because they don’t contribute to that definition of success I set myself. I say ‘no’ to all sorts of interesting event invitations for the same reason.
I say ‘no’ to spending hours on social media, I say ‘no’ to people asking if they can hire me to do stuff on their blog, I say ‘no’ to playing any kind of silly follow/unfollow game and I say ‘no’ to doing a lot of things that apparently bloggers ‘should’ be doing – because none of those contribute to MY definition of success.
The truth is, our time is finite and the demands of our modern busy world mean there is always more stuff to do than any of us have time for. Therefore, if you say ‘yes’ to something, you are automatically saying ‘no’ to something else. All too often we find ourselves saying ‘yes’ to other people’s agendas, meaning we have to say ‘no’ to what’s on ours.
So next time you find yourself about to say ‘yes’ to something, ask yourself first – what will I have to stop doing in order to do this new thing? If that swap is worth it then, by all means go for it, but if it’s not SAY NO!
5. Be realistic about what you can achieve in 1 day
How often do you finish your daily to do list? For most people the answer is NEVER! This is either because they don’t have a daily to do list or because they are over ambitious about what can actually be achieved in 1 day.
If you are not in the habit of writing a daily to do list, start now. First thing in the morning (or better still as the last ‘work’ thing you do the previous evening) write down a list of all the things you want to achieve that day and NOTHING ELSE.
Then do a reality check – note down next to each item roughly how long that activity will take. Then add up how long all those tasks will take together and compare it to how long you have available to blog that day – if you’ve planned more than you have time for, take some things off your day’s ‘to do’ list.
Don’t plan to do more than you can realistically do in 1 day. In fact, in an ideal world you should plan to do slightly less – as things often arise in the day that you haven’t planned for.
6. Switch off social media notifications
Do not let your life be ruled by social media notifications! One of the best things I ever did was turn off all social media notifications on my phone. One of the quickest ways to achieve blogger burnout is to be on social media 24/7.
It’s funny how, those of us who are parents, generally set limits on our kids’ screen time, yet we don’t set any limits on our own screen time! Being on social media 24/7 is just NOT HEALTHY! And having your phone beeping at you 24/7 is a virtually guaranteed way to ensure you’ll be checking social media 24/7. If you can resist the beep of a mobile phone, you’re a stronger person than I!
Instead, set aside a specific time once (or at most twice) a day when you do check in to social media. Outside of that time don’t check it AT ALL. Turn all the notifications off. Exit all the tabs.
It takes discipline to do this to start with, but after that it is super liberating!
I check social media typically twice a day during the week and once a day at weekends. During the week I tend to check social media once just before lunch and once just before the end of my working day.
It’s a small, but very effective way to ensure I don’t spend too much time on social media.
You see, I used to check social media first thing in the morning and then again after lunch. But what I found was I was taking a long time on social, because I knew the next thing I’d have to do was real work. Essentially, I was procrastinating, but calling it ‘work’
By doing social media immediately before ‘me time’ I find I spend much less time on it – I do what I need to do (generally reply to comments, and interact with other people’s content), but then I get off social media straight away as I have something even better to do straight after.
7. Have regular admin days
Do you find your ‘to do’ list gets longer and longer over time and fills up with seemingly hundreds of small, not very urgent admin tasks that really need doing but you never quite get round to? You and me both.
And the thing is, as those little niggly admin jobs grow and some of them become a bit more urgent (hello tax return – I’m looking at you!), they start to get a whole lot more stressful – and so contribute to that feeling of blogger burnout.
But the solution is really simple – have an admin day!
Have a whole day dedicated to just clearing through your admin. Do no ‘real’ work – no blog posts, no social media scheduling, no writing email newsletters or working on your SEO, just blitz those admin jobs and get them done. Fire through them one after another until they are GONE!
And for goodness sake don’t allow yourself to check email / social media / stats or anything else until you’ve cleared through your backlog.
If your admin backlog is very large you may find you need to take more than one day to initially blitz these small niggly jobs. After that, schedule in admin days as often as you need to, so you can get all your accumulated admin done in one day.
I can’t tell you how nice it feels to have cleared all those niggly admin jobs off your plate!
8. Remember why you started blogging
This can often get really lost in the ‘busy-ness’ of blogging. Amid the stress and the overwhelm we forget why we started a blog in the first place.
Most bloggers start blogs because they have a passion for something and they want to inspire and help others. I started my food blog because I was passionate that making great tasting food needn’t me stressful or time-consuming. I wanted to help others make great tasting food in a way that fitted round their busy lives.
I started Productive Blogging because I was passionate that having a successful blog was possible for every blogger and it didn’t mean working 24/7. All around me I saw bloggers who were working their fingers to the bone and seeing nothing in financial reward for their efforts. I wanted to use my business and blogging skills to help bloggers earn decent money in less time – to blog smarter not harder.
Why did you start blogging? I can pretty much guess it was not because you really liked spending your evenings scheduling posts on Twitter or liking pictures of other people’s cats on Instagram, in the vain hope of gaining a few extra followers!
Reminding yourself WHY you started blogging will help you rediscover that initial passion and get your blogging mojo back!
9. Make time for the fun stuff
There is lots of fun stuff when it comes to blogging. If there weren’t, people wouldn’t do it! What are your favourite parts of blogging? Make sure you make time for those things!
If you love writing, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to write each week. If your favourite thing about blogging is creating beautiful photographs or graphics – make sure you do plenty of that. If you love making videos – set aside a good chunk of time to do that each week.
Make sure that, whatever it is you love about blogging, you are doing regularly. Not spending sufficient time doing the things you love about blogging each week is a sure-fire way to fall out of love with blogging.
10. Get outside
Being hunched over a computer all day long is definitely NOT a healthy way to live. Make sure you get out of the house each day – even if it’s just to take a walk to the local shops and buy a paper, or to post a letter.
Obviously if you have another job outside of the house or if you have kids (or a dog!) this is less of an issue. But if you do have the luxury of being able to work all day long on your blog, make sure you get outside in the fresh air at least once a day.
11. Spend quality time with the people that matter to you
Just because you CAN work all the time doesn’t mean you SHOULD. For the sake of your own mental well-being and that of your friends and family, make sure you are spending quality time with your loved ones.
I have found as my kids get older it’s all too easy to get into bad habits of leaving them to their own devices (though not always ON devices, I feel I must point out!). They need me less and I find myself able to get more done when they are in the house. It’s tempting to work for longer and longer as they get older and I can ‘get away with it’ more.
To counteract this I have rules about when my work time is and when it is not. For example, in my house I never work at meal times – we all sit round the table together (with NO screens!) and talk. And I avoid working at bedtime – so I can read them a bedtime story, and for good chunks of the weekend, so we can spend quality time together as a family.
I’m no saint, and this doesn’t always work out, but it’s what I try to do as often as possible!
Whoever your loved ones are – make sure you deliberately make time for them.
12. Set goals for yourself and stick to them
One of the reasons I see bloggers struggle and lose motivation is because they feel like they are not making any progress. But the truth is, if you don’t set yourself goals, create an action plan for those goals and then step by step, little by little, work through those actions you won’t get anywhere.
Set aside time to decide what you want to achieve with your blog in the coming year and how you will achieve those things then create a plan. Work through that plan a little bit each day and you will achieve your blogging goals!
Check out my post on goal setting for bloggers for more help on this.
13. Only check your emails once a day
Email can be a BIG cause of blogger burnout.
Like with social media, which I mentioned above, emails constantly pinging at you all day can be a serious cause of stress and overwhelm. A huge backlog of emails that need actions can also contribute to that sense of overwhelm.
Commit to checking your emails once, or at most twice a day. And when you do, do it properly or not at all. Go in and deal with EVERYTHING new that has come in. Either delete it, file it, action it or add it to your to do list/calendar.
Try to either get your inbox to ZERO each time you check it or (my preferred system), colour code, or otherwise mark, your remaining emails so you know exactly why they are there. For example, I have a specific colour for ‘reading’, a different colour for ‘waiting’ and another colour for something which needs a reply, but needs a longer answer than I’ve got time for right now.
If you find you have a backlog of email so large that is really getting you down, schedule an admin day and spend that whole day working solely on your inbox, deleting, filing and actioning as necessary.
For more help on this check out my post on How to sort out your overflowing inbox for good!
14. Automate and/or outsource
There are so many moving parts to blogging. You simply can’t do everything yourself. You haven’t got the time or, often, the skills. Try and delegate, outsource or automate as much as possible.
Are you in a position to get a VA? If so, DO and use him/her to release your time for what you are best at.
Perhaps you are not at the stage where you can afford a full-time VA, but could you outsource one or more of the big projects you have on your ‘to do’ list instead? For example, some technical thing you don’t really know how to do / the redesign of your blog / setting up your email list / business cards / photography / video creation etc.
Alternatively, can you delegate some part of your non-blog life in order to spend more focused time blogging? Could you get a cleaner? Or do a playdate swap with another parent? Could your other half look after the kids on Saturday mornings to allow you to have an admin morning – with the agreement that then the rest of the weekend is family time?
Alternatively (or as well), could you automate part of your blogging? I did this with social media and it honestly changed my life. I use CoSchedule to automate most of my social media posting, which frees up many hours a week to spend on more important things.
15. Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers
Oh dear, as bloggers we do suffer badly from ‘comparisonitis’ don’t we? It’s so easy to look at what another blogger is doing and wish we were like that blogger – could take as good pictures as them, could think of such natural and engaging social media posts, could write like them, have as many followers as them etc. etc.
But the thing is, we are all at different stages and have different paths to walk. And of course, we only see part of that blogger’s true story. We see a snapshot of what THEY want us to see rather than the full picture – which is often very different!
Next time you are tempted to compare yourself with someone – remind yourself they may have been blogging longer than you, or have more help (a VA, an agent or a whole team!), or be in a different niche to you, or only be presenting 5% of their life on social media – the 5% that sounds glamorous, rather than the 95% which is boring and mundane.
And above all, REMEMBER YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS. Whatever they are doing or have that you are jealous of – might be in direct opposition to what your definition of success looks like!
Having a clear understanding of what your definition of success looks like will remind you that having a bajillion followers on Insta (or whatever silly metric you are worrying about) will not help you achieve what you really want to get out of blogging.
16. Post less often
There is a big myth in blogging that you have to post multiple times a week. It all stems from years ago when you were supposed to blog 3 times a week if you wanted to rank on Google et al. This is not true any more but the myth lives on.
The truth is that what will do you most good in the long run is to write less often but better. These days search engines are much more interested in quality than quantity and, funnily enough, so are readers!
So give yourself a break – there’s no need to bust a gut to write and promote multiple posts a week. Writing one good post per week is more than sufficient. If you can only manage one high quality post a fortnight – do that!
17. Don’t try to do it all… all at once
Another thing we bloggers suffer from badly is ‘shiny object syndrome’ – there are so many exciting things out there, so many opportunities, so many courses, new apps, new techniques, new things to add to the ever growing ‘to do’ list.
It can feel totally overwhelming.
But the truth is, you can’t do it all – or at least not all at once! Write down everything you want to do and then decide in what order you are going to do those things. Then just focus on doing the first one – either until it’s done or until it’s a well-established part of your routine. Then focus on the next thing and then the next, seeing each thing through to completion before embarking on the next.
Treating every new thing you want to do or try as a ‘project’ like this will prevent you from getting overwhelmed and burnt out, but it will also ensure those things on your list actually get done!
Learn more about exactly how to do this in my post on goal setting for bloggers.
18. Seek support from the blogging community
One really great way to avoid blogging overwhelm is by being well plugged in to a supportive blogging community that can help you, encourage you, give you advice and generally ‘get it’ in a way that often other non-bloggy people – even your closest friends and family – just can’t.
If you haven’t already – do come over and join my Productive Blogging Community Facebook Group. It’s exactly that kind of place – friendly, helpful, supportive and welcoming. A great place to share when you’ve had a bad day and your OH just doesn’t understand because he/she doesn’t ‘get’ blogging. A huge source of support and help if something’s gone wrong with your blog and you are not sure how to fix it. And also, a place where bloggers can just hang out together for a general chit chat!
Spending time in the company of other lovely bloggers is a great way to avoid blogger burnout.
19. Be patient – blogging is a long-term game
Haha – my personal nemesis. I am hopelessly impatient. And that means I tend to pile too much on my plate because I want everything yesterday!
Every time I do that, I have to remind myself that I have potentially decades of blogging time ahead of me and it does not matter if all the things I want to happen on my blogs don’t happen immediately!
And the same goes for you! If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed ask yourself why? Is it because you are impatient and actually half these things don’t HAVE to happen RIGHT NOW?
And also, when you look at other bloggers and they seem to be achieving so much, remember they may have years’ worth of ‘failure’ behind them – their success may be a recent phenomenon.
20. The 3-column technique
This is a really good technique I have for when I feel really stressed and feel like I have ‘so much to do’ and it’s ‘all really urgent’.
Get a blank piece of paper and write down everything that you feel you have to do – all the things that are bugging you. No order. No priority attached just get it all down.
Next rewrite that list, but this time split the list into 3 columns.
- ‘Things which HAVE to be done today (or something dreadful will happen)’
- ‘Things which HAVE to be done this week (but not today)’
- ‘Things which COULD be left until next week’
Take each thing on your original list and ask yourself – does this really HAVE to be done today? Only put the things which absolutely HAVE to be done today in the first column. Only put the things which absolutely HAVE to be done this week in the second column and put everything else in the third column.
Then totally forget about columns 2 and 3 for the time being.
Look at column 1 – the MUST DO TODAY column. Can you get all that done in whatever remains of today? If so, number those things in order of priority and crack on with it. If not, ask yourself what could be taken off that list and put on tomorrow’s list instead. Keep doing that until today’s list is manageable.
Most likely, what you will find is the number of things that absolutely HAVE to be done today (or something dreadful will happen) is actually pretty small and totally manageable. Instantly your stress levels will drop and then, as you then proceed through each action on your now much-reduced ‘to do’ list, you will find your stress levels reducing more and more with every task checked off.
I have used this technique countless times over the years and it never fails to work.
21. Have a life outside of blogging
You know how they say, ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’?
Well, all blogging and no play is not a healthy way to live your life either!
Make sure you have hobbies and interests outside of blogging too. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or elaborate – mine are reading and cycling – but they do have to be non-blog related.
Not only is it good on a personal level to step away from blogging and the other ‘must do’ activities you have in your life (job/family/housework etc.) but it’s also good for your blogging.
Fiction writers often talk of needing to have a life outside of writing in order to have something interesting to write about and the same is true for bloggers. Having a life outside of blogging can stimulate the brain in different ways and release all sorts of creativity that you wouldn’t get if you just focused solely on blogging.
22. Take a blogging break
If all else fails, take a break. It’s totally OK to take a short break from blogging in order to de-stress and get your head straight. If your break is short, you are unlikely to take much of a hit from the time off blogging and the benefit to you (and potentially to your loved ones) will be enormous.
In fact, some bloggers report that, after taking time off blogging, they have come back to discover their blog and/or social media followers grew despite them taking time off!
Even if you have to take a longer break, and your stats take a bit of a tumble during that time, that is so much better than getting so burnt out that you give up on blogging altogether!
And even if you are not at the point of burnout, it’s still a good idea to take planned breaks from blogging from time to time… You can either just do no blogging during your break or schedule blog posts and social media posts ahead of time, whichever you prefer.
I try to take 1 week off at Easter, 2 weeks off in the summer, 2 weeks off over Christmas and usually 1 other week (typically 1 of the half terms) completely off each year. I generally reduce the number of posts and amount of social media which goes out over that time and schedule everything else ahead of time. This means everything keeps ticking over without my input and it doesn’t really seem like I am away at all – even when I am!
Having quality time ‘off’ blogging at regular intervals helps me recharge my batteries and re-fire my passion for blogging and my creativity. I am always super eager to get back to blogging after I’ve been off for a week or 2 and always fired up with lots of new ideas.
Over to you
So how about you? What tips do you have to avoid stress and overwhelm as a blogger? Have you suffered from blogger burnout in the past? What helped you overcome it? Are you suffering now? Did any of these tips help you? I’d love to hear from you!
Let me know in the comments below or come over and share in the Productive Blogging Facebook Group.
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