Blogging can be fulfilling, exciting, and fun, but there may be times when it’s monotonous, time-consuming, and even dull. When you start feeling this way about blogging, you might be suffering from blog burnout. Blog burnout is a real thing that can threaten the future of your blog. In today’s article, I discuss what it is, how it feels like, and how you can deal with it.
Everyone has experienced or at least heard about writer’s block and how it can hinder a blogger from writing, but blog burnout is less discussed and talked about. This is unfortunate because blog burnout can seriously cripple bloggers and kill even the most well-established, lucrative blogs.
The thing about blog burnout is that it’s insidious; when you realize you have it, it’s too late. So it’s actually sensible to read about it and study the signs before it strikes you.
In today’s article, let’s put a spotlight on blog burnout: what it is and what you can do when you feel it coming.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational and educational purposes only. If you strongly relate to any of the points I discuss in the next section and have tried the basic coping techniques I discuss in a subsequent section but didn’t feel relief, or if you’re struggling not only with blogging but with your life in general, seek the advice of a professional.
Before we go into blog burnout, let’s take a look at the term “burnout” first.
Not-so-fun fact: The term “burnout” has been around since the 70s to describe the severe stress experienced by workers in health care and service professions (think doctors, nurses, EMTs, police officers, etc.).
Nowadays, this condition isn’t limited to those professions. It seems anyone can suffer from burnout, and bloggers are no exception.
The three aspects that define burnout are:
Cynicism. Negative attitude toward your blog and the tasks involved, irritability with everyone especially people you deal with related to your blog, detachment from your blog.
Lethargy. Exhaustion, depletion, waking up every day dreading blogging.
Inefficacy. Low self-confidence, working more but accomplishing little, dropped productivity.
You might confuse blog burnout from writer’s block, but they’re actually very different. When you’re experiencing burnout, it’s possible to have plenty of ideas for blog posts, but you can’t bring yourself to sit in front of your computer and type out the words.
Prolonged burnout can lead to declining productivity, producing mediocre work, and feeling that you’re incompetent. This feeling of inadequacy then feeds your negative attitude toward work, which decreases your productivity, pulling you in a downward spiral that you might find hard to get out from.
Burnout has physical effects on your body as well: you feel fatigued and drained of energy, get sick a lot, your appetite changes (either you eat too much or stop eating), your sleep habits change (either you find it hard to sleep or sleep all day). More serious physical manifestations may include chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, and constant headaches.
Now that I’ve described what burnout is, how do you know if you’re experiencing it?
People who’ve been there compare it to a car crash; you never see it coming until it’s actually too late.
Blog burnout feels different for everyone, but here are some phrases to describe how it may feel like.
As you’ve probably gathered from the previous sections, blog burnout isn’t a fun time. But there are ways to deal with it and possibly go back to your pre-burnout state. The important thing is to at least try and take that first step to climb out of the abyss.
Here are some ways to deal with blog burnout.
It’s easy to drown in the mundane chores that maintaining your blog involves and lose sight of why you even started blogging in the first place. Did it begin as a fun hobby? A diversion from your main job or corporate role? Or did you start a blog as a business venture at the get-go?
What did you aim to do? Was it to help others? Distract yourself? Unleash your creative side? Hone your writing skills? Earn money on the side or full-time?
Whatever your “why” was, it’s never too late to get back to your roots and rediscover your purpose.
The desire to please others is hardwired in us humans, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.
It only goes south when the desire to please others overshadows your own needs. When you find yourself saying “yes” to everything and everyone until you’re overextended, that’s never good for you. Sure, in the short term, you can probably manage, but constant overwork will run you to the ground.
It’s time to say “no” to things you don’t even want to do because you don’t want to disappoint other people or because you want to avoid conflict. Remember, every time you do this, it’s like saying “yes” to yourself and “yes” to things you actually want to do and “yes” to things that really matter to you.
Start by creating a “YES” list: write down the things you have both the capability AND desire to do. Include blogging-related and personal things on this list. Then, create your “NO” list: write down the things that you’ve decided NOT to do for you to have the time to do the things on your “YES” list.
For instance, you can say “YES” to writing 3 blog posts a week plus 1 paid guest post a month. To be able to do these, you can say “NO” to review post requests. You can say “YES” to meal prep Sundays if you say “NO” to anything that keeps you up late on Saturday nights.
If you feel you need to reevaluate after a while, do it. Tweak your lists and find the balance between “yes” and “no” things so that you can go back to enjoying your blog.
A single person can’t do every single thing forever.
If you’re at a point in your blog where you can afford to outsource tasks that you don’t like, do it. If it doesn’t work out, you can always hire another one. The time (and unpleasantness, to be honest) that you save will be worth it.
Can’t afford to outsource just yet? Hang in there and take note of those tasks that drain you, so when you get a chance, you know which tasks to outsource.
Getting help isn’t limited to your blogging tasks. If asking someone else to do your chores and errands makes you feel better and gives you the energy to work on other things you want to do, then absolutely consider it.
Ask for help from people around you, such as close friends or family for chores and errands that sap your motivation and your energy so you can expend that leftover energy on your blog instead. Otherwise, if none of them are able or willing to do these chores, hire someone else to do it.
If you’ve been slacking off and you feel like you’d rather jump off the cliff than write another blog post, you may need to step back and take a break from your blog for a few days to recharge and renew your enthusiasm, or at least your interest, in your blog.
If you can’t afford to take an extended break from your blog, try to reconsider how often you blog. Maybe limit your blog posts from 3 posts a week to 2 posts a week and see if taking the pressure off increases your interest in your blog.
Working on your blog every single day of the week will indeed put you on the highway to burnout. Take at least a day off from working on anything related to your blog and take time to just rest your mind and your body.
Carve out time to do things you enjoy that are not related to blogging in any way, shape, or form. If nothing comes to mind, venture out and find hobbies you genuinely like doing outside of blogging.
While you do need to read up on other blogs, books, news, and articles in your niche to be updated with the trends and be able to get inspiration, sometimes it ends up making you feel discouraged instead of motivated.
Spending too much time browsing through blogs in the same niche but are more established, have more followers, and generally more successful than your blog can distract you from the actual topic you’re reading about and make you examine you and your blog in a negative light. It can make you doubt yourself and feel frustrated that you’re never going to be as good a blogger as someone else is.
In addition, looking at the same blogs day in and day out can hamper your creativity. When you’re creatively exhausted, it’s hard not to feel the monotony of your tasks and eventually hate your blogging-related tasks.
When you expand your reading list and interests outside your niche, you see other possibilities and increase your creativity without the negative feelings toward others and toward yourself.
This becomes even better when you read real, actual books during your off time instead of going on the internet yet again. Spending some time logged off from the internet can effectively detox your brain of information overload and allow your mind to wander and imagine again.
When you’re open to new ideas, you maximize your creative potential and increase your excitement to apply your new ideas to your writing or content in general.
You probably went into blogging so you can work wherever you want.
But if you don’t travel much, or have small kids, chances are you’re doing your work holed up in your home office, or in your living room, or in your bed. I get it, we do what we can to make space for work, but working in the same space that you’re living your personal life can make it hard for you to set boundaries and contribute to burnout.
If this sounds like you, aim to work outside of the house once or twice a week. Find a co-working space, a cozy coffee shop, or even a library where you can work in peace for a few hours.
It’s nice to have friends and family who support your blogging; those who read each and every blog post (and sometimes even comment), share your posts and updates on their social media, and give you encouragement and constructive critique when you need it.
But talking and doing things with people who don’t read your blog or maybe don’t even know that your blog exists can be refreshing and give you a different perspective on your blogging. I’m talking about little kids (your own or someone else’s), elderly people, and non-tech-savvy people in general.
It’s important for us bloggers and entrepreneurs not to feel that our work defines us; that if our blog or business fails, then we’re automatically a failure too. Spending time with people who don’t measure us by our blog shifts our perception of ourselves and reminds us that blogging is something we do and not who we are.
Exercise may be the last thing you want to do when you already feel exhausted, but exercise can do a lot for your mood and can alleviate stress.
If you aren’t already exercising, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start by gradually incorporate physical activity in your day. For instance, you can start with some light stretches that you can do in bed before you even get up. Then, work your way up to more advanced yoga stretches, to regular brisk walking, to your first 5K run.
You’ll be much more inclined to stick to your exercise routine if you actually do enjoy doing it, so don’t be hesitant to try various physical activities to find which one you like best.
Social contact with someone who cares enough to listen intently without judging is one way to not implode from burnout. You have to be able to talk to someone about both your triumphs and your stressors.
Burnout makes you push people away, which is the last thing you want when you’re struggling to dig your way out of the rut created by burnout.
The first people you should be approaching for help are the closest ones to you: your significant other, family, and closest friends. These are the people who you should trust enough to let them help you.
An exception would be if these are the same people who are toxic and do more harm than good. Being with people who bring nothing but negative vibes, constantly put you down (even those who say it’s a “joke”), and only pretend to listen to you will only make you feel worse.
If you feel that everyone around you is toxic, it might be time to make some new friends. Join a community that is personally meaningful to you and inspires you. It can be a religious, social, or support group that is close to your heart. Meeting like-minded people gives you the chance to make new connections and gain new friends.
Don’t have a community near you? Meeting new people isn’t so hard nowadays, thanks to the internet. There are plenty of virtual communities and even Facebook groups that you can join if you know where to look. Exercise your due diligence and always be vigilant, though; take care of your personal and sensitive information online.
Our work-centric culture has normalized working all day, all week, stopping only to sleep.
You probably even took up blogging to escape this kind of office culture, only to find yourself back in the same cycle of work and sleep.
The best way to break this pattern is to set strong boundaries.
Block off time for your blog, for yourself (e.g., meals, exercise, hobbies, waking up and bedtime routines), for chores and errands (e.g., cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry) and for all other aspects of your life that are priorities (e.g., family time, date night with your significant other, friend, or family member, volunteering). Draw up a schedule, try it for at least a week, and either make changes if it’s really not working or stick to it if it does work.
If you can chop up your blogging time into specific blocks, attempt to do it. For instance, the first 2 hours can be for writing blog posts, next 2 hours for social media, next 2 hours for writing again, then the last 2 hours for replying to emails, contact us submissions on your contact page, social media comments, and blog comments.
That’s only an example; don’t hesitate to create time blocks that make sense for you. Also, schedule breaks in between these time blocks and adhere to those breaks for your own sanity.
Make it a rule as well to not do anything unrelated to what you should be doing during that time block, emergencies notwithstanding. If you should be doing family time, you shouldn’t be checking your emails. If you should be doing blog stuff, you shouldn’t be doing the laundry.
You’d also want to schedule no-phone times throughout the day. I’d recommend scheduling one for waking up, one for bedtime, and when you’re with other people, such as mealtimes or family time. Yes, it’s difficult, but it’s part of setting healthy boundaries between virtual life and real life.
All this sounds really rigid and tedious, but starting with a schedule puts you on the way to even some semblance of work-life balance. Work-life balance is thought of as a myth for us entrepreneurs, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least attempt to achieve it. Do what you can to get closer to that elusive balance because it’s worth striving for.
Blog burnout is a very real thing that can kill your blog if you ignore it. Here again are ways to overcome blog burnout.
I hope I’ve shed some light on this very important topic today, and I hope the coping techniques I listed down prove to be helpful to you.
Not to compare their experience with yours, but other bloggers and entrepreneurs have been there; some have come out unscathed and gone back to their regular routine, while others gave up their blogs and pursued something else. Whatever you end up doing, remember that nothing is more important than your well-being, not even your blog.
If you’re dealing with burnout, here are some resources that may help:
Burnout | Psychology Today
Psychology Today has an entire section on burnout, including the basics, recent blog posts, and essential articles to deepen your understanding and help you cope.
The Road To Resilience | American Psychological Association
This is a short brochure-type article that gives the basics of resilience; that is, the ability to cope with stress.
Let’s Talk About Burnout
Stacey King Gordon, currently a content strategist at Facebook, writes about her personal journey through burnout and walking away from a business she founded. Your blog may seem small compared to her former company, but you should consider yourself an entrepreneur and your blog as a business. Stacey’s story may just help you in your own entrepreneurial journey.
Again, note that this blog post was written to inform and educate, not to actually diagnose. If you’re experiencing burnout and the coping mechanisms aren’t enough and provide no relief, seek professional help.
Have you experienced blog burnout? Do you think the tips above are helpful? What has helped you in your own battle against it? I can’t wait to hear from you in the comments!
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.