Welcome, one and all, to The Inky Saga! Today I wanted to talk about a topic very close to my heart: blogger burnout. If you’ve been around for a while, you probably already know I have never been the most consistent of bloggers. I’ll either be all about the blog for a few weeks or a couple months maximum, then something will derail me and I’ll take a long, often unannounced break. I’ve never worried much about it in the past, because I’ve never taken blogging seriously until recently.
I’ve been doing a lot over the past month to build my blog into something that may ultimately become profitable, and I know from all my research that’s not something that will happen overnight. Consistency and perseverance is essential. So if I go all out and exhaust myself in the first month of this project, then I’m not going to get where I want to go in the long run.
I’ve been really mindful of how much time I’ve put into my most recent blog posts, including the time spent planning them, writing them, making graphics for them, and promoting them via Pinterest and Twitter. It’s honestly been a lot of time for just 3-4 posts per week. On Friday I estimated that during spring break about 40% of my waking hours was spent creating the blog posts in the screenshot below.
So with all that in mind, I decided last Friday that I needed to come up with a better system. I go back to work this week, which means about 25 less hours that I’ll have to fiddle around with blog stuff. That doesn’t even count time that I will put towards Red Cross volunteering, applying for jobs again, or building up a writing portfolio for a freelancing business I want to start!
Out of everything I have going on, blogging feels like the most selfish at the moment. But it’s also the activity I’m hoping will yield the best returns over time.
I do not think my blogging struggles are unique to other bloggers out there, particularly fellow adults with more significant life commitments. We can all benefit from learning how to make the best use of our time and not let ourselves become overworked at something we love to do. The following are my tips for avoiding blogger burnout, plus the blog schedule I’ll be following for the time being.
1. Be a more efficient blogger.
Being more efficient means getting better work done in a shorter amount of time. It doesn’t mean cutting corners or being lazy. It means that you make the most of your time. If you’re making the most of your time, it means you are saving time and energy in the long run.
The first step in becoming more efficient is estimating how much time you need for blogging. It may be easiest to record the time you already use to blog in a notebook or Excel spreadsheet. Write down the Date, Activity (e.g. outlining a post, drafting a post, making graphics, promoting), Start Time, End Time, and then add it all up. You’ll know how much time you spend on average working on your blog posts, and then you’ll be able to decide how well that time fits into your life.
After you’ve done those activities, you can start thinking about what you might’ve done differently to work faster and/or smarter. For example, I’ve learned that if I’m doing a tag or meme, I can work faster and smarter by entering the newer WordPress editor (not the block editor), going to the More Options tab, and copying a similar post to Overwrite.
I’ve also realized that bookish posts are harder to promote on Pinterest, so I don’t waste valuable time creating vertical pin images for them (or blog tags for that matter) unless they’ve got a gimmick to them that I figure will attract readers, like my Leslie Knope & 10 Books on Her TBR post.
I also save time on Instagram by keeping the hashtags I use for bullet journal and bookish content saved in my iPhone Notes folder so that I don’t have to type them out each time and risk forgetting any important ones that help users find my content.
If you know that your making the best use of your time, it will be harder to slip into negative feelings that your blog efforts don’t matter or are not worth it. Anyone can be overworked and exhausted by what they do, but it’s self-doubt that will cause blogger burnout to sink in.
2. Make the blog posts you want to read.
I think most people blog first and foremost for themselves, not to become super popular or rich. Those who have ulterior motives are often easy to sniff out and won’t make it, because it’s easy to tell who is authentic and who is not. If you want your blog to have readers, authenticity should be your highest priority. It takes less mental energy being your authentic self and also produces the best results.
The easiest way I can think of for being authentic is by producing posts that feel the most natural to make. They are the posts that you yourself would want to read. It’s easier to blog with an audience of you in mind, because it’s more fulfilling that way. You feel like your efforts are not in vein when you blog for someone, even if they’re imaginary. It’s also the best way to attract the followers that you want; your ideal audience.
3. Don’t stretch yourself thin.
It’s hard to know when you’re overdoing it until it’s too late. When you’re doing something you love, it doesn’t always feel like work. It’s work that you feel is worth doing, at least until life gets in the way. When something unexpected happens or other life priorities demand more of your time, it’s a mistake to try and keep your regular blog pace. It’ll just make you resent your blog or the other big parts of your life.
A way that you can avoid stretching yourself too thin is by periodically doing an audit of everything you do for your blog. Then decide how much time you can dedicate to blogging and when you can reasonably squeeze it into your life without letting any other parts of your life suffer. Make sure you leave time for self-care (e.g. hot baths, dog walks, exercise), other activities (e.g. bujo, reading, chores), and the unexpected (e.g. family emergencies, power outages, interviews).
Blogging shouldn’t take up your whole life. You need to have wiggle room; time that you can binge-watch that new Netflix show or have that impromptu brunch date with your friend that you don’t get to see very often. If you’re someone who has trouble reigning in the blogger enthusiasm, you may consider implementing a blog schedule.
I did the math, and I decided if I don’t want to spend more than 20% of my waking hours working on blog posts each week, then I should only be dedicating 25 hours maximum to drafting, polishing, promoting blog posts. Right now I’ve been blogging whenever I feel like it, but with more things that I need to start doing, I decided to become more regimented with when I do blog work so I know I’m making the best use of my time.
I’ve decided that I want to post no more than 3-4 posts each week, ideally closer to three. I want to write two evergreen posts each week, meaning posts with content that stays “fresh.” These posts are relevant throughout the years, rarely needing updating. For example, this post might qualify as evergreen because people might be searching for advice on how to avoid blogger burnout at any time during the year.
I also want to have at least one personal/fun/miscellaneous post each week in which I can engage with the communities I consider myself a part of. These may be bookish memes or blog tags. They may also just be blog/life updates or event announcements. I used to really enjoy writing weekly updates in my Week in Review format; maybe I’ll find a way to bring those back without taking time away from other posts.
While I don’t want to commit to an actual publishing schedule, I do feel like I need to set up a blog work schedule so that I have other days open for miscellaneous projects. I may need to adjust this schedule a little to accommodate unforeseen problems, but I think I’m off to a good start.
Monday–Friday: Promote & blog hop daily
Saturday: Write 2-3 of next week’s blog posts
Sunday: Create horizontal & vertical blog post graphics
During the week I’ll also likely choose a day where I will allow myself to start working on future blog posts, whether that just be planning and scheduling them or actually beginning to draft them. It would be great to get a little ahead of schedule if only for those weekends that I want to do nothing.
I hope you found this post helpful and informative! I plan to write more about how I plan blog content and my blog post workflow in the future, but I felt like this topic was a good place to start my blogging series. It also gave me a great opportunity to explain why I decided to give myself a blog schedule! I feel like it might take a few weeks to get in the routine, but it will save me a lot of time in the long run.