Blogger Burn Out – the doom of many great bloggers. Before we get started, let’s dispel some of the myths:
First, every blogger experiences blogger burn out. I have experienced it twice for Tell Great Stories. You will experience it too, so accept this truth now.
Second, being organized and realistic in your blogging habits will help keep blogger burn out at bay but it will never keep you free of it forever. (Check me out, I AM THE ALITERATION QUEEN!)
Third, blogger burn out will happen more frequently and more intensely the more pressure you put on yourself. Running a blog and a Facebook and Twitter and a Tumblr and a forum presence and the guest posts and all the other little things you do will eventually wear you down. Most people, except a select few cyborgs or those who hire web underlings, can’t do all of these things and have a family and a job and hobbies and friends, nevermind their actual BOOK WRITING. There is just not enough time in the day.
What is Blogger Burn Out?
Blogger Burn Out occurs when your personal life and your online life overwhelm you to the point that you find no pleasure in keeping up an online presence.
- Frequent posts apologizing for not posting
- Diminished value of blog content
- Less time is spent posting and more time is spent commenting on other blogs
- Emails are not returned
- You frequently find excuses for not blogging
- Regular readers email asking if you are ok and when you are coming back
- You seek out regular guest bloggers
- You don’t even bother seeking out regular guest bloggers anymore
- It has been more than a month since you last logged in to your blog account
How to Handle Blogger Burn Out:
The goal of managing blogger burn out is not to try to ward it off, but to come out the other side ready to get back to blogging and feeling excited about it again.
You can’t ward it off, and any extra effort spent trying will make the burn out worse and take longer to recover from. Think of it as a disease – you can feel miserable for as long as you want, but you’re not going to beat the bug without antibiotics so you might as well suck it up, go to the doctor, and spend a week on the couch watching Law and Order reruns.
- Make some hard decisions: Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Forums, Tumblr are all time consuming as hell. Pick what you love the most and say goodbye to the ones that feel most like work. Pick one or two you can honestly love and contribute to every day. Readers will find you at the places you are, you don’t have to be at all of them.
- When you feel it coming on, start backing off: When the burn out begins, back off your schedule to two days a week. Instead of just skipping days that require you to apologize about it later, just change your blog schedule for the next month or two. This is way better than having post after post of apologies but no content.
- Go on vacation: Put up a sign on your blog that says “On vacation for the month of June, will return July 1st. I will return emails as time permits.” This accomplishes these important things:
- It lets your regular readers know what is going on – and they understand because they have been there, too.
- It lets new visitors know that your blog isn’t inactive, it is on vacation.
- It lets everyone know when to expect you back.
- It lets you off the hook for apologizing and doing status updates. You can actually walk away from your blog for a week, two weeks, or a whole month and not feel guilty.
- Hiatus vs. Vacation: It’s a small niggly thing, but “hiatus” tends to have negative connotations because it seems to highlight the idea that you are experiencing burn out and are unhappy being a blogger. It tells people, “I need a break from this place.” You don’t want to make your readers feel like they are a burden to you or that there is a chance you might not come back. The term “vacation” has a positive, exciting connotation. Everyone LOVES vacations! Vacations imply that you stepped away on purpose, not because you stopped wanting to show up. Sometimes perception is everything.
When Blogger Burn Out is Permanent:
This is not something we hope for, but sometimes burn out signals the end of an era, not the need for vacations. This can be heartbreaking for the blogger and the readers.
I remember there was a web comic I had read for years – Queen of Wands. I never missed a day for two and a half years. When she announced that she would be stepping down from doing comics and would be bringing Queen of Wands to an end, I bawled my eyes out. When the comic Scary-Go-Round brought my many-year love-affair to an end, I felt like I’d lost a friend. I was there when Miss Snark said goodbye and when Moonrat (Editor Ass) locked the doors and turned out the lights.
I’ve also been there when blog friends simply vanished.
It is ok to move on to another part of your life. Tell Great Stories is not my first blog, and I doubt it will be my last. It has been the one I’ve loved the most, but it wasn’t my first love. So yes, it is ok to decide that blogging takes you away from other things that matter more or that this whole social networking thing isn’t for you. It is ok to say goodbye.
But please, say goodbye.
For as much time and effort you’ve put into your blog, your readers have been just as invested. You are a real person to your readers and some of your readers really care about you. They don’t know you in real life, but they notice when you stop posting, they feel your bad days and celebrate your good ones. Don’t dwindle off and then vanish, leaving us wondering. Because we will wonder.
Own up to the end, be honest with your readers, and then tell them so long and thanks for all the fish.