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BBAW 2016: Six Ways to Avoid Blogger Burnout

six ways to avoid blogger burnout

Today’s Book Blogger Appreciation topic is such a good one, I don’t feel like it needs much of an introduction:

Day 5: One of the unfortunate side effects of reading and blogging like rockstars seems to be a tendency toward burnout. How do you keep things fresh on your blog and in your reading?

I’ve been a book blogger for almost eight years, which doesn’t make me the most experienced book blogger out there, but certainly among the most seasoned. Over that time, I’ve adopted a bunch of different strategies for how to blog successfully without burnout.

But before I share what’s working for me right now, I need to mention that these strategies have changed a lot over time. For example, I used to work best when I sat down on Sundays and drafted all of my posts for the week. Last fall, that just stopped working for me, so I’ve been working through some new ways of blogging that are a better fit right now. Basically, don’t be afraid to change when something stops working.

With that caveat in mind, here are some strategies for avoiding burn out that are working for me at this precise stage in my blogging life:

  1. Work out a schedule. I made a bargain with myself about eight months ago that I would stop worrying about blogging every day and just try to post three days per week (Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday). Even on weeks when I have more ideas and more posts drafted, I’m still pretty strict about that schedule (events like BBAW aside – I posted Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week to match the topic schedule). I don’t stress out when I miss one of those posts (often Sunday when I’m gone for the weekend), but I also don’t often let myself to do more than that.
  2. Write a little every day. This is a new practice for me. I used to do most of my blogging in batches every Sunday, but ran into trouble when I got to Sundays when I wasn’t in the mood to write… then what? Since January 1, I’ve tried to spend a little time – maybe 20 to 30 minutes – each morning doing some writing. Sometimes that period feels like a mountain, and I don’t always manage to fit it in, but when I do I feel good about what I’ve accomplished before breakfast.
  3. Stop doing the things you hate. I get that a general trend in blogging is big, beautiful, well-composed pictures. But I am not a photographer, and I find it tedious to do all the work of setting up a “photo shoot” with my books for each post. So for reviews I just use an image of a book cover. I make a lot of collages in PicMonkey, and a rely on random other photos I take with my phone to help illustrate other posts. And when I don’t have an idea for a photo? I just don’t use one.
  4. Be selective about review copies. I totally get the allure of review copies from publishers or book touring companies – FREE BOOKS! – but be really careful with them. If you let it, seeing all those books that you’re “supposed” to review on a shelf can cause anxiety. I’ve learned to deal with this by being more selective about the books I accept, and coming to the realization that it doesn’t matter if I get to them or not. There are few, if any, actual consequences to accepting a book for review consideration and not actually getting around to reading it. A review copy is not a contract or an exchange… it’s a publicity tool publishers use to build buzz.
  5. Allow yourself to have a hard reset. Around November or December I always start to feel overwhelmed and tired of pretty much everything. Then magically in January I get all energized again. I think this is because I let the end of the year be a stopping point. Anything left unreviewed or unwritten just gets abandoned and I start with a clean slate – with nothing hanging over my head, I feel less overwhelmed.
  6. Remember that this is a hobby. This is the hardest one for me, honestly, but it’s the most important. Blogging is supposed to be fun, a way to connect with other readers and find great books and talk about our reading lives. When it becomes a point of stress or negativity, allow yourself to take a break.

The biggest thing I can say is that you have to allow your blog and your reading life to remain flexible. Life changes, often at a rapid pace, and it’s unrealistic to think that your blog won’t need to change as well. Let yourself abandon things that don’t work and be open to trying new things when the moment arises. That’s the best way I know to keep a blog going.

bbaw 2016Book Blogger Appreciation Week is being hosted at The Estella Society by Ana (Things Mean A Lot), Jenny (Reading the End), Heather (Capricious Reader), and Andi (Estella’s Revenge). Visit the website for more information about this awesome community event! 

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Shannon @ River City Reading February 19, 2016, 6:20 am

    So much agreement with all of these, especially 3 and 4! It stresses *me* out to see other bloggers talk about having lists of books they have to review, so I can only imagine how stressful it must be for them. Deciding that I was going to be more selective about review copies and letting go of guilt around them was a huge game changer for me.

    • Kim February 21, 2016, 12:50 pm

      That’s a really hard thing to do. I think it took me four or five years as a blogger before I really felt like I got that balance down, and even now it can still be hard sometimes.

  • Sarah's Book Shelves February 19, 2016, 6:26 am

    I love your #1 and #3! I’ve cut back my posting schedule to 3 days a week and stopped participating in 1 meme I wasn’t excited about anymore and it’s made a world of difference. I also leave my weekends open (re: blog posts)…it’s nice to have that time to just focus on reading (obviously this works best with my life, but may not work for some others’ schedules).

    • Kim February 21, 2016, 12:49 pm

      That was my experience too — just deciding that I would do a max of three posts in a week, unless there were really special circumstances, just made me feel so much lighter about everything. It was amazing.

  • Kay February 19, 2016, 7:37 am

    I think all your points are very good. What I want to shout to people is ‘read what you want’, regardless of where the book came from. Accepting review copies is not a contract signed in blood. Life won’t end if you don’t review the book or even pick it up. And take breaks when you get overwhelmed, which I seem to do on a regular basis. Be kind to yourself. People will still be there for you when you come back.

    • Kim February 21, 2016, 12:47 pm

      Yes, exactly! Nothing of consequence happens if you accept a book for review and don’t read it.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) February 19, 2016, 7:55 am

    Great advice! I try to write a little every day but that doesn’t always work – some days are too crazy to find time for it.

    • Kim February 21, 2016, 12:47 pm

      Totally true… I’ve only written about eight days so far this month because the others have just been too crazy with other commitments. I’m hoping to get back in the groove soon.

  • Joy Weese Moll February 19, 2016, 10:06 am

    Flexibility is great advice. Thanks for sharing your experience of two ways of blogging that both worked, but at different times. Very helpful illustration to the overall point of flexibility.

  • Katie @ Words for Worms February 19, 2016, 10:53 am

    Ooooh boy do I feel you on the images. I just don’t feel like creating graphics and whenever I try to take a pretty photo it looks… Well, it looks like a fart. I mean, the photo equivalent of that. The point is, I like that the words are the important stuff.

  • Rachel @ Dashing Good Books February 19, 2016, 11:06 am

    I love the ‘stop doing things you hate’ part of this! I think the thing I hate would probably be sticking to a strict schedule, so I’m already breaking your first rule.. 😉 I just find I’m in the mood to write when I’m already writing, and whenever I stop I just lose motivation. So it’s much better to just binge-write a load of stuff and not worry about sticking to a plan! Anyway, thanks for posting!

    • Kim February 21, 2016, 12:46 pm

      What works for one person doesn’t always work for another! I used to write in big batches, but for whatever reason that just became such a drag for me that trying to do a little at a time seems to be better for now.

  • Jenny @ Reading the End February 19, 2016, 12:20 pm

    So many pieces of good advice here! I especially like the thing about giving yourself permission to stop doing things you hate. Why would you! If it’s stressful, why bother? But even as obvious as that seems, it can be a hard lesson to remember in the moment.

    • Kim February 21, 2016, 12:45 pm

      Yes, especially if you get in a mode where you start to compare yourself to other bloggers. That’s what happened with me and photos — I saw these great graphics and images and wanted to do it… then realized it’s not for me.

  • Literary Feline February 19, 2016, 1:41 pm

    I have that to be true too–what works for me has changed over time and will likely change again. Scheduling has become so important to me. I can’t do it off the cuff like I used to. And yes, for me, reading is just a hobby–accepting that and letting it fall in its place on my list of priorities has been one of the things that has allowed me to continue blogging–in my own way.

    I still have a bit of a problem with the review books. I only say yes to the ones I want to read, but unfortunately, there are a lot of them. It’s something I am constantly working on and one day I’ll get where I want to be.

    Great post!

    • Kim February 21, 2016, 12:44 pm

      I know the feeling about wanting to read everything, it’s really hard! I try not to respond to pitches immediately — sometimes a day or two of sitting on it lowers my interest or convinces me it’s a book I could get at the library if I really want to read it when it comes out.

  • Marisa @ The Daily Dosage February 19, 2016, 2:22 pm

    This year I’ve definitely stopped doing what I don’t like, take breaks and keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be fun and a hobby. Great post and reminders!

  • Florinda February 19, 2016, 4:20 pm

    I especially like your “write every day” suggestion, and how it’s NOT the same as “post every day”! I’ve tried it on and off and I like when I can make it work, but there are times when I just have no alternative to blocking out part of the weekend to draft posts (which, as you note, is a problem when that time comes around and you’re not feeling it).

    • Kim February 21, 2016, 12:43 pm

      It absolutely is not! Even in write every day mode, I still kept to the three days/week schedule. It doesn’t always work to write consistently — this week has been a PERFECT example — but it was working great for a period.

  • Christy February 19, 2016, 5:00 pm

    I should try the write a little each day. It takes me a while to write review posts and the thought of blocking out several hours to do so can be daunting even on an uneventful weekend.

    • Kim February 21, 2016, 12:42 pm

      I’ve been less great about writing regularly in February, but when I was doing it in January I just felt like I was on such a roll. Some mornings I didn’t get more than a few paragraphs out, but other mornings I could knock out a whole post. I really want to get that going again soon.

  • Kerry M February 19, 2016, 6:43 pm

    “Basically, don’t be afraid to change when something stops working.” THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS.

  • Allison @ The Book Wheel February 19, 2016, 7:24 pm

    Oh, I’m with you on the photography! I don’t even bother taking book photos for my posts anymore and my Instagram leaves much to be desired, too. I find that I need a reset over the holidays, too. I find that I’m really productive through the first half of December and then slack off in early January (which is the opposite of kicking the New Year off right!)

    • Kim February 21, 2016, 12:41 pm

      I spent a period this summer trying to do all these cool, stylish photos, but when the weather turned it just became such a pain… no good light, cold outside, blech. Maybe when it’s spring again I’ll feel differently 🙂

  • Hillary Roberts February 20, 2016, 3:06 am

    There is so much good advice in this post. I agree with all of them. I hate taking pics for the blog also. I always think mine looks like crap.

  • Julianne - Outlandish Lit February 20, 2016, 4:18 pm

    This post is SO GOOD. Thank you so much for all the tips! I’ve never been good at scheduling work, be it for blogging or for college or my job now. Structure is a struggle. But I really want to try writing a bit every day. That would be so helpful. Have you heard of the app Forest? It would be excellent to use during that writing time.

    • Kim February 21, 2016, 12:39 pm

      Thanks! I think what helps make the schedule feel flexible is that I don’t set certain posts for certain days of the month… it’s just a guide as I think through what I want to write, and helps me remember that I only need to come up with eight post ideas per month (since the Sunday posts are all pretty similar). Writing every day hasn’t been happening a lot lately, but when I was going it consistently in January it was awesome. Gotta get back in the habit!

  • Melissa F. February 20, 2016, 6:59 pm

    FANTASTIC post, Kim! You are absolutely right about all of these.

  • susan February 20, 2016, 8:47 pm

    This is a helpful list. Thanks much. I like #1, planning out when I’m going to post something. And #2 is an interesting idea that I haven’t tried; maybe it would help focus me, writing a bit each day.

    • Kim February 21, 2016, 12:37 pm

      At first I thought setting the schedule was going to make things harder — what things are fun when you do them on a schedule? — but it really has helped me improve consistency and keep the blog from taking up too much of my time.

  • Valorie Grace Hallinan February 21, 2016, 11:19 pm

    I love blogging, but I do not view it as a hobby. If one is posting every day or three times a week (which I do not do) I find it hard to believe one would view it as a hobby. For some, a blog is a vital part of their platform. I love connecting with other readers and bloggers; however, I don’t think of this as a hobby.

    • Kim February 28, 2016, 8:48 am

      If it’s not a hobby, then what it is? I’m curious what your distinction between a hobby and some other activity might be. Blogging certainly isn’t a job, it’s something I do for fun, which in my mind makes it hobby regardless of how structured I decide to make it.

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