While it may feel as though every other blogger out there is a veritable font of energy and enthusiasm, it’s a fact universally acknowledged that if you blog for long enough, you’ll eventually hit a slump.
And slumps suck. I know: I’ve just clawed my way back from two months of bloggy apathy. It was The Worst.
But it got me thinking about two questions:
A) What can you do to pull yourself out of a blogging slump?
B) How can you turn a slump to your advantage?
Here’s what I’ve come up with:
Get to the root of the problem
To beat a slump, it helps to understand what brought it on in the first place. Have you got other things going on in your life that you need to deal with? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work that goes into maintaining your blog? If you’re a book blogger like me, are you appallingly behind with your TBR and reviews? Have you been trying to post too much? Are you feeling drained by the pressure to be constantly plugged in and up-to-date? Does your content feel stale? Has your traffic taken a dip or plateaued? Do you feel like you’re typing into a void? Are you simply burnt out? Or is it something else entirely?
Having a good think about why your blog isn’t working can help you figure out what you need to change and how to go about it.
I recommend setting aside half-an-hour or so to take a look at your blog. Revisit posts you’re proud of as well as those you’re not so happy with and make notes about what’s working and what’s not, and also what you enjoy working on and what you don’t. There’s no need to nut out any solutions right away; for now, just concentrate on figuring out what’s sapping your motivation.
If there’s something going on in your life that you need to deal with: deal with it. Your readers won’t unfollow your blog en masse if you take a break, and the Internet will still be kicking around when you’ve sorted yourself out.
Take a step back and get some perspective
Honestly, if you’re not feeling the bloggy vibe, the worst thing you can do is force it. You’ll only end up writing sub-par content, and your readers will quickly sense that your heart’s not in it. They’ll shy away, new readers won’t come, your traffic will drop, you’ll feel even more meh and less inclined to Make An Effort. CUE CYCLE OF DEMOTIVATION AND DESPAIR.
Instead, give yourself permission to take a break, even if it’s only for a few days. Sometimes all you need is a bit of space to clear your head. I know that sounds sledgehammer obvious, but because blogging is so immediate, it can be difficult to sign-out. We worry that we’ll fall behind or be forgotten. It feels as though we’re participating in this giant conversation, and we don’t want to walk away from that.
By the same token, it’s easy to lose perspective when we’re in the thick of things. We start overthinking comments, obsessing about traffic, putting undue pressure on ourselves to post, etc. And honestly, unless you rely on your blog for income (or plan to), it shouldn’t be a source of stress.
Side note: If you’re trying to build your readership and notice that your traffic plummets as soon as you stop posting, it might be a sign that you need to think about the longevity of your content.
Reassess your goals
While you’re enjoying some downtime, have a think about your blog’s purpose. When I was going through my most recent slump, I read a piece from Lucy over at The Unlikely Bookworm offering five reasons to start a blog, and it helped me remember why I created Lectito. It also made me realise that I’d lost my way a little bit.
Even if you’re feeling great about your blog, it’s important to take stock every once in a while and revisit your goals and expectations. Ask yourself: are they still relevant and realistic?
Sometimes, reminding yourself why you got into blogging in the first place is enough to reboot your motivation. But if not, then this is where the slump starts being useful.
It can make you realise that the goals you’ve set either aren’t appropriate or no longer apply. Maybe you’re feeling demotivated because you were originally aiming to post five times per week and grow your readership by 10,000 unique visitors per month and now feel like a failure for not achieving what, in hindsight, aren’t realistic targets. Or maybe you originally wanted to blog about all kinds of books, but now you only want to review YA.
Fortunately, one of the great things about blogs is that they’re in a constant state of evolution. If the old isn’t working, reevaluate your goals and try something new.
Is it time for a change?
I can pin my most recent slump on a number of factors, but part of the problem was that my content felt stale. I was writing book reviews almost exclusively, which was fine, but it was starting to feel like: ‘read, review, rinse, repeat’.
It was definitely time to shake things up. But how? I followed all the above steps, and I came to realise that I don’t just want to talk about books, I want to make it easier for other people talk about books too. Since starting Lectito, I’ve learned that a significant portion of people who read book blogs also write them. That was my ‘Ah-ha!’ moment.
In the past, I’ve had a lot of fun writing blogging tips posts, like this one. They’re relevant to my target readership, support my mission and readers seem to enjoy them. In fact, they rank among my most popular posts. So I had a bit of a brainstorm and realised that I had dozens of ideas for posts about book blogging, and better yet, I was eager to write them. So this month, I’ve started an experiment. Instead of writing 2–3 reviews per week, I’m writing 1–2 reviews and a blogging tips post.
So far, it’s going well! My traffic is up, I’m receiving lots of positive responses from readers and, best of all, I’m enjoying working on my blog again!
If you decide, as I did, to make a change, it doesn’t have to be huge. It might even involve dropping something you have been doing. For example, you might choose to focus on creating fewer but more in-depth posts. Or you might realise that you need to change the way you think about your blog and the expectations you have for it, or reconsider how you judge your blog’s success.
Finally, you need to get back to posting. If it’s been a while, the first post can be tricky. Often it’s fun and energising to have a big brainstorm and make plans for your blog, but then you lose some of that enthusiasm when you settle down to do the work. You might feel as though you need to make up for the posts you’ve missed, or find yourself unsure where to start. But trust me, the longer you leave it, the harder it will be. I’d suggest starting with something short ‘n’ sweet to ease yourself back into the habit.
Over to you
What other strategies and tricks you use to pull yourself out of a slump?