Friday, 8 January 2016

Finding My Blogging Groove, #Blogger Burnout & Other #BloggerIssues

Is this blogger burnout? And if so how the heck do I get my blogging groove back?

Lately I've struggling to find the energy or the will to engage on social media and publish on Cathy Thinking Out Loud. Where these used to energize and excite me now they suck the energy out of me, which is further compounded by the stress of not posting with any consistency. I have ideas, numerous outlines, drafts and partially written posts; I just can't seem to motivate myself to complete, edit, add images and finally hit publish on any of them. 

Could it be I'm experiencing blogger burnout? Or worse a combination of blogger and social media burnout? The thing I like best about social media and blogging is the platform it gives me to share ideas, engage and interact with others. But lately it all seems like a chore or a one way conversation with myself, leaving me feeling alone and lonely in a crowd.

The above paragraphs were actually written in April of 2015; the beginning of a post I started in response to how I had been feeling. 

They were part of that large pile of partially written posts waiting to be finished. These feelings continued until very recently and as a result I was down to completing only posts I was committed to write and What to Watch Wednesday posts. Each time I looked at my blog I'd cringe at the post stream and how little I was offering my readers, but still I couldn't manage to motivate myself to do more. I've always known my Hubby doesn't read all my posts, in particular sponsored posts, but over the holidays he revealed he rarely finds ones he's interested in reading anymore, further confirmation (like I needed any) the content I've been offering my readers is at best lacking. I think an examination of the reasons I'm in this rut and how I might get my blogging groove back is far overdue. 

Apathy Begets Apathy

The Blog: I knew it would take time to grow readership and my numbers, but after 2 1/2 years my blog hasn't seemed to grow; month after month the numbers stay the same. Unless I'm running a giveaway visits and page views remain low. I want Miracle Grow for blogs that I can sprinkle on my posts then watch my readership grow. So if any of you know where I can my hands on some, let me know. The thing is, when people read what I write it inspires me to write more, but apathy begets apathy squashing my inspiration to write. Lack of inspiration leads to inconsistency in my posting, and for readers out of sight is out of mind resulting in fewer blog visits, and round and round the vicious cycle goes. But it's a new year and with that I'm determined to push myself to consistently press publish, and more importantly dig deeper to produce more interesting and diverse content, regardless of how many actually read it. 
Having said that but please visit me I get lonely!

Social Engagement When You Feel Anti-Social:

Twitter: As my twitter numbers increased I've found it harder to see people in my tweeter stream. Lists help but even so my experience has been the bigger the numbers the smaller the number of meaningful connections and interactions. Twitter parties once so fun and interactive are a challenge to engage and participate in because of their ever growing size and loss of the beloved tweetgrid. Over the past few years I've noticed a shift on twitter by many brands from 2-way conversational engagement to more 1-way promotional content. It's great to see brands embrace social media but I'm really interested in what the brand stands for and the people behind the brand. Even brands once outstanding at connecting with followers seem less likely to engage, retweet and have conversations on twitter. This may be a result of outsourcing promotions and social media, but I kinda miss the type engagement that inspired this best brands list. The end result is social media often leaves me feeling anti-social. 

We should all strive for the kind of daily agenda-free and personal engagement I see from my friend Todd (@tgreenc). Time to reinstate my daily ritual of  looking at 10 different twitter friends' feed to see what they've been up to and comment, engage or just say hello. Who knows, this type of social might just leave me feeling less anti-social.

Facebook & Other Social Media: Although I like other social media platforms time management of them is a puzzle I've yet to solve. I could spend every waking minute reading and responding to friends on the handful of platforms I'm active on and still miss the majority of updates and wonderful content shared. Add to that, sharing content on the CTOL facebook page, and my continued efforts to understand the ins and outs of the various social media platforms and I'll need to clone myself soon. Juggling life's obligations, the Blog and engaging on twitter, facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram can definitely trigger my my anti-social tendencies, followed by burying my head in the sand (aka marathon steaming sessions on Netflix). I truly have no idea how others do it. 

The Pressing Issue of Word Press

In my head I know exactly how I want my blog posts to look, and the design style and feel I want for my blog, headers, logo, and business cards. It's not a cluttered patchwork of what I've managed to add, edit, or customize on my own. I spend more hours fussing with positioning and sizing text and images for a post trying to get something remotely resembling the aesthetic I want than actually writing it. I really want more control over image and font sizing,  placement and editing options. I would love to figure out how to add a PDF with print option to a post. I want pull down tabs, and a user friendly browsing experience for all those who visit; so basically the polar opposite of what I have now. I want to switch from Blogger to Word Press but thinking about the learning curve involved to switch, maintain and trouble shoot issues for Cathy Thinking Out Loud triggers a flight rather than fight response in me. Plug-ins, hacks, hosting, self-hosting, domains and HTML code; all just synonyms for fear. I'm an advocate of outsourcing to the professionals and would be happy to hire someone to redesign and switch Cathy Thinking Out Loud to Word Press, AND give me one-on-one WP tutorials, AND be available for emergency IT and tech support, preventing me from having a complete mental meltdown. 

To that end I've started a list of potential blog-whispers referred by fellow bloggers.

I'm just not sure anyone truly understands just how blog-tech-code challenged I am. Assuming reliable, patient, knowledgeable, professionals who can tolerate my neurotic personality and whose services fit my budget exist; how do I find and recognize the one that is a good fit for me? Many blog-whispers are also bloggers or closely connected to the blogging community thereby increasing the threat level to DEFCON1 that I'll be exposed as the bat-s@%& crazy person I actually am. Cause that's been such a well kept highly classified secret up till now. Can you imagine the size of the cone of shame required if I was fired as a client due to my inability to grasp concepts and being too clingy-needy. So one my goals for 2016 is to find this superhero blog-whisper who can help me turn my blog vision into a reality.

Getting My Blogging Groove Back

I can't figure out how others pitch and post so often and consistently, it takes me hours to write each post. Not to sound pessimistic but my To Do Lists are pages long and my current rate of posts, pitches, blog maintenance, and social media engagement already seems unsustainable and overwhelming. So baby steps starting with: 

 Strategies to Feelin' Groovy: 
  • Create and add a really great About Me page to the blog.
  • Write everyday. Whether it gets posted or not it keeps the creative juices flowing and may inspire a really great post.
  • Take at least one random picture a day. Not only are they fun to share on social media, a collection of images to use for posts makes getting from draft to published that much easier.
  • Schedule time once a week to experiment and try a new photography technique or hack.
  • Write and publish at least one non-sponsored post per week in addition to the What 2 Watch posts. Dig deeper to create more interesting and diverse content. 
  • Read and comment on at least 1 fellow blogger's non-giveaway post each day. The comment lets them know I have read their post. No apathy here! 
  • Tweet a hello to 10 people each day, just to say hello. 
  • Research a different social media platform each month. By year end I'll be an expert.
  • Reach out and get a few more names of blog-whispers who might be a good fit to help me redesign and switch my blog to WP.
  • Find ways to better schedule blog and blog related activities, including an editorial calendar, and improve my time management skills. 
  • Pitch an idea to a brand once a week, and don't be discouraged if pitches are rejected. 
  • Examine goals and long To Do Lists once a month to track my progress and edit as required to ensure I continue moving forward without the burnout. 

Doot-in doo-doo, feelin' groovy!

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about blogger issues and getting my blogging groove back.


  1. Cathy, I read your post from start to finish and wish I could give you a big warm hug. Today? I think today, is my 7th blogging anniversary, I can tell you for sure that all of us at one time or another have struggled with some sort of losing our groove. It's hard to work alone, produce alone, be creative alone and push out fabulous content that is engaging and enticing. Sometimes we stray from the perfect path we have created in our mind, sometimes we find a better path, sometimes we don't! I just wanted to pop by to tell you first, I think blog comments in general are down. Way down. And second, I personally think you are doing a great job. You have fabulous ideas and wonderful goals. I hope you find your groove and love for the blog again!

    1. Thank you so much Stephanie for your support over the past 4 years and for taking the time to read and leave this wonderful comment. It's wonderful to get perspective and insight from a veteran blogger. xo

  2. I love your photos (great idea!) and I love your strategies to Feelin' Groovy! Lots of terrific ideas there. DO NOT give up. This is just "one of those times" that we all go through. I still struggle to this day with my numbers. It can be SO frustrating. I decided to stop worrying about the numbers (although I still watch them!) because I have realized that not every cares about those numbers, and many realize that great engagement with readers and on social media is a very important thing. And you've got GREAT engagement. Keep sharing, keep engaging, and for goodness sake, keep writing! :)

    1. Thanks Sandy! You're always an inspiration and supportive and it makes all the difference especially if feeling blogger burnout. I really appreciate you taking the time to both read and comment and so appreciate your support.

  3. I feel the same way. It has been hard for me lately yo post on a more frequent basis. I am going to use your tips to get my blogging mojo back. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for reading Lian and hopefully 2016 is the year we both get our blogging groove back! It's great to have the support of other bloggers to help along the way.

  4. Aww Cathy - hugs! I truly feel you! I am just getting out of this funk. I was feeling so down about things. I think this is such a normal thing especially when we want our progress to be more! I think you are an excellent writer and have so much to share and wisdom for your peers! I love your strategies and I think you will get right back out of your funk. HUGE VIRTUAL HUGS going your way, how I wish I we lived closer so I could take you out for a coffee and a hug! Hang in there honey, you are an amazing person!

    1. Thanks Carla you're always there for me when I'm feeling overwhelmed or just grumpy without judgement and just support. It means so much. It's nice to know I'm not the only one. I wonder sometimes if the isolation and solitary nature of blogging at home alone juxtaposed to the social out there social media aspect of blogging is partially responsible for rut or burnout we feel sometimes. That being said I'll take those virtual hugs and raise you some more lol. Ya I wish we lived closer too!

  5. I'm dropping by to say Hi. Not a blogger, but a reader of many. Some days I spend hours just reading what others have to share. I am usually pretty quiet, but have come to realize that just by saying "thanks for that post, I liked reading it" can make someones day a little brighter. This is my resolution, to become a little more engaged and appreciative of the work the bloggers I read and enjoy do. So thank you. I hope you find your groove back. :) ~ Elizabeth

    1. Thank you so much for reading and for your efforts to reach out and connect with the writers/bloggers. Otherwise we really have no idea if our posts help, reach entertain or connect with our readers anyway. And it definitely brightened my day. So thanks right back to you!

  6. DEFCON1 !!!!!!! SO AWESOME! Don't worry - we all knew you were a little batty! I think you hit upon an important topic here, which is that anyone can go through a slump in their professional life or even a slump in their hobby or passion. But when it ties into who you are - your thoughts, your writing, your creativity - it can be even more defeating.

    I started my first blog in 1999 (!!!) and had a few over the years before starting the blog that would become my life's work about 4 years ago. And lately I've been in a slump, a bit of writer's block, if you will. FOR NINE MONTHS! During these nine months, I've had some of the most incredible travel experiences of my life, but it feels like I have a psychological block against writing about them. I've been forcing myself to do it, but it's been a struggle and I feel it's not my best work. I started to wonder if it was because I had been on so many press trips that I was feeling a self-imposed pressure to live up to some mysterious standard instead of just letting the words flow.

    So I'm in the middle of doing something radical. I'm not traveling. And I'm a travel blogger! Haven't been on the road now for a few months - for the most part, it looks like virtually no trips for about nine months in total. Maybe there's something magical about nine? I need to get my grove back, revisit some past trips and write about them in an inspired, natural way, and start planning more trips that I know I'm going to want to write about. I'll keep you posted. #TeamDEFCONFTW.

    1. That is exactly how I feel Vanessa so many wonderful ideas and experiences that would make wonderful posts but I just can't get into writing about them or finishing one I started. I share on social media and chat about all the fun but can get a post pulled together. This started around the holidays last year and continued for just over a year. Having said that I have felt inspired to write over the past few weeks and I'm hoping it continues. FYI even your "not best work" is wonderful to read and sets the bar high for the rest of us. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment. So appreciated!

  7. I liked so many of your ideas! I don't blog at the same level you do - it's very much a hobby for me. But I love it and go in fits and starts too. I'm struggling a bit with fitting it with the rest of my life and social media too. I agree Twitter becomes impersonal as you get more followers - so I was happy to read you struggle there too and it isn't just me.

    Good luck getting your groove back!