If you do the same thing enough, eventually it will become a chore.
When I started my first blog I did it because I wanted to learn. I chose a subject I enjoyed because I knew it would hold my interest and I’d have fun doing it. It was a hobby / learning experience rolled into one and was never intended to be anything else. At first I was just pleased that I’d taken the first steps and thrown something out there. I thought of my blog like a work of art and sat like a proud painter admiring his first portrait.
I’d always pride myself on producing intelligent content and extra detail and the posts came easy because I’d write about subjects I enjoyed and do it whenever I felt like it. I was getting great feedback from the people that stumbled across my blog. Peers were linking to and sharing my work because it was good, genuine and written with passion.
After a while my visitor numbers rose, I was ranking towards the top of Google for a number of high searched keyword phrases (half unintentionally) and I’d created a decent following.
It was then that my focus shifted from writing about whatever I felt like to writing specifically to drive more traffic to my blog.
I’d research keywords and write posts specifically to rank high in Google and I was quite successful. My readership increased considerably but the quality of my work suffered. I wasn’t writing from the heart or for my readers any more.
Eventually my blog was turning a good income each month from advertising and affiliate sales. That would be the dream for most bloggers but it left me feeling completely unfulfilled. I felt like I’d lost my way, like I’d sold out in some way.
By now I was caught between writing posts for Google to bring in new visitors and churning out regular, daily content to keep my returning visitors satisfied. It felt like a job and there was no time left for me to produce the passionate, creative content that I used to enjoy making and that came so naturally.
When The Hobby Becomes A Job
The hobby I enjoyed had become a job. I started to hate logging on and would even avoid visiting my site.
I used to be in control of what I did but now I felt like my blog had a hold over me, like an imposing boss setting deadlines and cracking the whip. I was being incarcerated by Analytics figures and statistics. Something had to change otherwise this wasn’t going to work out.
When you start doing something because you have to rather than doing it because you want to it becomes hard work. If you let it dictate what you do and when you do it, very quickly you’re going to come to hate it.
So how do you get back on track, get motivated and put the enjoyment back into what you do?
How To Put The Enjoyment Back Into Your Blog
Change Your Focus
Stop looking at your Analytics for a while. Remove yourself from the shackles of statistics, the need to see visitor counts going up and the feeling of despair and demoralisation when they’re going in the wrong direction.
The anxiety caused by the need to constantly grow will filter through into your writing and your readers will pick up on it. Maybe not consciously but your work won’t be as natural, warm and relatable.
Author and marketer Seth Godin runs the most popular blog in the world written by a single individual and by his own admission rarely checks his blogs stats. It gives him the freedom to write about whatever the hell he likes and people appreciate that he’s writing for their benefit and not for some bot crawling his site.
There’s a warmth and fluidity in his writing. You know he’s enjoying himself and he’s providing fantastic value at the same time. Because of this people automatically trust him. (That and because he’s a genius…)
Stop obsessing about what you’re competition’s doing and relax. Focus on writing about what you enjoy, not what you feel like you have to write about. If you enjoy it the content will start to come thick and fast and your readers will relate to your positive writing style and be grateful for the more frequent updates.
Write with a smile on your face!
Redesign Your Site
A site redesign always motivates me although the actual redesign can be a daunting and time consuming task.
(In an ideal world you’ll get someone else to do it.)
There’s nothing better than a new, wonderful looking site with loads of new features to inspire you to get stuck in and create great content. (I mainly use Solostream themes)
A redesign lets you update your site to new standards (for example responsive design) get rid of features and dated graphics that might have been bugging you and change menu categories.
When redesigning your site always put your readers first by making navigation simple use plenty of white space.
You can also use website heatmaps to help you decide where to put your ads but make sure you experiment and split test once your site’s up.
Just be mindful of not putting too many adverts above the fold. Although Google Adsense will suggest it the Google Knowledge Team (formerly The Google Search Quality Team) advise against it and I know who I’d rather listen to when trying to rank well.
Taking on writers can be a double edged sword. I’ve had writers that have produced some amazing content for me in the past but for every gem you come across you’ll have ten people that let you down.
Don’t get disheartened though. Your blog’s your baby and no-one else is ever going to have the same passion and level of commitment about it as you do.
If you put some sort of criteria up front for accepting writers, (for example ask them to send you 300 words about themselves or on what they would like to write about) you’ll instantly filter out the less committed and can gauge more determined, potential writers’ styles before they submit something to your blog.
If you’re not in a position to pay for content some people that may want to write for you include (inter alia):
- Budding journalists
- People who want to gain authority in a subject
- YouTubers or Podcasters that want to promote their work
- Other website owners looking to guest post to direct some traffic to their site and gain a bit of link juice in the process.
- People who are looking to learn how to make a blog of their own
- If your blog’s popular you may get people offering sponsored posts
Good content providers can provide you with inspiration, ideas, encouragement and most important of all a break. If you can find someone that’s willing to provide great content on a regular basis it really takes the pressure of having to keep churning out content even when you don’t want to.
Just make sure you lay down a few rules to protect yourself.
- All content must be unique to your site. Duplicate content will see your standing with search engine’s take a turn for the worse.
- Limit outbound “follow” links and make sure they’re relevant.
- Proof read their work before it goes live. (This should be the case for anything that goes on your site).
- If the post is sponsored make sure you tell your readers. They’ll trust you more and search engines will look more favourably upon it too.
Take A Break
I’ve talked a lot about changes you can make to put the motivation back into your work. But as the saying goes, “change is as good as a rest” so why not just take a rest?
Take some time away from your work, forget about it for a while and do something fun! I’ve found that removing yourself from your work’s subject altogether works best for me. Try something new, learn about a different subject, do some exercise or just switch off altogether and chill out for a while.
Don’t burn yourself out!
The chances are you’re blogging either to supplement your income (or to escape the rat race altogether) whilst doing something you enjoy and to gain more freedom. Once you stop enjoying it and let it take control you’ve lost everything you started it for in the first place and you may as well go back out there and get a job.
But with a rest or a bit of change you can become inspired and motivated and feel just as excited as if you’d just started it yesterday! And that’s a great place to be.
If you can think of any other ways to rekindle your passion when things have become stale, let me know in the comments.