Can being on a content regimen kill creativity?
I’m fairly new to this whole blog thing, but I’m getting the picture that creating content is tough work. Imagine writing a mini research paper every time you decide to post a blog. You start with a great topic that you think will add value to your readers’ experience. It may take you a few hours (or more than a day), but you gather some credible sources to link to, draft and proof read your work and finally click “publish.” Now imagine that after all your effort, nobody reads or comments on the product of all your hard work. In the end, you put on a great performance for an absent audience.
I have tremendous respect for those that choose to put themselves through this painful process for a living. It requires the type of endurance and perseverance that only marathon runners possess. For the rest of us hobby-bloggers it can become too frustrating, and many of us end up tossing our sites into the black hole of inactive blogs.
How can we avoid blog burnout? My simple answer is this: stop trying! For some of us, straying from a strict regimen would be the beginning of the end. But there is a difference between being disciplined and blogging because your calendar told you to. There are ways to balance the two so that you can continue to create content that ultimately drives users to your blog.
Put down the day planner
Have you set an appointment on your calendar to remind you to blog for the week? Go ahead and delete that reminder. It’s doing you no good. Again, professional bloggers can create content at the drop of a hat. For the rest of us, it does not pay to chain ourselves to invisible deadlines, especially when we don’t have a massive readership yet. Holding yourself to a deadline may keep you on a regular schedule, but are you forcing out boring content? It’s difficult to be honest with ourselves. If you find yourself posting about topics that are being talked about ad nauseum for the sake of producing content, it’s time to take a step back.
Strike while the iron’s hot
This is the tip that my husband probably wishes I would keep to myself. I tend to talk about marketing all day, including when I get home from work. Every so often my husband will say something that sets off a spark of inspiration, and I go straight to WordPress to furiously type my thoughts out. That isn’t very practical for those of us with lives, but a variation of this tactic can work for you. Forget carrying around a little notebook, just make sure you have a pen handy at all times. I always have a few receipts or napkins in my purse. Those do just as well as long as you remember not to throw them out. Don’t make the mistake of mentally drafting a really interesting post and telling yourself that you’ll write about it later, only to forget some of the more interesting details.
Don’t scrap it, draft it
WordPress has made it easy to save work that would otherwise be lost in the ether. You don’t need to complete a blog post just because you started it. Get as far as you can until you hit a wall, save the post as a draft and let it go. You may only need a few hours to rethink your topic and get back on track, but in the worst case scenario you have a fallback post to start from during a dry spell. Having a particularly inspired day? Start a few posts that you can flush out on future dates.
Flaunt your stuff
Unfortunately, simply producing awesome, interesting content is not enough to garner interest. Someone needs to read it and (in the best case scenario) like it enough to share it with someone else. For a small-time blogger like myself, sharing a link to the post via Twitter and Facebook is a good start. There are a ton of resources out there about how to create a popular blog. The key is producing interesting content that comes from a true stroke of inspiration. If you’re doing it right, your content will be picked up and linked to by other blogs and websites.
Pick up the planner once you pick up speed
Nothing encourages creativity and drive like positive feedback. Once you’ve built up an active readership, it may be time to start planning posts again. If you’ve drafted enough posts, you can schedule those out for a few weeks to give you a running start. If you see that your cache of drafts is starting to dwindle, brainstorm a list of topics and assign them to the days when you plan to post. Don’t go into a blog drafting session cold until you’ve gotten the hang of quickly brainstorming interesting content ideas.
Remember, your readership is more forgiving than you think. Although they may be accustomed to posts every Monday and Thursday, they will forgive you if your next blog is something that adds value to their reading experience. Posting stale, uninspired content is the easiest way to lose readers and consequently lose momentum.