Monday, 3 October 2011

Bloggers Under Pressure: Tips on how to beat Blogger Burnout!



Are you a blogger under pressure?

Is your review pile stressing you out?

Has reading become a chore for you?


If you answered yes to any or all of the above you may be headed for blogger burnout, and it's time to take action!

I was inspired to write this post having recently noticed that a number of bloggers are currently stressed out, suffering from reading slumps, overwhelmed by review books and generally feeling the pressure of consistently updating and maintaining a blog.  First and foremost,  blogging is meant to be fun, for the love of reading and the love of books so if you feel like you're on a deadline or blogging is starting to seem too much like hard work, then it's time to take a deep breath, a step back and think back to why you originally started your blog and I'll bet it wasn't so that you could feel like you had a whole bunch of extra work to do. You started it because because you loved reading, loved books and wanted to share your thoughts with other like minded types, right?

Since I've been blogging I've seen a lot of blogs discontinued (sadly some of my favourites!) and the main reason seems to be that reading became a chore for these bloggers, which is a shame because a love of reading is what brought us all here.  Now, I am far  from being an expert on this and these are just my personal tips for avoiding blogger burnout. I'm not saying I'm immune to a bit of burnout myself and I've definitely experienced reading slumps, but one things for sure, I refuse to get stressed out over blogging, so here's my advice on how to avoid that.

If you have any tips on how to avoid blogger burnout let me know in comments.

If you have suffered from blogger burnout in the past or are currently stressing over your blog or going through a reading slump, then I hope this will help!


1. Take a break
It's OK to take a break from blogging!  Setting up and maintaining a blog is a lot of work - especially if you want your blog to be successful.  When I first started my blog I put a ton of work into it (design, social networking, writing reviews, establishing contacts etc.) I thought that once I put in the hours at the start, then my blog would run itself like a dream after the initial set up. It doesn't! I remember a conversation I had on twitter with Eleni from La Femme Readers where I remarked that starting up a blog was a lot of hard work. She replied that running a blog is a lot of hard work. Period. And she was right! There's always a lot to do...but you don't have to do it every day, and I've found that it's good to take a break. I've taken two week long breaks from blogging this year and I plan to take another one soon to prep for Halloween.  On those weeks I don't schedule posts, I don't read review books, I don't visit or comment on other blogs, and when I return I'm refreshed. It's good to take a holiday from your blog from time to time.

2. Put aside the review pile
Receiving review books is exciting - there's no denying it, but what about when you get a little carried away with saying yes to the review requests and suddenly the review pile is out of control? It can be overwhelming. Does it seem like every book you read is yet another review book? What about those books that you bought a while back - the books that you really want to read but haven't gotten around to any of them yet, because, well, September 29th was on the horizon and did you see the freaking amount of books being released on that day?! Yes, it's good to give timely reviews if you have accepted a book for review, but your review doesn't have to be bang on release date, and in my opinion, it's better if it's not - especially if it's a major release, because then everybody else will be reviewing it on that day too! I know that publishers like publication day buzz, and I definitely accommodate publishers requests whenever I can, but it's OK if you can't get to every review book on time. I try to mix it up as much as I can. I'll maybe read two review books, followed by one that I've bought, and then one from Netgalley. I'm also prone to pushing aside my review pile to read an entire series that I bought two years ago but haven't felt like picking up until now (when I have twenty books waiting for review!) If you find you are reading review copy after review copy then eventually you will probably fall into a slump. You need to mix it up!

3.Mix up your reading!
Along with alternating your review books with your personal copies, I find it's important to mix up your genres. If I read a bleak dystopian, I'll often follow it up with a fun contemp. You might not agree with me. If you have an absolute favourite genre, you might read only that, and that might work for you, but it never would for me.


4. You are not on a deadline!
Yes - publishers or authors will sometimes request a review on a certain date, but as a blogger you should have your own schedule. Blogging isn't paid employment where you have to meet deadlines and you shouldn't feel under pressure to do so. 


5. Limit your review acceptances
So we've already established that receiving books for review is exciting but you need to know when to say no. For example, in September I turned down almost every review request I received! (That's not to say I didn't receive review books from the mailing lists I'm already on, but turning down requests meant I could give these publishers priority instead of taking more books on). When I first started blogging I found it difficult to say no to review requests, but these days I know my limits. I know that if I want to read books from my personal collection then I can't accept every review request I receive. If you are accepting review requests directly from an author (something I rarely do), then you might feel a little more pressure to provide a review by a certain date.  How do I say no?  I limit my review acceptances to books that are on my wish list or if I get a request for a book that really appeals to me, then I'll accept it. If it's a book I only have a passing interest in and might read it at some point, I'm prepared to buy it myself and read it in my own time.


6. Have a schedule
I find that having a schedule really helps! In life, I am not a planner in life, but in blogging I sometimes am.  It's still in my nature to blog 'on the fly', but whenever I can I'll schedule posts in advance and it really helps to run things more smoothly. I usually try to schedule my blog posts at the weekend and then if I'm sent any news items/press releases during the week I'll type up a quick post and add them in. I don't always have a schedule and often end up writing reviews the night before I post them on the blog, but it all feels so much better if I have posts neatly planned out on my calendar. I reckon someone with really good time management skills could offer more advice on this than I can. I actually have really poor time management skills, so I could probably use a few tips on this point myself!

7. Quality not quantity
Blogging daily is hard work, although a little easier if you have a schedule, and if  you're feeling stressed out by blogging it's tempting to fill in the gaps with memes. Personally I'm not really interested in blogs that are meme heavy. Concentrate on providing quality posts for your readers - mix it up with a fun new feature if you're not in the mood to write reviews. I am far more interested in reading a blog that updates once a week  or even once a month with a quality review than I am in reading a blog that updates several times a week with meme after meme after meme. Some memes are good, for sure, but when every post is a meme, then I'm not sure if I'm dealing with a quality blog.  It also helps to have a bunch of reviews written in advance so that if you are feeling uninspired, you can use these as back up. Right now, I don't have any back up reviews. I ran out out those beauties so I need to write a bunch!

8.Change your reviewing style
As you can see I'm all about mixing it up when it comes to beating blogger burnout! If you are feeling uninspired and can't seem to sit down and write a review, then mix up your reviewing style. My reviews are usually pretty in-depth and I can spend quite a bit of time writing them, but it doesn't need to be that way. If you don't feel like writing an in-depth review, mix it up with mini reviews, reviews where you list what you liked or disliked about the book, or the 'show me five' review format which originally appeared on a blog called That's a Novel Idea and is a fun style to read (example: here). If your own reviewing style is not working out for you right now, try something new!

9. Guest reviewers
I have two guest reviewers - Jen and Liz - and where would a be without them? Probably lost amid a pile of review books!  You are not going to like every book you're sent  for review (I'm not huge on sci-fi, fantasy or zombie books and I'm tiring of dystopian fiction) so why not pass those books along to a guest reviewer?  If you're feeling the pressure it might even help to take on a co-blogger to help out with reviews. While I understand that guest reviewers might not appeal to every blogger my guest reviewers have worked out really well for me and it's always nice if I have nothing planned for the blog but I do have a great guest review in reserve. Phew!


10. Think about it
A blog is a hobby - something that you enjoy doing and take pleasure from. Relax. Don't get stressed. There are so many things in life to get all stressed out about, and blogging is not one of them!


Remember, blogging should equal fun, not stress, so if you're feeling like you're heading for a blogger burnout, I hope this post helped!

If you have any other tips on how to beat blogger burnout, I would love you to share them in comments!




Image source: We Heart It

25 comments :

  1. You are an absolute gem for writing this post. I find that I'm currently in a mode where I want to update but am just too tired to (aside from job pressure). As a result I've always felt guilty about it and it's only recently that I've learnt that sometimes taking a break from blogging helps more than frantically trying to update every day. I think you've covered all the basis on how to beat the burnout - because I certainly can't think of anything to add that hasn't already been mentioned!

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  2. ALL OF THESE ARE SUCH AWESOME TIPS! Sometimes we just need reminders to help us remember that blogging should be fun, not a chore!

    I always feel less stressed when I know I have posts scheduled ahead of time. Right now I know I have a ton of posts I could schedule, I just need to do it!

    I also notice I enjoy reading more when I jump and hop from adult to ya and from paranormal to contemp.

    I <3 my Google calendar! I schedule everything on there and even mark when I have the post scheduled, that helps! It helps knowing when I have a blog tour coming up or a review book I still need to read. As soon as I accept a book to review I add it to my calendar on a day I want to post it. Sometimes I shift things around, but I'm least likely to forget about reviewing that book.

    Also, I HATE that feeling of HAVING to read something. I think many bloggers struggle with that. I read more than some readers/bloggers do so maybe I'm at an advantage, but I never have review books backed up. I can pretty much read a review book as soon as I get the request. Maybe that is me. It could be because I don't request books from publishers other than Netgalley. All my requests come to me.

    Anyway...lol...thank you for posting this!

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  3. I completely agree with the quality over quantity. I much prefer blogs that post 2-3 times per week but post things that I actually take the time to read.

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  4. What a fantastic post, Leanna! Love that picture with desserts, never would have thought of that! ;) I'm totally grabbing the advice for mixing up reviews, sounds so good... The rest of the tips I use already I think. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  5. I love you for this. I've been feeling a bit stressed lately, trying to juggle blogging and school, and I've felt really bad for missing a few release dates and things. This is great advice though, and I'm definitely going to follow a few of the steps! Thanks so much for this amazing post! :)

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  6. What an awesome, informative post! You hit it on the head.

    Sometimes I think wanting to reread a book can be problematic with pushing to produce new content. (I want to reread Harry Potter but I've already reviewed it...) Therefore this mentality leaves old favorites in the dust for new and fresh materials.

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  7. Thanks for these great tips! I have a question for you about deadlines, b/c I seem to have more and more exact date deadlines. How exactly do you decline a deadline? Do you just decline the review offer if the publisher/publicists asks for a specific day?

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  8. The break thing is very for me to wrap my head around, but I'm edging my way toward it. It's a really good idea to get refreshed, I think.

    Also, I make sure that I read stuff I have no intention of reviewing occasionally. That helps when I start to feel that reading for the blog is beginning to be a chore.

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  9. Brilliant, brilliant post, Leanna! I've been really struggling with burnout again this past month or so. I've got about 50+ review books that keep being sent to me, and I feel like I want to read them, but then I know I owe a review, which sucks sometimes.

    I feel like maybe I'm getting hypercritical, too, which I feel bad about, but I'm not sure I want to lose. Gah! So much conflict!

    I'm trying to let myself not post when it feels too much like a chore...I need to work through this :/

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  10. Very great tips. I think over the course of our blogging 'career' we all learn these plus more! But it's always helpful to be reminded!

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  11. Great post! I've been blogging for almost 2 years, and had so many technical problems with Iweb. This year I switched to Blogger, and it has been the best thing for me. I'm still in the process of moving everything to my new blog, but I've been feeling really motivated and organized. I can actually schedule posts, where Iweb would never allow. It's great to feel motivated.

    I agree, don't be afraid to take a break. Blogging is meant to be fun!

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  12. Thanks for the comments, guys! I'm glad this post has been helpful! :)

    @Jacinda - I also hate the feeling of HAVING to read a book!

    @Whitney - Re-reading is a definite problem. I'm not a huge re-reader so if I want to recap on a book I usually just dip in and out of it instead of re-reading from start to finish.

    @Carrie - The problem with specific deadlines is that the usually don't come until after you've accepted the request! I've also found I've gotten emails for specific dates for unsolicited review books (which can be annoying!) In my case, I'm just honest about my time constraints etc. If I receive the book in good time then I'll do my very best to have a review ready for the week of publication or soon after (even though it's not always possible), but if I receive the review book really close to release date (I've received books a day before release where the publicist is looking for a review on release date!) then I'll just say that it's not possible but I'll get to it as soon as I can.

    In all honesty I am not a huge fan of working to a deadline in regards to blogging, but I understand that when publishers have a release that they really want to push, then timely reviews makes sense.

    @Melissa - I sometimes think I am becoming hypercritical too. I'm a picky reader at the best of times, and especially since I've started blogging. I sometimes feel sorry for the books that I find formulaic etc. If I had read them two years ago, when I hadn't read much YA I'm sure my reviews wouldn't be as critical!

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  13. This is a great post! I always try to remind myself that blogging is fun and shouldn't make me stressed. Thankfully, I haven't felt too stressed, but I really limit the amount of blog tours, book tours, etc, that I am a part of. I think this post has some great advice- especially taking a break and scheduling--if only I could be more organized in real life. ha. Great post, Leanna!

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  14. Great post and I agree with all of it. I would love to get another person to help me with the reviews. I am such a control freak though. lol

    I agree with the schedule and guest posts. Every Wednesday I have a guest post a Guilty Pleasure and it was such a relief to have content ready to go without me struggling to post.

    Really great article.

    MichelleKCanada @AnotherLookBook

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  15. Thank you, really good advice.

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  16. thanks for the advice, leanna! i've been noticing this happening a lot too. also people will email me months in advance to schedule a date, so I will agree to it, but then the actual book doesn't arrive until a week before the date. Makes it difficult and then i have to rush through books.

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  17. @MichelleK - I can be a little bit of a control freak at times too. lol! When I was advertising for guest reviewers, though, I asked people to submit examples of their reviews, so I knew what I was getting. :)

    @Carrie - That's happened to me too! I always just let people know if the book doesn't arrive in time for me to review it by the date they've asked for.

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  18. Thanks so much for this! I was starting to feel stressed about all the books I have to review so reading this was certainly helpful. Thanks for all the tips.

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  19. Thank you, really good advice

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  20. I needed this. I've been going through a reading/blogging slump, so I've been taking a bit of a break. Then I started feeling guilty about taking a break, so the slump continued. Now, I'm just trying to ease my way back into it nice and slowly!

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  21. Thank you so much for writing this post!

    I completely agree with you about having a schedule and planning posts in advance. I hate when I have to rush through a review the night before, the fact that I want it to be good is enough pressure sometimes.

    Since deciding to post on Tuesdays(meme), Thursdays and Sundays I feel a bit more relaxed as I know when to plan ahead for. Like you, it doesn't always work out that way but when it does...bliss :-)

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  22. Thank you so much for posting this, you've made me feel a lot better.

    My day job is very insecure at the moment so I'm trying to give it my all which means that I no longer sneak on line at lunch to post reviews and am exhausted when I get home. I feel so guilty for not posting more reviews but I'm trying to do at least one a week to keep the blog alive.

    I'm hoping that with Winter coming I'll have less things to do outside of work and so will be able to settle down and plan my blog and reading more.

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  23. Great post! I've been feeling the blogger burnout recently. 1 because I have a job now that takes away from my blogging and reading time and 2. I'm reading review copy after review copy. Plus, I get a lot of books for review and have tons via NetGalley.I've been trying to get back to reading books I bought to read. Thanks for all your tips!!

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  24. I'm really happy to have found this post. I have been falling into the trap of accepting too many books for review, offering aprox. review dates and then feeling stress to make the deadline or guilt for missing it. I started a new job in July and my daughter started school in September and we really haven't found our family groove yet - so my reading time is nothing compared to what it used to be.

    Thank you so much for writing this post!
    Bonnie @ HandsAndHome

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  25. This post really spoke to me. I just started a book blog with a co-work and it has become more demanding than I originally anticipated. I thought it would be easy peasy since I already read books and love doing reviews, but we have been filing the majority of our week with memes, which can be fun and interactive but also take away from what I love most...reading. Thank you for the post, it gives me a new insight on book blogging.

    Rachel @ The Big Book
    Binge

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