It’s my privilege to have marketing and communications expert Robin Houghton on the blog today! Robin contacted me last year to be a part of her new book Blogging For Writers and I said, well, yes of course! And now a swell pic of my legs is part of her wonderful resource. Today she’s sharing her top tips for getting out of a blogging slump.
Has blogging become a chore? Seven top tips for staying motivated
No matter how enthusiastic you are when you start blogging, there are always times when it’s the last thing you want to be doing. You may be right in the thick of writing your novel, or going through an extra busy time. Or experiencing family or emotional distractions. Perhaps you’re just feeling out of love with it all, or you simply can’t think of anything new to say.
Whatever the reason for the slump, there are ways to get your blogging mojo back. Here are some winning ideas to try.
1) Get out your editorial calendar
What do you mean, you don’t have one?? If not, then now’s the time to start. By planning in advance what you’re going to blog about, you’ll have a framework to guide you and a goldmine of ideas for when your mind’s a blank. It can be as simple as a basic grid, with dates down the side and blog post ‘types’ across the top (list post, review post, how-to, guest post etc). Spend a little time once a month brainstorming some ideas for posts and you’ll be surprised how easy it is once you start. Refer to this when you’ve run out of ideas and it may just be the trigger you need.
2) Go for a walk
What do you do when you’ve got writer’s block? The same remedies apply. And one of the easiest is to go for a walk, breathe in some fresh air if it’s available and come back refreshed. Sometimes we can get into a fug from too much sitting and, well, writing! Recent research suggests that compared to sitting, walking in any form (even indoors on a treadmill) was shown to boost creativity by some 60% – even when subjects sat down at a desk afterwards. And author Haruki Murakami says he runs or swims every day whenever he’s writing a novel.
3) Recycle an old post
Go through your blog stats, right back to the beginning, and see what were your most popular posts. Choose something you could update, re-position or even just re-post. Many of your readers will have missed it the first time around, and even those who remember it won’t mind the reminder and it will probably get liked and share all over again. You can also take advantage of the ‘schedule in advance’ option. For example, over the Christmas holidays, poet Anthony Wilson made a point of re-scheduling his most popular posts from the past, as a way of giving himself time off yet still supplying his readers with great material.
4) Buddy up
Check out those blogs you subscribe to – peers, influencers, experts – what are they blogging about? Reading other blog posts can often help suggest ideas for your own blog. If nothing else, try to comment – it shows you’re still present and engaged, and may generate a response such as a return visit or a conversation. We all need blogging buddies – not just for moral support or inspiration, but also as potential guest bloggers. Approach one or two people whose writing you like and who have something to say that will interest your readers, and ask if they’d be interested in writing a guest post.
5) Give yourself a break
If you’re really unable to blog right now, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. The trick is to manage readers’ expectations. If you’re going to take a week off, say so. If you’ve got a couple of guest blog posts in hand, now’s the time to schedule them while you’re taking a blog vacation. Just make sure your guest bloggers know their post is going up, so they can keep an eye on comments and reply as appropriate, and also share with their social networks.
6) Cut out the distractions
You know what it’s like. You sit down to write something and find yourself ‘just checking Facebook’ or following a link to a product review because it’s something you’ve been thinking of buying, or every time an email pops up you have to read and respond to it …if that sounds like you, consider taking steps to limit the time you spend doing other things online. You could just unhook the wi-fi, but sometimes you do legitimately need to research a piece as you’re writing it, insert links, source images and so forth. The good news is there are plugins (for Mac and for PC) that can help set browsing limits, ban access to Facebook and generally help you focus. Check out this blog post for a whole list of apps to try.
7) Escape the ‘time scarcity trap’
‘Time scarcity’ is the state we can get into when we feel over-busy, overwhelmed or permanently behind with things. According to Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir, authors of Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, a ‘time scarcity’ mindset can negatively affect our creative thinking. It goes even further than that – frantically trying to get everything done and feeling you’re never on top of it can make us less productive and unable to pay the necessary attention to long term (but less pressing) things like our health, reflection, or relationships. Tackling the time scarcity trap may mean something as simple as knowing what time of day you’re at your most productive. Take a look at what Janet Choi suggests in this interesting piece on the subject (and the comments are definitely worth reading too.)
Staying motivated and keeping the blogging momentum going is tough for us all from time to time. Are there other tips and tricks that work for you? Let us know in the comments!
Robin Houghton has over two decades of experience in marketing and communications, formerly with Nike, then running her own business Eggbox Marketing since 2002 specialising in online. She now works primarily with writers and publishing industry professionals to help them make the best use of social media. Robin writes blogs on social media and poetry and has been a guest blogger for a number of sites including Social Media Today and MarketingProfs. She is a published poet and a commercial copywriter for web and print, and an experienced trainer and conference speaker. Her first book ‘Blogging for Creatives’ was a best-seller and resulted i
n two more commissions, ‘Blogging for Writers’ and forthcoming in 2015 ‘The Rules of Blogging (and How to Break Them)’, both published by Ilex in the UK and Writers Digest Books in the US.
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