Heads up, everyone! Today’s post is not your usual sugar-filled recipe, but rather one aimed at fellow bloggers (or for those curious about blogging!) for avoiding blogger burnout. I’ve switched to a once per week posting schedule, so your next sugar hit will be coming a week from now, next Monday. Enjoy!
1. Plan an editorial calendar
If you’re anything like me, you’re lost without organization. And when I’m lost, I suffer from blogger burnout. Even for the most mentally sharp and forever prepared among us, you’ll need a properly organized editorial calendar if you’re committed to quality blogging.
An editorial calendar is a forecasted calendar of what recipes you want to post and when. This is especially helpful for syncing seasonal and/or holiday-themed recipes around specific dates. For example, if Christmas is coming up, start planning to post Christmas recipes beginning in mid to late November. People will be browsing Pinterest and other websites to brainstorm Christmas meals and food gifts and your recipe might be the perfect one for them.
Typically, I forecast my editorial calendar 3-4 months in advance. I do this to keep it manageable while being flexible to holidays I forgot to add in and any recipe ideas that pop into my head. While some bloggers use an actual calendar, I prefer a colour-coded Sheets document (the online and free Google version of Microsoft Excel) to keep everything organized.
2. Lists, lists and more lists!
Recently, I told someone that I’m obsessed with lists. This is 100 per cent true. I make lists multiple times per day, every day. Whether it’s for work where I create a daily to-do list, or for home where I make a list of things to clean in the house and rank them in order of importance, I’m always making lists.
You might see lists (and my obsession over cleanliness) as tedious, but I promise that lists are your blog’s best friend and can help you avoid blogger burnout. I usually keep a small pad of paper on me or use my phone’s notepad app to jot down things that pop into my head while I’m away from my computer. Sometimes that means making a list of recipes I want to create or ways I can improve my blog’s graphic designs. Like an editorial calendar, lists keep your blogging organized.
3. Be prepared for recipe battle
Does anyone else feel that when you prepare a post or recipe, you’re donning chain mail and getting your sword ready? No? Just me? Alright. When I say prepare for ‘recipe battle,’ I mean preparing everything for what recipe you’ll be making that day down to the last detail. Often, I get stressed out about all the other things that I need to do that I’ll see creating a recipe as a waste of time and avoid it, piling on the work for later. That’s why I need everything ready to go, so I can focus on perfecting the recipe.
The day before, I plan out exactly what ingredients I need and adjust my grocery store list accordingly. Then, I make sure to time when parts of the recipe need to be prepared. For example, if I’m making cheesecake, I know I’ll have to let the cream cheese blocks come to room temperature before I start mixing everything together. Or if I need to add chopped rhubarb to a recipe very quickly, I’ll be sure to cut it ahead of time and have it waiting near the stovetop.
As well, I find it helpful to create Google Docs with food styling photos as a sort of inspiration board. I keep that handy during shoots so I can avoid the standard three angles I tend to shoot with every single time.
4. Go at your own pace
You’ve probably seen the blogger who churns out 3-5 beautifully styled, mouthwatering recipes per week, or the one who creates wonderful Snapchat and Instagram stories daily. If you’re only posting once per week (or even less!), discouraged is a good word for how you might feel. I get it. I’ve been there.
But the most important thing about blogging is that for most people, this is a hobby, not a career. Many people (myself included) work full-time jobs, in addition to other tasks such as freelance work, volunteering, working out, caring for elderly relatives, or raising children. If you somehow find time to post 5 recipes per week and do all those things, all the while balancing a marriage and/or social life, kudos to you. But for most people, it’s just not feasible. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
Blog at your own pace. Nothing increases blogger burnout more than forcing yourself to write more posts than you can handle. Plus, if you spend more time perfecting a recipe, you’ll be creating quality content over quantity. I’d much rather see a quality post than a churned-out, half-hearted recipe.
5. Triage your blog (and your life)
When you visit the emergency room of a hospital, you’re triaged. The people having heart attacks aren’t going to wait around until the kid with a cough finishes seeing a doctor; you’re put in order of need and importance. This can be applied to blogging as well. I have a full-time job, as well as a steady freelance gig that I’ve kept since I was a university student. I’m trying to eat better and work out more, all the while spending time with my boyfriend and seeing friends. Adding blogging in there can be difficult.
While I love my blog, it’s not my first priority. And for anyone, even the multimillionaire blogger, it shouldn’t be. I make next to nothing from my blog, so focusing on my career that funds my rent and food is important. So are my personal relationships and my health. After all, the blog will always be here. Friendships and my health? Those can change if not tended to.
I’m not saying ignore your blog; far from it. But make time for it without allowing it to suck away all your free time. That’s a perfect equation for blogger burnout if there ever was one.
6. Avoid online jealousy and comparisons
Oh boy. Jealousy is so real. Lindsay from Pinch of Yum wrote a piece that really hit home about dealing with online jealousy. She has some great tips and insights there, but what really strikes me is that one of the most famous, well-paid bloggers in the world gets jealous of other bloggers! Think about that for a second. Even someone who has stunning photos and a plethora of opportunities doesn’t think she’s good enough all of the time.
Take-away #1: Sometimes we don’t see how great we are. Take-away #2: Jealousy is normal.
But that doesn’t mean it’s beneficial. Instead of focusing on how bad your blog is compared to others, think about what you’re doing that’s exceptional. Maybe you spend a lot of time recipe testing, or you have an interesting niche. You could be great at food photography or have a hilarious or touching writing voice. There’s always something unique and great about you and your blog, you just need to find it and focus on the positives.
7. Connect with other bloggers who have been there
A support network of people who have experienced what you’re dealing with is so important. Thanks to the many types of social media out there, the ability to connect on different platforms is helpful for new bloggers and veterans alike.
I find assistance, support and my own little band of cheerleaders through the Food Bloggers of Canada, a group led by two outstanding individuals who provide resources, opportunities and advice for Canadian bloggers. I’m a part of two of their Facebook groups, where bloggers can post questions, share articles of interest, or collaborate, all to improve their own blog while helping others do the same.
Google ‘food bloggers’ and your country if you’re not located in Canada and an organization, or at the very least a Facebook group, should pop up. These folks have been there and many are going through the same struggles you are—so take advantage of that.
8. Ask friends and family for help
Sometimes, strangers on the Internet can’t help. Usually, that’s for personal struggles, such as blogger burnout (which can show itself as anxiety, stress or depression). I don’t know where I’d be without the support of my partner, friends and family there to cheer me up when I’m down and push me to keep going.
Even if you don’t tap that resource for help, friends and family can help with the blogging side of things as well. All of the hands you see in my photos (including two of the pictures in this post!) belong to my boyfriend, who dutifully holds things while I yell out commands and take photos. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; in most cases, those close to you want to help!
9. Don’t be so hard on yourself (aka you’re only human)
One of the best ways to avoid blogger burnout is to realize that you’re not a team of paid employees working on a website. You’re one person doing something you love. You’re human. So what if you don’t have the most beautifully designed website or the perfect dark and moody food photos? Beating yourself up over not being perfect or having the same output level as a whole team of people is a recipe for disaster. Pun intended.
I learned this saying a few years ago and I keep it in mind whenever I get down about the state of my blog: “Would you say that about your best friend?” If you think your blog looks like garbage or you call yourself an idiot for failing to make a recipe work, think about if you would say those things to your best friend about their blog. The answer is no, you wouldn’t. Be kind to yourself.
10. Enjoy the journey!
Most bloggers are doing this for fun, so enjoy the journey. Enjoy all the times you failed in the kitchen (and how many times you just stood there, shaking your head and laughing out loud about the world’s ugliest layer cake), and all the successes you’ve had too.
Blogger burnout is real and can be serious, but by staying organized, keeping things in perspective, going at your own pace, finding a support system, and being kind to yourself, you can beat it.
Stay tuned for next week’s recipe, coming to you on Monday!