13 October 2014

Recovering from blogger burnout. Losing myself in shaping my blog.

I wrote some of this post, ironically, after I said I need to take a short break from blogging. I was writing again pretty much immediately after pressing publish. I got this amazing comment on my blog, after that post. It spoke to me:

"This is just my opinion, so take it for what it is worth.

Content does not always have to be "research, back linking, proofing, social media promotion" - I'm reading *your* blog, and it is ok to be you. Not some content producing robot. It is ok to just post a photo and/or a quick thought, or a link to something you read which you found interesting.. a memory, a this is what I did today, a recipe you love..

"bloggers are being encouraged to"

And who exactly made that person king of blogging? :) I think "problogging" can be a great thing at times. Sometimes, it can put massive amounts of pressure on people to be a certain way or produce posts which totally and completely bypass the reason we - their readers - loved them in the first place.

I find this seems to happen a lot after "conferences" where people are told all kinds of wonderful things and then they want to come home and put all this stuff they were told into action, and in the process they lose the one thing which most of their readers loved about their blog - themselves. :(

"I want each blog post to move a reader."

And wouldn't that be an exhausting blog to read, not to menton write - for every single post to move your readers. It is ok to move people on an irregular basis. It is ok for moving people to come as a surprise to your people, and not be an expectation for every single post written. I think you want to move people once a week at most, otherwise you'll burn out your readers as well as yourself. :)

Just be you. I like you, for who you are, not the "content" you produce and twist yourself into pretzels to create. Pretzels can be fine, they can be awesome, but if you have them each and every day, you crave icecream, or a macaron, or a cat photo. :)

Do your own thing. Be who you *are* - not who someone else says you should be, not someone you are "encouraged" to be. That is the reason I subscribed to your blog, and I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way."

Thank you so much Snoskred. That comment! I needed it! I get you and agree with you and this is what I wanted to read. Somehow I may have lost myself in shaping the direction of my blog. Somehow I've made myself busier!

I do feel the pressure to write, to perform, and like everything I do in life, I'm a perfectionist. I write for me - and so my theory about perfection vs excellence means I strive for perfection rather than excellence. It's silly isn't it? Feeling the most pressure from ourselves.

I came back from Problogger with so many good ideas. I've already been filling up a notepad, talking to people who can bring these ideas to life. Funnily, many of those don't involve actual blogging. Those ideas are all about blogging, but use the blog as a springboard. And so while I want to focus on building those projects - all will be revealed soon - I need to just be. And I've enjoyed taking some time out, reducing that pressure to have something on the blog every second day.

A blog conference always leads to heightened inspiration - the content coupled with being in the presence of like minded people really does make you realise your potential. But there is overwhelm - of the crowds, the wonderful inspiring speakers, the ideas that you come back with, and also the experience of being away for a weekend. If there was a scale of overwhelm, I'd say this type is at the good end. I'd much rather be overwhelmed with excitement and inspiration than anxiety, fear and idea blockages - but I acknowledge that for many, these conferences might leave them feeling all of those things on the not so great end of the scale. When I got back from Problogger, I did notice bloggers wonder if they fit in; if they're doing it right. The ever lovely Pip Lincolne has some nice advice about how to overcome the overwhelm.

After blog conferences there's a danger of comparing ourselves to each other. The thing for me is that I keep comparing myself to what I've already done and want to do more. I compare myself to my last achievement and want to do more, do better. This is blogger burnout.

While blogging hasn't stopped being fun, the pressure to produce a post - or content as it's known in the industry - is tiring. For now, this isn't a full time job. I've been looking to decrease my day job hours so I can do more of this amazing writing and speaking career. I don't want to just be producing content, because that seems robotic. I want to keep it interesting and topical and continue to educate. But as my dear commenter said, it is ok to move people on an irregular basis.

This isn't a whinge about the sheer volume of wonderful opportunities that have come my way because of blogging. But the input definitely doesn't match the output. I did some invoices in bulk recently and the money I've made in projects away from my blog was more than 10 times the amount I've made through ads and sponsored posts here. It is hard work.

I've also found recently I've began to temper myself more online. The more of a following I have, the more conscious I am about what I'm saying, how I'm presenting myself online. There have been times I've been questioned for having an opinion on experiences and issues - because there's the belief my opinion contradicts my appearance activism.

I don't style my life online, but I am focused on what I write here - trying to ensure I set a good example, that don't contradict what I stand for, and knowing that what I do write may be scrutinised and criticised. But sometimes I will have an opinion that doesn't seem like 'me' - the online Carly that readers are used to seeing online - and that is ok. Please don't be disappointed. Hell, I commented on our Prime Minister's budgie smugglers recently and was hauled over the coals for not being true to my appearance activism work - I was told I was body shaming him. I wasn't.

I read an article about whether personal blogging can survive monetisation and this paragraph resonated with me the most:

"Most of all, when you blog about yourself, you’re putting YOU out there for strangers to judge. Most 99% of the time it’s good. But there will be times when people will judge, say they don’t like what you’re doing, or what you’re wearing and you will have to be tough enough to live with that judgement."

You do have to be tough. It's funny how out of a bajillion lovely comments, the not so nice ones stick.

There are opinions I'd love to share but, for many reasons, I can't. Having an opinion has cost me friends. And truthfully, I'm devastated. Having an online opinion is probably harder than in 'real life' opinions because there's no body language or fluid back and forth conversation for the intention to be interpreted clearly. And it seems that it's more difficult to clear the air in person when communication with them is mostly online. And the worst is when people who don't ordinarily contact me do so just to disagree. I'm all for differing opinions but if a differing opinion is all you're going to offer, then I'm going to feel hurt.

I've recently seen some commentary about blogging (and other issues) online that has caused some heated words. Looking at these examples, and also experiences I've had, I wonder whether we are able to ever ask questions about blogging/bloggers' behaviour/social media online or is this something to ask in person? Does this commentary get more dramatic online because of:

-the chance of misinterpretation

- the length of question and answer

- the pack mentality of the replies

- replying in the heat of the moment

- the ease of typing something compared to talking in person?

I don't know. I do think conversations aboutblogging issues, online behaviour and etiquette need to be had - the more transparently the better, but I question whether having them online all the time is the right platform. (I saw this post about that topic on Facebook - must listen to the podcast soon.)

We're making this blogging business up as we go along. That's how new it is. Sure, there are many experts providing us great advice. But the great thing about blogging and having our own blogs is that it can be anything we want it to be. It's ok to slow down or change direction or only post on Sundays.

Me? I've got to keep telling myself that it's ok not to go at full speed with everything I do. It's ok to let some of the day-to-day posts creep back into this blog. And it's ok not to be liked by everyone. It's good to find myself.






  1. Carly I read your blog because YOU shine through everything you write about. It might be appearance diversity, your love, your dinner. I read because who you are radiates out from every word you write. The fact you CARE about stuff. I read because of you. Take some deep deep breaths and know that you are loved by so many. Your work is good, your life is interesting but your mental health and comfort is most important of all. It is good to have a holiday sometimes, rest yourself, indulge in some time that is blog free, work free, worry free. Take care of your self as well as your passions. You are a very special person. Kia kaha.

  2. Hi Carly. I blog as a hobby. I gave up trying to monetise about 5 minutes after I started. I didn't like the look of the ads and they weren't earning enough to cover the annoyance factor. I agree with a lot of what you say. It's much more fun to keep blogging to a hobby - if you don't need the income. You're right about the pressure though. Even as a hobbyist I feel pressure to put up good content at least once a week - weird when you think about it.

  3. I loved this post and I love the comment you featured. I also came away from problogger with a head full of ideas and a heart full of guilt for not implementing them but the pressure I put on myself is really not necessary is it? I love your opinions and the awareness you bring but I also love you for just being you Carly.

  4. Hello Carly
    I'm glad you've found yourself on your blog.
    Lots of love
    SSG xxx

  5. Carly, first of all, I want to say that I think you are one of the most authentic, grounded and fun bloggers out there. I love going on your journey with you and I have learned so much about appearance activism and have grown incredibly as a person because of it. Your voice is what I come for. That you may have different opinions to mine makes it all the more stimulating. What comes through more than anything is how passionate you are about what you do. As a small blogger with her own personal struggles, I look at you and your blog and feel so inspired.

    It is true that blogging is new and it is true that some people have nothing better to do than to make negative comments without balancing it with what is good, but on balance, I would say that you reach far more people, move far more than those negative people combined. I think it is good that you are being kind to yourself, taking time out and taking it easy a bit. But please do know how very much your blog, and more importantly, you yourself is valued and very much loved. xx

  6. We've discussed the budgie smugglers privately so there's no need for me to go into it further here but I just wanted to say that I think this is an awesome post. Looking forward to some cat photos... or any other light hearted stuff you have coming. V.

  7. What a thoughtful, timely post. You shine through on your blog Carly and I love the fact its a part of all the other things you do in your life - as well as full time work, appearances, other writing and activism work etc. I love that you care about stuff and write about it, in ways that educate and inform. But I also like reading your other types of posts too! Keep being you, and don't forget you inspire in ways you might not even realise. A while ago in an FB chat you mentioned a freelance writing course you'd done and found useful. I'd been thinking about doing it too and you inspired me to get started. I did it, and have since had articles published, on issues I really care about. Thanks for the inspiration spark ! x

  8. So much to digest here, Carly - it's like a smorgasbord of a 'slow' post that I think I will return to again and again. Mainly what I take from it is the fact that after a while we bloggers start to think we have to be a certain way and do things a certain way. We all just want to be liked and we don't want to ruffle the feathers because (a) we're all in this together and (b) sometimes 'together' is a little hard to take. But, you know me, I can't be quiet for too long, it just blurts out in the worst possible way - but I wear that. I'm okay with it. I'm not a person who ever does anything from malice, rather from bewilderment, so I'm okay when I take some heat. I only ever feel bad if I feel guilty.

    As for being a content creator - I think a blog is good when it has that ebb and flow any way. Either some quieter, smaller, though no less fun to put together and read, posts to even out the bigger ones or less posting but each one a jewel. You will find your balance. The main thing to know is that a blog is ever changing, just like a person is. x

  9. That was a great comment from your reader Carly - a timely reminder for all of us caught up in the swirl of blogging and creating content. I'm glad it's worked and given you some perspective. I also appreciate the last part of your post - I've been thinking along similar lines and agree that online conversations can be tricky. I know I don't always share all my opinions too as I don't want to ruffle feathers and I'm not good at confrontation at all. I should be stronger than that (I know) but a lifetime of practice makes it hard. Sorry you have lost friends because of voicing your opinions - I would think that the worthwhile ones stick by you x

  10. Posting all the time is well and good if there is a team of bloggers involved - but exhausting (and dispiriting) if there's just one of you. It's fine to slow down. Inevitably the experts who are telling us to post all the time will tell us next year to post selectively!

  11. Carly I was a bit worried when I wrote the comment - I always am when I say something that puts my thoughts out there into the world. I was so glad when you said it was what you needed to hear. :)

    If people will let your opinions change how they think about you, that is their issue. I also think, people like that, you will always do something wrong in their eyes, no matter how perfect you try to be. I've given up trying to squeeze myself into other peoples boxes. I just be me, and if people don't like me, that's fine too. :) Not everyone will like me.

    For now, take that pressure off yourself. Decide on a blogging schedule that *you* like, and let your readers know what it will be. For me, I write four posts a week. Monday - Wordless Wednesday which only needs a photo and maybe a one line caption - Friday - and my Shoe Sunday Linkup, which thus far has been mostly a failure with nobody linking up each week, but I'll keep going and keep hoping people might get involved.

    I sometimes throw in a post on days other than my regular days but that will be because something has happened that I want to write about and things are already scheduled for the other days, like recently one of our chickens had to be euthanased.

    November will be a post a day with the whole NaBloPoMo thing, but so people do not get annoyed I will try to keep content fairly light on Tues/Thurs/Sat.

    I look forward to whatever comes, because what I know of you thus far I really love, so how can more you be anything other than awesome? :)

  12. I love how even when you're suffering from blogger burnout you can write such a full of content and readable, relatable to post. Something that speaks to experienced bloggers and newbie bloggers (me)

  13. I wholeheartedly resonate with this Carly. Full speed ahead is exhausting! But we don't see that when we are in the thick of it. While blogging rules and conferences are truly inspirational, they can also be crippling. Stepping away from the outside noise of everyone else and finding our own space and our own quiet - using this quiet to guide our journey and path - that is perhaps what they don't tell you to do and what we all need to do :)

  14. Great post Carly! And what an amazing comment, I think that has summed up perfectly how blogging should really be, and how it was back in the 'early days'.

    I've always struggled with the 'problogger' side of blogging, because I am primarily a personal/parenting blogger and so the idea of blogging 'content' is a hard one. My life isn't a commodity and for a while I held back from blogging 'life' stuff in favour of 'content' stuff and I didn't enjoy it one bit. Sure my numbers were better, but my engagement rates weren't, and my enjoyment rate plummeted. So now I blog whatever it is I feel moved to blog, with the occasional content piece thrown in when it's something I think the people I connect with on my blog will enjoy. It makes a huge difference to my enjoyment of blogging, and as a result my inspiration is sparked too.

  15. "We're making this blogging business up as we go along. " - yes, indeed. Great post! I felt overwhelm after problogger for sure, but for me what I got was being in a room with 500 + other motivated, inspiring people. That's a lot to rub off! I have been struggling with where I am at with my personal blog lately. Is it personal? Personal enough? Am I useful? Interesting (at all)? It's overwhelm, but it's important that it's still enjoyable.

  16. Such a great post, Carly and what a great comment, Snoskred. I've been thinking lately of what my niche is, and just this week I had an epiphany, my niche is myself. Just as your niche is yourself. I guess that's why people drop by here, because they want a little piece of Carly, just as you are.

  17. Great post. I'm a huge fan of micro blogging, ie small shares. Doesn't even have to be on your blog could just be via Instagram or Facebook, especially after a huge blogging workshop like ProBlogger where you come away too inspired. I'm just back from an entire week social media (and blogging) free. It took me a couple of weekends social media free to work my way up to an entire week but I was feeling like my life depended on pumping out the posts and needed to take a step back. It was a fairly productive week and I will schedule another one early next year.

  18. I just started my blog less than a month ago, so I was very interested to find your post today. I have so far posted each week day, but with a 'job' as well, I'm interested to see how long I can sustain this. I just need to put less pressure on myself and enjoy the process.


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