When you first set up your blog, everything was exciting! You had hundreds of ideas for posts and couldn’t wait to sit down (or mosey up to your standing desk) with your laptop and blog your heart out. Now you’ve been at it a while and it isn’t that you’re bored exactly. It’s just that coming up with ideas seems harder than it used to be. You’re spending more time staring at a blank post window than you used to. Sometimes you have to actively fight yourself to get yourself into your chair (or at your standing desk) at all.
Luckily, you won’t always feel this way. Like every other project and profession on earth, there are going to be times when your enthusiasm wanes and the work feels more like work than play. But the enthusiasm will come back. We promise! In the meantime, here are some tips to help you stay inspired, motivated and focused for your readers.
1. Psych Up Your Set Up
Are you blogging on an old laptop that takes forever to start up? It’s amazing how much energy and focus waiting for a clunky computer to crank itself to life can steal. It might be time to look into investing in a new machine. If cash is tight, why not go for a Chrome Book? Chrome Books are cheaper than Mac or Windows laptops and, in terms of blogging, can do almost everything a regular laptop can.
While we’re at it, what’s your internet connection like? Did you opt for the slowest package in an effort to save some money? Consider an upgrade here too. Having to wait for those awful ads to finish loading can zap your motivation and turn you from an inspired blogger to an annoyed web surfer almost instantly. Many web-based professionals have started switching to higher end services like fixed wireless broadband (in rural areas) and fiber optics (in urban areas). When you can browse, upload and download instantly, suddenly research is a lot easier (and more fun)!
2. Set Up a Schedule
Guess what: you can train your brain to be inspired and motivated. It’s true! If you sit around waiting for inspiration to strike, it won’t ever happen. Inspiration is like hot water that way. Instead make a point of sitting down to blog at the same time every day. The first few sessions will probably feel like a fight but after a week or so, you’ll find that sitting down feels more like a habit and that, when you don’t follow your schedule, your brain starts to feel twitchy.
3. Allow for Some Flexibility
Wait, what? We just told you to make a solid schedule! Don’t worry; we aren’t contradicting ourselves here. When we talk about flexibility, we’re talking about your subject matter. For example, your blog might center on the entertainment industry. Why not expand that to include geek culture or pop culture history? Instead of forcing yourself to stay within the confines of a highly defined niche for every single post, allow for some “wiggle room” every so often–particularly when you’re feeling blocked or like you want to slack off. Start with niches that relate to yours and expand as needed.
4. Borrow and Beg (but Stealing is a Bad Idea)
When you’re really stuck, one of the best things that you can do to get the creative juices flowing is to piggyback on to someone else’s idea. We don’t mean stealing their content for your site. That’s gross! What we mean is this: Person X posts a blog post about Y on their site. You read the blog post and then talk about it on your own site (linking back to Person X of course). Include your own thoughts about their opinions and share what you think of the subject itself.
This helps you stick to your blogging schedule, keeps your readers happy and–since you’re linking back to Person X, might help you develop a relationship with that person!
5. Call in Your Designated Hitter
AKA accept guest blog posts. When you’re really stuck, why not invite someone else to post in your space for a day or two? There are lots of mutual benefits of publishing guest posts. A word to the wise, though: either pay the person for his or her post or trade with a blog buddy. You don’t necessarily have to pay a lot ($50-$100 should be sufficient, depending on the post length you require) but definitely don’t offer only “exposure.” Don’t ever ask anybody to work for free.
Staying inspired is something that every blogger and designer will struggle with. Just remember: it isn’t permanent! If you keep plugging away, your inspiration will come back. We promise!