Blogging editorial calendars can become boring chores for many reasons. If you, as a solopreneur content marketer, had to start analyzing why your blogging calendar feels mighty boring to you, you’d have to start by examining your industry, your niche, your audiences, your expertise, your passion area, your chosen blog topics and finally the joy of writing itself.
But beyond all this, there could be another reason why blogging feels boring … and Brian Clark of Copyblogger expresses this point beautifully: “We’re afraid someone won’t like it. We don’t want to use an unusual word, because someone won’t like it. We don’t want to uncover a thorny problem or controversial issue, because someone won’t like it. We can only conform, because that’s the only way to be safe.”
The answer you’re looking for:
Your blogging topics have probably become boring to you because you are trying too hard (when you see little results), and always second-guessing if you are pleasing your audiences. You end up pleasing no one, not even yourself. You may be self-critical to the point of writing-paralysis. It’s not uncommon at all.
But read on for the full picture …
Check if your passion for blogging is still there, and you’re just going through a blue patch
Content marketing takes a lot of time to start showing results. Meanwhile, if you’ve set up unrealistic expectations, or you’re blogging hard to drive quicker results, you’ll get increasingly frustrated and lose your “mojo”.
Nine times out of ten, your apathy towards blogging may come less from the topics you have on your calendar, or the task of blogging, and more from the frustration that it’s not leading to some concrete results. If you have been working too hard and beating yourself up to produce results, you need to cut yourself some slack. Stop what you are doing and give yourself a break.. Then think about what your expectations are and whether they are likely to happen in the short run, and if not, reset your goals. If possible, go for a while with no goals, other than to write a little every day. Only write as much as you can and find it easy to do, and no more. You need to get off the “treadmill of writing” and get onto the “hobby horse of writing”.
Here are three things you might check to see if you doing your blogging with the wrong frame of mind:
1. You’re not in the “zone” when you blog. It doesn’t feel like you’re in an entirely different world. When you are fully absorbed in what you do (notice I’m not saying you’re in a state of joy, just that you’re fully absorbed), you seldom notice things outside of you, or even the thoughts and feelings inside your own head. To the contrary, when your mind is only partially absorbed in any task, you will find the buzz of thoughts inside your head are distracting you, and so will any external movements or noise around you. Meditators and mind-peace practitioners call this being “mindless”.
The opposite to this state is being “mindful” – that is applying 100% mind to whatever you are doing at the moment. Mindfulness has a way of feeling boring for the first few seconds, but as your mind “focuses” you’ll start feeling the joy of being fully “in the zone”, mentally absorbed, and noticing the fine details of what you are doing (i.e. writing). Check if you are finding your blogging calendar boring because you have fallen into the habit of doing things with just half a mind.
2. You feel pressured to earn money from turnaround blogging. You don’t have a “let go and go with the flow” attitude. Most content marketers don’t realize that after they have set money goals they have to let the money goals go. Money is not a goal in itself. It is the by-product of other goals. It is a by-product of doing a certain amount of work each day. It is a by-product of doing something every day for a longish time. And sometimes it’s a by-product of synchronicity. Millionaires who are extremely successful with earning money often say that they never think of the money. It just comes out of happy co-incidences at work, and not directly as a result of what they do – although they do make an effort to do good work every day to earn well.
For example, they may attend many meetings with a customer and find him to be totally unproductive … but suddenly he happens to tell his friend who has a more urgent job to get completed and the friend then becomes the client who pays handsomely. So long as you are determined to go along a route towards money, but you don’t keep looking for money along every inch of the route, the money appears in seemingly mysterious ways. That doesn’t mean you can sit by the wayside and hope for a bagful of money to drop from above. You have to be trudging along, and if you’re doing your bit consistently, the rewards will come, albeit not in the way you think. Check if you’re so money-preoccupied that you are not bending to do the things you have to be doing in that direction.
3. Check if you’re mentally and physically healthy, and your work-life balance is not out of kilter, and you have no other illness that is causing you needless fatigue. A life of solopreneurship, after having held a proper job, can feel alone and depressing to you without your knowing it. You may think you are finally free of hassles of attending a “regular job”, but there could be a part of you that had relished being in the company of friends and co-workers, and the “lonesome ownsome” life may feel strangely unhappy. Check if this is one reason why your blogging calendar feels like a downer to you. Another reason for feeling blue about doing your calendarized tasks could be that you are not healthy physically.
It’s very easy to become a workaholic when you first start your own business, and although you enjoy it immensely for a while, the lack of a work-life balance may soon catch up with you, and leave you physically drained. This doesn’t mean you’re too tired. It could be a mental fatigue, and the cure for mental fatigue is physical exercise. If you went for a one-hour walk every day you will find your blues disappearing, your endorphins (happy hormones) will begin to rise, and life in general will begin to look much rosier. You’ll want to get back to your productivity, but this time, make sure to continue your physical exercise program alongside of the mental exercise of writing.
7 things that can take the thrill out of blogging, as one interesting study indicates
In a recent study I came across, a company running a blogging course had studied a group of bloggers to see why they suddenly flaked and found their blogging calendars to be a drag … here are seven reasons they unearthed, after quizzing their survey respondents:
- Bloggers were taking on more than they could manage … they were overestimating their capacity to write, underestimating their time requirements, or spreading themselves too thinly between blogging and non-blogging administrative business tasks.
- Their blogging calendars had no clear strategy. Their calendars were, in fact, haphazardly put together – such that the topics were all over the place and not focused enough around their niche meaningfully, to either make sense to them or their audiences.
- They were up and down on schedules, either going whole hog at the blogging on some days, or being just plain unproductive on other days. There was no rhythm to their work that felt pleasant.
- They needed to remind themselves again on the real purpose of their blogs. They often found they lost focus on who they were blogging for, what they were blogging about, and why they were blogging. Many of them forgot that the reason behind content marketing was to share and educate and help others. Their blogs had become about number of words produced for Google rankings.
- They had half-filled calendars, and after a first burst of blogs written to specifically pre-scheduled topics, they had to stop the work to fill the rest of the calendar with enough blogging topics. This kind of break in pattern, and the pressure to fill the empty calendar with new topics, was killing all excitement. Filling the calendar with topics requires a different mindset and writing the topics requires a different mindset. Sudden changes of mindset gave them a restless, unsettled feeling they couldn’t cope with.
- Too much reading of other blog posts by others, or listening to podcasts and watching videos were filling their heads with so much information overload that they barely had the bandwidth to do their own writing tasks. Many bloggers were using the “need to learn new things” as a form of self-distraction, and ending up too overwhelmed with information to do a writing job.
- Bloggers were trying too hard to be like their role-models, and were losing their own uniqueness in trying to be like someone else. This also made them highly self-critical, especially if their role-models were quite unlike them in personality and tone. Over time, they were losing their identity and the writing tasks lost their charm.
How to pack your blogging editorial calendar with topics that are interesting
So often content marketers worry about how interested their target audiences will feel about their blog posts, that they forget to factor in their own interest levels in creating these blog posts. Therefore, one of the first things to do when you feel tired of looking at the topics you have on your blogging calendar is to see how varied your topics are, and how you can keep your interest level high by varying what you write about from day to day. Here are a few ideas that you may like to try out to spice up your blogging calendar with your own motivation in mind.
1. Vary the topics you write about, so every day doesn’t seem like the next one. Find different tacks to take. So many blog posts are written every day on the same topics that if you just work within what you have seen or know, you will start getting limited by the breadth of your ideation on topics. You may like to try tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs or Buszzsumo. If you type in the keywords you want to blog about, you’ll see a wide variety of posts on the same topic by different authors, some of whom have had their posts highly shared and appreciated. Make it a point every morning, before you attack your blogging topic for the day, to look into one of these tools to see what angles different writers have taken with the same keywords. Broaden your outlook on these topics. See what people have shared a lot and how those articles have kindled public interest. Most often boredom comes from a mind that is closing in, and is mired within its own resources. Instead look out at the varied work of others and you will start feeling mentally opened up to new ideas.
2. Pepper your topics with visual variety. Free your mind from only thinking of textually heavy topics. Very often when we look at the blog posts topics we have to write about, we start thinking in terms of paragraphs of text. On the other hand, what if you looked at the visual potential of the post, so you have to write less and include more visual variety? Are there images and charts you can focus around? Are there slide decks you could embed into the post, or related videos? Can you include infographics or podcasts or sound bytes? It’s not just good for your audiences, your posts will give a lift when you use a variety of media, as opposed to always making them all about text.
3. Find quotes from other people to include. Let others’ ideas get your juices flowing. It’s a great idea to curate the thoughts of others on every post you write. Not only is it good for SEO to include outward links to good sources of information on your topic, but when you include quotes by others’, you will find your own writing getting tinged with a richness of thought. The beauty of curating the work of others, to add to your own thoughts, is that you can educate your audiences better, while also educating yourself to new ways of looking at subjects. Look for both types of quotes – great writing that supports your point of view, as well as thoughts that go contrary to what you are saying. Think how you can harmonize these diverse points of view by offering a more rounded blog post.
4. See that you have a calendar-packing ritual every quarter, so you don’t have to worry about topic choices when you have to turn out a post. It’s always a good idea to separate topic planning time from writing time, because psychologists believe different parts of our brains are used for ideation and for writing. If you are trying to plan topics alongside of writing schedules, your brain may feel addled. Some writers like to have their calendars packed for one year or even two or three. But this works well for larger teams where different writers write the different blog posts. When you are a solopreneur, you need to give yourself a chance at regular intervals to reassess your calendar of blogging topics. Maybe once a quarter, or if that’s too frequent, maybe at least twice a year, give your calendar a review. See if trends have changed since you first packed your calendar with topics, and whether some topics may need a different approach or treatment than you had previously envisaged. See if you have earlier put too many similar topics together, and may need more randomization of topics to keep you on your toes day after day.
How to bring a lot more interest and joy into your daily blogging
Part of the boredom that comes from being you, is that you know how you tend to think, and your own ideas don’t have that novelty for you any more. So when you say that your blogging topics bore you, you may well be saying “My own thought patterns are boring me!” Fortunately, there are four excellent ways to put on a different thinking cap, and feel different and think different for a change.
1. Blog a little less on quantity and focus on quality, taking battery-recharge breaks in between. The mind tends to run into ruts of thinking. To break the pattern you may have to take enough break time in between, which you won’t allow yourself to enjoy when you look at a packed calendar, and feel compelled to live up to your promises to yourself. Breaking thought patterns is best done, not by stopping all activity, but by alternating with some other activity. If you have other things you can do, do that work for a change to give yourself a break from writing. There’s no point in a break, if you sit quiet for ten minutes berating yourself for not keeping up with your schedule. Take your mind off the job totally, by putting your mind to some other use.
2. Pinch ideas from others and try to re-word it your own way. Break out of your usual language. It’s a great mental exercise to try and paraphrase the thoughts of others. You don’t have to worry about getting the ideas, but you can focus on expressing the same idea differently. This exercise can shake you out of the usual way your thinking flows. Now and then, try it just for the fun of it. Take a bunch of ideas others have written on your topic, and see how well you can re-state the points. You will feel your own thinking subtly reshaping itself.
3. Write while you do some role-play. Imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes as you write. When I worked in a multinational ad agency we had a brainstorming technique where a group of us had to try and be one another as we thought through a topic and came up with innovative ideas. It used to be very “imagination-kindling” to try and think of the same topic while putting yourself in your co-worker’s shoes. Even as a solopreneur, what if you tried to write as if you were someone other than yourself? Try it now and then. It can be an amazing experience.
4. Change where you work from … and when you work. Change the the location, timings, order of things … Sit in the sunshine and write, or go to the nearest park. Change the room from where you work, or the direction you face. Change the lighting in the room. Sit near some fresh plants. Sit amidst the noises of playing children or frisky pets. Nature, children and pets are always full of life. If you relocate your place and time and work and surround yourself with life that exhibits joy, you’ll find your own mind lose its cobwebs and you’ll feel energized.
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of aspiring digital solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us in the comments field below this post.