For every brilliant creative rush, there’s an equally dismal and long rut bloggers fall into without fail — it makes you feel like a lazy failure. You’re not alone. Blogging ruts happen to the best of us.
Six months ago, I fell into a major blogging rut. On days when I wasn’t feeling the rush, I trusted I’d recover, and I made up for it at other moments when the creativity flowed. I’d write an extra post or two and schedule one for later in my editorial calendar — at least I’d attempt to sketch out the idea. Before long, the cursor kept blinking on the blank page. The periods between rushes extended, and I finally accepted that I had a serious case of writer’s block.
Remember the Little Blogging Train That Could? Probably not because it’s a thing I just made up, but the storybook adage applies to your blog: Think you can, and you will. Here’s how to climb your way back out and relaunch your blog more boldly and successfully than before.
1. Read Your Prior Work
Many writers cringe when they read their old material for good reason — they’ve grown, and their previous work appears juvenile to the eye developed in editorial skill. However, you’ll also find hidden gems.
You’ll remember when you smirked or shook your head writing a particular post. You’ll laugh. You’ll question the angle, and that questioning leads to ideas.
You may also notice the timeline of your rut as it unfolds. Does that parallel with any added stress in your life?
2. Sidebar Strategies for Success
Take a look at your sidebar right now. What do you see? It’d been a while since I updated my sidebar.
What should visitors see when they arrive at your blog? Your sidebar is your audience hacking toolkit, empowering them to click and scroll your especially curated experience. Optimize your sidebar in WordPress by adding your recommended posts and social media links, including your subscription form. It’s great if your social media links are there, but all you’re doing is adding another layer separating your audience from your content, depending on where your major traffic comes from. Does the order make sense?
3. Update Your Bio Photo
Does your image = ick? When did you last update your bio photo? Have you since changed inside, outside or both?
A quick photo update will freshen up your blog and perspective the way splashing water on your face wakes you up in the morning, even if it makes you feel like you’re temporarily drowning. That’s what happens before the creative rush resumes.
4. Write About It
Whether you choose to publish it or not, you should write a post about being in a blogging rut. It’s something that all bloggers go through, and it’ll be extremely accessible if you do publish the post. Either way, you’ll get it out, and words will appear on your screen like magic!
Or, open a blank page on your word processing software of choice and let the words out. Let the expletives fly at the blank page with its stupid pearly rectangular screen.
5. Skip the Screen
Skip the screen altogether. Break out a journal and visit a coffee shop or library. Take a tiny moleskin journal with you on your daily adventures and give yourself permission to pause, reflect and express.
Some of your ramblings and doodles could turn into another 10 blog posts! In fact, make it a goal to come up with at least three headlines from three pages of material you produce today.
6. Read Outside Your Niche
I’m into fantasy, and I’m pretty nerdy about it. No shame in my genre game. After a while, many stories sound cookie cutter and old, much the way a rut feels. So, you read outside of what you know to broaden your horizons.
To get out of a blogging rut, don’t get caught up in reading what others in your niche are writing, putting yourself down about not keeping up. While you know it’s not a competition, it can feel that way. Read outside your niche.
If you’re a child-free, single beauty blogger, check out a mom blogger who struggles with beauty fails, or read about innovations in science. Notice the techniques and shift in perspective. Maybe there’s a science aspect to beauty that you’ve never covered before. Tada! Instant inspiration.
7. Grow Your Niche
Part of life is growth, and getting stuck in a rut means life and writing have stagnated. You may feel confined to expressing yourself in a way that now frustrates you instead of delighting you the way it once did.
Don’t jail your content, or assume your readers fall into neat little marketing blocks. It’s scary to write about something outside of your normal perspective. I’ve been there, but it’s important that your blog reflects your personal and professional growth.
Growing your niche does not have to mean writing left-field and sacrificing readers. If you lead the freelance life and just had your firstborn, you could integrate your mom life into your blog — that’s completely normal! You are the common thread, and you’ll find a way to tie it all together. Give yourself freedom. You could lose readers, but you will anyway if you don’t express yourself.
8. Organize + Adjust Your Calendar
Ever clean for the sake of cleaning or when you were avoiding doing something else? Apply this tactic to your blogging, because it’s still you getting back into the swing of things. Create an organizational system that works for you and looks good. Color code your blogging ideas and organize your files.
Adjust your editorial calendar to something more realistic, such as publishing on Wednesdays — let your readers know about the shift. Many times, posts take 5+ hours to research and write, so know it’s also okay to outsource to another blogger who understands your voice on the occasion when you experience severe brain fog. You may gain a valuable outside perspective. Additionally, hiring an editor who consults on brand strategy instead of a blogger can help direct and shape your blog content in a new way.
Make it a goal to tackle one of these eight suggestions right now. Close your browser, get a notepad and go out into the world. Read or write about something outside your comfort zone, even if it’s all about being in a funk.
Read your old work and give yourself more credit. Update your bio photo, and see this rut as an opportunity to freshen up your blog. Rearrange the sidebar. Tinker and see what happens. Give yourself more freedom in your blogging life versus life behind the scenes to grow and evolve, and you’ll get back on track in no time.
Pin these tips to your Pinterest board!