Blogger burnout: It became a slog so I quit
Johannesburg - Ahhh… your first blog post! Remember finally succumbing to Fomo so you would not be left behind? The seduction of how cool it would be to put a “.co.za” or, better still, a “.com” behind your name or to have a catchy URL cleverly summing you up?
You took the leap and plunged into the blogosphere. You set up your page with a stunning photo of yourself, a couple of paragraphs about your favourite bands, your thoughts on Cormac McCarthy’s latest offering, nostalgia over your long-lost Goth days and your perfect water-to-coffee ratio for the best brew.
And people liked it, or the curated version of you at least.
Traffic to your site was steady and views stacked up as peaks on your site-stats graph. It was like the rush of the cute guy at gym flirting with you – and you didn’t even have to put on a smear of lipstick.
Blogging became an addiction. And a vicious circle. You had to post more, sound wittier, do more interesting things so you could blog more. You had to keep your readers happy.
Soon, though, the pressure began to make you think slog every time you thought blog. Months would pass and you wouldn’t log on even though you were racked by guilt about abandoning your blog and your readers, all 18 of them, including your mom, your best mate living in Tokyo and your stalker ex.
Your blog became too high-maintenance, too demanding and just too much hassle. Frankly, you weren’t that into each other anymore – you became a victim of blogger burnout.
You’re not alone.
Recently a couple behind a popular home renovation blog in the US, Sherry and John Petersik, made headlines in The Washington Post and The New York Times simply because they stopped posting.
This after 80 months of regular Thursday posts discussing their week-by-week DIY renovations, from paint colour choices to roof repairs, on their blog, www.younghouselove .com.
When readers started to notice the lag in posts, the couple eventually admitted on their blog they had been “feeling off for a while” and confessed to missing the days when they blogged “for the love of it” as well as the guilt of “letting you guys down repeatedly” – and their advertisers, too. They had blogger burnout – wiped out from trying to come up with fresh, interesting content every week.
South African food stylist Emma Wilson, who is also a recipe consultant and owner of the Eat with Emma café in Loop Street, Cape Town, can laugh now about her orphaned blog of the same name that she started in 2012. Before the year was out, she walked away from the blog.
Like most entrepreneurs, Wilson bought into the importance of having a web presence, about developing her brand and social-media profile, especially because she’s a freelancer.
Wilson completed a two-week blogging course and got a professional to design her site. She set the goal of a new post once a week.
But soon it became added pressure to her busy life, and her posts became patchier.
She says there was the challenge of meeting deadlines and clients’ expectations during the day, then finding interesting things to post about at night. It took time to craft posts and to style images for the blog.
After all, styling is what she does for a living, and she couldn’t afford to be casual about what she presented on her blog.
“A blog is like a marriage: if you’re not committed, it’s not going to work,” she says.
“I’m a freelancer and blogging wasn’t putting food on the table, whereas my other work was, and I had to respond to that.”
She adds: “I’m typical A-type personality, so it wasn’t easy for me to just let my blog go. I love blogs, I have great admiration for food writers and bloggers, and I follow many blogs, but do I miss blogging myself right now? Absolutely not!”
One day in the future, she jokes. she and her blog might rekindle their relationship. There will be new boundaries, though, she says. For one thing, it would have to be more website oriented than blog oriented. That way she can retain a web presence without the TLC of constant updating.
She’s also not sworn off social media and loves Instagram. She says: “It’s instant and quick and it’s also often just a picture with a few words. I’m addicted actually.”
For Marc Pendlebury of www.whiskybrother.com, there’s no denial that he and his blog are officially in a phase of separation. On his Twitter profile, he describes himself simply as “blogger on hiatus”.
Pendlebury, who works in finance, started his blog in 2010 because of his love for whisky. He took time crafting tasting notes and transforming them into blog posts. So popular was his blog that his reputation as a whisky aficionado grew and he had the confidence to quit his job and open his speciality whisky store, called WhiskyBrother, in Hyde Park, Joburg.
Today the store is running, Pendlebury is back working in finance in London but the blog has gone into hibernation. It has been 11 months since he last posted.
“I wasn’t blogging for the readers, really. I was blogging for myself and I was trying to blog once every second week,” says Pendlebury, via Skype, from London.
But when the store opened and he later decided to rejoin the corporate world, Pendlebury couldn’t sustain the blog, leading him to openly declare that he and his blog had reached “hiatus” status.
“The blog is something I’m passionate about and I think I will go back to it one day,” says Pendlebury, admitting to missing his blog.
He’s an avid tweeter, though, and maintains a Facebook page for his brand.
The reality for Pendlebury and Wilson is that blogging is sometimes a full-time job and there’s a line between a hobby and earning a living.
Crystal Espin is the blogger at www.joburgsdarling.co.za, which is owned by Velocity Media. Being employed as a full-time blogger is a dream come true for Espin.
“I used to have my own blog but the truth is that a successful blog does need a support system and a network that you can build on,” says Espin, adding that IT support, advertising and networking are critical.
Now Espin posts daily, writing reviews of restaurants and eateries, things to do, things of interest and trends. The blog gets 60 000 views and 130 000 impressions every month. It’s a medium Espin loves.
“I love how the blog helps small businesses that may never have had a chance to get the exposure that they do from something like Joburgsdarling. We also have a community that’s so responsive with suggestions and comments,” says Espin.
Blog burnout may claim it victims. But some have emerged from the haze of the blogosphere wiser. Like the wisdom that social media is meant to be tamed to be enjoyed, that there’s a right time for everything and that there’s life after letting go of your blog.