Recently, I hosted a group of food bloggers in a Google+ Hangout to talk about how to cope with the stresses and anxieties that come with food blogging. It was a great, informative session where those in attendance shared openly the challenges and triggers that lead to burnout as well as strategies for overcoming it. Here are some "loose" notes from that session. (And if you’re interested in participating in another Google+ event focused on burnout, follow me on Google+ for the next announcement.)
What is burnout?
Burnout comes in many forms. Most in attendance agreed that when burnout strikes, they feel uninspired to cook or create in the kitchen. They feel that they’ve done all they can do with a certain ingredient (peppers or onions). Sometimes the blues can come from simply not having time to cook, due to outside pressures from work schedule or having a young family. (ie: How do you photograph a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, write about it and make it interesting? If that’s what you had for dinner…you feel like you’re stuck!)
Where is the money?
We talked openly about money, and how the pressures involved with the financial side of blogging can be considerable. Many would like to make the move to full time blogging (some in attendance already have). The pressure to either "make it" or give up in favor of a higher paying "desk job" can lead to frustration with the process.
Time, time, time
Of course, no discussion of blogging would be complete with out addressing time. Some have pulled back their publishing schedule from 2-3 times a week to 1 time a week. Others were not "married" to any set schedule and could have three posts go live one week, and only one the next. All aspects of being a food blogger are a bit more time-intensive as food bloggers are responsible for: buying ingredients, making/testing recipes, photographing the finished dish, writing compelling copy. Social media is a blessing and a curse, as it helps us to connect, but also creates pressure to always be available. Finding time for refueling and re-energizing seems to be a challenge and low on the list of priorities.
In searching for the perfect photo, the perfect post, the perfect recipe, stress can mount, hours can add up and life can pass by!
Help is on the way!
On the flip side, here are some interesting ideas for managing the stress of daily blogging life. When you find yourself in the middle of an episode of blogger blues you can:
- reach out to your community for guests posts on your blog;
- schedule "round-up" posts that link out to great recipes/photos from your fellow food bloggers;
- consider putting together a "greatest" hits post on a regular basis, and have it at the ready when burnout strikes.
Another general strategy for coping is to broaden your subject matter to include more than just recipe development and food photography (which are ?so? labor intensive). Doing so can lead you to expand your vision for your blog to one that has more of a "magazine" style (if that appeals and matches your vision). Ideas include:
- Project 365
- Tips and techniques posts (can be culinary or focused on another topic related to what you do every day, such as social media pointers or tips for new bloggers)
- lifestyle/craft posts
- book, movie, event reviews
Treat yourself better! Here are some of the points we touched on in our discussion.
- Be present in the moment, whether you’re working on your blog or taking in other activities.
- Do something different than normal, just to break out of your routine (example: go for a walk with your camera).
- Try unplugging: turn off email notifications on your phone, go back to reading paper books (rather than ebooks, which encourage Internet surfing)
- record your "work thoughts" on your smart phone, to capture them while they’re fresh, and allow you to refocus on other tasks.
- give up multi-tasking
- find a supportive group to bounce ideas off of (such as Food Blogger Friends on Facebook)
Many thanks to: Winnie, Roxana, Sarah, Marlene, Kristen, Jennifer, Jen, Jennifer, Donalyn and all the others for your great ideas and being so generous with your time and energy!
Here is a general outline of topics that I used in putting this discussion together. Hopefully this will spark some ideas and strategies that may be useful to you going forward. And if you join future Kitchen PLAY Hangouts focused on burnout, you’ll have this for reference.
- No ideas
- Nothing original
- My (fill in the blank: photos/recipes/tweets) stink!
- My life is out of balance.
- I spend X hours a week blogging and I’m not (fill in the blank: famous, making money, getting any comments).
- I’m bored by what is supposed to by my passion.
- I can’t let my readers down.
- My family thinks I’m crazy.
- I think I’m crazy!
- My friends don’t understand what I do.
- Can I do this long term?
- How can I maintain confidence that eventually, my blogging pursuits will justify the expense?
- Pressure = anxiety = boredom
- Am I at the mercy of spontaneity and inspiration?
Concrete ideas for addressing burnout in the present
- guest posts on your blog
- round-up posts
- greatest hits posts
Systems for dealing with burnout going forward
- Editorial Calendar (don’t let your blog control you or turn your power over to the tyranny of inspiration)
- segmenting tasks during the day (create balance)
- scheduling (posts, tweets, FB updates)
General support for food bloggers
- taking breaks
- radio silence
- live events
- scare yourself/take risks
- find support (Facebook Food Blogger Friends group, social media, live events, other forums)