A few years ago, I wrote a blog post here on Sheila’s Guide about avoiding blogger burnout. Little did I know that a global pandemic and various other crises would soon put all of us to the test of battling almost-constant mental exhaustion.
I started my first travel blog in February 2006, then helped launch the Perceptive Travel Blog in March 2007 (and still contribute to it a couple of times a month,) plus I had a front-row seat for the rise of social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.
You know what?
I’m tired, y’all.
While it is still invigorating for me to publish a blog post that has useful information, or tells a good story, or provides an insightful look into a thorny problem, it is NOT invigorating to feel constant pressure to feed the digital beast. It is NOT invigorating to watch new social channels pop up with a bunch of hype, and feel that one has to go chasing after eyeballs on that new platform, for no reason other than “everyone else is on TikTok or Clubhouse” or whatever.
I’ll admit, I had also begun to wonder if I’d lost my motivation to learn new platforms and build new skills. Had my digital communications skillset atrophied here at age 60? Was I creatively washed up? Was I someone who used to be fairly cutting edge, and was now way behind and irrelevant? Is creating digital content these days a stupid waste of my brainpower?
This quote from the Smarter Every Day video series stuck with me, about the…
“Never-ending pressure to turn us into mindlessly swiping animals that just try to consume content rapidly, without actually thinking.”
So, when some tourism marketing colleagues from the Waco, Texas Convention & Visitors Bureau asked me recently to work with them to create some paid digital content, I resisted at first. My primary focus these days is social media training and digital marketing workshops, not travel blogger/influencer stuff. What if I disappointed them? What if I couldn’t hang with all of the current social media platforms as a creator, not just a trainer and teacher?
Well, that was silly.
On a simple blank index card, I laid out all of the different ways I could take a thought, a photo, and/or a video, and turn it into useful content for Waco visitors that those visitors can also find across multiple sites, for months and years. The ideas flowed quickly once I stopped worrying about what I didn’t know how to do, and realized that pandemic brain rot hadn’t taken away my ability to flex and learn.
Instagram, for example – you can make something into a basic photo post, photo carousel, Story, and Reel, so I did. Then I turned that Story into a Pinterest Idea Pin, and that Reel into a YouTube Short, because I want what I create to be easily searchable and last for longer than 24 hours. I’ve been blogging and publishing online for too long, and it’s too hard to do it well, to create something worthwhile that then “disappears.”
Update: related blog post What’s Waco Texas Known For? The Wrong Things.
Obviously, it helps to have clients that have watched me work for a long time, and were willing to turn me loose and trust me to come up with quality stuff. We both agreed that this would force me to stretch my capabilities, screw up shooting a video and go back to try again, get over my perfectionism, experiment, and keep learning.
Ultimately, we both would benefit, and we did.
Pick one new digital tool that intimidates you. Create one piece of content with it. Poke all the buttons, look at all the stickers and special effects. Try to add music to it, even if you’re like me and not up on current trendy hits – use that music search bar to find a piece that evokes a certain emotion to go with your work.
I promise you, hardly a day goes by that some sort of challenge doesn’t crop up and I find myself muttering, “I wish I knew what the hell I was doing.”
Have you lost that spark of creativity and gotten it back? What worked for you? Let me know in the comments…
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Great advice and thanks for sharing! It’s often the little things that can help us find that “spark” that we feel we have lost when it’s been there all along. And there is no doubt, the past couple of years have been challenging in many ways. I have enjoyed following along on your travels in social media- keep it up! Your enthusiasm is contagious.
Thanks, Sara. When I talked about blogger burnout at your Midwest Travel conference, little did I know that I hadn’t come anywhere near the “to hell with everything” that I’d feel a few years later. I have a hard time taking my own advice! 😊
I write about specific sorts of music, history, and travel — never any shortage of ideas or creative inspiration with those areas of focus. Subject matter focus could be a way to regain spark, either going deeper into what you already love or exploring new areas.
I also tend to write/choose to write mostly stories which are meant to be long lasting. The increasing emphasis on immediate and somewhat ephemeral content online means for me among other things much less income. That’s a whole other kettle of fish of course, but both those factors are wearing, as they add to uncertainty.Not precisely the sort of burnout you are addressing, I think, Sheila, but still, wearing in some related ways.
I’ve been writing online for a good while, at first for VH1/CMT/SonicNet and Barnes and Noble Music. Then I began my own site Music Road in the summer of 2006, later added in regular contributions to Wandering Educators and joined you as a colleague at Perceptive Travel, three places for which I still write. This all comes after a number of years writing for print and broadcast media, which I also still do now and then. Challenges all along the way but for me still worth the doing.
Thanks, Kerry, it’s been great to have you as a fellow writer on the PT Blog all these years. One of these days we’ll actually meet in person! 😊
This post is very timely for me! I haven’t posted on my blog in 3 years, and after I recently joined The Great Resignation/Reassessment I have started exploring how to keep the content out there but also start something new with a different angle. But I also have the fear around not knowing the new places to be online combined with the worry about creating content consistently and wondering if the world really needs another blog?! 🤔 I’m still trying to figure it out. Stay tuned…
Hi Aruni, thanks for stopping by! You don’t need to chase what’s “new,” but rather decide how you can use YOUR voice and YOUR blog to make the world a better place, and address topics that matter to you. Your blog and website are the hub; everything else is just a spoke.
Hello Sheila, Fellow Texan here, based in Dallas. Thanks for the advice. I like IG but I do feel pressure to produce every damn day and some days, I just really don’t have time. I also don’t like to create IG in advance, I’m very organic about it. That seems to work in terms of content that my viewers also like. I don’t know!
Not sure you do need to post every single day. Try every other day and use the “off” days to do some planning, take photos or videos to use later, or poke around in Canva to see how you could use it to enhance your posts. I like posting organically as well, but for a business account it may not be a workable approach. If you’re spending a bunch of time on Instagram but neglecting your website, blog, and email newsletter, you’re “decorating a room in someone else’s hotel.”