How to break out of a blogging rut

Are you stuck in blogging rut? Perhaps you’ve been doing it a long time (raises hand) and just feel a bit ‘run out’ of ideas and not sure how to shake some life back into your online space. Or maybe you just don’t feel that what you’re putting out there still fits you and want to change things up. Maybe you just want to try and move away from some of content and start building something a little difference but don’t know where to start. It’s a tricky one, whatever the reason for being in a blogging rut – there are a few practical steps you can take to shake yourself out of it and move forward feeling positive and excited about creating some good stuff again.

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The reason I write this is not that I am some sort of expert and want to impart my wisdom on you all, but more that this is something I’ve been ‘going through’ over the past year and I have definitely picked up some tips and tricks that help me shake the funk off and move forward. Some of which I’m working on behind the scenes at the moment.

Do a competitor analysis

This is a little tip that I take from my freelance social media consultancy – sometimes a good way to snap out of your own bubble is look at competitors and see what they’re doing and sounds way more complicated than it actually is. BUT it’s worth remembering this is NOT about looking at others in a ‘OMG they’re bigger/better etc than me’. It’s being practical and looking around for sparks of ideas of how you can tweak what you do and make it better. FYI – this is NOT saying you want to copy what someone else is doing. More ideas of how you can approach things. If they’re doing Instagram live and you’re not, maybe that’s something you want to do… maybe they have a posting routine that you don’t and you want to set that in stone a bit more. Maybe they have more consistency with their branding across each social channel and their blog. Whatever it is – it’s about sparks not copying content.

My top tip though is don’t look at your most obvious ‘competitors’ look at people who’s content you enjoy reading/watching. Look at brands you are obsessed with – even if they’re in totally different fields to where you are now. Especially if you’ve been blogging for a long time, you will know that you and your content will have changed and that’s ok. For me, I started out as 100% beauty, where now I feel like beauty is maybe only a smaller section of my own interests and the content I want to put out there. That’s ok! But recognising it and not maybe using a twenty-something beauty blogger as my ‘competitor’ anymore because that’s just not reflective of the space I want to create for myself online.

Find some new inspiration sources

This can be scouring the internet for new blogs to read. Look through the following lists of people you already follow and see who they follow. Finding new faces and brands to fill your feed can be all the inspiration you need. Same applies for perhaps having a considered clear out of your feed too. Not that deleting everyone you follow will help magically create a new burst of your own creativity. But it can be worth unfollowing those that perhaps you follow because you feel you ‘have to’. Top tip – you don’t HAVE to follow anyone. My own brother unfollowed me because I was mostly posting about make-up and he wasn’t interested. You know what, that’s totally fine. The stuff I’m putting out online isn’t for him and I’d rather have one less follower than a bigger number that doesn’t actually enjoy it. I’m sure everyone will have a handful of people who they follow because of that sense of online ‘duty’, but if they don’t make you feel positive then it’s totally fine to hit unfollow (or mute if you’re feeling like taking baby steps). The other thing is you can love someones tweets, but maybe don’t love their Instagram – so follow on one and not the other – that’s totally ok too! Why would we have different platforms if they aren’t meant to be a bit different. The space and content you create online is totally in your hands and that includes the stuff you let fill your feed – take control and make it a space you love as much as the content you put out.

One of the things I’ve been doing is saving photos and images I love from Instagram onto one of those boards/folders they have. So I have a little bank of inspiration to pull on when I’m having a photo-taking session. It helps me get a clear vision for the types of images I want to create and just pulls a lot of fun and creative content into one place. Even if it’s just prop ideas or fresh angles – there’s no harm in taking some positive ideas from others good stuff. Again, just find those sparks – don’t be a copy cat. No-one wants to be a copy cat.

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Get some outside help

This can take a whole host of forms. From catching up with a fellow blogger and putting the world to rights over a cup of coffee can be just the refresh you need. Or perhaps book yourself a session with a photographer to help create some new images and give what you’re creating a new look – this is something I’ve done recently and it really has given me a boost. Knowing I actually *can* get some help and I don’t have to be 100% all me is a refreshing feeling and has given me a bank of content I can work with as I spout my online rambles! I’ve also had some help from an amazing VA lately that is helping me get ready for taking a bit of a baby break next year. Knowing I have found someone who can support me in the run up and whilst I focus on baby is a good feeling – not an easy one (as a bit of a control freak) but baby steps mean I can get more used to the idea of handing over a little more control in the run up.

Blogging and working for yourself can be a lonely game at time so putting your hand up and asking for a bit of help. Even if that’s just a long chat with your other half about direction or friends about those aspects you dislike about blogging. Having a vent can just shake it off enough to get you to a better place to move forward. Just a fresh pair of eyes/ears on what might be creating your block to moving forward can help SO much.

Look at your stats

Not just the numbers because that doesn’t give you the big picture. Look at what content is bringing is traffic, what tweets people are responding to and your most engaged instagram posts. It can be a really great way to get a bit of a reality check on what really works for you. For me, I’ve found that my more personal posts on instagram recently have been getting way more engagement than my beauty content. If I’d looked at the same stats a year ago it told a very different story. So keeping up to date on what is working for you is really important – it changes all the time and just knowing what is resonating with your audience can help steer you in a positive direction for what you do next.

Decide what really matters to you

In blogging and online life there’s A LOT going on. There’s a pressure to be always on, posting consistently (constantly), share your daily life, plus polished content, promote your content, keep up with emails, agree sponsored deals, send and chase invoices and keep on top of your accounting…. just as a starting point. There’s a lot of elements to juggle and then you can throw in the brands that are contacting you to work with you – either through gifting or sponsorship.

One thing I am doing is sort of turning the brand-blogger relationship a little on its head to how it’s been for me in more recent years. Previously it was all about being responsive and based on which brands I had relationships with and who reached out to me. Essentially waiting for a brand to ‘choose me’ to work with. Which is great but there are two issues with this. One – being reactive isn’t really a great way to operate as a business. Two – there’s a bit too much of a personal impact on working this way. It’s one of the things a lot of bloggers feel but don’t often talk about. The feeling when a brand you have previously spoken to go silent, or you see them host an event you’re not invited to, or they send out a lovely gift to others. It’s one of those tricky things to describe in a way that communicates it in a way that’s both honest but doesn’t come across in the wrong way.  There can be a sense of validation that comes from being ‘chosen’ by a brand – which when you’re being chosen is great. But when your not is can make you feel quite rejected and negative. Especially when it’s with brands you have worked with or supported for years but you realise you’re no longer flavour of the month for them. It can make you question what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Not a great head-space to be in!

So to try and get around this and move forward I want to flip things around and I’m making my own plan of what brands are my priorities in 2018. Which brands or agencies do I really want to be proactive in maintaining or establishing relationships with. Which brands fit the content I want to create – this gives me some focus on my ‘incoming’ information and products. Plus it gives me more of a sense of direction and control about how I want to work and avoids being on the reactive side of brands and being chosen. This is probably one of those points I could elaborate on at great length and let me know if it’s something you want me to talk about more at all. I want to focus on getting validation from creating good stuff that I’m proud of and putting engagement as my priority. Not follower numbers and PR packages. Same rule applies to choosing which social platforms you want to focus on – you don’t have to be on all of them! Just chose the ones that either perform or you love the most and focus on those rather than spreading yourself too thin!

Here’s to a positive blog-life in 2018!

Overall – take reassurance in the fact that wherever you are with your own blogging journey. You started something from nothing and you got this far by starting from nothing and working it out from there. You can 100% find your way forward – even as the blogging world seems to be filled with ways to do things and sort of ‘rules’ for how things should be. As long as you’re being transparent and abiding by the law as far as disclosure goes then how you do things is totally in your hands. You can make any and all the changes you need to in order to get a whole load of joy from blogging in 2018.

Let me know how your feeling about blogging as we near the end of the year and perhaps if any of these tips sound like they might help you in going into 2018 with a positive and creative mind set and smash out of that pesky blogging rut!

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