People (myself included) start a blog or a side business thinking that it’s easy or won’t take up much time. And no, it definitely doesn’t have to be, especially if you’re solely using it for a creative outlet.
A lot of people I know who have studied abroad started a blog, but I usually only saw a handful of posts by the time by the 3-4 month long excursion was up. (P.S.: Nothing wrong with that! I love seeing what my friends were up during while they were Europe or wherever they went!) Or some of my friends decided they wanted to start selling their DIY projects on Etsy for fun.
But if you want to take your blog or side hustle seriously and see it develop into something more, then you’ve got to stay consistent in not only what you are producing but how you are interacting with your customers.
That thought alone can make you reconsider whether to blog or start your shop… or not. I know that it’s crossed my mind a time or two. But don’t reconsider! I’m telling you once you get into the swing of things, it’s awesome and you’ll never look back. Take it from me, I blogged a lot last year and then I let it slide once I started my full time job. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I missed blogging and the community that came with it! I’m so glad I’m back at it again.
So power through the burn out. Evaluate what’s working and what’s not and figure out how to fix what’s not working. Several things have helped me avoid the burn out this time around from apps and programs to productivity hacks.
1. Define yourself.
What do you want your focus to be? So many people say everything — they have no target market. Maybe you start out that way for the first few weeks (months even) until you find your voice and what you want to focus on. Sooner or later though you need to have a focus.
Last year, when I was blogging on a whole different blog, it was a just a general design blog because, well, I’m a graphic designer. But it was too broad. After starting my full time job and doing some soul searching, I realized, that while I love graphic design, I love applying my knowledge of social media and the e-commerce world to it as well. I like editing pictures to put up on Instagram and designing cards to include in my customer’s shipments. Granted, it goes deeper than that and I get into analytics and all the technical parts.
But then I narrowed it down even further. I define my brand as using my design, social media and e-commerce skills to help out others who are looking to grow their own e-commerce businesses.
Narrowing your focus down to a particular subject won’t cause you to run out of ideas. It’ll help you focus on the ideas you actually want to write about. When I blogged about graphic design in general, I felt that burn out feeling just from having too many topics to write about.
Ok, your turn now! Grab a piece of paper and decide who do you want to blog for or who do you want to start a business for? Are you a mom blogger who wants to sell handmade baby booties on Etsy? Are you the next trending designer selling your one-of-akind pieces on your online boutique?
2. Plan It Out
The importance of an editorial calendar is… I can’t even put into words how important it is.
Think about your favorite magazine. They don’t decide the day before the magazine is going hit stands who they will feature on the cover and what the main stories will be. The same goes for your blog/business. Plan out how frequently you would like to blog about your decided topic or how often you will launch new products in your shop and have promotions.
I simply use my Google calendar and a few different spreadsheets to keep me organized. It helps to know when new blog posts will be going live, when Cinnaryn is having a sale and especially to keep track of inventory.
Knowing my plan of action for the next few weeks (or if you’re really ambitious, the next few months!) can help prevent that burn out feeling from starting at all.
Your turn!: Dig out your agenda or pull up your calendar app and set up when your next post or product will go up. Don’t worry if you’re not putting up a new post or product within a week of reading this.
Say on the last Friday of every month, you want to add new products to your Etsy shop. Now that you know that, you can plan when you have time to create the products, photograph the products and edit the pictures and get the product information ready for when it’s time to post the new products.
3. Automate It
I’m sure you’ve heard of sooooo many tools that you can use to put out your Tweets, Instagram photos, Facebook posts and even Pins! Well, use ’em! I’m currently using Buffer and I love it! Others I’ve heard great things about are HooteSuite and Edgar.
The idea is to work on your blog when you’re not even working. Get the program to do the work for you. One less thing for you to worry about.
The same goes for some of your manual work too. If you know you have to photograph several products, work out a time where you can photograph them all at once. That way you can determine your best set up for your photography equipment and the best way to display your products in the photos.
Your turn!: Start a free trial with automation tools you’re interested in and see if they work for you. What works for one person may not work for another, so figure out which programs are easy for you to navigate and utilize. When you figure out the best system for photographing your new products or managing your inventory, keep thorough notes on it.
Bonus! Allow Yourself to Fail
It may seem a little funny that I’m telling you it’s ok to fail. I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves that we have to succeed the first time around and that is so not the case.
I think it’s important to mention to not beat yourself up over it if you have no idea who your target market is or if you deter from your schedule in the beginning. It is going to take time to adjust to this new mentality of taking your blog or business to the next level. Allow yourself to fail, it’s the only way you’ll ever really succeed.
Just because you burn out once, twice, several times, doesn’t mean that you have to give it up all together. It means you have to go back to the drawing board and evaluate what’s working and what’s not working over again until you get it down pat.
Your turn!: Find a mantra or a quote that picks you up when you’re feeling down and write it on a post it note. Put that post-it note on your bathroom mirror or on your computer or wherever you will see it over and over again to get that boost of confidence you need when you feeling down.
Starting a whole new venture, whether it’d be a blog, a business, moving to the opposite side of the country, whatever it is, is always ALWAYS daunting, but that’s kind of what makes it fun, right? So bash the burn out and power through!
P.S. — Oh and in case you were wondering, my mantra is “And so, she decided to start living a life she’d imagined.” I keep it in the front of my bullet journal. What’s yours?