by Meghan Bliss | Featured Contributor
I was only a few months into running my brand new freelance writing business before I began to feel the familiar sting of burnout. It’s not that I disliked what I was doing; I was just a little bored. A little over it, to be honest.
One afternoon I was casually browsing salary rates for other careers (you know, the ones that offer health insurance and pension plans) when I realized I didn’t need to change careers. I just needed to redefine my goals and my vision for my writing business — which is still the career I actually want.
If you feel disillusioned by your current career, even though it’s the career you want, try some of these strategies to help you get back on track.
One: Focus on your blog or website’s content, not on your followers. I know, I know. Ignoring your readers may sound harsh and even counter-productive. But that’s not what I mean. You should never ignore your followers, customers, or whatever audience your platform brings, but focusing on quantity over quality can be stressful. When I became more concerned with how many followers my blog had than what I was actually posting, I got discouraged and wondered what I was doing wrong. I published content that was neither clear nor true to my goals, simply because I wanted to gain more readers. It didn’t work. Then I realized my interests and experiences were valid, so when I focused on offering the specific help I could offer, I started making more genuine connections with readers who actually valued what I had to offer.
Two: Choose a new name. Maybe your blog or business needs a new name or mission statement. For a blog, determine your main focus. It could be healthy living, social media marketing, or raising peacocks, for instance. If you run a business, clarify your goal. Maybe you want to offer ghostwriting services for tech startups or proofreading services for indie authors. Just start with your primary topic and brainstorm from there. Make a list of your top ideas and ask for input from relatives, friends, and colleagues until you find the name that fits you and your business.
Three: Clarify your brand. With your new name ready to go, decide if you need a branding update to match. Maybe a simpler logo, header, or business card. Consistency, too, will make your business look and feel more put-together.
Four: Upgrade your website. When I upgraded my blog by purchasing my own domain name, I was able to customize my site and install the features I needed to make it look more polished. It made me feel like my blog had changed out of sweatpants and into a classy wrap dress with pearls and suede boots. Don’t get me wrong; I was still writing my posts in sweats. I was just more comfortable sharing my site with others overall.
Five: Get rid of physical and digital clutter. Let’s face it: The Internet is saturated with clever ideas, helpful suggestions, product reviews, to-do lists, and creative ways to do just about anything. When we’re constantly taking all of this in, our minds become saturated, too. I started feeling overwhelmed because I tried just about everything (or wanted to, at least), but not everything worked for me. In fact, some things just made my life more complicated. So I weighed what was important versus what was just a hassle or a gimmick, and I got rid of what was not life-giving to me, my blog, or my business. I gave myself permission to reject anything that wasn’t right for me.
Six: Limit your social media intake. As someone who relies heavily on social media for my work as a blogger and author, I say this cautiously. I wonder how many hours we’ve spent as a society browsing through blogs, status updates, tweets, pins, and posts. But while social media is indispensable for connecting with clients and customers, it also breeds distraction, dissatisfaction, and unhealthy comparison if we’re not careful. If your business is struggling, try simplifying your social media intake by focusing on the two platforms that are most helpful for you.
Seven: Read a book about your profession. Okay, so maybe you’re sick of reading. Or maybe you haven’t had time to read since your last English final in high school. Here’s the thing: Reading books about your chosen profession will actually refresh you. If you commit to reading a chapter a day (or even a week), you’ll gain inspiration and new ideas for your own business. What’s more, it’ll remind you that you’re not alone.
Eight: Step away. Take a deep breath. Read a novel, play with the cat, go for a jog, make some tacos, or pour a fresh cup of coffee and call a friend. Just step away from the laptop and take a break.
Nine: Learn a new skill. If you feel like your business has buckled your creativity, try exploring something new. Is there something you’ve been meaning to learn to implement into your own business? (I’ve been meaning to learn how to self-publish my own books.) Or you could do something completely unrelated to your business, like learning calligraphy, joining a community sports league, or learning how to play the ukulele (another goal of mine). Whatever you do, make sure it interests and refreshes you.
Ten: Realize it’s never too late to start over. If you tried something and it didn’t work, revise your idea and edit your approach until it does. Still not working? Maybe it’s not the right idea for you. On a personal note, I’ve prayed that the doors I shouldn’t walk through will shut so the right ones can open. That helps me step out with confidence, knowing my identity and security don’t depend on my material success.
It’s okay to burn out, and it’s okay to need a break. We’re only human, and we only have so many hours in each day. (Even Beyonce.) If you feel like you’d rather crawl back under the covers than write one more post or file one more invoice, then just stop, take a breath, and try something new. It’s amazing what a little makeover can do.
Meghan Bliss is the owner and head writer at TheLadyinRead.com, a blog for women who read, write, and want to be read.
After almost four years in finance, Meghan quit her job to write full time. She spends her days blogging, writing novels, and trying to stay off of Pinterest. She also copyedits books, newsletters, manuals, and basically anything else you throw at her — including subtitles and restaurant menus. Her first novel will be released this year.
When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her reading, clumsily practicing the ukulele, or watching old sitcoms and superhero movies with her husband, cat, and baby-to-be.
And, as always, trying to find the perfect shade of red lipstick.