It happens to the best of them: this thing called “blogger burnout.” And when the really popular bloggers in the public eye get a case of Blogger Burnout-itis, it makes headline news.
And the story of Heather from Dooce quitting blogging (a mommy blogger that put mommy blogging on the map) made big waves.
I can’t help but add my two cents about this whole “blogger burnout” scapegoat.
I don’t think there should even be a specific term called “blogger burnout” because it leads people to believe that it’s this unique disease that only happens in this industry, leading a blogger to look for an antidote to save their life.
I think “blogger burnout” is a cop out.
There are probably a many valid reason why a popular blogger would want to shut their doors, but in my opinion there is only one reason that matters the most:
They never ran their blog like a business.
Ask any blogger, especially in the mommy blogging or DIY or recipe niche, and they’ll tell you this: all of our blogs started as a hobby. We created and wrote and shared for the sheer joy of it, for the sake of documenting our life.
Like an online journal.
But suddenly, people noticed. People liked us. People wanted to see more, including brands that wanted us to write about their products. Ad networks wanted to put advertising on our pages.
And then the money started rolling in. Probably more so back when blogging was so new (many bloggers now say that ad revenue isn’t what it used to be since blogs are a dime a’ dozen nowadays).
Now, the blog became a money-generating platform. We gleefully kicked our heels to get paid to do what we love: write, create, share, discuss. Now we can quit the day-job! WOO HOO!
Dream job, right?
Now that our blogs are our sole source of income, we have obligations. Our audience is expecting us to post at least 3 times per week. We have to respond to everyone’s comments. We’ve got to spread ourselves across 20 social media platforms. We’ve got to edit pictures. We’ve got to fix our website when we get The White Screen of Death (trust me, it happens!). We’ve got to draft editorial calendars.
Oh, and vacation…? What’s that? We’re too BUSY for vacation. We have to keep the content and social media status updates coming!
Suddenly, we’re burnt out. And we moan to the world that we’ve got “blogger burnout.” First we take time off.
Then we quit.
And the world looks at the blogging industry as an industry that can’t last the test of time… that can’t survive this terrible burnout disease, and implies that we’ll all reach that breaking point at some point in our blogging careers.
The Real Reason Bloggers Quit
It’s not the burnout, guys. It’s really not.
It’s the fact that we failed to treat our blogs as a real business.
When we started earning income with our blogs, we became not just the CEO, but the Creative Director, and the Social Media Manger, the editor, the writer, and more. And we failed at trying to fill too many roles.
Michael Gerber, in his popular business book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It talks about this very phenomenon. “E” stands for “entrepreur.”
We think just because our blogs are making money that we suddenly have a business.
Real businesses have an organizational chart with positions that will need to eventually be filled.
Real businesses have processes.
Real businesses are set up in such a way that the owner can take a step back and the business runs without them.
Blogs can be real businesses, too. But the people that quit are the people that never set up their business to run efficiently and tried to wear too many hats when they could really only wear 1 or 2.
WATCH THE VIDEO
Here’s what I had to say about bloggers quitting (I’m warning you because it was very impromptu, and I wasn’t wearing makeup. HA!)
The Real Problem With Blogs
This isn’t something I’ve been able to do well, either. Just because I’m breaking it down to you like this doesn’t mean I have my stuff together. I don’t. But I’m aware of where this blog needs to go if it’s going to survive any length of time without me wanting to quit.
But here’s where the fear comes in with bloggers:
1. We have branded our blog as OURSELVES.
Our blogs have been our babies for so long that it’s impossible to separate the blog from the blog owner.
I am Thrift Diving.
When you read this, you get my voice, thoughts, projects.
If I suddenly brought in contributing writers, I’d lose readers. They may not want to see other people. They subscribed because they liked me.
But as a business, we have to be able to detach the blog from ourselves.
Trust me, this is a struggle, one that I’ve not yet begun to do.
Listen to this Pat Flynn podcast for some inspiration from Charlene Johnson on how she and her husband were able to remove herself from her business. It was definitely a 2-year process for her!
2. We’re Too Cheap To Pay Someone
I’m going to go ahead and throw it out there. We’re too cheap.
I know… Sometimes it’s a real problem since we may not be making that much money to hire people to help. That’s always been my hold-up.
But the truth is that eventually you’ll need to hire people to do jobs–from writing, to editing video, to managing social media, and more. We have to let go of this “I can do it all” attitude and just learn to pay for help.
3. We Know Nothing About Business
As Michael Gerber said in The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It the problem is that just because you’re a hairstylist working in a salon, doesn’t mean you can just quit and open up your own hair salon and become a business person. You’re just the technician, working in your business and not on your business!
That’s what leads to this supposed “blogger burnout.” You’re the technician working in the blog, doing the job of multiple people, but you’re not focused on the bigger picture.
The bigger picture is that a blogger should be able to step away from her blog and that blog still lives on, stronger than ever, because they approached it from a business standpoint and put processes in place.
But if only you knows how to run your blog, with no business insight or processes, doing it all yourself, you will probably end up hating it and will eventually quit.
Well…. I can’t say what the magic solution is from self-report, since I am just as vulnerable as the rest of ’em. But I would recommend starting with reading The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It. I just finished it recently and am so inspired to start documenting my processes and working on a organizational chart. I know that I must work on my blog and not just in my blog.
Next, I’m going to figure out how to hire the right team of people, one person at a time. I have read Chris Ducker’s book called Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business and he’s got the most comprehensive guide to hiring people. I highly recommend it.
How Readers Can Help
I have to add the readers in here… because readers are sooo important. Bloggers are scared that readers will ditch them and unsubscribe faster than the speed of lightening the moment they even see someone else’s byline on an article or post.
If you’re a reader please don’t do this. If anything, reach out to the blogger and say, “You know, I’m glad to see you’re getting some help. It must be hard for you to continue to run this all by yourself.”
And if you notice a downgrade in their content, tell them! They may need to hire new help, or figure out how to manage their content a little better.
Sometimes we just move on from blogging because it is a natural stepping stone for other things we might have wanted to do, from public speaking to travel to writing a book, etc. But regardless of why bloggers quit, we’ve got to stop blaming it on blogger burnout and start calling it what it is: the stress of not being able to run a business properly. Once we understand the cause, we can do something about the problem.
Are you a blogger that has ever wanted to quit? Are you a reader and have comments about bloggers that start to bring in contributors? Leave a comment below to add to the discussion!