Last Updated on July 20, 2020 by Chris
The first thing that we should note here is that the title doesn't do enough to full encompass all that we cover in this conversation. Sure, a major focus is on blogger burnout, but Megan also took the time here to bring this in a lot of other meaningful directions. I can't thank her enough for her thoughtful responses and honesty, and I'm sure that so many other bloggers and content creators are going to resonate with her words.
The title also doesn't necessarily do this article justice because Scott and Megan are a lot more than just one of their websites, Bobo and ChiChi. As you'll read, they've now got multiple websites, and freelance work that ranges from photography and videography to marketing and strategy.
Having had the pleasure to get to know Scott and Megan personally over the past few years, and to work with them on several occasions, I can't help but sing their praises. As many of us in blogging probably know by now, there are people in this industry who have sky high egos. But, you won't find that with this duo – they're just about the kindest and most humble folks you'll come across.
With all that said, we're thrilled to host this important conversation over here at This Week in Blogging.
Blogger Burnout and You
1. Firstly, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today. For those who don’t know what you’re all about, can you give us a bit of background as to how you got started, and then how that’s progressed over time? (Hint: this is where you have free reign to unapologetically self-promote)
Thanks for having us! So here's the quickest backstory of how we got started without leaving out the juicy details. Scott moved to South Korea to teach English for a year and I, being unhappy trying to climb the corporate ladder in the fashion industry back in California, followed shortly after.
We both had a thirst for travel, and being in Korea we got to not only save money by working abroad but also discover and live in a country that opened the possibility for us to focus on hobbies like photography, and start a blog and enter the world of traveling long term.
During that time we both had new found time we didn’t have at our old desk/corporate careers and that’s when Scott developed his passion for hyperflow photography, photography, and videography and I worked on the building blocks of our website and the world of travel and destination marketing.
From there we both took the leap to try and do this full time. Looking back it was a bit premature, as we hadn’t monetized anything yet and we still had a lot of learning to do, but ultimately it paid off and we were able to turn it into a career, as well as expand those skills that we learned to branch out of the travel industry to where we are today.
Leaving our old jobs to teach English allowed us to focus on our interests and turn them into our career from travel blogging to destination marketing campaigns to freelance work for international brands and clients, and opening new doors by joining the team at Brave World Media, a brand and marketing agency.
We still are travel content creators, but we also have branched out to work on brand storytelling through our work with Brave World Media and our freelance photography and videography work.
2. We’re talking a lot this week in our newsletter about burnout, and how, during this time, we really need to change things up a little in our routine and approach to make sure we’re prioritizing our mental and physical health. What are some things that you’ve done that you found have helped? Is it as simple as going for a walk, or should bloggers be thinking of starting new or different projects? What do you think?
This is so relevant right now, especially since we have experienced various patches of burnout even pre-pandemic and have battled a bit with it during all of this as well.
And I’ll be real, this is probably going to be an ongoing struggle as so many things are uncertain and beyond our control that some days you really feel like, “what’s the point?” Or, “why am I working so hard right now? Will anything come of all this work I am doing?”
It’s been an especially difficult time to stay motivated. We are living in Brooklyn, and so we're in a place where it's not exactly considered an affordable place to live and then overnight the travel industry came to a halt and, as this is still ongoing, we wonder how this will affect creatives in general in the long term.
We are finding ourselves going through cycles of optimism and being completely motivated, to feeling like everything is spiralling out of control. We are still navigating through all these feelings and life changes.
But, what we have found has helped us lift out of the constant dread around us is finding little things that give us joy. During the peak of the pandemic we were not leaving our house at all, we were scared and nervous. That’s when we started doing weekday walks around our neighborhood (while avoiding people, of course). Not only was this a great time to connect with one another, but it was a small release of everything going on that was beyond our control. We now try to go on walks daily together because we find that mentally and physically they help us, and we notice a difference if we skip a day or two.
We also have been having to remind ourselves to be kind to ourselves. They say you are your own worst critic or enemy, and we’ve both been feeling that. The waters are difficult to navigate right now, and it does no good beating yourself up over it. We have been having to give ourselves days where we are allowed to be ‘in our own feelings’ and just be and remind each other that “hey, today isn’t the day – why not take a mental health day and try again tomorrow?”
We realize that working for ourselves has its ups and downs, but being able to take those ‘mental break days’ has been one of the best perks of being self employed.
And the last thing we found that would be helpful, is finding little passion projects to work on just for fun. Mine is probably doodling friend’s pets and Scott has been experimenting with different types of video/photography.
Chris from TWIB here – the video they created to playfully promote Megan's pet portraits is literally my favourite thing on the internet. It's aptly titled, “Purrrfessional Pet Portraits with Megan.” This video is the gift that keeps on giving and, in my opinion, really does showcase their collective creative spirit. If you're keen to get a portrait done, you can check it out here.
3. I’m curious, how do you guys plan your work days? Do you chunk out time blocks for different projects, wait for creativity to strike, let deadlines dictate how you prioritize, or what guides your process? I’ve asked about eighteen questions here, so I’ll pause and let you dive in here.
We try to plan our ‘weekends’ during the weekdays. That way we can enjoy going outside on days opposite of traditional 9 to 5’ers and avoid contact with people, so we work through the weekends typically.
We also try to hold as much of a ‘routine’ work day as possible, but that just doesn’t happen sometimes. When we have tight deadlines or a sudden surge in work, we will work long days to make sure we get everything done, knowing we can give ourselves some time to recoup after.
We end up working more than 40 hours a week, but it doesn’t really feel like that when you have the freedom of picking and choosing your hours. And any freelancer knows that sometimes you get surges of work and sometimes it's a drought, so that will shape our mindset when we have a huge workload on us.
Since we also have our websites (which now includes Your Brooklyn Guide) we run and Scott has a Hyperflow Masterclass course (which you can get 25% with this link if you're keen), we could work on those endlessly because there is so much that needs to be done and a small crew (the two of us) to do it.
So we set goals for ourselves of what needs to be accomplished daily or weekly, and plan our work weeks and days around that along with any freelance clients we may have.
We always put our clients first, then our websites and courses, because we are our own boss on those and our boss is pretty laid back if you ask us, haha.
4. A quick addition to the previous question. How do you fit in and prioritize breaks into your schedule, and how important do you think they are in general?
Taking breaks is so important for everyone, but I feel like in the creative field you really have to take those breaks when you need it. There’s nothing worse than trying to force a creative idea or project when you’re not feeling creative.
If either of us are working on something that we set a goal to complete, but aren’t feeling it at all, we have to help remind each other that ‘hey, maybe give yourself some breathing space, take the day off from that project and work on something else,” or “let’s go for a walk, run, neighborhood adventure and see if that break helps fuel the creative juices.”
If there’s a tight deadline, that makes things difficult, and we usually pop in to help each other with an assist when one of us needs creative help on something we are working on.
5. With your varied skill set, you two are one of the most talented duos in blogging (and you don’t get to dispute that). Can you talk about how you work as a team, and the role of support in your business? Also, let me know if you use any tools or programs to help you collaborate or streamline your work!
Aw shucks, you are too kind sir. So living and working with your significant other is a blessing, but also something you have to constantly work together on to make better. We have our moments of miscommunication, but overall we handle work/life/relationship balance pretty well with minimal kerfuffles.
We both bring different skills to the table and divide our workload based on that. Scott is the photo, video, media, editing, and computer and website problem-solving wizard and I, Megan, run the day to day business dealings from relationship building and maintaining, pitching work, client relations, editorial work on the websites, and social media.
And while we both typically work on those things, we help each other out where and when needed. I like to join Scott on some of the creative process of his projects and soundboard ideas that he conceptualizes in his projects.
It’s honestly really fun to be able to balance each other out like that as we both have different skill sets that compliment each other.
We both could agree that we could improve on our organizational skills together as a team, but overall we have found a pretty good balance.
It’s also really important being a couple working together that you don’t let just the work consume your relationship. We try to set aside time that we just chill or do something together that’s not work related. This actually can be really challenging because even on our walks sometimes we are tempted to bring our camera or think about how we can create content out of it. It’s difficult to turn off sometimes, but its important and something I love about Scott is that he is really good about establishing ‘dates’ for us, even though that’s looked a little different as of the current time we are in.
If you’re working with your significant other, it’s important to make sure you create room and space to still be a couple and do couple-y things.
6. It’s easy to talk about “blogger burnout” without knowing what it looks like. How do you guys know when you’re starting to feel burned out, and, once you recognize it, what are some strategies you have to help you combat it?
Sometimes this is hard to determine because you feel the internal pressure to keep on trucking along and get work done. Since we set goals, have checklists, and have so many different projects we work on sometimes it's hard to give ourselves that little check-in with ourselves to prevent burnout before it happens.
We often realize we are burnt out when its too late, we notice it when its hard to get up and get to work or we just feel completely unmotivated, and when we search within ourselves to figure out why we are like, “oh we did it again, we burned ourselves out.”
Our society does a good job of making you feel like you need to burn both ends of the candle and glorify overworking ourselves. We fall for that all the time thinking if we just work a little harder every day or a little more every day we will be closer to what we want and not taking those mental checks that we need along the way, and completely getting burnt out.
It’s dangerous because there are long term effects not only for your health, but overworking seeps into your relationships, not only with each other but with others.
Usually after we recognize that we are getting burnt out, as long as we don’t have any crazy deadlines, we give ourselves a few days of no working or a few weeks of shorter work days until we balance back out and find a better work rhythm.
And, again, working for yourself can be a blessing, but also a curse. We always feel like we should be and could be doing more.
We are most productive and creative when we keep that in balance and in check. We also try really hard to not glorify overworking.
7. It can be difficult to find community right now since we’re primarily at home. Can you let me know where you’ve sought out community with other bloggers? Is it largely through Facebook groups, messaging colleagues, collaborating on projects, or playing silly games online whilst drinking wine (not speaking from personal experience there at all)?
Oh my goodness, being an extroverted social butterfly right now has been its own challenge. We miss people so much. Scott is more introverted than myself, but still we would both agree it's been such an isolating time and you really don't realize the importance of social interactions outside of your home.
We both have our little online communities we go to for support whether that be Scott’s photography communities he’s involved in online, or me with the blogging community online. People like to gripe about how people aren’t connected anymore because they are always glued to their phones or technology, but we both think that technology has made it easier to find ‘your people’ online with similar interests as you.
While we enjoyed and preferred our balance of online communication and in person communication before, having established online friendships and communities has been one of the things keeping us sane in our confined Brooklyn basement apartment, haha.
We also have met so many wonderful people during our years of traveling all over the world that we’ve stayed connected with and were used to staying in touch with online most of the time, so those relationships have been really easy to maintain.
And while we can’t travel right now, we do get to virtually hang out or be together with them in other places in ways, like we do with you and Bri! We love scheduling those fun nights where we play games over Zoom with drinks loaded with laughter for hours.
8. Sometimes it’s the difficult times that provide the most clarity. Can you let me know what’s one thing that you’ve learned during this period that you’ll carry with you into the future?
More than ever, we are being reminded that some things are just beyond your control. Your mindset plays a huge role in how you react and feel in situations. We are being reminded of that and tested on what feels like daily.
We are constantly trying to exercise our mindset and the way we look at things, because it matters. It’s so easy to fall into to toxicity of all the bleak news and we have to balance how we spend our energy on giving a sh*t and doing something about injustices in our society/lives, worrying about our future, the economy, the government, the pandemic, etc. and try to remind ourselves, this is what I can control today, how I react and what I can do about it today.
Some days that looks different from other days. But we both have been trying really hard on this and realizing it's always going to be a work in progress and need constant exercising.
9. The year is 2048, and you’ve just become the first blogging couple in history to be elected President and Vice President (incredible, right?). What was the campaign slogan that sealed the deal for you?
Scott and Megan 2048: “Don’t be a jerk.”
Are you dealing with burnout and have any questions? Comment below to share!