Last Updated on January 11, 2021 by Jeremy
Oh, burnout. If you have been blogging for as many years as I have, burnout may as well be your middle name.
At some point, writing for your blog becomes a chore. This could be either in the form of writer's block, being discouraged at your current growth rates, or simply not being able to generate new ideas for your niche (as a travel blogger, I call this 2020).
Thankfully, writing is only one small component of what we as bloggers do. When I find myself dreading putting yet-another word online, I tend to take a step back and look at other activities I may be able to look at which benefit my site but do not necessarily involve writing.
In this one, I wanted to share a few ideas to help you get started if you are suffering from this as well.
Optimize Your Site for Load Times
Show of hands– does your site load in under three seconds on both desktop and mobile? If it doesn't, you may have work to do.
I often like to say that optimizing your site for load times is a lot like SEO. Optimization is an ongoing process. The reason for this is because things change over time. Perhaps your host is not as fast as they once were. Maybe plugins you've used in the past have been updated with a script that causes a compatibility issue, or even worse, are depreciated outright. Or maybe you got out of practice optimizing your images prior to upload and let your site aesthetics get away from you.
We've heard of all of these happening time and time again. You may have optimized your site for speed one day, but several months later it has inherently become slower. It happens.
So when you are in need of a bit of downtime, perform a site speed audit on your blogs with services like WebpageTest and Page Speed Insights. If your site is loading in > 3 seconds or you have PSI scores < 85, you may want to take a deeper dive into what is causing it and then fixing it. A few of the following guides may be of help to get you started:
Fix Broken Links
Another great downtime task I like to do is analyze my site's broken links. Much like site speed, broken links tend to accumulate over time as websites close, redesigns depreciate old links without being redirected, and so on.
On their own, a broken link here or there is likely not a problem. But as links build-up, and hit dozens if not hundreds, some theorize that this could ding your site in the eyes of algorithms (not to mention, provides a poor user experience). Naturally, we do not leave easy fixes such as these to chance and periodically replace or remove broken links on our site.
This can be done in a number of ways. Our favorite way to monitor broken links is with the Windows-based app Xenu Link Sleuth. It is old (and possibly not supported beyond being available for download), but it does a great job at crawling your site and catching errors*. Let it run in the background and when the report is ready organize the status and start checking out links for any reported back “not found” or “no object data” to start.
- *Note that some redirected links, cloaked affiliate links, and lazy-loaded images may also register as an error when they're not.
Another is with the Broken Link Checker plugin that runs passively behind the scenes on your website. This one has a downside in that it may slow your site down (especially on budget servers as it can be a resource hog). When using this one, you may want to only turn it on for 24 hours, get an error report, and then deactivate the plugin to prevent possible long-term performance issues.
Test Out New Affiliate Schemes
Whenever I have a solid period of downtime (often when I'm burnt out), I almost always dive into working on affiliate tests on my site.
The main reason for doing so is because testing out affiliate setups takes time. Time to produce sales-oriented content, time to build custom display prompts on sidebars and footers, and time to generate enough data to see if any new article/change improved performance (and then repeat the process). The last point there is perhaps the most important because you cannot take a spaghetti on the wall approach to affiliate marketing. You really need to get down into the weeds in monitoring your data to improve performance over time.
If you go general and do not monitor data, you may put up an affiliate link, wait a few months, see zero sales, and call the program a bad fit for your site. But if you dive into the data, you may also find that you had zero outbound clicks, too. Is that the brand's fault or yours? Or maybe you do have sales but have no idea if your conversions are good, bad, or other. Or maybe no one is seeing the affiliate content outright (which can be tested with a heatmap).
In my opinion, it takes between 100 and 1,000 affiliate clicks to get any meaningful data on link performance. This is because a good affiliate link may only net a blogger about 1% conversion rate (we've seen far higher, and far lower). At 100 outbound clicks, you may or may not get one sale. At 1,000 and 1%, you may get 10. That's just the starting point as you need the page views first to generate those clicks!
Affiliate marketing is something where you can really run in circles with no clear results and taking a data-forward approach in testing out ideas is one way to break the cycle.
So, how can you monitor things? We use a link cloaking plugin like Pretty Links Pro to monitor our outbound click data (note- cloaking is not allowed in some programs, like Amazon) and keep up with our conversion rates on the individual networks at a minimum. From there, we have an affiliate marketing guide you may want to check out which dives into some of the best results we've had so far in our own tests!
Create a Product
If you take a bit of downtime from writing, why not use it to create a product you can sell directly on your site?
Whatever the product is specifically may vary from niche to niche, site to site, and audience to audience. But whether you work on developing a course, a book/ebook, logo-based products like shirts/mugs, or even services one thing is certain- they take a lot of time, energy, and focus. If you're burnt out on writing, this may be exactly what you need to help keep your business moving forward.
All that being said, products are long-game endeavors. They take time to make, time to market, and time to sell. But you can't get to that final stage until after the product is ready, and your product won't be ready if you don't invest the time upfront.
So how about now?
Perform a Keyword Audit
One activity that is a great use of time when you're not writing is performing a keyword audit on your site.
When it comes to incorporating keywords on your site, we often tend to think of it as adding unused keywords in new articles. This is one approach that could be researched in your downtime- but what about keywords in existing content?
Services like Keysearch and SEMrush do an incredible job letting you look into the keywords your articles currently rank for, check their respective search volumes and difficulties, and more. Looking at this for your existing articles gives a great insight into likely secondary keywords you rank for, often not on purpose, and may generate ideas on how to better use some in h2 tags, internal links, and other places to boost your existing rankings.
If you rank for hundreds if not thousands of keywords, you'll be sure to get some quick-win ideas looking into this side of a keyword audit!
If you are looking for more information on these services, check out the following:
Need help with your keyword or SEO audits? We have several SEO audit packages available here at This Week in Blogging where we can provide an audit report for your WordPress blog!
What tasks do you focus on when you're burnt out from writing? Comment below to share!