You’re trying hard not to show it,
But baby, baby I know it …
You’ve lost that loving feeling …
~The Righteous Brothers
Ever get to a point with your blog and your internet marketing strategy where you’re just … worn out?
The writing that used to thrill you now feels like a chore. Your readers are getting on your nerves. The tedious little tasks are getting to you.
You don’t want to quit … but you do want to get some of that old magic back, the way it was in the early days.
Blogs and businesses in general are a lot like marriages. Sometimes you’ve got to put in a little extra work to keep that spark alive.
If you could use a few ideas to re-romance your business blogging, you’re in the right spot. And if you’re still passionately in love, don’t worry … the same techniques that rekindle the spark can be used to keep that flame as bright as it is today.
#1: Learn something new
The human brain was not meant to absorb all the information it needed at age 24.6 and then stop learning.
As soon as you quit learning and growing, you start to die. That was what made your business so much fun in the first place — that crazy learning curve. It may have been overwhelming or intimidating at times, but it was also exhilarating.
It’s critical to your business (and your self-respect) that you keep learning. As soon as you start to rest on what you already know, you’ll start to get bored. And some clever, energetic competitor will show up to snap at your heels.
Add a new skill to your mix, or get even more amazing at some of the skills you already possess. Dive into a topic that scares you, like becoming a better salesperson or exploring the wild frontiers of your topic.
Remember Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s definition of optimal flow — you have to be at the point where it’s not too hard and it’s not too easy. Learning something new will give you a nice refreshing dip back in the deep end.
#2: Do a Q&A call
If your problem is self-doubt, imposter syndrome, or believing that you don’t truly deliver something of value, announce a free Q&A call for your audience.
Use one of the free teleconference services out there and put the word out: You want your readers’ questions, and you’ll be available live to answer them. Get all of your blogging and social media friends to help you spread the word.
You can also do this as a blog post or a competition for some free one-on-one consultations — it’s a great way to rack up lots of traffic and attention in a hurry.
You’ll find that you know a lot more than you think you do. You might not be able to answer every single question, but that’s ok — just let your questioner know you’ll look into it. (More learning, yay!)
But you’ll be amazed at how many questions you can answer. This is the fastest confidence-builder I know. It’s also amazingly energizing to see firsthand how much you can help the people who are reading you. And that’s the kind of happiness-booster that lasts longer than a cute new pair of shoes or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
Quick, name your 10 favorite blogs.
Today, visit each one of them, read their most recent posts, and drop some comment love. Remember how they used to inspire you to create better content yourself? Let them inspire you all over again.
Start making plans now to go to the next live event in your topic. If it’s in two weeks and you’re broke, plan for the one that’s three months out.
Go make some connections — and not just with your heroes. Connect with that wonderful reader who always leaves awesome comments. Connect with the blogger who’s got about as many readers as you do. Connect with the person on Twitter who always makes you laugh.
If you’re an introvert (like I am), remember to schedule some solitude to refill the well. Get a coffee on the other side of town, skip a conference session to take a nap, or go to the public library if you have to, but get some alone time to balance the socializing.
#4: Write your manifesto
One of the things that makes Zappo’s such a cool company is that early on, Tony Hsieh and his team sat down and figured out what they stood for: their core values.
They grabbed a piece of paper and figured out who they wanted to be — and who they didn’t want to be.
Come up with 10 core, essential values your business stands for. If they don’t make you tingle, you’re not being honest. Don’t put boring platitudes like “excellent service.” Find the values that put a lump in your throat.
Now, think about how you’re going to live that statement of values this week. What are you doing to show the world what you stand for?
#5: Deploy your signature strengths
The research on happiness is pretty clear. There’s only so much pleasure you’re ever going to get out of instant gratification. (Bad news for the cute shoes and the Ben & Jerry’s.)
Happiness researchers like Martin Seligman are all for you enjoying life’s pleasures — but you’ve probably already noticed those pleasures tend to lose their savor disappointingly quickly.
Seligman argues that you’ll get a much more lasting hit from focusing on what he calls gratifications, which boil down to the exercise of your signature strengths.
Are you particularly kind? Do you have the courage of your convictions? Can you find the humor in virtually any situation?
To discover your most important strengths, take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths (you’ll find it on the University of Pennsylvania’s Authentic Happiness site). The test will point to the character attributes that you’ve been particularly blessed with.
This week, decide how you’re going to use one of your strengths in your business. Maybe you’ll use Social Intelligence to strengthen your landing pages. Or Persistence to take those last few steps to make your launch great.
Exercising your signature strengths gives a sense of satisfaction and well-being that will endure. And if you keep up the practice of looking for fresh ways to apply your strengths to your business, your love won’t ever grow stale.
(Your test results just might make that Zappo’s style statement of values more exciting, too.)
#6: Find a coach
People who start businesses are kind of nuts. We think we can do everything alone. We tend to be contrarians by nature, and we’re addicted to drawing our own map.
And all of that is awesome. You need to be self-reliant. But it’s not cheating for you to get some help, too.
When I was starting out on my own, my legs were wobbly. I had a lot of passion and a ton of drive, but there were definitely days I was going the complete wrong direction.
Working with a business coach gave me some perspective, and helped me to remember to do what I knew I needed to do. It also helped me enjoy the process a whole lot more.
Just like a personal trainer at the gym, a coach won’t do the work for you. But they can help you realize that you’re strong enough to do the work yourself.
I happen to think my coach is great, but the important thing is that you find someone who resonates with you, shares your values, and has a style that will challenge you to do more than you can do alone.
#7: Schedule time away from online marketing
Some days this is the hardest one to pull off.
I don’t care how much you love blogging or writing. I don’t care how much energy it gives you. If you want to give it all the juice and passion you have to offer, you’ve got to step away.
When you create a business and start to live your dream, it’s easy to think you should do that all day, every day. But that’s a quick path to burnout. You’ll be more creative, more energetic, and more excited about your business when you build in time away to do some the other stuff you love.
The first thing we all need is to get moving. You don’t have to run a marathon if that isn’t your thing, but get out for a walk or a bike ride every day. It improves your mental clarity, your mood, and cuts your risk of pretty much every kind of disease. You’ll be a lot more productive, too, which is a nice bonus.
But you don’t get to stop there. I also want you, at least once a week, to schedule some time to just play. I don’t care if you go to the art store and get finger paints, just do something you find fun. Don’t make it too practical. If it has redeeming social value, it doesn’t count. Give that inner five-year-old some play time, and watch what that does for the rest of your life.
How about you? What do you do when you need to rekindle that spark? Let us know about it in the comments.
Note: This is a Copyblogger classic post, republished for you in honor of Valentine’s Day. Go give your blog some love!