Spoilers: very little
Some of you may have noticed that I took a 2 week blog break at the end of January. I didn’t do much blog-wise except keep up with my collab and episode reviews. I do have way too many this season but that’s another story. This said, other than that I read a few posts for fun but I wasn’t as present as usual and I didn’t write or format anything. I didn’t even brainstorm blog ideas. In fact, when not working directly on it, I managed to largely forget the blog altogether. This is the first time I’ve ever done anything remotely similar since I started this place, and here are my takeaways.
First, so that you can understand where I’m coming from, let me tell you a bit about myself. I am a 4 year old. Not literally but in many respects I tend to be childish and uncomplicated. This is why for my personal habits I tend to have this rather immature all or nothing stance. I exercise all the time or I don’t at all. I spend years not watching anime now I don’t watch anything else. That sort of thing. So in a lot of ways, I’ve kept up my blogging momentum through this all out philosophy. I post every day or else I might not post at all.
Moreover, I have always personally said that although stats aren’t meaningless to me views and likes aren’t my primary motivation and I enjoy posting for other independent reasons. Those are both assumptions that I held as important truths to shape my blogging experience in my own head.
For two weeks, I completely challenged all of it. I wrote and posted sporadically and without schedule. I did nothing to help the blog grow or even maintain it in any way. I didn’t check my stats page at all. So was I right about anything?
Firstly, I am relieved to confirm that for me, a schedule really is essential. It was nice to let go for a few weeks but I started really missing writing. It’s a relaxing and engaging activity that he become an important part of my routine. I imagine I take something from it that’s not entirely unlike meditating. Unfortunately, without some type of framework, I just don’t do it. I always find something more immediate to do. Let’s face it, in this case it was video games… Point is, I need to form a habit to stick with something.
And I could clearly see that if I didn’t have episodes to review on a schedule, if I just adopted an “I write when the muse strikes me” attitude, I would probably stop posting fairly quickly. This is happy news for me. I find a nice little defined schedule comfortable!
The nuance I found however is that I don’t actually need to write *a lot*. A while ago I was talking to a pretty popular blogger who told me they only put in 10 to 15 minutes to complete a post. Editing and pictures included. And I thought… well to be honest I thought they were grossly exaggerating. When you factor every thing in, I usually spend between 1 and 2 hours. Much closer to 2. Their posts were a bit shorter but still…
However, because video games exist, I was actually looking forward to finishing a post during my vacation, because I had something waiting for me. Now I never got close to 10 minutes but I manage to par down my time for an episode review to about 45 which is pretty good. And what’s more, I was enjoying writing them. I wasn’t straining for material or obsessing about getting every single stray thought I had out there. I was just having a happy chat about an anime I just watched. It was nice. I’m gonna try to keep that vibe going.
Now for the most revealing part, well for me. I have always said, and honestly believe that putting too much importance on your blog stats is a great way to burn yourself out on blogging. And I always encourage new bloggers to not pay too much attention to them. But I also understand that it’s perfectly natural for people to be results oriented and a lot of us have been conditioned into believing that numbers = results. So if you have a blog and you’re only in it for the views, that’s fine too. I don’t really think there’s a right way to do but I was sort of wandering if I was still doing my blog for the enjoyment of writing and the communal experience or whether I was now getting my motivation from my stats. Would I really want to keep posting if I didn’t get the attention I thought I deserved. Can you see how horribly self aggrandizing that is… Just because I don’t want this particular hobby to be some sort of competition. That sort of goes against what I was going for in the first place.
So for a few weeks I didn’t even open my stats page at all. I wasn’t tempted to either. I lost track of how many visitors I had or how many views completely. I only knew about the likes and comments in the moment and I wasn’t keeping a tally or anything.
And you know what. It was super relaxing. And I can’t say I’m any less motivated. Not at all. I was eager even to write more. It’s so much less intimidating without the numbers, there’s no pressure. What I did notice is that I changed my approach a bit. I lost the drive to write a post that “would do well”. I didn’t really consider any ways to promote my blog in that whole time. I just wanted to write fun stuff and hopefully somebody else would think it’s fun too. That’s pretty much how I started this blog so it feels great to get back to that.
This said, I don’t entire dislike the little rush of having something you enjoy writing get a lot of views. It spurs me on. I just need to find a good middle ground.
So that’s it. It’s what I learned from my blogging vacation. Not much but better than nothing. Have you ever taken a blogging vacation? Was it fun?
27 thoughts on “I took my first ever blogging break and this is what I learned”
Irina, I really admire your dedication. Despite having insane work schedule you are managing to publish a really high-quality posts VERY often.
Just how do you do it?
Hope you are well rested! 🙂
I am much better rested now. Thank you so much!
Break is needed for everyone.. I like the way you represented all this..
I really only take blogging breaks if I’m already covered for content in advance. Of course, with my ongoing Fate/ project I won’t be able to stop (just out of a sense of keeping my word) until I’m done (or go back on my word on Illya, because that /is/ loli fanservice after all…).
Generally breaks are fun and thinking about getting out content on an even more regular basis than I usually do is stressful, but now that I’ve gotten to the series I had my eye on as of this comment (I didn’t really like the romance aspect of F/SN: UBW since it betrayed the story’s origins as a VN, but I’ve specifically been doing some self-hype around El-Melloi’s Case Files because I know I’ll love it)…not to mention the fact I’ve had to put anime/manga aside for other, more pressing things lately and suddenly I have 3 or 4 episodes of simulcasts to catch up on + a manga volume which I could blog about, suddenly the opposite is true.
Hope you enjoy El-Melloi’s
I tell you what though, any time I write about porn my stats go through the roof. Horny people are an underserved market.
Surprising as it may sound.
“Have you ever taken a blogging vacation? Was it fun?”
I go on vacation every week, and it’s lots of fun! I sort of neglect my stats page as well, but it’s more because I’m too lazy to keep a constant watch. I wish I could be a schedule person as well. Spur of the moment motivation to write is nice and all but it does leave gaps that I feel guilty about. But schedules make writing feel like a chore, so there’s my dilemma. Great post!
Personally, I think it should never be a chore!
“they only put in 10 to 15 minutes to complete a post. Editing and pictures included.” – Well I’m going to go cry now. Personally, I just don’t like how quantitative content (your a great example of someone who does short form but adds enough personality and thoughtful statements to be more than substantial) seems to dominate but I have nothing against people who operate that way. I think you need a healthy balanced ecosystem of content, I guess I’d have to say my audience was built on proving the alternative to your average site so I can’t complain.
Sometimes I just look back, and it’s like “you spent 2-4 hours per 12 planet designs to appear on other people’s sites, when you could of wrote a paragraph summary of why you liked a movie and slap a star rating and probably have double the views and following you’ve had” and I’m like HECK YEAH!
Interesting that Pete doesn’t like the term content, I’ve always found “blog” to sound belittling and has a negative connotation of being “what amateurs do” that I’d rather avoid the association.
I’m proud that you gave yourself a little break, hope you at least found it a little refreshing and fun. Take care.
Really. I like the word blog. Then again I also like the word amateur. That’s what olympiens are! Mostly i think blog is fun to say.
Odd, 2nd time we’ve talked about the Olympics of all subjects (Move over Mario & Sonic it’s going to be Irina & K at the Olympic Games this year). I will give you that I can not deny that blog is a fun word to say.
Wow, you are about to win a whole lot of metals
I don’t like the word “blog” either. 🙂 I always refer to my site as… well, my site.
Actually, it’s not so much that I don’t like the term “blog” as I think it doesn’t really apply to what I personally do; I tend to associate the word “blog” with timely content — stuff that is attached to a particular time and place; “blog” comes from “weblog”, after all. Meanwhile, I make a deliberate effort to ensure probably 95% of the stuff I write is timeless and “static” — it’s stuff that someone can revisit in 5 years’ time and still get something out of, or information on older things that have been around for a while.
I don’t like “content” for different reasons; I think it devalues what people do, and that people should take more pride in their work and their unique skills.
If you’re a writer, you write; you’re writing analyses, reviews, character studies, observations, opinions, editorials, news stories, pieces of fiction, narratives, scripts… I just don’t personally like boiling all those unique types of things that people create into “content” — and I also feel that many (not all — you’re clearly not one of them from what you’re saying!) people who use the term “content” tend to focus on churning stuff out for the sake of numbers rather than for the actual love of what they do.
wee this is why you’re a pro. I never thought about the shelf life of my writing
As a matter of fact yes i have taken vacations from blogging every once and a while because it can physically stressful looking at the computer screen writing down notes on office and also sitting in a certain position for long and as a result you can get either an eye strain,neck pain or pins and needles in your legs.
I also do breaks as well especially when i cover a long game or a long series too. Or whenever a holiday would come around like Family Day Or Easter and sometimes i schedule a review to posted up on that day that i have finished earlier to keep readers hold off until i come back.
It can be very easy to get burnout and when you rush through stuff your results will be often less then steller especially when one is focused on boosting the growth rate of the site.
So my thing is that i should just stick to what is i am perfectly comfortable with and focus on what i feel like writing instead of filling in checkboxes or be focused on seo growth as well.
After all it is very important to have a work life balance or else what fun would it be to do something you really don enjoy doing?
Thankfully for me the blog isn’t work at all. I would probably have been fired
It’s kind of nice, right? I’m kind of on a half break myself. I haven’t written anything not seasonal for a while and I don’t plan on doing that for a few more weeks still. Well, at least nothing serious. It’s so strange for me. I just have this urge to write something and I’m constantly telling myself no.
Whoa you’re holding back!!! I didn’t go that far
I’ve never actually taken a blogging break. I guess it’s ’cause I stick to only writing series reviews and that means I have a mad rush at the end of a season when I type up my thoughts on everything I’ve been watching and prepare my artwork. Then I’ve got a couple of months to relax and recharge where the only things I’ll work on for the blog are an occasional review and my first impressions. For me it staves off the burnout and I’ve always got other projects to work on.
It’s become so routine now I can’t even think about not doing it that way.
Sounds like a good balance
I’ve taken a blogging vacation before… like 6 whole months. In fact, I kind of forgot about it for awhile. When I first started I was posting daily. Then it become once every two days and eventually 3 times a week (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). After that, I just disappeared. I burnt myself out continually writing, editing photos and stuff. Since I started off as a blog that just posted my random thoughts, it was pretty taxing since I was constantly thinking of stuff to write even though my life is generally pretty boring. Ever since I started writing about anime, it got more fun (though I’m plagued with the tendency to get real negative at times and it really affects my posts pretty badly). Right now, I’m just posting as and when I finish watching an anime and decide to write about it. I used to schedule all my posts at a certain time and tried to be active on a ton of different social media platforms to promote my blog. But now I’m just leaving it all to Twitter cause I don’t want to bother with so many different accounts. Though, I’m thinking of going back to a schedule of Friday, Saturday and Sunday so I don’t kill myself writing about every anime I watch even if there’s not much for me to say. In fact, I haven’t posted anything this week (excluding the impulsive 2am post which I don’t count as a post). I just hope that the quality of the Friday and Saturday posts is enough to make up for it.
Also, more than the statistic of views and likes I value comments a lot more cause I actually get to interact with my readers and see how their thoughts differ from my own. Though, I don’t know if it’s the way I write or the topics I talk about but I never really get many comments. ^^”
Comments are tricky. In my experience topic has a lot to do with it but tone can also be a bit intimidating for some readers. I get by far the most views on episode reviews but I’m lucky if I get any comments on them at all…
Glad you found this process helpful! You confirmed some things that have been part of my own philosophy to writing over the course of the last few years — most notably the fact that you should not ever, EVER let stats define you. It’s lovely to see a big spike on your stats page, but the moment you start writing “to do well”, you stop being a creative person and become a marketing executive instead. And no-one should want to be a marketing executive in their free time.
I’m a member of a Discord where some people discuss blogging and the like. The other day, one person was fretting over their Google Analytics and the fact that it was reporting “time per session” as 5-10 seconds. They were panicking over whether something was “wrong with their content”. I wanted to pick them up and shake them. They’re an amateur blogger not making any money from their stuff, and they said themselves they get page views in the double figures a day if they’re lucky. You should not be even *thinking* about Google Analytics stats at that point!
While we’re on, I wish people would stop referring to what they do as “content”, too. You’re not “creating content”, you’re writing. (Or making videos, podcasting, drawing, painting, whatever!) You’re writing stories, reviews, analysis, opinion pieces, personal reflections, news reports… whatever it is you do. Don’t devalue the product of your own creativity and enthusiasm by calling it something Social Media Sophie would refer to it as during a weekly conference call that no-one is actually listening to.
I was reflecting on this with some other friends yesterday. I’ve put zero effort into SEO and the bare minimum into promotion, yet my site has shown consistent and considerable growth over the course of the 5+ years it’s been in existence, and I’m at a point now where publishers and developers approach *me* to ask if I’ll cover their stuff. Perhaps the fact I specifically *don’t* do the marketing things gives what I do an air of authenticity and trustworthiness? I couldn’t say — but whatever, it’s seemingly proof positive you don’t need to be super hung-up on what I tend to think of as the boring side of things 🙂
Can’t grow my bloody YouTube for love nor money though. Go figure!
Oh wow, I have never even looked at my analytics. I’m a real mickey mouse operation except Disney owns the world so the opposite of that
Best way to be. Best way to be!