The push for content is time-consuming and never-ending . For many content creators, coming up with a new blog post, video, or advertisement isn’t as easy as sitting down and getting to work. Our creative wells run dry after publishing piece after piece, and sometimes we hit the dreaded wall of content creation burnout.
The burnout is no fun for content creators or the brands that depend on their ideas.
Lucky for you, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves, including some lifelines that will pull you out of the content burnout pit and put you back on track. These tricks offer excellent ideas for promoting better content creation, as well as productivity and employee contentment.
Know the Signs of Burnout
First things first: just like with any illness, it’s best to catch burnout in its earliest stages if you want to treat it with the correct medication. Let’s talk about the signs of burnout and how you can identify them before your team starts to really suffer.
According to Gallup, out of 7,500 full-time employees surveyed, about 23 percent of workers said they felt burned out more often than not. Another 44 percent reported feeling burned out at least sometimes. Unless your company is a true rarity, burnout is likely to strike occasionally.
The term “burnout” comes from the book Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement by Herbert Freudenberger. In his text, Freudenberger discusses how chronic job stress, exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of underachievement can all contribute to a team-wide burnout.
This can happen to your content team at any point, especially when the stakes are high but satisfaction levels are down.
Image Source: James Kennedy
Take a look at the graph above. Regardless of what industry you’re in, you’ll notice that energy and productivity are both at their highest when motivation is present and laziness, as well as stress and anxiety, are managed.
Has your team been exhibiting signs of stress, weariness, or writer’s block?
Chances are, they’re burning out because something within the above graph is out of whack. Maybe people are procrastinating, but chances are, an imbalance between motivation and stress is driving the burnout.
As soon as your team begins to notice the signs of low motivation or extreme stress, it’s time to prepare for the inevitable burnout and make some counter moves to avoid the loss of important productivity. That’s why we’ve got some strategies for combating content creator burnout quickly and efficiently.
Reanalyze Your Delegation Strategies
A solid SEO content team revolves around appropriate, well-planned delegation strategies. Burnout becomes rare when everyone shares the burden and no one individual feels totally overwhelmed.
If you’re struggling to come up with content creation ideas, it’s probably time to take a look at your content workflow. Now’s the time to re-analyze how you’re identifying key roles, tasks, and due dates.
Image Source: BrightWork
Your content workflow shouldn’t be a vague concept of how tasks are accomplished – that’s a surefire way to cause hiccups in the process and lead to burnout quickly.
Instead, you should create a written document that lists how each piece is formulated, created, and handled from start to finish. That way, everyone knows what they’re responsible for and when delegation is appropriate.
Image Source: Content Marketing Institute
Take a look at the above chart from the Content Marketing Institute.
It provides a general example of what a content workflow and delegation chart should look like. From working with a strategist to come up with topics and ideas to writing the pieces, reviewing, and publishing, every part of the content creation process has a place.
According to the Mayo Clinic, job burnout is most often caused by high workloads, little control, and unclear job expectations. Reexamining how you assign tasks and understand employees’ responsibilities will dramatically improve your rate of burnout, as well as the overall quality of your content.
Postpone Big Decisions
Although every team might deal with content creation burnout a little differently, there is one recommendation we can make across the board: don’t slap a big project on the burnout like a bandaid. Now is not the time to make huge changes and important decisions.
It might seem like a monumental content initiative, like a big ad campaign or new slogan, might be the way to combat burnout. Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case.
Stress impacts the way people evaluate risk, consider alternatives, and think through problems. If your team is worried about content creation burnout and writer’s block, chances are, you won’t make a good decision when it comes time for the big move.
Image Source: Decision Making Solutions
Additionally, decision fatigue might be part of what’s driving your team to burnout. A lack of energy and focus leads to poor decisions, and poor decisions lead to increased stress levels and confusion.
When the content burnout hits, consider pumping the brakes rather than speeding up. Taking a step back to analyze the situation and give your team room to breathe can lead to better creativity and more informed, intelligent decisions later on.
Here are some other tips for combating decision fatigue and moving away from burnout:
– Facilitate positive emotions in the workplace more than negative
– Treat situations with humor more than stress
– Take time-outs whenever situations get headed or people seem overwhelmed
– Plan deadlines around realistic expectations
– Automate what you can to minimize the number of necessary decisions
Although any department and/or employee can experience decision fatigue, it’s certainly common in content teams. Think about how often you’re choosing between new topics, word choices, headlines, keywords, images, infographics, ideas, and perspectives.
It’s easy to see how a team could burn out after a while.
Figure Out New, Innovative Approaches
The wheels of business never stop turning, so even if you’re taking a break to reduce burnout, you’ll eventually need to climb back on the wagon to keep up with the competition.
So, how can you ease back into content creation and production without sparking the flames of burnout again?
We’ve got a handful of ways you can come up with new content and take a fresh look at your plans. Whether it’s blog posts or YouTube videos, these strategies will help you tackle burnout and get the SEO content creation ball rolling once more.
Focus on Coming Up with Topics for the Next Month
Rather than putting all of the weight on the very next topic you’ll address, spitball enough topic ideas for the next four to six weeks. Brainstorming in a free, open environment allows everyone to pitch ideas without fear – and the more topics you’re accepting, the fewer decisions there are to make on the spot.
Of course, you’ll eventually need to narrow down your brainstorming list to the topics you really want to write about. Still, you’ll feel much better about getting back in the game if you’ve got a list of topics to keep your content creation running for the next week or two – not just the next assignment. Most content teams function better when they’re working at least a few weeks in advance.
Turn to Your Audience for Fuel
Still feeling burnt out and fresh out of new content ideas? Turn to your followers.
Blog comments, social media mentions, and customer surveys provide excellent fodder for future your content creation strategy. Not only will this help you execute a customer-first approach, it will also do some of the hard brainstorming work for you.
Talk to People in Your Industry
Your team might be feeling fatigued and unoriginal right now, but guess what: others in the industry aren’t. The more conversations you have with experts and big-wigs in your industry, the more your imagination will spark. Don’t be afraid to reach out for ideas and enlightening discussions.
Keep an Eye on the Competition
What’s your competition talking about? Spying on their topics and ideas doesn’t require much originality, but once you have an idea about what content they’re creating, you’ll likely get a few ideas of your own.
Note: this doesn’t mean you should just copy what your competition is doing. The goal is to keep an eye on what your industry is talking about in general and use that to fuel better content creation of your own.
Embrace Reactive Marketing
Not every content idea needs to spring from your head as Athena did from Zeus’s mind. In fact, it’s often a good idea to use another source to spark content reactions. Look at current events, social media trends, memes, and other popular topics that are semi-relevant to your industry.
Use real-world occurrences to create interesting, important content that people will actually want to ingest.
A rule of thumb for your content team: when in doubt, think about getting personal. Readers love finding blogs that offer behind the scenes tours and let them get to know the team behind the posts they read. Interview employees, tell personal stories, and give your brand that “real” personality that people are looking for.
You don’t have to be a creative genius to unearth the stories within your team. You’ve got people with interesting lives and opinions – use them!
Whatever fresh, innovative content approaches you adopt, make them fun. Content creation burnout happens when people’s stress outweighs their creative instincts, so the more you can foster an environment where ideas are accepted and excitement flows, the less often burnout will strike.
Minimize Stress While Maximizing Creativity
Speaking of protecting creativity from stress, let’s talk about methods for minimizing employee stress levels while encouraging an environment where creativity can flow uninhibited.
Image Source: Mind Tools
As you can see from the graph above, it’s commonly known that the best area of performance for any department occurs when there’s an even balance between pressure, boredom, and stress/anxiety. The question is, how do you achieve this perfect balance and stave off burnout?
Tips for Reducing Your Team’s Stress
Focus on what matters. At the end of the day, what does your team care about the most? Is it the number of views? The SEO? The content quality? Keep your big goals at the forefront of the team, not the nitpicky problems that weigh everyone down.
Minimize distractions. Everyone’s seen the statistics claiming that we waste an incredible amount of time in meetings and answering emails. Find ways to eliminate distractions to promote better periods of uninterrupted creativity and production.
Clearly define roles for everyone. As we talked about before when discussing content team delegation, clearly defined roles and responsibilities are essential to teams that experience low stress.
Promote a healthy office environment. A workplace that focuses more on perfectionism and negative talk will exude stress. On the other hand, an office that can find humor in stressful situations and flip to positive thinking will minimize unnecessary anxiety and fatigue.
Tips for Maximizing Your Team’s Creativity
Provide productive spaces for collaboration. What works best for brainstorming amongst your teammates? Is it a weekly meeting? A semi-monthly content review? Determine what kind of collaboration works best for your teammates and industry.
Focus on growing talent, not numbers. You need team members that excel at bringing new ideas to the table. If burnout is common in your department, you may need to reevaluate how you select your new employees and promote within your ranks.
Connect with the rest of the company. Good content reflects the values and goals of the brand as a whole. Remember: content creation doesn’t have to be restricted to the content department. Turning to other parts of the brand and incorporating them in the production process can work wonders on your team’s sense of creativity.
As you overcome your struggle with content burnout, try to keep this balance between creativity and stress at the forefront of your mind. Fatigue and poor content occur when the balance gets out of whack. The more you focus on the balance, the fewer episodes of burnout your team will experience.
Hopefully, this piece has given you some valuable tools for combating content creation burnout within your department. We all experience writer’s block and a lack of imagination at certain points – the important thing is to learn how to get back on the horse without stressing too much.
Riley Heruska is a full-time writer at a E2M Solutions specializing in producing content in the realm of SEO, marketing, and features. Her passion lies in helping others through the use of written word, and she can often be found sharing her travels from around the world.