Finding My Passion Again: Blogger Burnout in 2020

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So… you’ve probably noticed I haven’t been writing a lot of blog posts this year.

While I used to diligently crank out monthly recaps and helpful travel and teach abroad content, along with the occasional hilarious or adventurous travel story, I just really haven’t been feeling the passion lately.

And… by lately I mean for this entire year.

Chris Richelle Wedding

Getting Married in 2019!

2020 Was Supposed to Be The Year I Grew My Business

In late December, I made a decision: 2020 would be the year truly grew my business and scaled my income.

With my wedding at the end of 2019, constantly changing countries, and trying to focus on weight loss and exercise, there wasn’t really much room for business growth in 2019.

Sure, I worked every day to grow Adventures Around Asia and Teach Abroad Squad, but for the most part, I felt like I was treading water. So much of my time and energy went into wedding planning and improving my health, fitness, and nutrition, there wasn’t much room for anything else.

My attention was so divided among so many different things, I felt like I was failing on all accounts. I had too many things on my plate (figuratively), and I honestly couldn’t keep up.

It wasn’t until my honeymoon when I read the book Kiss My Tiara, where author Susan Jane Gilman has an entire chapter on how impossible it is for you to focus on anything else when you’re trying to lose weight, that my eyes really opened to my situation. With my attention so focused on cooking healthy meals, tracking every morsel of food, and waking up early to exercise, ON TOP of planning an international destination wedding… yeah. No wonder there wasn’t room for much else.

So in December of 2019, I decided 2020 would be the year of growing my business and income.

Signagi city wall

Exploring Georgia at the start of 2020!

Hiring a Business Coach

At the end of December, I participated in Lead Your Year, a free workshop hosted by Merilyn Wilson Beretta. The business planning I did as part of her workshop was SO INCREDIBLE my only question at the end was… How much does it cost to work with you?

Honestly, I had more clarity about my business in a 20-minute free strategy call with her, than I had in the entire year of 2019.

So I finished working with my nutritionist and used that money to invest in Merilyn’s program: Lead Your World.

We started with a branding course, using the book Storybrand, and I was hooked! I redesigned my entire Teach Abroad Squad sales page and the way that I marketed my course. I also made some major changes to give myself some sanity in running my business and worked closely with my assistant Hilary to create a system where I don’t have to spend hours every day dealing with my emails. Score!!

Teach Abroad Squad China

No new teachers leaving for China right now…

COVID Hit China

Towards the end of January, COVID-19 swept through China and singlehandedly ruined all my business plans for the entire year. Now I won’t go on and on about my feelings during that time, because I already talked about it in this post here. But, what I can say is that all my launch plans for 2020 went straight out the window.

I had been working so hard towards the goal of turning Teach Abroad Squad into my full-time job, and COVID was just a giant slap in my face.

foster cat

Just me stuck inside during COVID

What’s the Point of Writing?

Once COVID -19 started to spread to the rest of the world, the travel industry was one of the first spaces to be affected. Chris and I pretty much lost all of our income in a matter of weeks, and it was not fun.

It wasn’t just us either. Most travel bloggers lost the majority of their affiliate income, ad revenue, and traffic almost overnight. Not to mention, many of our previous sponsors and partners just stopped paying, even if we had already done the work! (Seriously, I’m owed a couple of hundred dollars from people who just now refuse to respond to my emails).

No one was googling about travel. It seemed like even the most loyal of readers don’t even really want to read about travel right now because it’s so painful being stuck at home in isolation. Don’t even get me started about practical teach abroad posts when the borders are completely shut…

When it came to writing posts for Adventures Around Asia, it felt pointless.

I’ve been so worried about finances and creating an income, I couldn’t justify spending hours every week writing for a blog that was making me absolutely no money. I have to pay the rent and put food on the table!

Not only that, but I just didn’t have the time or energy to write blog posts or post pretty pictures on Instagram. I felt completely uninspired by travel, and honestly… can you blame me?

lockdown birthday

Celebrating my 29th birthday in lockdown

Focusing on The Business (and Freelance Work)

I had to focus on making money, so Adventures Around Asia took a backseat while I poured all my effort into Teach Abroad Squad.

To be honest, I felt super weird about promoting my program when we were all on lockdown, but after a lot of mindset and strategy coaching from Lead Your World, I decided to do a launch anyway. I created a webinar that addressed the current situation with COVID and the closed borders, and in April I went for it!

And guess what happened? it was actually my most successful course launch yet!! This is absolutely crazy and completely unexpected (seriously… I was only doing it to test the waters).

I also took on two major freelancing jobs: one working as a social media manager for Merilyn (yes, she hired me to help run her Facebook Page and free Facebook group!). I also took on a job interviewing Chinese students for the TOEFL speaking exam and their college admissions applications.

I now all of a sudden only had a few hours a day to focus on my business! I went from almost completely working for myself, to having to perfectly schedule my day so that I have enough time for everything I need to do.

Even with a very productive schedule, I just didn’t have the time or energy to write blog posts. Who is even reading them? What would I even write about??!

I had absolutely no creative energy left in my body, and I honestly just didn’t feel inspired by any of it anymore. After over 8 years of running Adventures Around Asia… I was tired.

Shaanxi province

where’s the passion at?

Turning My Blog Into a Business Killed My Passion

A few weeks ago I was looking through my blog to find my favorite posts and YOUR favorite posts. Rather than judging based on traffic (which is biased because of Pinterest and Google), I looked for the number of comments I received on each of my posts.

Then I realized something… most of my best posts were all written when I had a full-time job, back when my blog was a side-hustle hobby.

In trying to turn my blog into a business, I had killed my creative spirit.

I’ve been so focused on writing “helpful” and informative posts, that I haven’t been thinking about what I WANT to write. Who has time for that anyway when bills need to be paid?

When your business is helping people teach abroad in China, it just doesn’t make sense to write anything else. I needed to “funnel” people into my email list and Free Facebook Group! I had to up my numbers for my next course launch! How am I supposed to get more webinar signups if I don’t have a constant influx of ideal clients??

Yuck.

All of the business, online course creation, and marketing content I’ve been consuming these last few years took over, and writing a blog post about anything other than teaching in China felt like a waste of time.

I did the one thing I swore I’d never do: I turned Adventures Around Asia into a “boring teach abroad blog”.

teach abroad live training

My July Webinar!

My July Launch Didn’t Go As Planned…

Fast-forward to July, I did a second 2020 launch for Teach Abroad Squad, running the same webinar I did in April that was so successful.

I worked my butt off promoting it, and had even more signups for this webinar than I did last April! I expanded the free training to two hours, and couldn’t wait to welcome a new crop of members into the Teach Abroad Squad!

But then… no one joined. Despite a ton of interest and a very lively webinar, no one joined my program.

I wad devastated!

Yes, I know that my business is helping people Teach Abroad in China… during a pandemic… when the borders to China are closed… but I still couldn’t help but feel I had failed.

teach in china recruiter

Back in the olden days!

I Haven’t Been Open and Honest For a Long Time

Here’s the thing, I haven’t been open and honest on Adventures Around Asia for a long time. I used to write posts about my struggles living abroad, wondering about my path and the purpose of my life, or at least my dreams and goals for my business.

But ever since I launched Teach Abroad Squad, I’ve been keeping quiet about that major aspect of my life because I don’t want to be “unprofessional”.

What if I told you that the first time I did my VIP launch of Teach Abroad Squad, I expected at least 10 people to join, and I only had 2 members? This was after investing $1,000 into the Create Awesome Online Courses program and spending a solid year of my life building it.

But, how could I open up about that without people thinking my program was a failure?

While I know Teach Abroad Squad is absolutely incredible (and crazy value for the cost!!), I was afraid that if I opened up about my struggles growing my program, people wouldn’t take me seriously, and therefore wouldn’t sign up.

But it’s precisely that lack of openness and honesty that Adventures Around Asia is missing. I WANT to tell you about what it’s like to run an online course and coaching program and what I’ve done to grow. I WANT to talk about my struggles and achievements working for myself and the ups and downs of business.

Starting your own business is hard, and while YOU know your program is amazing, it can take a while to figure out how to explain to other people why they should pay you for help. This is especially true if your idea is something that’s literally never been done before.

I know Teach Abroad Squad is great, I’ve just been afraid of saying something that would make all of you think it’s not.

Tai Bai Mountain

The real life of a travel blogger

I’m Not Working in My “Flow” or My “Zone of Genius”

Over the last few months, I’ve been opening up a lot to the members of my Lead Your World business coaching program. Through group coaching calls and group “pods” as well as one-on-one zoom chats with program members, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m trying to force myself to fit a mold that’s not me.

By writing “helpful” SEO-friendly blog posts, I became bland and boring.

By focusing on marketing and funnels, I lost my passion.

By finding my “niche”, I put myself in a box.

While all of these business tips might work for many people, forcing myself to be a proper online entrepreneur made me lose my passion and creativity. I dimmed my natural spark and became just like everyone else… and it didn’t work.

I became so attached to the idea that Teach Abroad Squad would be my main income and business that I never stopped to assess if I liked the path I’d put myself on.

I need to work with my natural personality rather than against it.

Maybe me “talking about myself” is actually helping people? Opening up, telling stories, and bringing my unique perspective and personality to what I do is what’s important, not whether I’m ranking for XYZ keyword on Google.

Teach Abroad China

Enjoying Halloween with my students

Pressing Pause on Teach Abroad Squad (Launches and Promotions)

Here’s the thing, I love Teach Abroad Squad and I think it’s an incredible program. I will continue to keep running the program, and when the borders start to open back up again, I’m sure I’ll do another launch. But for right now, I’m not going to be doing any big launches, webinars, or events to promote it.

This last launch in July has told me that I need to go with the current environment. I can’t just keep banging my head against a wall hoping the wall will magically disappear.

So, for anyone who wants to Join Teach Abroad Squad, I’m leaving the cart open.

If you want to join, you can join at any time. If you’re not sure if you should join, you can book a free 30-minute call with me to talk things through and see if the program or working with me is actually the right step for you. Just shoot me an email at support@teachabroadsquad.com!

While I’m not doing any big webinars or promotions right now, I’m still incredibly active with the Teach Abroad Squad program community. I do weekly Live Q&A’s in the Facebook group, and group coaching calls every month on Zoom as part of the program. So if you’re interested, come on over and join us!

Enneagram cult

This is me.

Exploring New Passions

With travel on pause for the time being, I started spending time on other things I’m interested in. I created a D&D site with my husband Chris and I use my free time in the evenings to read about the Enneagram (which I’m super obsessed with).

A big part of me really wants to create a second course or program that’s not so strictly tied to China and the borders being open, but I’m not quite sure what that is yet.

I spent the last few months striving after this unknown “idea”, feeling like once I just figure out what I’m “supposed to do with my life” all the pieces will fall into place. I was pushing myself to find my perfect topic, racking my brain trying to figure out what it might be.

But that’s not how life works, is it?

A few weeks ago I was on a Lead Your World group coaching call talking about this dilemma. Everyone in the group noticed that when I talked about the things that I’m passionate about, my face lit up and I spoke with energy and enthusiasm. But once I tried to logically “make it work” and started brainstorming program ideas, the passion fell from my face and I got stuck in my head.

Maybe for once in my life I just need to stop pushing so hard and let the idea come to me instead.

Richelle weird

I’m both excited and scared

GOAL: One Blog Post Per Week For the Next 3 Months!

Rather than making big overarching goals for the next year or two, the coaching program I’m in focuses on 3-month goals that are achievable, tick-off-able, are non-negotiable and give you goosebumps. Anything more than 3 months isn’t a goal, it’s a vision.

So for the next three months, every single week I’m going to write one blog post I actually want to write. No worrying about Google, Pinterest, affiliates, or algorithms. Every Tuesday I’m going to sit down and write about one thing I’m passionate about. (cough cough…. like this post for example).

Now, not all of these things are going to be strictly travel-related, and I think that’s okay.

But I do think that (hopefully), you’ll find most of these posts interesting considering that they’ll at least be tangentially related to being a location-independent, travel-addicted expat in the Republic of Georgia!

It’s through this little experiment that I hope to inject some passion and personality back into this blog, and also see what really resonates with all of you! So if you’re really enjoying a topic and want to hear more, be sure to tell me in a comment down below or on social media! (otherwise, I’ll never know…)

I’m hoping that this goal will not only inject some passion back into Adventures Around Asia, but give me a clearer idea of what I want to focus on in the future!

Freedom Life Hoi An

You have no idea how much I was sweating here…

So What’s Next?

So what’s next for Adventures Around Asia? Well, of course, I’ll have new blog posts coming out every week for the next three months! (Be sure to call me out if I don’t do this).

I’d love for you to tell me which ones you like and want to hear more of! You can leave a comment below, or on social media. But if you like something, be sure to tell me so I can write more on that topic!

As I said earlier, I’ll still be running and supporting Teach Abroad Squad for those who want to join in on the fun! But rather than doing big launches and webinars while the borders are still closed, I’m just going to be keeping the program open for new members who are interested. So if you want to learn more about the program, you can check it out here!

As for now, I probably won’t be writing any teach abroad blog posts (unless I feel super inspired), but thankfully I’ve got a TON of teach abroad content already on this site, and a Free Facebook group you can join if you ever have questions.

For now, my posts will probably be less travel-planning friendly, and more of the entertaining or emotionally-open variety, which is what I feel like you guys all like anyway…

Hopefully, you’re as excited about all the changes as I am!

Dealing with blogger burnout as a travel blogger in 2020. Here's how I found passion in creating and writing my blog again! #blogger #travelblogger #burnout #travel #blog

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