Three Ways To Renew Passion

During ASBPE’s National Conference in Cleveland, Justin Armburger offered three ways editors, writers, freelancers and designers can renew their passion for their work.

Many people employed in the business-to-business media field love telling stories — this is the case for writers, editors and designers alike. The industries covered by B2B media offer plenty of stories to share, too. However, people working in creative fields occasionally hit a rut — writer’s block strikes or a designer lacks inspiration. 

I have hit plenty of ruts in my career. As a writer for a recycling industry publication, I may roll my eyes as I am assigned to work on a screening equipment article for the eighth time. How can I keep the topic fresh? 

During ASBPE’s National Conference, which took place May 12-13 in Cleveland, Justin Armburger offered some tips for getting the inspiration we need to advance our work portfolios. Armburger is a freelance art director and an adjunct professor who teaches magazine design at Kent State University. He listed three steps that help creative professionals develop renewed passion for their work. 

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1. Break out of monotonous work. Working for the same publication for many years certainly has its perks, such as intimate knowledge on industry issues as well as a familiarity with the editorial calendar. Yet working on the same team year after year can become monotonous. To break free from the monotony, Armburger offered a few solutions.

One option is to read other magazines, both those inside and outside of your industry. ASBPE’s gallery of Azbee Awards winners is a good starting point to read through great work.

Another option is to scan through design websites for new ideas. Armburger suggested several sites, including Awwwards, which features portfolios and passion projects from other designers, as well as Really Good Emails, which features strong email marketing campaigns.

2. Find passion and inspiration in the industry. Inspiration doesn’t have to be hard to find — editors, writers and designers alike can find it by simply getting insight from colleagues as well as others in the industries they write about. First, Armburger said to find a mentor on your team or in your industry to get new ideas. He also advised teams meet on a consistent basis to discuss projects.

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3. Find passion and inspiration outside of the industry. Our day jobs might define what we do from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, but our day job likely doesn’t define everything that makes up our lives. Armburger said various “building blocks” make up who we are. While he’s an art director by trade, he also is a husband, a teacher, a friend, a cook and a nature lover to name a few other building blocks in his life. He said taking time outside of work to invest in these other passions can be beneficial for mental and physical health.

So, to get out of a rut at your day job, he advised building a passion portfolio based on these other building blocks that make up your life. As a nature lover and art director, Armburger decided to design a website for bird watchers using Figma. He said this passion project helped to renew his inspiration and even land him a new job by adding the website to his portfolio. 

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ASBPE plans to feature more great educational sessions at its 2023 National Conference, which will take place May 11-12, 2023. The location is to be announced. Stay tuned to and ASBPE’s social channels to keep up to date.  

Megan Smalley

Megan Smalley is associate editor for the Recycling Today Media Group at Cleveland-based GIE Media Inc. She focuses on writing, editing and podcasting for Recycling Today magazine. She has been with GIE Media since 2017 in several positions, including associate editor for Lawn & Landscape magazine and managing editor for Recycling Today magazine. She has been working in B2B media in the Cleveland area since 2014. She received a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Kent State University in May 2014.

Smalley previously served on the executive committee of the ASBPE National Board of Directors, and she is involved in ASBPE’s social and website committees.

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