Gimme a break. Or don't.
Because I was overwhelmed, I recently took a blogging break. During that time, I put a lot of my focus onto developing and growing my small business. I let months go by between posts, and then finally officially took a hiatus in October of 2014. I also took a break from all social media during the end of the year when most people are furiously sharing the busyness of the holiday season.
I'm not the only creative blogger that has taken some time off. The most publicized case of blogger burnout is probably that of Sherry and John Petersik, the bloggers behind Young House Love. In their post from September 9, 2014, Sherry explains their decision: "in an attempt to stop stumbling around and feeling like we just can’t get it back, we’re taking a break." "It" being the balance of life and blogging and everything in between.
I have been easing myself back into the social media scene since early February. It is so much fun to see what my friends and peers are up to. There is also a little twinge of guilt knowing that so much time has gone by that I could have been interacting with them. I could have been using that time wisely to meet my goals.
I want to reflect on my experiences with blogging breaks to help you decide if a social media hiatus might be right for you, or if the decision could hamper your goals.
People forget about you when you take a social media break
Recently I attended QuiltCon after about a 6 month hiatus from blogging and 2 months off from posting to Instagram. That is a long time in this world of NOW information. While many people I networked with in-person remembered me, there were multiple instances where they did not. Someone that I've had a good amount of interaction with less than 4 months prior had no idea who I was even after I introduced myself, and gave subtle hints about how they know me. They were polite enough to pretend, but it was obvious to me that they forgot who I was. I'm not knocking that person at all. The online quilting community is a wonderfully supportive pace, but if you drop out for a while, their support could go to others. That's just how it works.
You might have a steady flow of loyal readers that comment, share, and like your content. But when you're not posting, those followers have nothing to share with their circle, and you lose the potential to gain new fans. Your loyal readers get bored and move onto fresher sources of the information you provide. Your social media presence moves from a steady flow, to a trickle, and then it may dry up. This may seem obvious, but it is most likely to have the biggest impact on your blog. You've worked hard to build a following, so be sure to know what it will take to rebuild it when you're ready to return after a break.
Customers move on when you don't promote your business
A lot of crafters blog as an extension of their creative business. I blog mostly to share the things I sew. In the time since I opened the fabric shop online to now, my sewing content has dried up here on the blog. The bulk of the content that I did create was shared exclusively on Instagram (and in the case of June 2014 and December-January 2015, not at all). During that time, I lost the potential to raise awareness of my new small business.
Entrepreneur contributor Jayson Demers says inconsistency with your social media presence, among other mistakes, could break your brand. Thanks to Etsy, my shop has experienced a steady volume of traffic resulting in a decent number of orders. But think of the numbers my shop could have had if I had been actively participating social media. It is hard enough to gain the trust and loyalty of customers as it is with consistent interaction.
Try to avoid blogger burnout in the first place
Many experts recommend a posting schedule, which could help establish relevancy and and authority in your niche. "In my experience consistent participation is the key to getting new followers and developing relationships on social media" says Abby Glassenberg of While She Naps. Abby dedicates her blog to running a creative business and sewing soft toys. Her posts are an invaluable resource for creative entrepreneurs. Posting schedules and routines will help you spread out and balance your blog and social media posts to a practical pace for your life. Click through to check out a sample of Abby's manageable social media routine and don't miss the wealth of blogging tips and advice shared on her site.
Now that I am sharing in this space once again, I have implemented an editorial calendar to schedule my posts. Right now I've got posts scheduled 3 months out, with some recurring monthly posts and seasonal pieces written in for the rest of the year. It may seem rigid at first glance, but it is actually very freeing. I have also started to develop a daily routine that incorporates social media and blogging with the other aspects of my life. Now I know when I can fit things in, and when I need to move my focus elsewhere, BEFORE I get overwhelmed. Stay tuned for my thoughts on using an editorial calendar to balance running a small business and blog while taking care of home and family, which will post at the end of April (I know this because it's on the calendar!).
You might be feeling so overwhelmed that you just want to call it quits. Believe me, I know. Perhaps you need the break to refresh your mind and spirit, and that's okay. In hindsight, while I did benefit from my hiatus and do not regret it, I do think I could have thought things through before resorting to taking time off. I could have learned some techniques to cope with the undue pressure I put on myself. Had I done that, I may have had months of content to share and my business might be in a better place.
Have you ever taken a break from social media or blogging? Have you thought about it? I can't be the only one! Or maybe you have some other tips to prevent blogger burnout? Let's talk about it in the comments.