It’s not just blogs. There’s burnout at every social media turn.
Maybe not on the consumption side, but on the creation/publishing side. A very long time ago, I wrote a post about the quality versus quantity of brands and posting to social media (it’s a topic that I have tackled may times over the years, actually). When everything is going well and things are fresh, it seems so obvious that the gravy train will keep rolling all night long. Fatigue always sets in. It can happen for the reader. It can happen for the creator. Sometimes there is sound logic and reason as to why this sets in, and – sometimes – the whole lack of anything just kind of creeps up on people. It can be very disturbing.
It’s not always burnout.
The major issue in social media, publishing and consumer fatigue is the brand’s/publisher’s constant desire to return better-than-yesterday metrics. Content is not advertising, in this sense. You can optimize your content all that you want, but the fact remains that today’s blog post (no matter how much better it may be from last year’s) could very well not click with the audience. Suddenly, the next thing you post (and, it’s usually something that you didn’t put that much effort into) is off to the races. What gives? In a world where content is pouring out into people’s lives – in text, images, audio and video… in short and long-form – there is a different pulse of consumption and, it can be one of the main attributes as to why content creators burnout or experience fatigue.
Why I don’t burnout (much).
I don’t chase analytics. I don’t get lured into too many blog comment wars. I don’t worry about the reach of each and every piece of content. I just write. I write. I write some more. And then, I keep writing. I don’t do it because I feel the pressure to. I don’t do it because I want more clients (though, I do like that as a strategic by-product). I don’t do it because some other president at some other marketing agency is doing it. I certainly don’t do it because it’s the cool thing to do (blogging’s not cool anymore, right?). I do it because I love to write. More than my love of writing, I do it because after a day of observing all sorts of things in the world, something percolates to the top that my mind, eyes and hands want to explore. It comes out in words. It comes out on this blog. For better or worse.
That’s the real thing about burnout.
Whether it’s a blog or Instagram, you have to have a real (and sincere) desire to produce. I can’t imagine not writing. Daily. It truly is an act of love. I don’t always get it right. Sometimes the words don’t flow. Often, the thinking can be convoluted. But, it’s me, the blank screen and a desire to fill it. I am happy that you’re here, but I am not insistent on you being here each and every day, or feeling the need to share everything that makes it to the screen. I’m fine with you being transient with this content. I’m also fine when different people hop in and attach to something and then don’t come back. It’s all a part of the publishing process. Do you love any particular author? Do you love everything that they do? It’s rare. Content plays the same way. I wonder what Chief Marketers Officers would think about being happy with content that is transient?
There’s a lot of suffering going on.
Earlier today, The New York Times published a piece titled, When Blogging Becomes a Slog. I found myself feeling very sad for all of the bloggers that were featured in this post (most of them designers in the house and home space). Many of them were burning out because of family, work commitments and some were even falling down because the blog made them so popular that they started pursuing other ventures (kind of like biting the hand that feeds you). Blogging is hard. Many people start doing it without an endgame in mind, and everything from a lack of traffic and interest to too much traffic and interest can lead to the same destitute destination (as strange as that sounds). What made me the most sad about reading this article, is that none of these lapsed bloggers even mentioned a passion for writing and sharing. It was all about everything else BUT the craft of writing. That’s what it’s really about. Instagram isn’t about social media. It’s about a passion for sharing pictures. Blogging is not about grabbing traffic. It’s about a passion for writing. YouTube isn’t about viral videos. It’s about a passion for creating video content.
From the article:
"Pam Kueber, the midcentury design expert behind the blog Retro Renovation, is 55, and she sees the Petersiks’ escalating stress levels and unhappiness simply as evidence of the latter: A passion turns into a hobby, which becomes a full-time career. ‘And in some predictable period of time, it consumes your life and sucks the joy out if it,’ said Ms. Kueber, finishing the arc. ‘That last part of the Shakespearean tragedy is what you have to be mindful of not letting happen.’ A tricky thing to avoid as a full-time blogger, considering that the Internet never sleeps, readers want fresh content daily and new social media platforms must be mastered and added to the already demanding workload. Add to that the economic challenges of blogging full time. As Grace Bonney of Design Sponge lamented earlier this year in a ‘State of the Blog Union,’ advertising rates have dropped significantly because advertisers are flooded with options. To earn money, many bloggers have had to embrace sponsored content, breeding distrust among readers. Several Young House Love readers, for instance, thought the giveaways were product placements in disguise, even though the Petersiks maintained they weren’t compensated for doing them."
There’s a lesson here.
Just because it’s much easier to publish, it doesn’t mean that it’s any easier to publish. Some pieces of content hit. Lots of pieces of content miss. Being successful in social media, content marketing and/or publishing will be, mostly, predicated on a true desire to create. From there, you have to hope and work towards finding an audience to care. It may also be a false-promise to assume that caring is – in any way, shape or form – a loyal audience.
Are you experiencing content burnout? What are the symptoms? What’s the diagnosis?