A few years ago, I wrote a blog post here on Sheila’s Guide about avoiding blogger burnout. Little did I know that a global pandemic and various other crises would soon put all of us to the test of battling almost-constant mental exhaustion.
I started my first travel blog in February 2006, then helped launch the Perceptive Travel Blog in March 2007 (and still contribute to it a couple of times a month,) plus I had a front-row seat for the rise of social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.
You know what?
I’m tired, y’all.
While it is still invigorating for me to publish a blog post that has useful information, or tells a good story, or provides an insightful look into a thorny problem, it is NOT invigorating to feel constant pressure to feed the digital beast. It is NOT invigorating to watch new social channels pop up with a bunch of hype, and feel that one has to go chasing after eyeballs on that new platform, for no reason other than “everyone else is on TikTok or Clubhouse” or whatever.
I’ll admit, I had also begun to wonder if I’d lost my motivation to learn new platforms and build new skills. Had my digital communications skillset atrophied here at age 60? Was I creatively washed up? Was I someone who used to be fairly cutting edge, and was now way behind and irrelevant? Is creating digital content these days a stupid waste of my brainpower?
This quote from the Smarter Every Day video series stuck with me, about the…
“Never-ending pressure to turn us into mindlessly swiping animals that just try to consume content rapidly, without actually thinking.”
So, when some tourism marketing colleagues from the Waco, Texas Convention & Visitors Bureau asked me recently to work with them to create some paid digital content, I resisted at first. My primary focus these days is social media training and digital marketing workshops, not travel blogger/influencer stuff. What if I disappointed them? What if I couldn’t hang with all of the current social media platforms as a creator, not just a trainer and teacher?
Well, that was silly.
On a simple blank index card, I laid out all of the different ways I could take a thought, a photo, and/or a video, and turn it into useful content for Waco visitors that those visitors can also find across multiple sites, for months and years. The ideas flowed quickly once I stopped worrying about what I didn’t know how to do, and realized that pandemic brain rot hadn’t taken away my ability to flex and learn.
Instagram, for example – you can make something into a basic photo post, photo carousel, Story, and Reel, so I did. Then I turned that Story into a Pinterest Idea Pin, and that Reel into a YouTube Short, because I want what I create to be easily searchable and last for longer than 24 hours. I’ve been blogging and publishing online for too long, and it’s too hard to do it well, to create something worthwhile that then “disappears.”
Update: related blog post What’s Waco Texas Known For? The Wrong Things.
Obviously, it helps to have clients that have watched me work for a long time, and were willing to turn me loose and trust me to come up with quality stuff. We both agreed that this would force me to stretch my capabilities, screw up shooting a video and go back to try again, get over my perfectionism, experiment, and keep learning.
Ultimately, we both would benefit, and we did.
Pick one new digital tool that intimidates you. Create one piece of content with it. Poke all the buttons, look at all the stickers and special effects. Try to add music to it, even if you’re like me and not up on current trendy hits – use that music search bar to find a piece that evokes a certain emotion to go with your work.
I promise you, hardly a day goes by that some sort of challenge doesn’t crop up and I find myself muttering, “I wish I knew what the hell I was doing.”
Have you lost that spark of creativity and gotten it back? What worked for you? Let me know in the comments…
(If you like this post, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS feed or by email – the email signup box is on the right sidebar near the Search box. Thanks!)