I know I hit the ground running here with my Dragon Con coverage, but I wanted to mention some of the things I learned/discovered while I was away from Epbot and most of the internet for those two months. So here goes!
As a reader:
- Internet Outrage is Exhausting, so Choose Your Clicks Wisely
There have been plenty of articles on this already, so suffice to say that it's easy to get "outrage fatigue" online. We can only be angry for so long; at some point you have to choose NOT to click that latest article on why people are awful and who you should hate today. Even when the cause is just, your well-being and sanity have to come first. Plus - and this is key - it's ok to be happy. I promise.
- Be The Anti-Troll
If even 10% of readers left positive feedback on every post they read, we could drown out the trolls with an avalanche of encouragement - and how cool would that be? It doesn't take much; just click that "like" every time, or fire off a quick compliment in the comments. I've learned the value of a kind word over and over these past five years, so I'm trying to be a little less of a lurker and spread a little more love on sites I follow - particularly the smaller ones that get very few FB likes or interaction. Even if I didn't think that particular post was particularly brilliant, I default to a state of praise, and I've found I'm that much cheerier for it. (And as a bonus, I get more of a relationship with artists & bloggers I admire as a result!)
As a blogger:
- Comment moderation isn't worth it
99% of my comments here on Epbot are positive, but living in fear of that 1% can take its toll. I never realized how much I dreaded moderating comments until I didn't have to, and with moderation off, I don't have to battle any guilt over letting unmoderated comments pile up in the queue.
That's not to say I won't read and respond to comments, of course, because those interactions are a key part of what I cherish about this community - but the fact that I don't *have* to is a lifted weight.
- I need to accomplish physical, tangible goals to be happy.
I've had the itch to create ever since I was old enough to glue googly eyes on a pom-pom ball, and that need to Make is as integral to me as my need to write. When I stopped crafting and making things with my hands in order to crank out more writing online, everything went out of whack. I lost focus. I lost my drive. The work was paying off, because Epbot was the most successful it had ever been when I hit that wall, but I reached a point where I couldn't remember what I was working so hard for anymore.
During my Sabbatical John and I did both a major home remodel (which you'll see soon) and our costume projects, so every morning I got up with a physical goal in mind. THAT was what got me out of bed. Once I accomplished something tangible - from painting a room to carving a leather bracer - it was so much easier to sit at the laptop and dive back into my virtual head space.
- Write What You Love, Not What You Think Other People Will Love
This is my top guideline for anyone who asks for blogging advice, so it's particularly embarrassing that I started to lose sight of it. Don't get me wrong; I've loved just about everything I've ever posted here, but I was neglecting the kind of posts I really cherish in order to write more.
I made it my goal to post five days a week here on Epbot, in addition to the six posts a week I'm already committed to on CW - and I even managed it for the entire month of June! - but to do so I had to skip things like craft tutorials and funny life anecdotes and whatnot, because I just didn't have time. I also burned myself out without realizing it; I sailed through June happy as a clam... and then promptly imploded the first week of July.
I started Epbot to celebrate the things I love and to connect with people who love those same things. My goal was never to amass a huge following like on CW, or to make gads of money, or even to make a name for myself. And funnily enough, I think most of you prefer my original content posts, too, so really it's a win-win if I just slow down and focus on my best joys.
- E-mail is a Perpetual Time Suck of Doom
I routinely take half an hour to answer a single fan e-mail, both because I am a painfully slow writer, and because I obsess over accidentally saying the wrong thing. Longer e-mails can take me 2 hours, easy. Tweets can be equally torturous, as I write and re-write (and re-write!) the same pithy sentiment over and over until I just delete it because who really cares what my cat's doing, anyway?
E-mail is the worst, though, because it's a continuous cycle of guilt and procrastination. I've managed to outsource the vast majority of CW e-mail to John and my helper Julianne, but Epbot is too personal. I can't outsource it - and what's more, I don't want to. I actually really love all your e-mails; it's just the expectation of a reply that wears me down.
My solution so far has been making it clear on my contact page that I probably won't be able to reply, and also asking everyone to direct simple questions or links to either my Facebook or Twitter, which are much easier for me to check and therefore get the most attention. It's still not perfect, and someday I may have to remove my e-mail address from the contact page all together, but for now, this helps.
I've also determined to devote less effort overall into e-mail, since it robs me of post-writing mojo big time. I need that creative juice for posts, and overall I think most of you readers would prefer more posts to more e-mail replies. (At least I hope so!)
So there you have it - the stuff I learned while I was away. Well, that and it's impossible to get 3 stars on level 65 of Candy Crush without spending any money. IMPOSSIBLE, I SAY. But I guess I'll keep trying.
What about you guys? Any tips for avoiding internet burn-out in general, or blog-managing in particular? After five years I obviously still don't have this down, so drop some wisdom on me, peeps!