Originally this article was meant to start with a lovely description of what mind-expanding ultra-relaxing offline moment shaped me most during the past two months. You know, something like „I walked through the forest quietly in the morning without my smart phone and found my inner Zen amongst birds and Mother Nature.“ No, that didn’t happen. Jesus, I didn’t even make it to the forest. I did go to the beach a few weeks back… after spending six hours working on my laptop prior to it. That’s not what a summer break from your blog should feel like, right? But, well, let’s start from the beginning.
In late June I decided to step out of the daily rat race called NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION – the online music magazine I’ve been running with the help of many other talented writers for a few years now. I announced a summer hiatus for multiple reasons (which I explained right here) and I thought it would be a smooth ride, except it wasn’t. I started working on another project simultaneously, which took way more of my time than I thought. But I enjoyed it. I extended my professional horizon, learned new things and, well, earned way more money than I ever have with my own project in that time. So, all is good, except there wasn’t nearly as much time off as I had romanticised. Still, it’s a good thing in the end, isn’t it? After four years of almost non-stop working on NBHAP I took the first really long break from it. No daily updates, no big features. I ignored record releases, interview requests, exclusive offers and even most of the festival season. It’s a healthy but unusual decision, especially the fact that I took the time to announce it. Most blogs would just scale down the content without mentioning it. There’s way too many blogs around who are still running their social media channels without actually providing anything useful, just barely keeping up-to-date.
Burnout prevention meets economic necessity
After on-going provision of content and not being able to slow things down, I found myself at a dead end. Efficient profit was trending towards zero and a potential burnout was knocking at my door. For the first time ever I didn’t see any necessity to continue NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION. But on the other hand, for the first time I wasn’t afraid to let go, at least for a bit. And although I didn’t have that much time off in the past months, I don’t regret taking a little break from the daily routine and its regulations. You get caught up in an unnecessary urgency to constantly provide content. I kept NBHAP running for quite a long time in that spirit. I thought the more I gave, the more it would pay off in the end, right? Well, surprise: It didn’t. And that itself is only one conclusion. The other one is that it doesn’t really matter whether you constantly post something to remain relevant. You can also achieve that in other ways. For example: long-term plans that are more based on quality than on clickbait. It’s okay to step away for a moment. This is a realization that I personally needed to make, maybe also to understand that I can do many other things as well. The readers won’t forget you and neither will the industry, even in such a constantly changing environment as the music industry.
It’s okay to go away
When you run a project for a certain amount of time you tend to fall into familiar patterns; you stop questioning your moves and strategies, which might result in an ignorance of a changing environment. A music blog doesn’t work the way it did four or five years ago and everyone senses that. The industry is changing fast, so there’s no need to cling to old habits. Strategies that work today won’t work tomorrow, and you know what? It’s absolutely okay that way. Once I freed myself from the pressure of making a financially stable media outlet out of NBHAP, I started to get hungry again for taking the idea further. Life itself is a complex and weird thing and sometimes you have to set priorities right to keep your sanity. Music should be fun, and reporting about it should be a passionate matter and a natural thrill. It could also be risky; writing countless soulless advertorial articles about artists you barely like can be as frustrating as fulfilling pointless duties because you owe some PR agent some old favour. No, there are other things in life that matter more, I am pretty sure.
So, yes, economic dependency forced me to carry on even when NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION was offline.But, well… isn’t that the way things go these days? There will always be ‘that other job’, and it might force me to step away from blogging again in a few months. Still, I recommend each digital native and content creator to step away from his or her project whenever they can. Gain an outsider perspective, a certain distance, and question whether what you are doing makes sense.
Header: Figures on the Beach via Shutterstock