If ever there was a self-care lesson with my name on it, it’s this one about our relationship with freelance content. Maybe you feel the same way too?
I have a terrible habit of soaking in information on the internet until I become overwhelmed. I save lots of posts in bookmarks, I read countless articles. I’m forever poking and prodding around social media. The blue light rays attract my eyes and weld them to the screen. Then comes the sensation of not completing anything.
When you share someone else’s work, the high is ultimately fleeting. Creating though? That’s a big arse buzz.
I am slowly retraining myself to create more freelance content than I consume. And it helps.
It’s a simple act but an effective one.
When I first started freelancing in 2010, people were creating freelance content and how to information all the time. We were all blogging a lot to improve our SEO, tell our stories and position ourselves as authorities. It worked.
The same was true of artists, designers, musicians and more. Everyone was creating on social media. There was a real vibe of artistry. Twitter was alive with actual conversations. Instagram was a place you could find all things visual as a discovery tool.
It was so much fun watching fledgling creatives gain heaps of fans and followers. Challenging ourselves to make more and better works was all part of the process.
Why did the relationship with content change?
The doubts about whether it actually worked came. Some of us ran out of new ways to spin the old tales. We felt like all the words had dried up or moved on.
It becomes hard to stay on top of your freelance content production endeavours after a decade. I mean, how many times can you say the same tips over and over again?
It became increasingly harder to find the time to do our own creations as the client’s work took precedence. Blogs gathered dust, social sat idol and things changed.
The pressure also crept in. Articles about whether any of it mattered started appearing. People felt tapped for ideas. The marketing movement and the guys who wanted to profit off the creative scene started telling everyone how to do it. Coaching your creativity into commercial viability became rigid, complex and uniform.
It sucked the fun out of it.
During this time, we wrote ourselves the excuses to step away from our creativity and marketing. Many of us stabilised our businesses and no longer needed it.
There’s another influence at play here
I think there was an unexpected side effect to this change in how we did things. I think we invited comparison by looking too much at what was already there and not enough at what we also had the ingredients to build. It became customary for some self-appointed leaders to comment on the validity of other people’s freelance content. It became an unofficial opportunity to laud it over others. it also became a source of stress as fellow freelancers turned from support to pulling feathers.
That is difficult to reconcile.
Freelancers have entrepreneurial spirits. We thrive when there is a balance between the challenge given to us by the client brief and the freedom to investigate ideas and techniques is freely available. We dry up when it’s all work and no play for the most part. We lose that sparky get up and go when even peers are waiting to feed the doubts.
That’s why we need to look at our marketing on OUR terms, not the terms of others. And we need to create OUTSIDE marketing. The business benefits from that free play in other ways.
Here are a few tips on how to keep creating freelance content on your terms:
· Here are some sneaky tips to create more blog posts
· How to stop listening to the naysayers
· Make it accessible. Have waterproof pen and paper in the shower, journals in your handbag, pens beside the bed, prompt cards at the ready- whatever works
· Treat it like fitness training. Book a time, do the work
· Run out ideas? Try these writing exercises
· Remove publishing expectations. The better work comes from exploring ideas, sharing your thoughts, helping people out- without pressure
· How to get an off-course blog on course again
· Be accountable. A mastermind, creativity challenge, specific group etc can all do wonders
· Treat creating like play time to re-energise your soul
· Do a bit of planning. Nut out blogs, projects, posts, creative explorations, drawing sessions etc as they strike you in preparation for when you have the time but no set idea
And when you find yourself consuming everyone else’s freelance content on the blogs or social media, stop. Limit your exposure to everyone else’s work and put the focus back on yours. Star creating again. Add your voice. Anyway you know how.