If we’re friends on Instagram, then you’re already aware of the fact that I wound up taking all of Q3 off.
It was a decision I thought long and hard about. I had a lot of moments where I wondered if it was a good idea, whether or not it would tank my business, or make things soar. I genuinely had no idea what would happen, but I knew it was something I needed to try.
You see, the first half of 2019 was pretty rough for me.
I struggled a lot with wondering what the heck I was even doing when it came to this business. I seriously considered shutting things down more than once and basically felt like I was in the middle of an existential crisis when it came to my work for, well, quite a while.
Those complex feelings weren’t all tied to Instagram, but a lot of them were.
Truth be told, I was exhausted by the internet. I was exhausted from feeling like I needed to show up all the time and if I didn’t, my business would fail. I was exhausted by comparison and wondering why certain business owners were seeing way more success than me even though I was putting in all the hard work.
I needed to take a step back and figure out what business looked like without social media. Was it still something that I loved and wanted to do? Was it still life-giving or had it become draining in all aspects?
So I decided to do something many might deem a little drastic — I decided to take all of Q3 off of Instagram.
On July 5, when Love & Spreadsheets turned two, I popped the figurative bubbly in the morning, and in the evening, when I signed out of the office for the weekend, I also signed out of Instagram for the entire rest of the quarter.
When October rolled around and a new quarter came with it, my Instagram hiatus officially ended and I rejoined the world of social media. With the shift back, I wanted to share a few of the lessons I learned over the last three months.
It became obvious rather quickly after I stepped away from Instagram — social media stresses me out.
Specifically, social media that is anything other than just a fun way for me to share about things when I feel like sharing about things.
If I’m able to post what I feel like posting when I feel like posting it because I feel like posting it, then I am totally fine with social media. But when there’s this pressure of having to post the right things at the right times in order to get the right results… oh man, I become frazzled fast.
It was admittedly a little weird at first, but within a few days of stepping away from Instagram, I felt calmer. I didn’t feel nearly as stressed. I could come to my desk and plug away at my work for the day and be done with it.
I was still posting on the blog. I was still sending emails out to my list. I was still going to events and connecting with other creatives, both in person and online. I was still working with wonderful clients. I was still doing all the things I’d already been doing to help my business grow, but without any kind of external pressure (real or perceived) to show up in a certain way at a certain time about a certain thing.
And I was doing all of those things without feeling like I was supposed to be doing something else.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned is that the world does not stop turning if I log out of my Instagram account.
Life continued during my three month hiatus. In fact, life didn’t just continue, it was exceptionally full in the best kind of ways.
I got engaged literally the day after my hiatus began, which brought its own slew of exciting moments and events. I went to three weddings with my fiancé and did a whole lot of planning for our own wedding. (We’re still 4 ½ months out and nearly done with everything but some details and finalization of things!) I worked with a team of other writers to write the script for next year’s Easter production at my church. I completed a sprint triathlon! I went to the lake and kicked off all the things for fall and generally just lived a whole lot.
On the business side of things, I wrote lots of content. I moved my email marketing over to Flodesk (more on that sometime in the future, I’m sure). I booked out nearly all of my remaining project slots for the rest of the year and got to work with some amazing clients as a result. I brainstormed ideas and asked myself what I really love to do and mapped out some potential projects for 2020 that allow me to do more of that.
The world didn’t just keep turning when I stepped away from Instagram, it’s almost like it ramped up!
So many good things happened during my time away, which tangibly reminded me that while Instagram and social media in general can be helpful tools, life and business still go on in absolutely wonderful ways without it.
Even while I was learning all these things about the good of stepping away, I also did come around to the fact that Instagram does have its place.
For me, that place is not a major part of my marketing strategy. Instagram is a connection point for me. It’s a place I’m able to connect with other creatives in small ways. It allows me to not just know what’s going on in their business, but also get little sneak peeks into what’s going on their lives (if they decide to share).
Instagram is also a wonderful place to brainstorm and ask others for their feedback and ideas, which means it’s a fantastic place for me to learn more about the things that will be helpful for my clients and customers in the future.
When I mentioned to my fiancé that I hadn’t missed Instagram all that much, he said to just stay off of it. While it’s true that I hadn’t missed Instagram all that much, I had missed it a little. Mostly because I had missed the opportunity it gave me to cheer on my other business friends and keep up, in some small way, with the exciting things happening in their life and business.
I’m still sorting out all of what things will look like for Love & Spreadsheets in the future, but I’m fairly certain that Instagram will never be a major part of my marketing strategy like… ever. Or at least not for the foreseeable future.
I’ll still be posting on the feed and in stories and probably even planning some things out in advance, but for the most part, I’ll be posting what I want when I want. That’s it.
And the rest of my marketing? Well, I’ll keep leaning into the things I’ve been doing over the last few months that have given me the ability to connect with clients and collaborators and still be present in my life, without feel like I’m missing from either.
What about you? Have you ever taken a major break from something like Instagram? I’d love to hear about it!