I came off a six-month hiatus between October and April and returned with a strong sense of relief. My biggest fear before I left, did not come true – my numbers remained largely the same between my leaving and returning.
I have a small idea of how I was able to sustain that. However, I would be an absolute hack if I claimed I had control over the biggest factor—I have an incredibly supporting, kind, and thoughtful community of caring people who chose to return when I did. And while yes, I may have worked hard to make sure our space feels safe and welcoming and one they want to return to (with the help of my moderators) – they have absolute free will to do as they please. Which means, at the end of the day, returning was their choice, not mine.
Community is also tied to the concern I hear most frequently from other creators: “I am so close to partner! I know if I take a break now, I will lose momentum,” or “How can I take a day off? What if they find another streamer to watch instead of me?”
I always say the same few lines back.
You cannot control what other people chose to do with their time, let go of the idea that you should be able to.
It is healthy to know that you cannot control other people in general. Yes, we can absolutely study and learn about the needs of our audience and their preferences with graphs and average data, but even the keenest marketer can tell you human behavior is still largely unpredictable. Not to mention how many different factors there are in people’s lives that can prevent them from being able to devote time to your stream.
If you have cultivated a community that sees you as a content machine instead of a person, evaluate if that lines up with your priorities.
I know I am happiest when I am supported by my community as much as I support them. Part of that is having them encourage me to take care of myself and enjoy things outside of content creation. Truly, there is no judgement if that is not what you want, but before you commit to a “content first” lifestyle, take a long hard look at the kind of hours you want to maintain and the content you want to produce. Be honest with yourself about the day-to-day kind of life you want to live, just as much as you are honest with yourself about your goals as a content creator.
You know what your limits are, no one else.
Streaming often feels like a heteronormative, male-dominated, neurotypical environment. Are you measuring yourself against other folks when you know those demographics don’t reflect you?
If you are absolutely burning out, there is very little you can do outside of taking time for yourself to continue to have passion for your work and be entertaining.
I prefer to watch joyful, refreshed folks who are passionate for their work. I feel that sort of energy leaps off the screen, and it makes me happy for the streamer I’m watching.
When I took off the six months, it was truly because I could not stream a day longer. I was exhausted by my nine-to-five job and was looking to change things there too. I was burnt out in every corner of my life.
How I Retained Viewers During Burnout
I prepared the community by announcing it to them about a month in advance. I started making my own preparations about two months prior to that, after I had stopped feeling passionate and was primarily still going because I felt like I would let my community down if I stopped.
Once I was ready to commit to a bit of a self-care break, it helped me to plan for things I knew I could safely control.
- Kept my community aware of what was going on with my life (as much as I was comfortable with disclosing) and how I was feeling about streaming as time went on.
- Kept my Discord active by checking in consistently and hosting game nights (although not as often as I liked). I also had amazing community members who held their own get togethers without me in the space.
- Maintained a presence on other platforms where I knew my viewers were, like Twitter and LinkedIn (yep, LinkedIn).
I was in therapy and interviewing many a clinician who would speak about burn out. I knew to look out for the signs. Yet, I still had a hard time admitting to myself it was truly burn out I was feeling. I would usually just take a week off and then get back to it. This time, however, was extremely different. The idea of coming back after a mere week seemed like torture. I am glad I took off when I did and I am very happy having returned with new resolve, new boundaries, and able to share my experience.
We would love to hear from you in the comments below! Have you ever been burnt out? What were the factors that brought you there and what prevented you from taking care of yourself the most?