The ups and downs of leaving Social Media as a creative

Updated: Feb 12

In 2020 I decided to give Social Media a break for 3 months. Read about why I did it here

I did it mostly because I felt like Social Media was blocking my creative process and influencing my mental health. It was never enough content that could be consumed and I never felt enough when I was consuming it. Swirling around in a sea of comparison, constant suggestions, product placements, and louder, better, higher.

So I left. I deleted the apps from my phone. Deleted all the major accounts (Twitter, TikTok Facebook) for good and only kept Instagram "asleep" in case I wanted to come back to it.

The best things about leaving:

Mental Health:

One of the biggest and most amazing feelings I had in the first weeks was the feeling of relief and ultimately freedom. I felt somehow like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. But that wasn't all:

  • I read at least one book a week (haven't done that for ages)

  • I felt more connected to the people that were just a phone call away, writing and communicating with them more.

  • My mood improved majorly

  • I had all this time for things that I wanted to do in business and also in my free time

  • My concentration and focus improved. I was able to stay in one project for longer.

Creative Business:

My biggest impact I had as a creative is that I was able to create more freely. My art developed so majorly in that time because I wasn't restricted to what I saw or experienced on Social Media but what I saw and experienced in the real world. I wasn't influenced by other people's style but only by my own.

And of course, I felt free to do whatever I want. I didn't need to conform to a niche. So I tried different things, experimented, and figured out what I liked without the pressure of being and staying in a niche and in a style.

I also experimented with new forms of Marketing too. Building a Maillist and starting a Patreon to connect to the few true fans who still wanted to stay in touch after I left Social Media. Sending out physical cards and getting on the phone or on the mail with people that I felt connected to. Slowly rebuilding the direct connections to people without using a platform in between.

The worst thing about leaving:

Mental Health:

Leaving Social Media felt like leaving an addiction with all its side effects.

In the first few days, I constantly checked my phone. I was simply picking it up scrolling to the place where FB and co should have been until my brain caught up with my movements and realized they are not there anymore. This time was majorly scary because it made me realize how ingrained these rhythms are and how much we don't even realize what we are doing. This mostly happened in the first few days but it took months until it was gone for good. Still occasionally typing into the browser fa..... and realizing I don't have it anymore.

When the first euphoria of leaving wore off I started craving the Apps again. Realizing addictive patterns and behaviors I tried to keep track of them but of course, that wasn't easy

  • I made up reasons why I had to get back to them

  • I craved the little notification bell, and the likes and the follows

  • I was desperately looking for the constant flow of distraction, giving me the freedom to avoid the real world and my real problems.

Worst of all I craved the conversations and connections I had on Social Media. all those people that I was once connected to that I wanted to stay in touch with. Ignoring the ugly truth that maybe 98% of them did not care.

Creative Business:

Before I consciously left Social Media my Insta and FB account was deleted because of a hacker. Read more about it here. I went from 7000 Follower to 0 and started again. In the first few weeks before I left I gained back about 120. 120 people from 7000, so 98% of my following did not realize I was suddenly gone. This is painful to admit but the truth is that social media works this way. Think about all the accounts you follow. How many do you actually check and how many are in the long list of forgotten accounts?

And even fewer of those people converted to my Newsletter or to my Patreon, leaving me with only a few true fans that would generate an income for me.

The ugly truth is that during that time I made almost no Income. Not only was a global pandemic going on (people were definitely busy with something else) and I did it in summer (generally fewer sales) I was also without any possibility to communicate to the outside world and grow this small community.

For me, that meant that my business during this experiment was suffering financially during that time but it was also growing in purpose, meaning, and creative pursuit of my style.

The big takeaway:

Yes, my business was not doing well during that 3 months, but because of it, I developed my style so well that about 6 months after this experiment I found myself saying no to projects because I had no more capacity. I found myself working with clients such as The Guardian and Adobe and I felt more confident than ever before.

My experience leaving social media for a while, even as a creative business owner was the most important decision I could have done and still influences my behavior and my learnings around social media. Although I still struggle sometimes, this time reminds me to come back to my true fans, and leave the glamour and the quick hit behind to focus on the connections that matter in life and in business.

I understand that this is not a possibility for everyone and that's why I share my experience with you here and on Patreon in my weekly podcast.

❤️ Thank you for reading this article. I am honored and I appreciate your time. If you would like to dive deeper into my work I would like to invite you to join my community on Patreon where you get access to behind-the-scenes content in a weekly podcast and regular insights into my work.