Wednesday, January 27, 2010

internet addiction and burnout in crafty blogland

It’s official, our condo goes up for sale sometime late next week and I am now in the midst of packing up my library and household culture in order to make our condo more “zen” like for sale. Oh, and did I mention that my brother arrives on Tues? Yeah.. things chez moi are a wee bit hectic. And yet in the midst of it all… there’s still blogging to be done!

But that’s not what I really want to write about.

I’ve been thinking about lately is web burnout. Everything on the web seems to cycle and there seems to be a flow of synchronicity that is sometimes a bit too perfect to be a coincidence. (This is where I reveal just how many blogs/sites I read… it’s not pretty my friends, it’s not pretty). From Crafypod, there’s the podcast on downsizing on Etsy (which only recently game to my attention), to Superhero Journal where she announces that she’s taking a much needed break, to Boho Photography where she talks about how much time she spends plugged in and the need to fill the void now that she temporarily has no internet at home, to Gwen Bell reducing the amount of time she spends on her email.

Anyways, what I’m wondering is: Is the universe trying to send me a sign? Because right now, there’s a lot of web traffic in my world that is reminded me how addictive the internet can be. I know that when I was dealing with trying to promote my etsy shop, I was feeling overwhelmed by the need to be present online. I was trying to juggle marketing a “brand” before I even really had a brand to market. And all the web work was drawing me away from actually sitting down and focusing on the product/crafts.
Obviously there is an ideal out there about being able to craft from home and sell online and create a lucrative business, but the reality of it is far different than the dream. And some of what is written about this ideal is quite thought provoking, for example:

I think for many women the site [etsy] holds out the hope of successfully combining meaningful work with motherhood in a way that more high-powered careers in the law, business, or sciences seldom allow. In other words, what Etsy is really peddling isn’t only handicrafts, but also the feminist promise that you can have a family and create hip arts and crafts from home during flexible, reasonable hours while still having a respectable, fulfilling, and remunerative career. The problem is that on Etsy, as in much of life, the promise is a fantasy. (source)

However, the amount of effort it takes to create an online presence for your goods can be quite substantial and even daunting. It isn’t enough to stick to a “build it and they will come” motto. Because with thousands doing the same thing and the web’s 2 click culture (apparently the ideal amount of clicks users will travel for info before becoming frustrated with a site), it isn’t enough to just build something without working to promote it.

And in that building/promotion, there is a trap. Because as you start to work on creating your own web presence, you need to start paying attention to others, networking, forging links, getting out there by being present on other sites. And then bam… you’re addicted and reading far too many sites for your own good. What started out as a simple way to sell some of the crafts/arts you love suddenly turns into a job with undefined hours, blurred boundaries between private and personal, and a feel of co-dependency with the web, all of which eventually lead to burnout.

The solution? My guess is learning to step back and create boundaries. Define your hours, set limits, get out of the house, remember the people in your actual life (even if you know lovely people on the web).


If you’re like me, take all these posts to heart and remember to strive for balance before heading out for the next round of online sales. Remember to take the sales off the web and find craft fairs (my current project).
Yup, that’s all I’ve got by way of answers. And they all boil down to the very simple notion of Balance.

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