The Curse of Creative FOMO

For indie creative businesses, social media is a necessary evil.  It is by and large the most cost effective and targeted marketing tool.  In the past year, I’ve grown my Instagram following significantly without a lot of effort and very little monetary investment, and most of my business comes from the platform.  Most makers I know agree that they need to spend part of every working day managing their social media marketing efforts.

The flip side is that potential creative #FOMO traps lurk everywhere.  I can’t open Facebook without seeing a flood of craft fair vendor calls, complete with cheerful photos of happy makers and beautiful products.  My craft fair organizer friends are awesome at what they do, and so I want to be a part of every single market that rolls through my feed.  I find myself wondering if I can do 2 in one weekend so that I don’t miss out on a single sale or miss seeing my maker pals.  As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really even like selling at craft fairs.  Still, my Fear of Missing Out makes me have to sit on my hands to keep from applying sometimes.

There was a time when I wouldn't miss a market! I missed out on hanging with family in from out of town when I did this one.
There was a time when I wouldn’t miss a market! I missed out on hanging with family in from out of town when I did this one.

So many of my friends are makers, too, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in their success stories and scatter my efforts in a million directions.  Creative business people need to present their business in the best light, and so every single new collaboration, online platform, or piece of equipment seems like something I want as well.  When I see a pal sharing something new, I think, “Yay!  Good for them….wait, should I be (on Amazon Handmade/having a flash sale/buying an industrial sewing machine, too?”

Some days, I can breeze through social media FOMO-free and get back to what matters:  filling orders, getting tasks done, and just living MY life.  Other days, I spiral into a  vortex of creative longing and by evening feel exhausted and confused, wondering if I should just make baby clothes like one friend, invest in my own laser cutter, or move to some far away land and have smiling, local ladies help me construct garments.

This photo booth was a fomo inspired idea that really was fun...the key is to make sure the inspiration is true to YOU.
This photo booth was a facebook-inspired idea that really was fun…the key is to make sure the inspiration is true to YOU.

Before I decided to take a step back and really focus on what mattered, the idea that I might miss an opportunity sucked my time, energy, and money.  Instead of concentrating on what worked for me and my business, I tried as many things as I could.  For me, craft fairs and consignment don’t make me as much money as online sales and consulting.  I like to work at home in my slippers, and I am a horrible hustler.  Still, I kept signing up for markets because I didn’t want to miss out.  As soon as I really committed to running my business in a way that worked for me, I had more time and I made more money.

I see this with my maker pals, too.  There is this idea that the biggest key to increasing income is MORE stuff on our already heaping full plates.  Everyone wants to add more consignors, more markets, more freelance work, and more teaching gigs.

What if we stopped trying every new thing and just concentrated on the things that we know work for us?  We need more niche experts and fewer skilled dabblers.  We should dive confidently into our genius and explore every corner.  A community of creatives each doing what they do best as individuals is so much stronger than one where everyone is pretty good at a lot of stuff.

I watch discussions in the local maker group I help manage, and I see that the need to make more money is universal, but we all cite different stumbling blocks.  There is no cookie cutter maker business plan.  As creative people, we owe it to ourselves to follow the unique path we have designed for our individual businesses and not get seduced into making top knot headbands just because we saw some on Insta with a staggering number of likes.

Fear of missing out not only hurts individual businesses’ income potential, it can also hurt the community at large.  The minute everyone decides that a particular market is the gold standard of craft fairs is the minute that over saturation starts to make that market suffer.  It’s good to have lots of craft fair opportunities in a community so that there are options for everyone.  Likewise, when a screen printer or soaper decides to add a little jewelry to their line because their jeweler friend’s new line is cute and selling well, that already popular niche suffers.

(just watch it again…you know you love it!)

I applaud my friends who can avoid these pitfalls and just keep following their plans.  Your confidence is so inspiring.  I know a lot of makers waver and wonder, and I think this is okay, too.  If you want to stay on your path and stop wandering off every time you see a shiny new post with 500+ likes, the easiest way is to take a step back.

A few tips for reducing creative FOMO:

  1. Don’t start the day with social media and email.  When you do, the needs of others, and not your own plan, dictate your day.  The most productive people don’t scramble to check their email while they’re still in bed, so why should you?
  2. Use scheduling tools to plan your marketing campaigns.  This helps you stick to a strategy and also frees up a ton of time.
  3. On those days you’re feeling a little uncertain, just. don’t. facebook.  Get outside, dig into some materials you’ve really been itching to use, pull out your journal…find your spark within yourself.  Don’t look for it from the outside world.
  4. If you’re a phone addict, use an app like offtime to schedule time away from your phone.  Do the things that matter to you IRL instead of constantly checking your virtual world.
  5. When you see something on social media that makes you want to jump on the bandwagon, stop and really think about your motivation.  Is it an opportunity you know you’d love to try or does it just seem fun from the images?

Look to yourself, not facebook, for inspiration.
Look to yourself, not facebook, for inspiration.

The best part about running a maker business is that the malleable, adaptive creative mind can do anything.  Every single creative business person I’ve ever met is so inspiring.  I know a ton of #badassbosslady types (and lots of really capable dudes, too).  The best part is that each business person I’ve met is unique, with their own success story.  Everyone has thought out of the box in their own personal way, and this is the most important factor in keeping the creative community vibrant and alive.

2 thoughts on “The Curse of Creative FOMO

  1. Holy crap, Meghan!
    This is so good. I feel many of these things SO often and really hate it. I applaud you for taking ownership and DOING something about it. I don’t know you well, but I’ve realized I need people in the maker community that are like minded and that we can encourage each other in the paths we are on.
    Love this post. I hope to get to know ou better and would love to get coffee sometime and hear more about your journey!

    – Jami Clark
    Earthen Vessel

    1. Jami! Thank you so much! This is the best comment. 🙂 I would LOVE to get together and chat anytime!

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