I didn’t respond to any DMs for a week.
Yep. You read the right.
And honestly, me even writing that now just doesn’t feel right.
6 months ago, I would have thought that this was career suicide.
How could I not respond to DMs? How could I not respond to every single comment?
Your audience is what makes you successful, Cathrin!
Get it together!
Now if you aren’t in the influencer world or you’re not trying to grow your audience online, you may think that statement isn’t a big deal.
But for me, I’ve built my brand on my connection with my audience.
Responding to comments, offering help, and being transparent.
That’s everything to me.
And it still is. I’m not saying that it’s not.
But what I am saying is that I’m in a very different headspace now compared to 6 months ago.
6 months ago, it was easy to respond to every DM and every comment.
I used to pride myself on being able to do that.
Little did I know that there would come a point when I couldn’t anymore.
When it wouldn’t be good for my mental health, and my productivity, to respond to every single message.
So today, I want to share why I didn’t respond to any DMs on Instagram for a whole week.
Now that I write that a second time it almost seems a little silly.
But it really is a big deal for me.
If you’ve been following me since before my blow up, then you watched it all go down.
It felt like overnight I went from 2,000 subscribers to over 50,000 subscribers.
And with the growth of your audience comes the increase in messages and DMs.
Now, like I already said, I used to pride myself on being able to respond to EVERYTHING!
So when I was growing, I made sure to stay true to that.
For the first couple of weeks, it wasn’t bad! I could still get back to everyone the day that they left a message.
But then it got to the point where I just didn’t have enough time in the day to get work done and respond to people!
So I had to get creative with my time to make it happen.
What I came up with was that one day a week, instead of weightlifting or doing my normal workout, I would walk on the treadmill for however long it took to respond to every DM.
Then once that wasn’t enough, I reserved the weekend mornings to get my DM requests down to 0.
Looking at it now, I can clearly see that I was turning my me-time into work time.
But I didn’t realize it at the time. I just thought that I had a standard that I had to upkeep and I needed to do whatever possible to stay true to that.
Here’s the worst part… with those 2 compromises, I’m only talking about DMs on Instagram.
I haven’t even mentioned the comments on YouTube!
Honestly, I would spend HOURS on my couch at night just responding to YouTube comments.
I created a new rule that whenever a video went live I would respond to comments for the first hour.
But that obviously wasn’t all the comments I would receive in a day!
So at the end of EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I would sit on my couch with my iPad and respond to more comments.
Here’s the key thing here…
I’ve always believed that your audience is what’s going to make you successful online.
And just like any business, you need to have great customer service!
So in my mind, that meant showing my audience that I cared with messaging them back.
Simple enough, right?
Or I should say simple enough when you have a relatively small audience.
It got to the point where my DMs were piling up. Instead of receiving one new request a day, I started to receive 20.
I also realized that responding to every comment on YouTube was taking up valuable time that I could spend on creating a new video.
Something that would impact more people and would help to maintain and grow my channel.
And if I’m being completely honest, the pressure had gotten to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore.
I finally had to tell myself that I had to step down from this pedestal that I put myself on when it came to responding to messages.
So I did.
I created another new rule for myself where I would respond to comments for the first 30 minutes that a video went live.
And that was the only time that a comment was guaranteed a response.
BUT. And this is a big but…
There was still some guilt in the back of my mind that pushed me to still take an hour out of each day to respond to more comments.
Then when it came to my DMs, I would try to respond to as many as possible.
But that didn’t mean I had to respond to every single one.
And for me, that was progress.
It just wasn’t enough.
I say “new” but in reality, this is something that I’ve been doing since the start of 2020.
When I used to take an hour to reply to comments each day, I felt like I was only seeing the negative stuff.
I know this wasn’t true! Of course, there were several positive comments.
But I would only focus on the negative ones.
And I knew just after a couple of days that this wasn’t good for me.
NOW! Let me just say that there is a difference between consecutive criticism and just negative comments.
People will go on YouTube and leave mean comments just to be mean.
And then there are people that honestly want to help you improve!
There’s a difference!
It was those comments of people just being mean to be mean that would stick out to me.
And it was those comments that would make me lose sleep at night.
So, what I decided to do to protect my energy and not let those comments get to me was only respond on the days that a video went live!
Now I only respond to comments for the first 30 minutes that a video is uploaded and then I don’t look at my comments at all.
I know, maybe it’s a little extreme!
But this was my way of protecting my energy, mood, and, crazy enough, view of myself.
In reality, this was just a quick fix to a much bigger problem.
So let’s talk about that.
That’s the cold hard truth.
If you follow me on Instagram or even watched my latest YouTube video, then you know that I just got back from the Rise Conference run by Rachel Hollis.
And at the conference, Rachel talked about the opinions of others and who you let affect your day to day life.
Like who you let affect your energy and make or break your day because of their opinion of you.
Well, I realized that I care WAYYYYY too much about what my audience thinks of me.
And up until this point, I’ve worked WAYYYYY too hard to try and be liked.
Gosh. I honestly hate writing that but it’s true!
One thing I’ve been looking for all my life is acceptance.
I want to be accepted and I will do what it takes to be liked by others.
So whether that means toning down my personality or agreeing with something I truly don’t believe in, I tend to do it just so I’m liked.
And this is something I’ve known.
Something I’ve been working on for a very long time.
And I really thought that I had it mastered! That I was comfortable being myself and not worrying about being accepted all the time.
LOL. Jokes on me!
At this conference, I realized that I want to be accepted by people I’ve never even met.
And I care A LOT about the opinions of people on the internet.
Now you may be thinking: of course, you should care what your audience thinks of you.
But here’s the real thing here, guys…
When you have an audience that’s in the thousands.
And you’re carrying the weight of, in my case, 77,000 people on your shoulders, that’s not okay.
It’s not healthy.
Nor is that right.
Now just to be clear, I didn’t take a break from responding to YouTube comments.
I just took a break from replying to my DMs on Instagram.
And here’s why.
When I got back from the conference I knew that I had to set some boundaries between my audience and myself.
I knew that I needed to take a step back, become so freakin confident in who I am as a person and make sure that I love who I am (because really it’s only my opinion that matters, if I hate myself, then I’m doing something terribly wrong).
So I just stopped.
With no explanation.
Now, I really think this would have been a bigger deal if I stopped uploading content or took a break from my brand in general.
To be honest, I have no idea if anyone noticed that I stopped replying!
But for me, this break has been good.
It allowed me to stop seeing what other people thought of me and my content.
I felt like I was in a clearer headspace.
Like that pressure was gone to respond to as many messages as possible.
And it allowed me the freedom to just be.
To create because I loved it. Not because I want to please my audience.
I love you guys.
I truly do.
And I want to make sure that I’m creating the content that’s going to help you along in your journey and really make an impact in your lives.
But I also want to create content because I love it.
That’s why I created my brand in the first place!
I wanted to create a life for myself that I loved doing what I loved.
And over time it got to the point where I stopped creating for me and I started creating just for you.
And that’s on me!
I got myself to that point!
But now I’m trying to work my way out of that.
This isn’t to say that I’m not going to respond to Instagram DMs every again.
That’s not going to happen because I truly love connecting with you guys!
But I now feel that if I need a break, and if I need to take a step back and not respond, I can do it and it won’t break me!
And it won’t hurt my brand. Something I’ve truly been worried about for the longest time.
I had gotten to the point where I was putting the opinion of you guys before my own mental health and that’s not okay.
One of the most important things that I took away from this conference is that I need to get better at not letting other people’s opinions of me affect me.
And Rachel Hollis even said on stage that she doesn’t let the opinions of the people in the cheap seats at her conference affect her and who she is.
That was HUGE for me.
It helped me to realize that I shouldn’t take advice from people who haven’t done what I’ve done. Or aren’t doing what I strive to do.
I can’t take the opinions of trolls on YouTube seriously when all they are trying to do is bring me down because I’m thriving.
I need to be so strong in who I am, what I believe, and what I create that when I see a hate comment, it doesn’t affect me!
And even more than that, when I see a comment of someone sharing love and just being kind, I can’t let that affect me either.
I need to care most about what I think of myself. Because really I’m only stuck with me for the rest of my life.
And then, of course, my family and loved ones.
Honestly, there are so many things that I’ve been afraid to share for so long.
And I hate to say it but I’ve definitely allowed what I share online to be filtered so I didn’t give people a reason to hate me.
Now I realize how truly silly that is.
I want to be a bit more unfiltered, share my honest thoughts, and not be so afraid to just be 100% me.
So if you haven’t watched my most recent video, I talk more about Rise, but also about the influencer world, and where I want to take my brand.
I ended up sharing things I never felt comfortable to share before.
And I’m so dang glad that I did!
Basically this is me saying you can expect some more unfiltered content from me in the future.
But don’t worry, I’m still the same girl!
Just more confidently me 🙂
Cathrin (Cath) creates content that encourages bloggers & online entrepreneurs to be themselves, chase their passion, and create their success online. 1 year after starting her blog (TheContentBug.com), Cath left her full-time position working in the digital marketing industry to pursue her dreams of being her own boss. In weekly YouTube videos, sporadic blog posts, and constant talking on Instagram stories, Cath hopes to spread her story and be an inspiration to others who desperately want to change their lives.