Slow Stories—Literally, Slow Down: How Taking a Content Break Can Lead to Successful Storytelling

Photo:  Courtesy of Slow Stories

Photo: Courtesy of Slow Stories

Ahead of the season three launch of the Slow Stories podcast, I'm thrilled to return to our namesake column after a summer-long hiatus. When I wrote the most recent article in July, I was on the tail end of a period where I had essentially been operating on autopilot. Naturally, this ran counter to the idea of slow content and the themes that we explored last season on the podcast.

While my work certainly didn't stop this season, taking a brief pause from this particular initiative allowed me to recalibrate how I am able to fully implement a slower and more thoughtful approach to content across my personal and professional channels. As things kick into high gear for the upcoming fall/holiday content craze, I'm sharing a few things to think about if you're planning to rethink your content strategy during a high energy time.

Create Context

The most direct way to set the tone for a slowdown in content is to establish context as to why your audience can expect changes. This can range from a formal announcement outlining concrete details and timing of a content hiatus, or if you're unsure as to how long you need to recalibrate, subtle changes in your content calendar over an extended period. If you're a personality or individual content creator, I also encourage revisiting my April article, which also touches on the importance of boundaries. At the end of the day, whether you're a personal brand or business, it is at your discretion to decide how much you share online about the choices you're making within your company.

Adjust Your Posting Cadence

If you don't want to shock your followers with an unexpected silence, ease them to the changes by establishing a routine that is more in-line with your current content calendar. For instance, if you're in the middle of a visual rebrand and don't know how to incorporate this transition in your content, include elements that are reflective of your upcoming relaunch (i.e., inspiration imagery that contains colors from your brand color palette, behind-the-scenes creative imagery, etc.).

Or if it's a matter of the kind of content you want to step away from for a while, think about alternative ways to stay engaged with your audience. For example, if you are looking to step away from more highly-produced content, you don't have to stop publishing entirely. Instead, you can focus on "off the cusp" content geared towards mediums like Instagram Stories or Snapchat versus content that traditionally requires more planning on a blog, website, or Instagram feed.

Consider What a "Storytelling Sabbatical" Might Look Like

Regardless if you're in a marketing or content-focused role, creating content can be a full-time job in our current business landscape. Many modern companies have introduced sabbatical programs for tenured employees to take time off away from work and come back feeling recharged. The same thought-process is worth exploring in roles that require "always-on" responsibilities. While it would be challenging to step away from digital storytelling completely, if you are in a leadership position, consider implementing breakpoints that allow your team to immerse themselves in their field outside of the office.

Perhaps there is an opportunity to facilitate an offsite retreat or outing. For individual team members who may need to recharge, consider covering charges for a co-working space or an industry conference (like Create & Cultivate!) that will enable them to still add value to the company while also providing space for personal growth. The most compelling content and stories derive from innovative thinking. Sometimes all it takes is stepping back for a moment to inspire a considerable leap forward in the long run.

With the above points in mind, if you can take a content hiatus (either personal or professional) here are a few ways to maximize your time:

Regroup with Your Team or Collaborators

Whether you're in a corporate team or a solopreneur, storytelling is a collaborative effort. Use the time away from your devices to encourage face time to brainstorm and reconnect with those you work with closely.

Relaunch and Revise

When it comes to creating content with longevity, timing is crucial, so take the added time off to experiment and refine your content strategy, branding, or medium.

Redefine Your Definition of "Content"

Finally, think about how content exists in a modern landscape. Can events or experiences be content? Does content take shape in the form of a book or printed entity? Posing these questions will inspire new ways of thinking about how to disseminate your brand's story so that it keeps people on their toes while still connecting with in-the-know consumers.

These are just a few thought-starters to think about as you plan an upcoming content break and how to make the most of that precious time away from your screen. And if you need some inspiration during that time away, I encourage you to listen to the slow stories contributed by creative professionals in CONNECT(ED)ITORIAL's community.

I'll be back with my next article in October, but until then, check out these highlights from our season two podcast contributors:

Episode: Brandy Pham of PLANOLY on Creating Content with Purpose and Empathy

Opened by fashion illustrator Jeanette Getrost. Jeanette shares why The Florence Academy of Art Instagram page inspires her.

Episode: Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge on Using Slow Content to Create Honest and Lasting Connections

Opened by digital strategist and Written Coffee founder Ellie Eckert. Ellie shares why the book Applied Empathy resonated with her.

Episode: Larissa May of #HALFTHESTORY on Using Social Media to Create Sustainable Relationships Both Online and Offline

Opened by jewelry designer Grace Wong. Grace shares how Company of One speaks to what she's trying to do as a solo, small business owner.

Episode: Kathryn Duryea of Year & Day on Fostering Vision, Values, and Enduring Stories

Opened by Michelle Toney, co-founder of Morrow Soft Goods. Michelle shares a couple of books that have inspired her to slow down and lean into her imagination.

Episode: Carolyn Witte of Tia on How Content Can Shape How We Think About Modern Healthcare

Opened by Matisse Bustos-Hawkes, founder of Otro Lado Communications. Matisse shares why a podcast snippet featuring Sabrina Hersi Issa inspired her.

Episode: Alisha Ramos of Girls' Night In on Storytelling That Inspires Self-Care

Opened by Erin Allweiss, co-founder of No. 29. Erin reflects on two notable talks that resonated with her at the TED Conference.

Episode: Michael Ventura of Sub Rosa on Applying Empathy in Business and Storytelling

Opened by Veronica Souza of Vero Branding. Veronica shares why rediscovering a manifesto from her favorite cookbook reinvigorated her to slow down.

Episode: Tanya Taylor on Slow Content, Sustainable Style, and Standing up for Women Everywhere

Opened by Avery Cox, an interior designer. Avery shares why a compelling photography series by Anna Boyiazis inspired her.

To learn more about what slow content means and what it can mean to you, check out my first column here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Schwartzmann is the Founder and CEO of The Style Line LLC. She created The Style Line in late January 2011 via Tumblr and has fostered The Style Line’s brand in its growth since then. Rachel has been featured in esteemed sources including Forbes, Refinery29, and MyDomaine and has also spoken at Create & Cultivate and Columbia University on establishing a unique brand point of view and entrepreneurship. On October 1, 2015, Rachel took The Style Line in a new direction as a boutique content company with the introduction of its slow content agency CONNECT(ED)ITORIAL.

You can follow Rachel at:

The Style Line: @thestyleline (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter)
CONNECT(ED)ITORIAL: @connecteditorial (Instagram)
Rachel Schwartzmann: @rachelschwartzmann (Instagram) @RMSchwartzmann (Twitter)