As a creative entrepreneur, wearing many hats is part of the game. You’re the boss, the accountant, the web developer, the producer, and so much more so it can be difficult to imagine how your business can keep running with you off on vacation. The guilt and the worry may prevent you from stepping away, but we’ve got news for you: You deserve a break. But what about engaging new and current patrons? What about new content? What about missed leads? Breathe. While these things are important, your mental health should be a priority. Avoiding burnout and taking a break will get your creative juices flowing and lower your stress.
Studies show that time-off will boost your productivity and leave you happier on your day-to-day. Burnout looks different on everyone and it’s often subtle enough that you might not notice it on your everyday behavior.
But how do you prepare for that time off? There’s a way to take off those hats and give your brain a break. Here’s how three Patreon creators did it.
Patreon creator Angela Anderson has built a 2,000+ patron community around her detailed acrylic painting tutorials. This past year, she took a week off during Christmas and let her patrons know in advance.
“My patrons were very supportive,” says Anderson. “Anytime I do take a break, I make sure my Patreon obligations are met. I haven’t tried taking a break from everything for more than a week because my YouTube stats would start to suffer.”
Planning ahead, with the help of a publishing calendar, can help you build up the necessary content to meet your tier goals. If you’re only gone for a few days, reach out to your patrons a month or more in advance to give them a heads up on expectations. Engage with them and ask what they’re doing for the summer or if they’re going on any trips too. It’s a fun way to interact with them and continue nurturing your connection.
“I make sure they know of the change in schedule well ahead of time so they can cancel before the change starts if desired,” says Anderson. “Informing patrons of any changes cuts way down on confusion and complaints.”
Sometimes all you need is one day to turn off your brain and relax. Most 9-5 jobs get a two-day weekend to decompress before another week of hustle. Why can’t you? Downtime resets the brain’s stores of attention and motivation and encourages productivity and creativity, according to Scientific American.
Patreon creator Nekomata prefers to avoid extended hiatuses since taking time off means fewer rewards for her patrons. As a webcomic creator, she shares the progress behind her comic, “Pokemon: Rising Shadows.” While she takes time off in between chapters, she continues to share snippets of the past chapter while she plans out the next one.
“Some hiatuses are planned: At the end of every chapter I take a 4-8 week break (sometimes shorter, sometimes longer — depends on life) to stop and plan the next chapter out with scripts and layouts,” says Nekomata.
“During this time, I share the previous chapter’s script, layouts, etc. along with other goodies to help bridge the time but… I still feel bad about taking the time off.”
Even 24 hours where you step away from the computer and go outside (or take a nap!) will do you some good. At the start of summer, Anderson saw an opportunity to give herself a break. She decided to take one day off each week from her regular video schedule.
“My reward tiers are tied to my videos plus one bonus video a month and traceables and reference photos for the paintings I teach,” she says. “I am still doing one video each week and they have access to my full library of previous videos too.”
Nekomata shares that in her experience, patrons genuinely care about the creator’s wellbeing and will support your planned hiatus or one day off if you let them know. “I think most patrons, or at least in my experience, pledge less for the rewards and more because they genuinely care about the creator and their wellbeing and pledge to show support. The rewards are just a bonus,” she says.
Shift your publishing calendar to create content in other days and automate admin tasks so you don’t have to be on the computer on your day off. There are several apps that will help keep things under control while you’re gone. Patreon has a lot of integrations available that can help you automate and streamline your workload.
Also, don’t forget about looking into hiring a personal assistant if your income allows. Having someone working behind the scenes and taking care of daily admin tasks like your inbox or payment issues can help you breathe a little easier.
Life happens! When Patreon creator Asmodeusinjured his drawing arm two years ago, he was forced into a month-long hiatus. Not a great occurrence as his Patreon page is dedicated to drawing adult comics with behind the scenes into his comic panels.
He reached out to his community to let them know what happened and he was showered with great support from his patrons. “My patrons were more than understanding about it,” he says. “They’d rather I heal than keep aggravating it just to provide content.”
After his forced hiatus, he realized that taking a much-needed break can be done. He will be taking a break from updating his comic the month of July to prepare for the next chapter. “I intend on keeping my Patreon content updating as normal. Patrons are usually here to support you as an artist and they’re totally fine with artists taking a few weeks off to recuperate,” he says.
When it’s time for a break, you can edit your tiers and explain to your patrons why you’re changing things. Making it personal helps patrons understand your situation and that they have the choice to support you through this. This may also give you a chance to re-engage and attract new supporters through new tiers.
In the end, don’t underestimate the connections you’ve made with your community. They’re often there to support you and when asked, they may give you space for the break you want and need.
“On the whole, I have found that my patrons are all for giving me a rest from time to time,” says Anderson. “As long as you are keeping them happy with new content and not abusing their generosity, I think they are happy to support you even on vacation.”
Nekomata agrees, “When I need to take a break, they don’t ever complain or threaten to drop pledges. They usually say ‘Get some rest!’ or ‘Take care of yourself first! We can wait!’ and it’s always so heartwarming. It makes me feel that much more guilty over being on hiatus.”