And I don’t mean ‘to bed’ in the traditional newspaper sense of the word.
Fairly recently, I made the decision to retire a weekly publication that my business has been sending for the past almost-six years. It hasn’t gone away yet, but it will cease delivery within eight weeks.
Deciding to stop publishing is a much bigger decision than deciding to begin.
This applies to everything that you do. It applies to your blog, if you’re blogger. It applies to an email newsletter, if you’re an email direct marketer. It applies to your activity on social media.
There are a number of reasons why you will resist cessation. These are:
- You have an audience. Even if it is a very small audience (under 30 members), a percentage of those people will be rabid readers. They will be fans. They’ve followed you because they really believe in what you’re doing, or you give them value, or you inspire them, or whatever the case may be. Which means…
- You don’t want to let your audience down. But this is also, partly, the default effect. Faced between continuing to publish and ceasing to publish, if you are already publishing then you will tend to favour the default (which is to keep publishing).
- The outcome is ambiguous: You started, and that was unfamiliar; but what will happen when you stop?
- You’ve invested loads of personal time, effort, and (probably) self into the work. Ceasing publication may cause you to experience grief, because it feels like it’s a part of you.
- It may be one of the ways that you started leading your field. If you were to cease publishing this thing, wouldn’t that mean that you’d lose your fans, stop being followed, stop being viewed as a leading light of consistency?
However, a number of the reasons why you’ll avoid the question are rooted in your imagination. The others are external factors that you can’t control.
In my case, the publication that is going to replace the weekly email will be in a completely different format, with different (more valuable) information.
And it won’t be free.
There are a lot of reasons why I’ve decided to do it. Chief among them is that everyone else is now doing it. Secondarily is because I don’t find any personal value in it any more.
Importantly, the change will form a critical point in my own career as an entrepreneur, as I start gently turning the boat to face a set of new, parallel goals.
After taking my writing and publishing work seriously – by which I mean, writing a business plan for it – I realised that to achieve my desired goal, I need to shift the business model in some fundamental ways.
Therefore, even though my weekly email has been amazing for building brand, and fundamental in gaining fans, it’s no longer serving those goals or my direction.
As that realisation hit me, I knew that I needed to plan for what it meant. The planning resulted in a new publication with a totally different shape, as opposed to a totally different activity (which it may also have yielded). Now I know that the new shape will form a stepping stone towards my new, aligned, goals – and that it will do so in multiple ways.
This goes beyond deciding whether to publish based on a purely personal interest. Of course, you need to have a personal interest – otherwise you won’t do it! This is why I first problem-solve the issue on a personal level. If the issue with the publication had been a personal one (like, stress, time, boredom) that could be resolved in another way, perhaps it can continue.
But sometimes, it just needs to stop, as in my current situation.
In the case of large publications or large-scale publishing activity, know that when you exit from that, you will experience a long grief cycle. I found that (unexpectedly) when Metal as Fuck was acquired. So if you’re thinking about not publishing something any more, be aware that you might find yourself caught in that cycle. It’s a real thing!
Making a decision to cease publishing feels like a much bigger decision than deciding to begin. Starting something yields excitement; ceasing something yields guilt and grief. Know this before you start doing any publishing! It will enable you to build a framework for problem-solving your exit.
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