Editor's note: The following article appeared in the September issue of Dairy Herd Management.
One of the first pieces of advice I give to someone looking to get involved in “agvocating” is to avoid trying to do too much at once. When you enjoy social media and sharing the story of agriculture, that’s easier said than done. Almost three years ago I took a six-month hiatus, because I simply burned myself out.
Here’s some advice to keep you from taking on too much at once.
Limit networks. When I started agvocating, social media was just beginning. Now, we have so many networks it’s hard trying to keep track of all of them – let alone use them all. If this isn’t your full-time job, it can be overwhelming, and/or expensive. I recommend you try most or all of them, but then pick two or three to actively use and invest your time.
After a few years I realized I enjoyed and got the most out of Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Today, that’s where I spend most of my time actively communicating with followers.
Make a schedule. I am “visual,” so I schedule ideas for each week on a big desk calendar. It has made my life so much easier. When I have the time to sit down at the computer, I can work on whatever is next on my list of projects. Planning and organization helps minimize stress and that feeling of being overwhelmed.
Take a break when you need it. What took me the longest to learn is if I get too busy and I simply don’t have time or motivation to post, that’s fine. Most of us who agvocate do not get paid for our time – it’s our hobby. We all know how crazy farm life gets, and I think we can take a break when it gets too overwhelming, or when we just feel like we want a break. I try to make sure I have time to “vegetate” each week. If I don’t, I lose my motivation quickly. Do not let yourself get so lost in feeling this is your job that you have to get everything done.
Pick a wide variety of topics. This keeps me from getting bored. I work out in the barn all day, and when I sit down I don’t always want to write about agriculture. There is so much more to farming, so why would I only want to write about that? It also makes you more relatable to non-agriculture readers.
Keep social media fun. When agvocating becomes a chore, you will not stick to it, and it will no longer be exciting. We all know there is still a lot to be done in sharing agriculture’s story with the world, and that’s why we must keep going on the Internet. However, it isn’t one person’s job to do it all. You should continue to feel passionate about the topics you talk about, enjoying your time behind the computer or on your smart phone.
Guest columnist Ashley Messing-Kennedy is a third-generation dairy farmer from Bad Axe, Mich. She has been in social media for seven years, and currently blogs at MessyKennedy.com.