What to do when your blog advertisers are quitting their jobs to become full-time bloggers.
I just stumbled across an article on Elite Daily entitled "7 Things that Happen when you stop drinking all the time." A friend of mine "liked" it on Facebook so I decided to give it a read. A '"listicle", this article rather simply stated 7 reasons why the decision to lay off the booze helped the author lose 10 pounds, afford new clothing and actually remember what she did the day before. It was nothing I didn't know already or couldn't have guessed from reading the article title, but it gave me an idea of posting my own "listicle" today. List-articles are great content, I thought to my blogger-minded self after reading it. This was pretty good, maybe I'll even write one this morning. And just as inspiration was starting to simmer, I continued scrolling down the page to read the comments. While the article was surely good enough for me, it became clear that many other readers were not exactly in agreement. Here's some of what they had to say:
"sooo. anyone can write for this website?"
and, in reply: "As long as it's in a list form and full of nonsense..."
Also: "Most people seem to dislike it because it's a poorly written puff-piece. This article has been written 100 times already."
And, my favorite piece of gold:
"I drink and still wake up at 7. The trick is to start early in the day. I don't really party, I'm just an alcoholic. Also excessive drinking increases your life span. Not as much as moderate drinking, but more than not drinking at all. Your problem is partying. If you want to be a writer (i write every day) get your words right."
Well, so much for that idea.
Those people commenting, especially the person complaining that the article was the 101st re-make of a "puff-piece" that everyone has read some version of already, are kind of right (except our final commenter, who I think got the whole "glass of red wine a day is good for the heart" thing mixed up with like, 9 glasses.) List articles are EVERYWHERE. I knew what was going to be said in that article before I read it because, just like commenter #2, I've probably read some version of it at least 10 other times. Many readers today (admittedly, myself sometimes included), want easy-to-break-down and diluted content so they can read it quickly on their smartphone while they're pretending to listen to someone else talk. Writers have catered to that for a number of reasons, #1 in my mind being that it's one of the easiest and quickest ways to generate content at the pace the public demands it.
When I started blogging, iPhones had just made it on the scene. I'm pretty sure I still had a blackberry, and by no means did every person I passed on the street have their own blog that they were trying to quit their day job to "focus on full time." I was more unique in my dream of someday leaving the 9-to-5 behind because advertisers were just flocking to my website and dying to endorse me or request product placement because of my though-the-roof readership. Now, being a "blogger" is almost as common as having a Facebook profile. Most people have one, have started one, or dream of leaving their day job once they find enough advertisers to support them. The problem is, all of those "advertisers" are also trying to quit their jobs in advertising to focus on their blogs full-time. Clearly, this is no longer a unique dream.
Yes, the "blogger" market is way over-saturated, and yes, calling oneself a "spiritual writer" is becoming almost as mundane as telling someone I had blonde highlights in high school (like everyone else and their mother.) But this is what I love. I am one of the "everyone else" that's doing it, and if I wasn't, I wouldn't feel like myself. I would feel like a bitter sideliner, harshly judging everyone who dares walk the path I chose not to walk down. I've been there before, and let me tell you: it sucks.
I was lucky that for most of my life, my dream of being an anchor/talk show host/Jewish Oprah was pretty unrivaled among my peers. I never felt a sense of competition or fear of being unseen among all the other big-haired fishies in the sea. As my dream has evolved, I see that many others' dreams have evolved in the same direction. That's part of the game. That guy who commented that the Elite Daily author's article was just a regurgitation of already-relayed information was an angry bystander. I would so much rather be the writer of the overdone content than the person spending all of my time calling people out for trying.
Let the haters hate. You'll be the one who comes out on top for being brave enough to risk ridicule. And why? Because following your dreams is totally worth it. Instead of thinking "why me?" when you wonder whether or not you'll be successful, how about asking "why not me?" We all have an obligation to share our talents with the world, and who are you not to even try?
Step up to the plate. Risk writing redundant, repetitive sh*t. Set yourself up to get trolled (the positive comments will be soul-affirming and totally worth it.) After all, someone has to come out on top. It's way better to try than to quit before you even get started.