I had a discussion last night with a long-time prominent blogger. During our conversation, we naturally strayed towards writing and community building, topics with which we are both very familiar. This is someone who puts out extremely high-quality content on a daily basis. He is constantly pushing the limits, drawing in new people with his wisdom, humor and beautiful style. I couldn’t help but ask how the heck he manages to maintain his blog with such consistency year after year. I was quite relieved with the answers given.
I’m not the only person out there in blogger-land who sometimes wonders what the heck I’m doing this for. It’s not only me who feels that it’s insanely difficult to make your voice heard above the crowd, nor am I the first person to think that I must be nuts to keep going. My friend not only experiences these same thoughts and feelings, he pointed to many other well-known writers who are in the same boat. We’re all rowing as hard as we can to reach shore. I’m starting to think, though, that that shoreline shouldn’t be our goal.
Reaching the shore means the end of a journey. I don’t know about you, but I think my trip is still in its early stages. There is so much out there I want to see, do and conquer online, both personally and professionally. Why am I trying so hard to get my feet back on solid ground? I’m not adrift or lost at sea… I’m merely checking out previously uncharted territories to figure out where all I may fit.
Burnout is a common theme amongst us all. Fear of never “making it” haunts each of us on a daily basis. We’re pushing ourselves every day to try and write more, be more creative and stand out. We pretend to be friends with those who we “compete” against instead of creating actual connections and relationships. That needs to end. We are alienating each other instead of developing bonds which will in turn make us stronger.
We shouldn’t be competing with anyone other than ourselves. Blogger A and Writer B can both be wildly successful – even if they write about the exact same thing. There are billions of people online and I’m pretty sure they each visit more than one website. Having real friendships with other writers allows you to stretch your mind in different directions. It can and will open up new possibilities for your writing style and rang of topics. Debating current issues with your peers – whether you’re discussing politics or tech – can strengthen the influence you have with your own readers.
One of the biggest keys to maintaining the level of output we expect of ourselves is to remember that we are not alone.
No matter what line of work you choose, there will always be someone who does it better than you. You will find more prolific writers, smarter code monkeys and better designers. Finding someone to look up to is good, as is a little healthy competition. Jealousy, however, can eat you alive – even online – just as it did back in high school. That despicable green-eyed monster will do nothing more than bring you down and incapacitate you.
I don’t care how good you are, there are people out there who are better. It’s a fact of life. You’re never going to be “the” best, no matter how hard you try. You can – and should – strive to be the best you possible. Pushing yourself is a good thing. Trying to go beyond any limits you see yourself as having is fantastic. Striving to be exactly like the guy on the next blog – or better than him – is a complete waste of your time.
Who wants to read something that is already being done elsewhere? I know it’s insanely hard to find something unique and different to write, design or create every single day. Take something you find interesting and build on that. Add your own spin to it and do so in a way that brings it to life even more. Allow others to see your personal touch in everything you do, instead of thinking “oh, that’s exactly what I saw on Johnny’s site earlier.”
Being jealous of those who do things differently or better is plain ridiculous. What good will that do you? I see this happening constantly, even within our own community at times. So what if Sally writes better than you do? Are you putting forth your best effort? What more can you possibly ask of yourself?
The beautiful thing is that you don’t have to be Sally or Johnny. No one expects you to be the best, so you’re disappointing no one but you. We already know that there will always be more and “better,” so we don’t expect perfection everywhere we go. You’re the one putting that pressure on yoruself. It’s certainly not us.
The next time you feel yourself becoming jealous of what someone else does or has, remember that the only one who matters is you. When you look into the mirror at night, are you happy with what you see? If the answer is no, then reevaluate what YOU are doing, how you’re doing it and what you can do to make things better. Measuring yourself against everyone else isn’t going to cut it. You are the man (or woman!) in the mirror.
This isn’t a joke. If you’re a geek who can handle yourself well on camera, and you don’t need a ton of hand-holding to get things done quickly, we should definitely talk.
I’ve helped boost the standing of a few YouTubers – driving more traffic and attention to their respective channels. If you’re a geek who has good stuff to share – become a part of the Lockergnome universe!
Remember that you have to stand out, and do something differently. You have to be YOU – don’t try to emulate someone else. Look beyond your world. Do what you do best… without giving up yourself.
One of the reasons that I have worked so hard to build up my YouTube channel is to help all of YOU. If you are good at reviewing technology or discussing anything tech or social-media related… let’s talk. You could become a regular featured reviewer like Lamarr.
Additionally, we are looking for more blog writers on Lockergnome. You have to be a good writer with fresh content – remember your PUGS! You don’t have to be a “tech” writer for Lockergnome. Write about whatever it is you know and love.
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I spend probably 80% of my working time writing things. I communicate with people across social networks. I compose missives to be sent to various people. I occasionally author books and articles. I draft items to send to potential sponsors. I dash off the quick email or hundred. The one thing I do not do is write a letter. Who needs to do such a thing in this day and age of 140 characters or less?
I’m having a great dinner with some seriously good people tonight at the May Dragon Chinese Restaurant. I’m hanging with the @gkarmy gang and @CaliLewis. We’re telling war stories about our jumps today.
I open my fortune cookie, only to be told to write something that I normally would not. Shit. Who am I to argue with a fortune cookie? I don’t want to screw with my destiny, or any other such stuff. Keep an eye on your mailbox in the coming days, Mom.
An article in the New York Times today discusses the early burnout rate of journalists who work exclusively in online media formats. As I read the article, I could completely understand and empathize with every word in front of me. This is a cutthroat world we live in online. There are thousands of news outlets, all of which have to compete with each other to publish first and publish better. There are more places to read your news online than there are stories to digest. This equates to a niche that is so competitive we are seeing high turnover rates at many big-name media sites.
Google search ranking is the name of the game. If your story doesn’t rank up at the top, it may never be digested by anyone at all. You have to not only crank out articles the very nanosecond they hit the wire… you also much be conscious at all times of keywords, SEO and branding. Gone are the days of writing interesting articles and intensive investigative pieces for the Sunday edition. The world we live in demands to know everything about everyone – and they want to know it now.
Many companies track how many page views each article published on their site receives. Authors are paid (and/or given bonuses) based on these numbers. At Gawker Media’s offices in Manhattan, a flat-screen television mounted on the wall displays the 10 most-viewed articles across all Gawker’s Web sites. The author’s last name, along with the number of page views that hour and over all are prominently shown in real time on the screen, which Gawker has named the “big board.”
While this is an interesting way to attempt to reward and motivate writers, many feel that it is more of a “wall of shame.” If your name doesn’t appear on the board at all times, then you are regarded as not being “up to par.” The stress that these companies are placing on their staff is astronomical. I’ve heard from many of you out there who want to write for a living. There is so much talent and enthusiasm inside of you all. The problem is, I also have seen too many fresh-faced young journalists end up burned out and cynical before the ink on their degree has fully dried.
What are your thoughts? How do you feel we can begin to slow things down to a reasonable pace? Is it possible?