Hard to believe but we’re already at number ten in our weekly series about taking the scary out of blogging.
But not really just blogging. Blogging is a Useful Example. The “deconstructing the elements that compose your fear so you can rewrite your patterns” part is relevant for whatever else you’re working on, too.
If you feel like catching up (zero obligation, of course), here’s the rest of the series:
Part 1. What if people are mean to me?
Part 2. What if I throw a party and no one shows up?
Part 3. Why even bother when there are already other people doing it better?
Part 4. What do I saaaaaaaaaaaaaaay?
Part 5. Help! Perfectionism! Gaaaaak!
Part 6. But I’m not an EXPERT!
Part 7. Don’t make me be vulnerable!
Part 8. I just don’t have the time!
Part 9. What if someone READS what I wrote?
But it’s not like I’ll ever be popular anyway!
(So why even bother, right?)
Oh, this is a big one. Maybe even one of the biggest.
I haven’t heard this much about “popularity” since high school, but yeah, apparently a lot of people out there blogging it up (or thinking about maybe getting around to it) still want to be popular.
This is usually where I empathize with you and hand out hugs and we all work on allowing our pain to be here, but I’m skipping that part today.
Three points. Two being the ones that I want to make, and one being the one that you’ll actually use (skip to point three if you have no patience for my hippie crap).
Point 1: It’s the internet, people.
The internet is a big, big place. There is always room, room, and more room.
Yes, the thought that you will never be as popular as Dooce might seem to you to be a perfectly good reason to throw in the towel, and yet I can promise you that there are people all over the internet who have never even heard of her.
And they wouldn’t understand what the big deal was if they had.
Or … even though I happen to know that there are plenty of bright, creative talented people bemoaning the fact that they aren’t as popular as me and my duck (and I know this because some of them write to me to tell me so), so what?
Do you know how many people have no idea whatsoever who I am? Tons of them. They’re everywhere!
Find some of those people and be popular with them!
Seriously, though. It’s not about popularity for its own sake. It’s about you and your right people and the space you build around what you do.
That space is yours. It’s where you get to feel at home. That’s what’s important — both personally, and even (if this applies) for your business.
The truth is, in a certain sense “popularity” is meaningless on the internet. There are thousands and thousands of tiny little pockets and communities. Or Tribes, if you’re a Godin-ite.
This is one of them. Find yours. And if you can’t find it, build it.
Point 2: This is the whole external legitimacy thing again.
We’ve talked about releasing the need for outside legitimacy so many times that I kind of hesitate to bring it up again. But it’s important.
Because if you don’t start actively, consciously paying attention to these patterns, you could spend your whole life waiting for everyone else’s approval and feeling like crap when you don’t get it.
And that would be the saddest thing ever.
You are the one who gets to decide whether something has value or not.
If people love it, yay. If they don’t, oh well. Not your right people.
But — ideally, yes? — neither of those should be the thing that determines whether we get to have a good day or not.
Obviously this is a concept that flies much more easily in theory than in any kind of reality. Because ow, it hurts. And because yes, I want people to like me too. Normal.
So I don’t want you to think that I’m finger-wagging or anything. Of course we get hurt feelings. Of course we want everyone to love us and cheer us on and never be mean — ever.
It’s just that ultimately we can’t determine how other people are going to react to what we say and do. All we can do is bring our attention back to our own patterns. And keep working on releasing the need for outside legitimacy.
So the next time you catch yourself getting caught up in the “who’s more popular than me” game, you can take a breath and notice that hey, you’re doing it again.
Point 3: Okay, fine. I’ll tell you how to be popular.
If you want popularity, go get it.
It’s work, yes, but it’s not as hard as some people would have you believe. There’s a formula. A model. You can follow it.
You know how Black Hockey Jesus went from being nobody to what he is now? How he was getting 1500 page views a day within about two months? I shall tell you.
a. He hung out on every single mommy/daddy blog that people go to and commented up a storm. Smart, snarky, mysterious comments.
b. He emailed all those people and said he thought they were cool, flattered them and asked them questions.
c. He reached out.
d. Jenny the incomparable Bloggess mentioned him on her gig at the Houston Chronicle and that was it.
Yes, people kept reading because he’s bitingly funny, wonderfully bitter and has a keen sense of timing. Because he allows himself to be his own goofy, wacky self. And because he is not constrained by little things like physics or the space-time continuum or the way other people do things.
But that’s not how he got known. He didn’t sit under a rock twiddling his thumbs (which is more difficult than it sounds so don’t try this at home, kids) waiting nervously for people to show up. He drummed up an audience.
Some of them went running away in shock and horror. Some drew unattractive conclusions about him based on his screwy pen name and somewhat oddly-titled blog.
The ones who stayed got rewarded by awesomeness.
I’ve read every single thing he’s posted. Me and the other couple thousand people who hang out there each day. He’s deserving of his popularity, for sure. But it didn’t just show up.
He’s worked his little hockey jesus butt off to get there.
Anyone can follow that model. Anyone with a tiny percentage of the talent, wit and charm that you have.*
*And don’t tell me you don’t have it. Because it doesn’t matter anyway.
Recognize your patterns when they come up. Figure out what needs you’re trying to fill with this whole popularity thing.
I can’t remember who said this, some yogified person who isn’t showing up on Google, but the wisdom holds, whoever said it:
“Seek not what you yearn. Seek the source of your yearning instead.”
In other words, if you’re wanting to be popular (whatever that means for you) and you’re feeling resentment around not being there yet, there’s a need in there. It might be about love. Or about wanting acknowledgment. Or about safety.
So give yourself those things. Find ways to fill the deeper need first instead of doing what the rest of us do and obsessing over subscribers or ways to improve your stats.
Then start looking for your people. Start creating your space. Turn on your light so we can find it, and begin to make a comfortable spot for your own crowd to congregate.
And then go out and take active steps to connect with your right people.
Black Hockey Jesus may be a nut and a kook and one of my favorite people, but his popularity isn’t an aberration. It doesn’t need to be.
There’s no reason people shouldn’t be flocking to you too. As long as you want us there and we’re invited.
That’s all for now.
More blogging therapy next week. We’ll deal with whatever got triggered today then, I promise.
And of course Selma the duck and I will be here tomorrow writing about something that doesn’t have anything to do with blogging. Or therapy.
Also: here’s a “don’t worry, the blogging therapy series isn’t ending yet, I’m just thinking ahead” request:
If you’re one of the many people who have either started a blog, revived a blog or restructured your blog because of this series, send me an email and let me know if I can feature your stuff (i.e. throw some love your way) when we close this thing.