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.
This is great. I have been reading all the Blogging therapy posts to try and get myself over the writing block… and now I am (laugh)… i’ve been writing things for about 3 weeks… now to see if anyone RESPONDS to it.
But what if we don’t really CARE if we have an audience? I mean, I’m not selling anything, I’m just talking about the annoying bits of going through a divorce with an uncooperative man, cats eating my Christmas/Yule tree, being a parent, wanting to rid the world of Rock Band, and random spirituality…
Its nice when people read, but I haven’t yet figured out WHO might be that “tribe” to reach out to yet…
Thanks for your blog… its really been helping me notice and get over my patterns of avoiding things
Pams last blog post..And now for something, well… not so different
I really, really needed to read this today! Thank you!
Joely Blacks last blog post..Amnar Podcast – Amnar – Chapter 9
i read your post daily, but for some reason this one struck just the right balance for my mood – especially your reiterating the need for outside legitimacy (the bane of my existence). you can’t beat that dead horse too hard or too long. sorry, that sounded cruel. what really is cruel, though, is placing your sense of self and self-worth in someone else’s hands. yuck.
your discussion of blog popularity reminded me of malcolm gladwell’s book _the tipping point_, which looks at the complicated factors going into making a phenomenon or product or whatever hugely popular. there’s often very specific things that happen that tip the scales and bring this thing to a larger audience. i appreciate that you brought in the example of the Black Hockey Jesus blog, and how it gained popularity. just goes to show that these things don’t happen overnight, and usually there’s the blogger (or artist or writer or whomever) working hard behind the scenes…
Dawns last blog post..Answer: Anywhere I Can Do It
Once again you and Selma have hit me right on the nose.
I mean it. You hit *it* on the nose.
Davids last blog post..Work for Free!
Thanks again for another great addition to your Blogging Therapy series. You are definitely a genius girl with a big heart! And the cutest duck in the entire world!!
I’m still new to this whole blogging world, but in my offline life I’m fairly successful as a workshop leader, astrologer and creativity coach. When people have asked me how I got to where I am I always have the same answer- it’s the hard work miracle. I am passionate about my work and I really believe from the bottom of my fansocks that what I have to offer is helpful and valuable and will have a positive effect in people’s lives. And my passionate enthusiasm comes across when I talk with people about what I do.
But I do need to get it out there. I need to get off my butt, open my heart, shine my light and be who I am in the most authentic way possible. And in that way I am able to find my tribe, my “peeps” , my audience, my fans, the long lost members of my extended creative family.
But it is work. It does take effort and as Havi says, a big part of the work is that putting yourself out there constantly brings you up against your own “stuff”. But hey! It’s a two for one! Getting out there feeds your soul, finds your people, is great for business and gets you healed and whole!! It’s ultimately the most satisfying and fulfilling thing that I have ever done in my life and I highly recommend it.
Big hugs to you for being such an amazing catalyst for blogging ( and life) healing!
chris zydels last blog post..PAIN FREE CREATIVITY: YOU DON’T REALLY NEED TO SUFFER FOR YOUR ART
“Seek not what you yearn. Seek the source of your yearning instead.”
That’s really the heart of it, huh?
Of course, you could also take the view that the reason I had to come here to read this particular post was to learn about the existence of one Black Hockey Jesus.
Best handle EVER.
communicatrixs last blog post..Patching vs. repairing (or, when to know when you’re truly f*cked)
thanks for this, havi. it can be hard, with all the bragging about twitter followers and blog subscribers and how many bloody comments people are getting on their posts, hard hard hard to be patient and discover our own voices, offer our own jewels, find our own audience. thanks for the reminder.
chass last blog post..monday morning motivator! 2, the grounding edition
@Chas – That’s such a great point. I remember sending out my first noozletter to (I think it was) four people. FOUR! And it had taken me hours to write it. And feeling like this was all such a huge waste of time.
You never know when things are going to start taking off, and so it’s so great to remember to go back to the internal process and the nourishing and the sustaining stuff. And then to let everything else come from there.
@Communicatrix – Mwah! Glad to have connected you with Mr. Hockey Jesus. It really is the best name on the internet by a lot.
@Chris – FANSOCKS! You are the best.
@David, Dawn, Joely – Yay. Thank you. That’s so so great.
@Pam – I think it’s great that you don’t care who your audience is or if you have it. That’s freedom right there. And I truly believe that when we write with our “real” voice, the people who get it or identify with it start finding us.
So you don’t have to have a tribe in mind. The people who need to be there will start showing up on their own. And since you’re not in a hurry to meet them, I think you can wait and see how it develops organically. Will think more about that!
If blogging is free therapy, then blog comments are free group therapy!
Behind my yearning? Acceptance, friendship, trust. Behind that: self-esteem & self-respect.
Yucky one-liners this triggers (in wishy-washy self-help voice):
“Love yourself before others can love you”
“Don’t get your self-esteem from others”
You see, my priority is not popularity, but rather those who I do connect with not stomping all over me once I let them in. Loyalty vs Betrayal.
Ok, I’m done – that’s one more layer off the onion!
@Pam – if you are struggling to identify the tribe, then refocus on just talking to people, and talking to them more if you get on with them. You may find yourself (like I did) in an interconnected tribe without even realising!
Yay for free group therapy! I love the phrase “external legitimacy” – and the reminder to focus instead on what you’re yearning for. Yucky as it is (esp when you’re in the midst of the yearning), it’s like freshwater when you’re stranded in the middle of the ocean. (I heart cheesy analogies).
I very much want to be popular. Not just to be popular, but because I want to do THIS… this thing that I do… for a living. I want to stop doing the other stuff, which sucks but is necessary. And that means traffic, and sales, and ads, and more traffic.
That’s interesting about BHJ. I’ve been commenting on blogs, but I feel that they get lost. When a popular, funny blogger gets 200 comments per post, I can’t imagine they all get read. I’ll try and be more direct. But Jenny? Jenny is the funniest damn thing I’ve found online. But good luck being heard through the roar in her comments!
You know what my problem is? I’m impatient. I suppose I’m doing pretty well considering the amount of time I’ve really been at this, but I want more. Because I want to stop doing this other stuff.
I think I need some destuckification. After I get clear of the current rush I might just have to book some.
P.S: CommentLuv is still going to show “Unfortunately, Pants” as my last post. The plot thickens.
Johnny Truants last blog post..Unfortunately, pants
What? You want me to work? But popularity is just supposed to come to me because, like, I’m just so cool.
Okay fine… It takes time…
Fortunately I have a lot of that. 😉
Great post and great reminder that it takes patience and effort build up a reputation.
Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..Dedicate Yourself to Life, Not Work
What a helpful reminder that blogging, like many arenas in life, is a lot like high school. You can engage with great teachers, parry with new friends, gather at the quad trading comments, and play, work, learn, group up, and change partners… But my tear-stained journals say that I also worried too much about popularity and being liked.
Until dear ol’ Mr. North told me that I’d only be heard if I knew who was speaking, echoing all our mothers’ platitude to “just be yourself, dear.” Havi makes it clear as well: blog for yourself and the readers (who are your Right readers) will follow — but it’s also true that you must be heard to be found. Three great points that apply to life way beyond blogging.
@Johnny Truant, you’re pretty damn funny yourself. Put your impatience to work by scopeing out what times/days your favorite bloggers publish and make it a game with yourself to read them ASAP and when appropriate, comment in the top few slots so your name becomes familiar. And explore lesser-known quality blogs that might engage readers you’d like to meet and get involved there.
And when you see those huge follower numbers or subscriber counters or whatever other scorecards are out there, just remember what we all said AFTER leaving high school: it’s not the size, but the motion…
Havi/Selma: Thanks for this series of Blog Therapy tips…I actually put itto practice on my last post…and it really felt like a little therapy…very nice.
I came up with a method to unstuck myself when it comes to starting new posts…very very nice.
Check it out:
I really, really, really want to catch up after seeing how motivated your “students” are! Thanks for posting these.
Jocelyns last blog post..Back to work F-O
Er… how have I lived without Dooce all this time?
.-= Andrew Lightheart @alightheart´s last post … Never how you planned it =-.