Alright, are you ready for this one? Things are about to get real personal up in here.
Did you know there’s a bunch of emotions that almost every blogger experiences, but will never admit to you.
People get so caught up with coming across as authorities and experts that sometimes they forget to, you know, be real.
They won’t tell you about their insecurities, their jealousies, their faults, their mistakes – for fear that you might lose respect for them, or no longer view them as the authority figures they want to be.
Well guess what. You can be honest, admit your faults, and still be a an authority figure – it doesn’t make you any less of an expert to admit you’re not perfect.
Today I’m going to tell you what the hardest part about blogging is. It’s the thing you never anticipated. It creeps up on you as you get more and more successful, and when you least expect it, it hits you over the head leaving you wondering “where the hell did that come from?”
If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you might know what I’m talking about. Or you may still be in denial, and trying to forget the fact that yes, you too share this fault.
Have you figured it out yet?
Here it is:
The hardest part about success in blogging is jealousy.
It sucks, but it’s true. With thousands of other blogs out there, and dozens of friends who also blog or write for a living, it’s hard not to feel a consistent sense of jealousy every time someone you know has a big win.
Earlier this week my good friend and travel partner Joel Runyon had the biggest day ever on his blog because of this post. Not only did he hit the front page of Hacker News, he landed the very top spot – sending over 50k new visitors to his site in a matter of hours.
Want to know what my honest initial reaction was?
“That jerk. Why couldn’t I have written something like that?”
Being friends with Steve Kamb is the same thing, it seems like every other day the dude is gracing the likes of Reddit or Gizmodo.
Now, I want to make it very clear before everyone starts calling me a selfish asshole that this does not mean I’m not happy for my friends – of course I am! I merely want to illustrate the fact that when you’re surrounded by people doing cool things, it can be tough not to make comparisons and get a little jealous in the process.
The Ferrari of Blogging
The longer you blog the more you learn that success comes down to a series of small (or big) wins over a long period of time.
For instance when you hit the #1 one spot on Hacker News, that’s kind of like the Ferrari of blogging. A 2008 F430 to be exact. It’s one of the best ways to get a ton of traffic really fast. Are there nicer cars or better ways to get a ton of traffic, sure, but not that many that I’ve seen.
Now imagine someone you know just got a brand new Ferrari, that’s kind of how you feel when a friend gets a huge wave of promotion and traffic.
Often times you get the benefit too.
If a friend of yours gets a new car, they’ll take you for a ride and you get to experience a little sliver of what it’s like to own it too. When Steve hit Gizmodo for his post “How to Travel the World for $418” he linked to me, and sent me hundreds of visitors in the process. It was great, but it was like being a passenger in a friend’s Ferrari. It’s a great experience, but it makes you a little jealous knowing they’re having 5 times as much fun being the one driving.
I’ve had some big wins too, and it’s all a part of perspective, but when my friends are driving around in “blog traffic Ferraris”, and I’m in more of a BMW 6 Series, it’s hard not to be a little envious.
Jealousy Isn’t a Bad Thing
When I first started blogging I never expected the social issues to be an issue. I didn’t realize how easy it is to turn something inherently uncompetitive into a game.
It’s taken me three years to realize that jealousy in and of itself is not a bad thing. Sure for a minute there, I wish I’d been the one to write Joel’s post. But after those fleeting selfish feelings, I became happy for him. I even write a whole blog post about it that will hopefully send him even more traffic.
Most importantly, I’ve learned to take that jealousy and use it to make me better at my own craft. This can be one of the driving forces to keep you at the top of your game. When you see people around you having success, the natural inclination is to want to keep up – so you work harder to make it happen.
How Do you Manage Jealousy?
If you continue to blog for a long time, this isn’t something that’s just going to go away. You don’t just magically get to a level where you no longer care about what anyone else is doing.
Rather, over time you learn how to manage the jealousy and turn it into a positive.
Make Your Friends Even More Successful
Something I do if I find myself feeling this way is I recognize that it could be a big day or opportunity for someone I know. This recent surge of traffic is going to be huge for Joel’s blog. So after my fleeting insecurities I retweeted his post, and linked to it here. When you have momentum it builds upon itself.
When all is said in done you feel better knowing you helped them grow, rather than try to bring them down.
Analyze What Worked – Then Recreate
I’m not telling you to go out and rip off your friends’ blog posts, but rather look past the basic content. What happened to make their post, product, or blog blow up? Was it a particularly catchy headline? Was it a unique story that appeals to a specific audience? Was it good networking?
Figure out what combination worked for them, and then start implementing it in your own writing, sooner or later something is bound to hit.
I wrote a few weeks ago about how laziness is getting the best of all of us. If you’re goal is more traffic and a viral post or two – make that your goal. Focus on it, put the time in, and eventually you’ll be rewarded. The only reason you won’t be is if you give up too soon.
Remember Every Day is a New Opportunity
You have the advantage here. New media and online journalism is a 24/7 ordeal, there are constantly people out there looking for interesting content to share with their large audiences. Once you recognize this, and act accordingly, you can make high traffic blog posts the norm, rather than a rare occasion.
The most important thing to realize is that in almost every case, success for your friends can only be a good thing for you. You may not know exactly how it benefits you, but I promise it will. For instance, if it weren’t for Steve’s post about traveling on Gizmodo, I never would have had the inspiration to make Hacking the High Life a reality.
Jealousy is part of blogging. If you want to be successful at it, you’re going to need to embrace the fact that you’ll feel it at times, and turn it into an asset rather than a liability.