I wrote the ‘Bloggers to Watch’ series on Problogger for 4 years. It was a fantastic ride – I had a lot of fun writing it and it was great for my career.
It also turned me into a bitchfacehead.
In this post, I am going to explore some of the negative attitudes I had. I am going to get very specific and this will mean naming names. I apologize to those that I mention. I’m trying to show how destructive my mindset got and my negativity towards friends was a huge part of why I gave it up.
I’m glad for the experience – but it’s not a gig for someone who is thin skinned!
Here’s what messed with me:
People writing posts about how they got on the list
You know someone is in the blogging niche when they quickly whipped up a post about how to get on a list post. Here are two examples from the 2010 list:
- How I ended up on Problogger’s List of Bloggers to Watch in Less Than A Year
- How To Get On The 2012 ProBlogger List of Bloggers To Watch
People get on the list because they impress one person. And, that person is flawed. I regret most of the people in my 2010 list and 2009 lists. Erg, 2010 was Copyblogger central. 2011 was people I had met at Blogworld.
I may have written How To Really Get On The Problogger List Of Bloggers To Watch in response to this. That was the nice version of what I wanted to write.
The response to the 2011 post was the reason I completely changed track in 2012. That year, I was just going to do whatever the heck I wanted to. I felt so much happier writing that post. I skewed even further towards my interests in this years post. I tried to highlight bloggers doing amazing work.
The downside was that I got less links and social media mentions. I couldn’t have used my new approach if it was a client job.
There comes a sense of entitlement in the blogging niche. If you have a popular business blog, then it should be a given. Then, once you are on the list, you should get everything handed to you.
Last year, I read this lovely, well thought out post by Marcus Sheridan: Do ‘Top Blogger Lists’ Really Mean Anything At All? Then I read the first comment by Srinivas Rao.
So glad you brought up this topic. ITs funny because I was on that list last year and I can honestly say it didn’t to much other than temporarily inflate my ego. Sure it was nice to be recognized, but I can’t necessarily tie any tangible benefits to having been on that list. I think it’s a funny goal for people to set to be on those lists. Granted I have a desire to be on Forbes 40 under 40 list at some point. But that would actually require more than just a popular blog. So yeah, I’m not sure these lists mean much. They might drive a small surge of traffic. It’s funny because in my e-book I actually mentioned that the best way to do these posts is to shine a light on emerging talent rather than the usual suspects.
My online persona is that of a very nice, peaceful person. Make love, not war, etc. On the inside, though, I can be a spiteful bitch. My first thought after reading that was ‘You entitled little shit.’ It felt like a slap in the face. It felt like an insult towards all the work I put into networking.
Srini had the wrong mindset in his first few years – a mindset that many newbies share. He thought that getting the A-Listers on his show would automatically mean income. If I just hit this goal, if I just get featured on this site, then all my problems will disappear. It’s okay to use people though because that’s just hustling.
It felt like Srini used me to get on that freakin’ list only to slap me in the face afterwards.
Now: I know that this isn’t what really happened. Srini has been kind and awesome to me. I hated him for 18 months though. I took pleasure in his misfortunes. It was so satisfying to see him fuck up.
Chris Ducker was pretty aggressive about wanting to be on the list. He’s a pretty smart guy and has a solid blog. It felt that he was only talking to me when he wanted to get on the list. That I was just a person to be used. I know that it’s normal for people to use you when you are a gatekeeper, and I’m cool with that. It felt like that he wanted to go on the list just because he had a good blog in a popular niche.
I did put one person in the blogging on the list last year. I didn’t want to, because I knew how the person would react. I did it anyway because I wanted to have 15 people and couldn’t think of anyone else. I regretted it. It seems that I’m okay with some people leveraging their bloggers to watch status and not others. There is no logic – I just hate the ‘my business is blogging about my business’ niche.
It was my mindset in regards to this that made me go ‘Jade. You can’t write this any more. It’s making you spiteful and toxic.’ I can be bitchy, but never this bad. I normally only have these kinds of thoughts about those who do me major wrongs. This was one of the reasons I unfollowed most industry people on twitter and just did my own thing. I needed time away from the egos. Especially my own.
The pressure of people watching you can be suffocating
I remember a friend telling me that she wanted to change direction with a project, but was scared to. I had put her on the list for a specific blog and she was worried she’d be letting people down if she stopped that project. She moved past that fear eventually.
Earlier this year, I read this by my friend Cheryl Lin:
I’d just been named one of ProBlogger’s Bloggers to Watch in 2013 and had fallen into a massive shitting-myself freakout. I was worried that people were watching, would take me for a narcissistic blogger doing yet another vanity project and that the exhibition itself wouldn’t be good enough.
I’ve been very open about having an anxiety disorder. I’m considered to be stable and even then, some of the symptoms can be pretty debilitating. To inflict that on another person, especially someone I care about and admire, is really upsetting.
Accolades and challenges can bring out a lot of emotions in people. I’m very sensitive and tend to get upset when I’ve caused another person pain, even if indirectly.
Oh, and Cheryl did an amazing job earlier this year. I’m so proud of her!
On the flip side, I was a bit pissed off when Matt Gartland gave up on a lot of the projects he’d spend a fair bit of time telling me about earlier in the year. Those projects were the reason I put him on the list! It felt like a slap in the face; a blow to my credibility.
These thoughts showed just how messed up it can get in my head. It was silly to put someone on a list because of their plans and goals. Realistically, you need to watch them blog for at least a year before making a decision. Look at Jonathan Wondrusch. Within less then a year after writing that post, he closed down By Bloggers.
Matt is now working on some awesome projects, especially at Winning Edits. I’m so proud of him and it’s inspiring watching him kick arse.
I’m glad I don’t write it anymore
I’m pretty public about having anxiety and sometimes, it can lead to distorted thinking. Writing this series really messed with my head. I think it was the dynamics of the make money online/entrepreneurial community that affected me more then anything else. A lot of this was also going on around the same time as the work drama with the former boss so I had a pretty pessimistic view of everything.
Stepping back has allowed me to take pleasure in the smaller things. I’m a nobody, at the moment. I get maybe 900 hits a month. I share stories because they excite me. I’m not important enough to be part of the politics.
I’m very thankful for the experience. I’m happier without it, though.