I recently read a blog post by someone who began writing in May of this year. The writer was crowing over being nominated as a “top blogger” in her category by a major publishing platform. Her name appeared alongside various individuals who have well-known “brand” names and legions of followers, along with reputations for not doing any work and having zero case studies to their name. This writer had already amassed over a thousand followers of her blog, several thousand on Twitter and more.
Part of the post about the accolades talked about how the writer “felt” the needs of the audience and was sure to address those in posts, a strategy that had helped in the accumulation of a massive audience.
While I’ve been able, over the last year, to move ever-closer to my dream of being a full-time writer, my own stuff continues to be a niche hit only. My posts rarely go “viral” and become sensations. I have a few hits on Medium and my blog stats spike occasionally, but not enough to break me into any sort of upper tier. I’ve never been nominated for “top blogger” in any category in the over 13 years I’ve been blogging. My combined network on Twitter, WordPress, TinyLetter and Medium is ~4,300 people. I’m not blowing anyone’s socks off.
I’d love a larger audience. Cinematic Slant is growing slowly but surely. But I know that the stuff I publish – here and there – is usually original and not geared to address the “felt” needs of the audience sufficiently. And I realize that focus on different perspectives and contrary opinions is likely limiting my appeal.
Perhaps it’s a symptom of my age or something about me that inherently zigs while others zag, but I’d rather achieve minimal success on my own terms than succeed by following the crowd. It would be great to see some of the pieces that I devote hours and hours of research and thought to crafting become more popular, but I want those to succeed, not some drivel I’ve pounded out because a search trends analyzing tool says that’s what is most likely to be read widely.
Much love to the people who are doing well by doing these things, good for you. That continues to be a game I have little to no interest in playing, though. I’m content making a decent living doing what I love and using my own publishing platforms to express myself and share my thoughts and interests than cater to the fickle preferences of an ill-defined audience. I’ll take whatever accolades might come my way, but won’t compromise to seek them out.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.