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The surprising danger of being a blogger? Blogging sounds like a pretty safe job to me.

Marian was a frustrated insurance agent when she discovered blogging back in 2011. At first, it was a side-hustle. But as the number of viewers grew, so did her confidence. She felt proud of what she had achieved.

In 2013, she quit her insurance job with a big smile on her face, a feeling of excitement in her tummy and went full time. She still remembers that day. It was a cold September day and raining outside but a ray of positivity was warming her from the inside.

Marian was never happier and every inch of her body was tickling with joy. She can sleep in and work wherever she wants and whenever she wants. She can choose topics she is passionate about – overselling people on overpriced insurances is not one.

Her typical morning starts… Well, with a trip to the bathroom and a coffee. Right after she checks her social media and goes through the comments on her blogs. There are tons of new comments every day.

Nasty ones from obviously unhappy people. Trolls who are looking for a place to vent anonymously. Oh, yes, and spam from lost souls who did not get the news: comment spam is not “SEO optimization” or a backlink-strategy for decent people.

Most of all she received praise. People liked the content she wrote from her heart. They followed her chanting her name ecstatically all over social media.

The more people wholeheartedly agreed with her, the clearer Marian understood that she is the real deal. As we’ve learned from places of high power: If people say it on the internet it’s true.

 

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The surprising danger of being a blogger

 

The narcissism of a blogger

Marian spent all of her time in her new colorful world full of happiness. She teamed up with some other bloggers (real deals just like her) but as she was not selling anything per se, she did not have contact with buyers. She made her living off people who clicked on links in her articles.

Most people never take the time to express their opinion. Especially not when they dislike the post of a random stranger. They just leave. Then there is a group of people (they love to hang out on YouTube, to name one) who comment a lot, but not with the best of intentions.

Trolls are rare. But they are typically very active so that you might get the subjective impression that half of the world has gone full troll.

You dismiss their unsubstantial comments and block them. Rightfully so. And you dismiss the spam comments. You also dismiss the comments of “troublemakers” and “negative Nellies”. Nag, nag, nag, right?

Marian did not notice that she started to dismiss all comments that were not praising her, agreeing with her or saying nice things about her.

The only thing left were cheerleaders. People who loved her. It was as if the whole world looked up to her (minus the trolls, but they don’t count). Over the period of two years, Marian’s head started to swell.

She never had the chance to realize that she became narcissistic, full of her self and what’s even worse: Marian started to grossly overestimate her abilities. Often, she made a fool out of herself without realizing it.

Why did nobody ever tell her? Shouldn’t they have told her???

Nobody ever told her. Or did they?

The surprising danger of blogging is that you close your mind and surround yourself with “Yay sayers” only. The surprising danger of blogging is that by exposing yourself to one side of the truth only, you might become delusional. Or narcissistic. Or both.

You might stop growing because you feel you are the real deal. Perhaps one day you end up on “America’s got talent” (your followers told you you’re a good singer) and find the whole country laughing at you.

Handling feedback on social media

Handling critique on social media is a tricky thing.

  • there are a lot of people on the internet who just want to vent
  • many people are not as nice online as they are (or pretend to be) face-to-face
  • people who could help us grow rarely take the time to share their feedback
  • subjectively, it’s easy to believe that all critical comments are dismissable
  • we all prefer to hear nice things about ourselves

On the internet, it’s even more important to be a skilled communicator. The danger of being misunderstood is way higher than in real life where you see the facial expression and the eyes of people. In real life, you understand a message through different factors, not just words.

Secondly, it’s one thing if your friend gives you negative feedback but another if it’s posted on the internet, searchable and visible to the whole world. Until the end of time.

You don’t have a chance to argue or “fight back.” Being seen fighting someone on your blog or arguing about your lack of skills would not be productive now, would it?

You’d probably mind if people would print “Marian is incompetent” on their shirts, right? I know I would take slight offense if I saw more than three people wearing an “Aurorasa breathes grammar errors” shirt on any given day (even though it’s true).

The challenge on the internet is: Probably 90% of comments are dismiss-worthy. They are not a reflection of your abilities but merely a reflection of the other one’s mood or agenda. It’s easy to overlook the other 10%.

Some people are not great at finding the right words. But not everyone who disagrees with you is a “troll”. Also, a lot of people lack empathy and tact. They might be positive people who just didn’t consider that they have the power to hurt your business.

Typically, the negative comments come first. When there are not enough positive comments yet to balance them out, it can cause a problem.

People who take the time to give us honest, non-judgemental feedback without a hidden agenda are gold. They are pearls, diamonds – I’d go as far as saying: they are like cheese.

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The solution

I mainly see this happening to full-time bloggers (and some overhyped “gurus”, for that matter); people who don’t have contact with buyers or clients where they get regular “reality checks”.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Get feedback regularly from people you chose as your mentors
  • Try to find the hidden gems in the cloud of dismiss-worthy feedback
  • Take the discussion to another (private) medium. It’s ok that you don’t want negative talk about yourself on your business page
  • Keep in mind the potential for misunderstandings from written words: When in doubt, assume someone means well
  • Do never ever EVER stop learning and working on yourself. If you know it all today – there’s more to know tomorrow
  • Taking regular training not only helps you to grow, it also enables you to compare yourself to others and get a real feel for your current skill-level
  • Stay humble
  • Look around you. Perhaps you know an emotional intelligence trainer or mindset coach? (:

If you comment on someone’s articles:

  • Kindness goes a long way
  • You can make a point without being condescending
  • Keep in mind that your feedback is visible to the world. Forever. You mean well and you don’t want to hurt anyone’s business or reputation
  • If you have been blocked more than twice in the past year: Perhaps you know …. (:

The best people know: They are better at certain things – but not better than other people.

PS: Thanks for asking, I appreciate you LOTS: I do not have a newsletter for this blog and no intention of changing that. This blog is just my way of giving back by sharing what I learned to be able to run my coaching blog successfully.

 

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7 Comments

  • Susan

    Growth comes from unlikely sources, Aurorasa, and very often from those with a different (even if not valid) point of view. As long as someone doesn’t get really nasty, I’ll read and think about what that person has written. I’ve never thought I knew it all, so others’ points of view interest me. Maybe there’s something in what they’re saying that can move me forward. If not? Oh well. I have a few stock phrases that I use to basically say thanks for commenting and sound like I’m being nice. Which I am.

  • “People who take the time to give us honest, non-judgemental feedback without a hidden agenda are gold. They are pearls, diamonds and I keep them closer to me.

  • Asesh Datta

    Appreciative post. I never knew one can have a living out of the readers clicking one’s blog. But that part, some articles attract more readers than another. But we should be ready to accept all and have a complimentary acknowledgement. The process is not on about who appreciates and who criticizes or who disagrees, but to realize such individual thinking a reality or otherwise, but documented.
    These are not dangers of being a blogger but a self evaluation of self from readers’ eyes. Great post and material for introspection. Regards.

  • I blog for a living (partially), and have for the last fourteen years. I’d say you have hit the key points well here. It is easy (especially in the beginning) to think that simply because you write about something that you are in fact an expert in it, but blogging works largely because you are only a little more knowledgeable about your audience and you spend more time as an infovore. I’ve been disabused more than once about how much of an expert I am when I’ve encountered people who could easily blow me out of the water.

    One of the hardest things to retain as a blogger is your objectivity, yet it is also one of your biggest assets. I have, on occasion (usually when money is tight), crossed the line from blogger to shill, and invariably came to regret it. People trust you for your objectivity and authenticity, and if you do not believe in what you are writing, your readers can sense it very quickly. This can be tough, as being a corporate blogger can be very lucrative, but keep in mind that in doing so, you are crossing the line from journalism to marketing, and people will stop trusting what you have to say.

    Finally, I think you are absolutely correct that you need to develop a trusted pool of objective contacts who can tell you when you’re crossing over the line. One thing that can be useful as a tool there is to take a controversial stance, while deliberately soliciting feedback. Normally, I tend to self-edit my remarks depending upon my audience; there are places where I can talk about my political views (such as medium.com) but other places where keeping my political views much more circumspect (such as linkedin.com) is an absolute necessity. Cultivating multiple audiences via different venues lets you try out more radical ideas that can then be tailored as appropriate.

    Best of luck with this, Aurorasa. It can be a frustrating, challenging career move, but it can also be a lot of un.

    • You add important points to the discussion and I can tell just by reading your comment, that I would enjoy reading your blogs. And that the “blogger blindness” phenomenon has not happened to you.

      I very much agree that bloggers should be authentic, even though the temptation is strong. I also believe if you add value to your readers’ lives, it’s your very responsible to make offers.

      Naturally, open and honest.

      You’re right in what you say about corporate blogging. My only reason to subscribe to a corporate blog is when they add a lot of value, like, for instance, KPMG. It’s more of trust that they deliver useful content than trust they are not trying to sell me.

      I’ll go look for you on Medium and LinkedIn. Thank you so much for the positive feedback! The readers of this article will be glad to hear from a professional blogger!

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