I was chatting with a friend the other day about Whitney Houston and how difficult it must be to deal with the highs and lows of being a star. One minute, you’re on top of the world, the next people barely remember you exist. And as we were talking, something dawned on me. Bloggers go through this on a smaller scale on a daily basis. One day you’re being flown across the country for a gala event, and the next your email is filled with generic pitches for socks and cold medicine.
While the star-quality of bloggers runs a wide spectrum, we fall into three main categories:
A-Listers – It’s a short list, but these folks get more invitations than they know what to do with. They are ambassadors for so many brands it’s surprising they can keep track. If you’re at an event, you expect that at least some of them will be, too. I don’t know if these sought-after bloggers deal with the highs and lows so much, given how busy they are, but it’s likely that even they are sad to miss out on a choice experience. Keep in mind that although A-Listers are almost always talented and hardworking, sometimes it’s mere circumstance that has catapulted them to ultimate stardom. They may just have “the look,” a compelling backstory, or the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time. It doesn’t mean they are better than you are.
Starlets – These are the new bloggers, those that blog occasionally as a hobby or for personal expression, or those who haven’t figured out that you generally have to look further than your own blog to get noticed. Since they don’t ever get invited, they aren’t as obsessively checking their email. A invitation is a surprise and a large treat. Starlets may have less experience – or less interest – in the glamorous aspects of blogging, but don’t count them out. Some of them are the best writers out there.
B-Listers – This is the rest of us and we are a diverse group. We have big blogs and little blogs, we span all ages, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds. The only thing we have in common (other than our blogging) is that some opportunities will come our way, and some won’t. This is probably the most difficult space to be in. You know that you’ve got enough influence or built enough relationships or done some other thing right to catch the attention of the powers that be, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when a dry spell hits or when you miss out on the most amazing opportunity ever. It’s even harder when we’re surrounded by the seemingly never-ended good fortune of our social media friends [here's a tip… most likely, unless they are A-List, they're going through the exact same feelings you are!].
Day after day I watch my fellow bloggers struggle with the ebb and flow of attention that comes with an established blog. A blogger may one day be announcing a fantastic ambassadorship, and just weeks later lament about how no one knows they exist. Just after an amazing trip where they were pampered, they talk about not being a “cool kid” or liken themselves to “redheaded stepchildren” [to which I must comment that this is offensive to redheads and to stepfamilies, many of whom are as loving and supportive as any other family type. AHEM.]. There are days when your mailbox is filled with goodies galore, and those where there are only bills. And as much as I am occasionally inclined to slap people upside the head for complaining, I get it. The highs are addictive, and the lows can make you question everything you’re doing.
I’ve put together some tips for holding onto the highs and riding out the lows:
- Remember that each opportunity is limited in scope. If there are tens of thousands of bloggers who could possibly be included and only 25, 50 or 100 spots, you can’t always get in. Remind yourself that it’s good to spread the love!
- Try not to take it personally. Your blogging talent isn’t necessarily what they’re looking for. You may just not meet the demographic, numbers, style, or vibe they are looking for. It could be that your blog is pink and the person reviewing blogs has something against pink. There’s not always a lot of science going on here.
- Stay true to yourself and your message. Do NOT start adding topics to your blog simply to try hook more opportunities – it dilutes your message/voice and can make you look flighty. Instead, find ways to broaden your coverage while still holding onto your niche. For example, if you blog about travel, but want to integrate more technology, make it a point to highlight the technology in hotels, airports, and tourist destinations. If you blog about your kids, but want to start covering fashion, talk about outfits that are great for moms who are short on time (and possibly money). You’re still maintaining expertise in a particular area, but you’re showing versatility as well.
- Don’t beg, whine, or gripe in public. Trust me when I say that you are not the only one who is disappointed. See point #1. Handling it with grace at the very least keeps you from looking childish or unprofessional. You’ll keep your bridges intact and be in the running for another opportunity.
- If something comes about that you are truly passionate about, send a short note to the person coordinating it. Let them know (briefly) why you think you’re a good match, how you think you’d benefit the company, and that you’d love to be considered for future opportunities. Don’t beg for an invite as it puts that person in a difficult position.
- Throw your energy into your blog. Rather than moping around, sit down and write a fantastic post for your blog. It’s healthier and it brings you one step closer to the success you’re looking for.
- Create a “Keep the Highs” poster, folder, binder, or bulletin board. Every time you get a great opportunity or a cool gift in the mail, print out or create a visual representation and place it somewhere you can see it. I think it’s most powerful as a poster or a dedicated bulletin board, but a binder works if you don’t have wall space. This is your reminder of all of the great things that have come your way, and just a hint of those to come.
My biggest tip of all deserves its own paragraph: Do not let the whims of PR and marketing teams impact your self-esteem. A red carpet event is not the measure of a person or even a blog. At some point, you have to take control over your own destiny and not let the offers and opportunities drag you this way and that. Create your own magic, in whatever way you can!