Stop Trying To Get Anointed

File what I’m about to say under the header of “note to self”: Stop spending so much of your time trying to get anointed by the influencers in your space.

As writers, we crave an readers. As potential businesses, we require potential customers. As humans, we want those we admire to tell us we’re worthwhile. This often causes us to shift our focus away from the work and toward finding an audience. There is no problem with this; part of the job of anyone who creates is to get it in front of another person. The challenge comes from who we target.

So much of our time is spent trying to reach our hand up, hoping (almost always in vain) that someone there above it will grasp it and pull you up to the next level. Sure, this happens all the time and there are even ways to enhance the chances that it does. But is this really how you want to spend your energy? Is this really going to make you do your best work? No. Chances are that over time, the work will become more about getting their attention than it will about the people you’re actually trying to reach and the things you are trying to say.

Chances are this post won’t get me some magical seal of approval. Chances are your next one won’t either, so stop writing for it. Write for yourself. Write about a topic you’re obsessed with, write something that is more likely to help one random person than it is to get you noticed by one important one. Stop crafting silver bullets meant to shoot you to the top and start working on something you can be proud of in a few years.

Chances are your blog will fail; chances are this one will as well. There are just too many of us and oftentimes a quality signal just becomes part of the noise. Don’t make this about the traffic, make it about you and your audience. If you only ever get a handful of readers, obsess over how you can make their lives a tiny bit better rather than how you can appeal to those who likely have no interest in what you’re saying. Take all that energy and make a bigger impact on the readers you already have. Hell, take all that energy and make yourself better.

If you’re making waves, someone should take notice. If you’re not, no amount of nagging will get you where you want to go. Find your people, find your topic, write like mad and make something your proud of. And if one day, someone from above takes notice, you’ll have built a body of work for their audience to enjoy rather than lucking out with one of many failed experiments aimed at getting, but not keeping, a new reader’s attention.

Merlin Mann, Leo Babauta and John Gruber have a sense of humor. For anyone who might be even the least bit confused, they in no way shape or form said any of those things (although they very well may be thinking them).Note: I’ve added a few bits of imaginary “social proof” to the sideboard to help drive a little bit of attention to this post. Here’s hoping that three of my writing heroes,

16 Responses to Stop Trying To Get Anointed

  1. I totally co-sign writing for yourself. I also think the only way to get anointed is not to try to get anointed – just do your best work. BUT. I’m always concerned when I read these posts that some will read that as “don’t tell anyone you exist”. Faith without works? Dead. No one just happens upon your work and then throws you a parade. You have to tell people you exist. Just stop trying to impress people when you do, and focus That energy on doing your best.

    • Oh, I’m in no way shape or form saying that. I’m saying spend that energy talking to the audience rather than the influencers. If you build it, no one will come. But you have a far better chance of convincing a peer than a hero to visit your site. As for the impressing vs doing your best. Amen.

  2. Hi, I agree with you in a sense that it is enjoyable to write for yourself (that’s a hobby type of blog). But another approach is to write for your audience (that’s a business type of blog). There are hybrids too (hobby/business blogs) which is happy medium. You actually wrote about something that has been an ongoing debate among bloggers for a long time. There is no right or wrong, your approach depends on your goals. Cheers.

    • I think we’re actually saying the same thing here (and think I should have made that more clear). I think you are WAY better off focusing obsessively on that audience rather than focusing on influencers. Writing for yourself is great, finding that crossover where writing what you loves crosses over with useful information, that’s the real trick…

      There’s no right or wrong, but focusing on influencers rather than that audience is more like buying lotto tickets than it is a matter of doing great work.

  3. Love your post. It’s all about me. Thank you for encouraging me to go forward and blog about things I am passionate about!

  4. I know that sometimes I hope to have a post ‘found’ and retweeted or mentioned or whatnot by one of those in the Pantheon of bloggers.  The closest I got was a highly ‘liked’ Black Beans and Rice recipe that I had posted on Reddit. Of course, I’m not a food blogger, so it didn’t translate into subscribers.

    I realize that if I’m trying to get noticed, I’m not actually building an asset of information that can either be helpful to others or to myself in the sense of making me grow in my area by writing about it.

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