Saturday, November 21, 2015

On Blogging, Competition, and Jealousy: An Update On My Blog and My Life

Competition and jealousy among bloggers. It's a topic that's been covered countless times before (if you're reading this, you've probably written your own post on the exact same subject), which is why I've avoided it for my three-and-a-half-year-long blogging career. Plus, I never truly had a problem with blogging envy in the past; I started blogging to connect with other readers (not to snag free books or gain Internet fame) so given my amazing blogging friends, I've had no reason to complain.

But over the past few months, I've started to struggle with blogging jealousy more and more, and now I feel compelled to share my own experience, as so many other bloggers have done.

This isn't going to be my most well-written, thought-provoking discussion post, and I don't care about its stats. I'm not going to promote it intensely or worry about making beautiful graphics. I just wanted to sort out my own thoughts—and open the floor for you to tell me about your encounters with blogging jealousy.

Here's the thing: I've never been jealous of other bloggers for the books they get from publishers. Sure, I'll sometimes feel a twinge of envy when I see snapshots of ARCs I'd absolutely die for, but it's nothing serious. I can wait a few months and read the book when it comes out. No big deal.

However, I do get jealous of other bloggers' talents. I get jealous of bloggers who know how to work video cameras and integrate a quality YouTube channel into their site. I get jealous of bloggers who can design and code websites. I get jealous of bloggers with stunning Instagram accounts. Most of all, I get jealous of bloggers who have that seemingly magical ability to attract legions of followers—sometimes I can't even put my finger on why a blogger is so personable, popular, and brilliant at marketing herself, but I get jealous anyway.

And lately, that jealousy has been getting worse.

I think it's because I'll be heading to college soon, so I've been confronting my future more directly and honestly than ever before. I've wanted to work in marketing or PR at a publishing house since freshman year, and I know blogging is helping me work toward that goal. But lately, I've started to view blogging as a reflection of my abilities as a potential publicist, and I don't—I can't—measure up to the impossibly high standards I've set for myself.

How will I be a good book marketer or publicist if I can't even gain 1,000 followers on my blog? How can I promote books in a multi-media format if I can't film and edit video? I ask myself these questions and more every day. And since my life right now is dominated by college decisions that could impact my career, my worries about my relative inadequacy overtake my thoughts every time I write and promote a blog post. 

But these thoughts are self-conscious, irrational, and driven by the typical "what am I going to do with my life?" worries of a high school senior. Worst of all, they're distracting me from the reason I started blogging (and the main reason I continue blogging)—to connect with fellow readers.

So instead of stressing about my blogging skills, I'm trying to remind myself of the three following points:

1. My inability to be a blogger extraordinaire is a time issue as much as it is a talent issue. I'm a high school senior in five AP classes, I have a part-time job, I'm the editor-in-chief of my school's newspaper, I try to maintain a semblance of a social life and get enough sleep to function, and I just don't have time to post every day, learn how to film YouTube videos, or spearhead major publicity projects. I know bloggers who are busier than I am who manage to run amazing sites—and I don't know how they do it, but I know that I personally can't. If I had unlimited hours, I'd have a bigger following and better content. But I don't, so I need to balance blogging with other, equally-important parts of my life. 
If and when I get a job in publishing, promoting books will be my career, what I do all day for a living. I'll have access to significantly more time and resources than I have now, so obviously I'll excel more. I can't compare my hobby to someone else's job. 

2. I'm 17, and I haven't even finished high school yet. Of course I'm not going to be a master of marketing or videography or photography. Blogging has given me a solid set of basic marketing and design skills—but I have all of college to improve on these abilities and learn new ones. 

3. Blogging ≠ publishing in 2015 ≠ publishing in 2020. Blogging and book marketing/PR aren't the same thing, and blogging skills don't necessarily translate directly into publishing skills. Even more importantly, the publishing and communications worlds are both constantly changing, and there's no guarantee that skills that are useful now will still be relevant when I officially enter the industry. It's better to be adaptable, to know how to learn about new technology and social media, than to become an expert at the tools that are currently available. 

Anyway, these insecurities, combined with end-of-semester business, are why my blog has been quiet over the past two weeks—and will continue to be quiet for the rest of the month. I'm working on keeping the previously-mentioned positive thoughts in mind (just writing this blog post has helped), but I still think it would be best if I extended my mini-hiatus until the end of November.

I'll be back in December (I couldn't possibly miss all the end-of-the year festivities, and I'm already getting excited about my best of 2015 list), and until then, you can find me on Twitter (which I've also been quiet on but will be returning to effective immediately).

Also: let me know in the comments your best tips for dealing with blogging insecurities. I'd love to chat and share advice.

3 comments:

  1. Hi, you! So glad you felt comfortable enough to share this. You have so much on your plate right now, and you should be totally proud of your ability to keep up with school, take part in those extra-curiculars, and also run a blog. So many people are impressed by those who run blogs because there's really no urgency too -- we aren't getting paid, but yet it's a thing that moves us SO SO much, we are compelled to spend our extra time taking part in this community and sharing our love of books. I am a publicist, and I just wanted to take a quick moment to say... those numbers and the ability to formulate big marketing pushes on your blog (two things I don't always have in my favor) didn't even come up in my interviews. I do try not to place too much importance on it actually. In a way, it got me involved in books but I think it's also a way to be sucked into a bubble of what things mean and how things work, and that isn't always the way it is -- especially depending on where you work. I have no idea if this is a helpful comment at all but your ability to be organized, curious, willing to learn, and also creative and confident are really what are going to help you move forward. Plus you have four years of college to look forward to, and that will change you in ways you can't even imagine now. (I hate to sound like an old person when I say that but it's true.) I'm glad you are learning to give yourself a break. You deserve it and all the real life stuff is so important too. Enjoy your break, have a wonderful thanksgiving, and sending you all the luck. xoxo

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  2. Just keep doing what you're doing (minus the stressing part). You are doing exactly what a smart high school senior should be doing. The rest will come. You'll have great classes in college where you can learn all these skills--or find friends who can help you. Yes, just relax, enjoy Thanksgiving, and stop worrying until after Christmas! :)

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  3. I totally get what you mean Emily. There are just so many talented people in the blogosphere that sometimes it's almost intimidating. (Although you are definitely one of those talented people because you are so eloquent and have such a way with words).

    And, honestly, I'm shocked you're even able to read - let alone blog - with all the things you've got on your plate. Blogging is hard enough, but with 5 AP classes (!!) and all your extracurricular, I don't know how you do it. Seriously - you are an inspiration.

    I'll miss you and your gorgeous posts while you're on hiatus, but I hope you have a nice break. ♥

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Thank you so much for leaving a comment! I love to hear your thoughts, and I read every one. You just became one of my favorite people, so I will try to visit your blog in return.