I would love to be able to write blog posts or conduct my social media affairs in such a way that I became an overnight sensation, as verified by an astronomical rise in my bank balance.
That’s why I tend to read a lot of adverts that say things like “How I turned my blog into a licence to print money in just three months!”
The trouble is, though, I just can’t bring myself to do it, and the reason, I think, is to do with authenticity.
I always read the adverts, and the blog posts of the person or people behind them, and they all seem to have the same three characteristics.
First, they are extremely formulaic. I don’t have a problem with so-called “linkbait” posts myself, as a general principle, because they can be quite useful. Articles with titles like “5 ways to improve your blog’s appearance” seem OK to me. But when every article is “10 ways to do X” or something similar, then it starts to look very stale. And it’s even worse if there is a formula like:
Title: 8 words, 3 of which are search engine optimised
First paragraph: 27 words, and so on.
There’s a spot on article about this by Seth Godin: Trapped by Linkbait.
Second, they write in short sentences. Very short. It can be irritating. I know. I’ve been irritated by it. And so on. Now, I’m not one of those people who favours complex sentences involving long words just to impress everyone with how erudite I am. But I find that after a minute or two of reading that sort of staccato text I’m virtually catatonic from boredom. Why in heaven’s name would I want to embark on a programme that taught me to write like that, no matter how much money I would (supposedly) make from doing so?
Third, the architects of such schemes always seem to use phrases like “How to write kick-ass prose” and “Why your mailing list sucks”. Well, I don’t use such expressions in my personal life, and I would never ever use them in a professional context, so why would I wish to associate myself with someone who does?
The bottom line, I think, is that I would like my writing to be authentic, and none of that sort of stuff seems authentic to me. Someone else expressed it as resonance:
I was chatting with a few writers this week in a course I am running about developing an email newsletter, and the idea of “list building challenges” came up. One author’s conclusion:
“I signed up twice for list building challenges … the how to build a list of 10,000 type… and took zero steps because it just didn’t resonate.”
That word “resonate” is a powerful driver of action – or inaction. It forces us to consider: are you willing to do what it takes, even when it doesn’t resonate?
In fact, that article helped me a lot. Before reading that, I thought there must be something wrong with me, or that I was too bone idle to want to put the effort in when it came to the get-rich-quick schemes.
I wish it were different, because I’d really love to get rich quickly! I feel like the eponymous hero of Portnoy’s Complaint, who said:
I have desires that are repugnant to my conscience,
And a conscience that is repugnant to my desires.
Admittedly, the context is different (he was referring to his sexual fantasies!), but the principle is the same. Ultimately, you have to be true to yourself.