Why Success Can Be A Trap & How To Escape It
A few weeks ago we were talking about Heather Armstrong and how her blog has changed over time.
Some changes happen over the course of a career, particularly as over the course of a career of a blogger, because people change as they age and the way they see the world changes. Also, when you write every day, your writing changes. It’s inevitable.
But usually those kinds of things are positive changes and are not likely to have a negative effect on your readership. What we were discussing a few weeks back was how to retain your readership in the face of major life changes that might land you in totally different circumstances from the ones in which you found yourself when you originally charmed your readership. And if your readers can no longer relate to you, how are you going to keep them?
Success for Heather Armstrong is kind of a trap in this way. Her fans say they want her to succeed but in a way they don’t, because the more that she does, the less they can relate to her. The more that she shows them the trappings of her success, the more they begin to resent her and the less they feel she can relate to her. But the thing is, why shouldn’t she share with them how she has been able to turn her blogging into a successful venture? And also, if her business is to make her life into a blog, then how is she going to possibly continue without showing what her life looks like now, new houses, Twitter parties, HGTV sponsored events and all?
I suggested a few weeks ago that what I thought she needed to do was to start posting the things that she didn’t think she should put on the internet on the internet. Like she did in the old days, before she was famous. Maybe those things don’t have to do with postpartum depression anymore, or maybe she cannot say them about her family anymore, but maybe there are still some things that she can say or do that are vintage Dooce that still have that vintage Dooce flavor, that remind us why she became who she is. And I wanted to post this today, because she’s done just that a few times lately and it’s really made me feel like there is a way out, or to transform, even once you reach that level. That even if you feel like you’ve painted yourself into a corner, if you are still willing to take chances, you can still do things that are new, if you want, and I think that Dooce is thinking about doing just that, based on a few things she’s done lately, and that I’m hoping she’ll expand into her blog as well. For example, this tweet, which infuriated several of her followers, but was also retweeted by 67 people:
Why am I applauding this? Particularly when it led to an inevitable unfollow threat and subsequent pile-on by Dooce fans of the unfollow-threatener? Because 1) it’s funny, and 2) it’s vintage Dooce. It’s not safe funny. It’s not all-caps, hyperbole funny. And it’s not a crazy threat against a corporation or throwing Twitter weight around. It’s just Dooce making a politically incorrect joke. It’s a side of her she has not let us see for a while, and I think it would be nice for us to get reacquainted.
Another example, from the recent flare up of the sparklecorn controversy, Dooce made an appearance on behalf of Mike Monteiro (from his Flickr Photostream:
This is Dooce having fun and being funny. Not worrying about corporations, or being Dooce the brand. Just being funny.
I like it. And I think it’s good for her brand, too.
What do you guys think?
Glossary terms: unfollow threat
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