Do you remember John and Sherry Petersik's (in?)famous home renovation blog? They began a year before I started Cake Wrecks, and we all enjoyed that golden age of blogging when money and book deals were plentiful. For some reason I never got into YHL, though. I knew *of* the site, of course, but never clicked over to explore.
Theirs is a story of hard work, success, phenomenal success, and the now-familiar slide into sponsored posts, over-sharing, and the horror of having once-loyal followers turn on you. It's a cautionary tale for anyone who writes online, and a vital perspective shift for everyone else. The internet is a complex beast, and we should all know the dangers before trying to dance with it.
Anyway, I highly recommend the whole article, but this snippet in particular jumped out at me:
“You will not find a single blog with that kind of cult following that doesn’t have a personal connection. But what creates that kind of devoted following can also be problematic. At some point you have to ask: Do you want your life to become your business?”
That's a huge dilemma online, and one I think any blogger with even moderate success is familiar with. As readers we crave that personal connection. We want to KNOW the blogger, warts and all. But at the same time, we can get this feeling of ownership, as if those writers somehow belong to us, or at the very least, work for us. We also expect bloggers we like to always do like-able things, but that's a moving target. Plus the more we like them, the more betrayed we feel when they step out of line.
Now throw money into the mix, as bloggers try to make more while advertisers are paying less, and you've got a virtual powder keg.
I don't claim to have the answer, and in fact when I see big blogs fall into a hailstorm of controversy over over-sharing and over-monetizing, it's more than a little scary. I'm often grateful that I don't have those levels of success here on Epbot, because if CW taught me anything, it's that fame brings out the pitch forks, no matter who you are.
At the same time, I love what I do here, and I've never regretted the personal things I've shared on Epbot. I've met many of my closest friends here, been cheered through anxiety struggles, and even received life-changing health advice - all from virtual strangers. It's freaking amazing.
Thanks to this geek community, I'm proud to say my own journey into "over sharing" on the internet has brought me nothing but joy, encouragement, and a deeper sense of meaning. It took me years to reach this level of comfort, of course, and I still try to be smart about it, but now I can't imagine NOT sharing some of my struggles and personal triumphs with all of you.
In fact, that's what I ended up telling that reader: that I eventually reached a point where it felt harder to NOT talk about my anxiety online. Getting it out in the open just felt right. Still scary, of course, but right.
So I guess I'll keep writing what I love to write, sharing what my heart tells me to share, and trust that those of you who stick around are cool with that.
Here's that article again. Go check it out for a good read.