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The Tradeoff Between Success and Authenticity

The internet is flooded. Everywhere you look is clickbait, articles and videos trying to ride the wave of the latest trend in an effort to gain exposure. One by one, people who wanted to be journalists fall to regurgitating the same tired topics as everyone else, slowly losing their idea of who they are in favor of who they should be.

This doesn't have to happen this way.

For years the internet has been a place of economic opportunity for the little guy and big corporations alike. Media companies lost market share as independent journalists found a platform to share their work. YouTube, Reddit, Blogger, Medium, and countless social media sites emerged to give anyone a voice. With this, the public learned what media companies already knew, that sensationalism and echoing your reader's beliefs are the way to get clicks (what used to be selling papers).

Media companies had to pivot to adapt to this new method of sharing information, which only continued their downhill slide away from sharing the news and into entertainment. The transition from reliability to untrustworthiness is a long one that began before the internet, but that's a topic for another time.

The result of this race for our attention, the competition for clicks, is a virtual landscape full of garbage.

It doesn't have to be this way.

I don't feel the need to explain what I mean, because I believe you already know. If you're reading this, you read other blog posts and articles online. My hope is that other writers and contributors read this, because the message is for them. We don't need to write according to trends. The rise in popularity of platforms like Substack prove that, not only do people want quality content, but they're also willing to pay for it directly.

You don't grow a following by repeating what 420 other people have already said online. You don't grow a following by putting out content written by ChatGPT. People don't want to read your posts because you found out that the topic is trending on Google.

A fulfilling and successful career is made by finding your voice and speaking your truth.

The Need for Recognition

We all want it. Not only that, we all need it. We're social creatures, we need the approval of our peers, but the unfortunate reality of that need is that some people approach it backwards.

If your analytically minded or process driven you may look at the problem and solution like this:

I have a desire for recognition.

I see other people being recognized online.

People are enjoying these posts.

I should analyze the post and mimic the writer's style/subject matter.

Then, people will begin to follow me too.

The actual truth of the matter is more intuitive and less measurable. Human beings have an ability to suss out the genuine from the fake. We don't always pick up on it right away, but when we do, there is a gut reaction against that person. Whether it's a technical blog, a vlog, or creative writing, an audience consistently engages with the content because they appreciate the writer's unique perspective or style.

So, for all the new writers and content creators out there, here's my advice:

Work on finding (or continue using) your unique style.

It doesn't have to be fancy, it doesn't have to be well-informed, it just has to be genuine.

Your Internal Power Source

What is motivating your writing?

Is it the respect of people in your field? Maybe, it's just the potential revenue. These are common desires and can definitely be understood by all of us. We all need an income, how cool would it be to make money from writing? Do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life, right?

An issue arises when our motivations are the results and not the process.

Wanting the money and respect is totally cool, most of us do, but to put in the work for the results is exactly that, work. True creativity, true excellence comes from those who create for the sake of creation. Think of any artist whose name carries on long after their death. Sure, they had patrons or sold their art, but all of this was to continue their life as an artist. If it was about the money then an artist would take the profits from their creation and invest it to never have to work again. The artist, however, continues to create.

Why do you write? Is it to make some money on the side? Is it to build and eventually monetize a following?

If it is, good luck. You're not the first, and certainly won't be the last.

But if you enjoy writing, if the passion comes before the profit, then stay true to yourself.

An audience gained through temporary trends and marketing tactics won't last. We've seen it with individual creators and multi-million dollar companies. The writers that inspired us to try our hand at the pen or keyboard didn't write to make a few bucks, they wrote because they had something to say.

Everyone reading this has something to say. Some of you choose to share those thoughts, and some of you choose to continue to share despite the difficulty involved. I'm still new to writing, and I don't have much of a following, but I know everything I've written on this post is true. I think you do too.

In the end, whatever you choose, I wish you luck.

The world takes all kinds. Whether you want to explore and share your true perspectives or rewrite things you've seen online, there's a place for you in this world. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, however you feel about what I've said, keep at it.

Thank you,


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