The Life and Times of Casey Palmer: An Elegy for Mediocrity

Y’all ain’t interested in writing anything great.

The name of the game is mediocrity. Mediocre blogs that don’t share anything worth reading; people who skip birthdays for mediocre events; mediocre personalities, expectations and lives. No one’s striving for anything amazing anymore.

And it boggles my mind—everything’s literally within reach, but when people find out how much work it takes to build a personal brand and cultivate it to the point where people actually want to read what you write, they just give up. They rather spend time telling you it “must be nice” than to build anything meaningful for themselves, letting themselves fail before they’ve really given anything a shot—and I can’t go for that.

I stopped listening to the haters a long time ago—no more of the people who thought I was “setting myself up for disappointment” when they hear my lofty dreams or peers willing to create content that was simply “good enough”; I’ve spent many years getting to know myself, and can tell you that if I don’t keep pushing to get better with every piece I put out, I may as well quit now, ‘cuz I know I won’t make it through.

But I get it—I get that some people only got in this hustle to get their money and go, not overly concerned about what they leave behind as long as they get their cheque. That there’s a literal army of bloggers who don’t give two cares about standing out, long as there’s a shortcut or two to feed their bottom line.

But there’s no cheat sheet that’ll tell you how to reach the top of the heap. No membership guide that’ll tell you when you’ve “made it”, and the perks you can expect at each stage of the game. This is something you need to build for yourself, doing it because it fuels you, pumping through your veins—those who’ve come out looking for an easy payday quickly realize this grind demands more than most are willing to give, and it’s the few who know they need more than money from it all who’ll still be here in the end.

Which is why I’m losing my mind trying to get back on my horse after what feels like an eternity spent without a solid blog post out.

Before heading out on a 10-day trip to Mexico to see my sister-in-law get married in a little place called Tequesquitengo, I could feel it creeping in on me from all sides—a heap of sponsored content that wasn’t going to write itself; plenty of action with the 9-5 that needed handling before I took the time off; and a very comprehensive to-do list that wasn’t going away without doing what I needed to do as a Dad and doing right by my family. It’s easy enough to call yourself a blogger—slap a few words together, add a few photos and call it a day—but putting out content that’ll do any better than the stuff you’d find in a local community newsletter is a full-time gig unto itself.

It’s a struggle, though—I’ve spent countless hours trying to find myself: working past the sponsored posts to examine some deeply rooted parts of my soul—my ever-changing life as a father, trying to do the best I can for my children without sacrificing the things that make me who I am. Further studies into life as a Black man in one of the most diverse cities on the face of the planet. I’ve been so caught up in the hustle that I’ve failed to feed my soul, and that’s something that’ll need changing if I don’t want to get reacquainted with burnout.

But knowing what I want to write and doing it justice are two different things—have I led the kind of life that makes me qualified to discuss any of it? Can I write the kind of stuff that’ll matter years down the road, or am I chasing an ideal I’ll never manage to touch, stuff that’s no better than any of my peers?

This is what keeps me up at night—knowing how badly I want to reach my potential, but not knowing if I’ll ever get there. Though I’ve written long enough and hard enough to be confident that my work can do great things, I still can’t convince myself it has what it takes to change lives. Or that it can do any more than simply take up digital space and do any better than the uninspired memes and uninformed opinions that already constantly plague us.

I sit here, and I’ve yet to be convinced that my work can outlast me.

And that’s what it really comes down to—I want so badly to create classics that the pressure I put on myself sometimes halts me in my steps… but we all know there’s only one way I’m going to reach my goal, and that’s to keep on writing.

So that’s exactly what I’ll do.

Be Mediocre if You Want—But Remember; Hard Work ALWAYS Pays Off.

These moments where self-doubt takes hold and I start questioning whether I’ll actually manage to make something valuable from my efforts, I have to remind myself of the things I’ve accomplished already, and how I would’ve called it quits a long time ago if I listened to everyone telling me what they thought I couldn’t do. That I couldn’t be successful if I strayed from the safe path—that a stable job, good family and debt-free existence were as far as my dreams should go. That I couldn’t exceed my life’s station—that a life without trust funds, Ivy League schools and family connections could only take me so far, and that I should leave greatness for those better equipped for it… it’s simply not meant for a lowly commoner like myself. Sure—I look at my peers who show up on the scene more often; the ones travelling across the globe and going to the hottest events… and while it’s obvious to me that this would’ve been easier when I was younger and childless, you don’t just quit because something gets harder.

You just get better at it and figure out what works for you.

So I hope you didn’t miss me too much, but the boy is back—you can only let a cloud hang overhead for so long before it’s time to get yourself together and move on; when it feels like the world’s trying to hold you back, that’s when you shine your boots, stand tall, and remind it that ain’t nobody got time for that.

But the hustle continues and I’ve still a million and one other things that I could be doing, so I’m gonna get back to it. If you made it this far down the post, kudos to you, and I’ll tell you this—if the 2016 we’ve seen so far is any indication of things to come, we’ve still got a very interesting year ahead of us!

Thanks for continuing to check the blog out and until the next,

–case p.

BECOMING A BETTER BLOGGER: Square Peg, Round Hole

There was a time where I realized that creating anything that was worth it would need a WHOLE lot of work. I mustn’t forget this.

Blogging is a hustle. It requires you mind, heart and soul to produce content and have it truly reflect who you are. With so many bloggers out there, you’re unlikely to see any returns from your writing without a lot of effort and a lot of time. Building a blog is a labour of love, and you need to mould it into something outstanding. But if you’re a blogger putting content out and relying on consistent frequency and not consistent quality, I’m sorry, but you’re doing blogging wrong.

Is Consistency King?

These past few years of immersion in social media haven’t been passive for me. On top of all the events, the tweets and the new relationships I’ve developed over that time, I’ve attended many webinars and conferences; read ebooks and blogs; and spoken with many “thought leaders” about social media and being successful with it.

Much of it points to the same thing — be consistent with your content. Let your audience know when to expect the next instalment so they’re subconsciously ready for it. Expectation is key.

And I agree — I’d love to move to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday format, putting content out at 9 every morning, ready for all the people who want some content to consume before they start their busy days. But that’s not going to happen.

Not yet, anyway.

Thirst vs. Truth

I’m a mix of a few things when it comes to my blog — a realist, impatient, and an ambitious perfectionist.

My realist side knows that there’s only so many hours in a day, and that blogging isn’t my top priority. My marriage; my relationship with family and friends; and maintaining enough income to support my lifestyle (among others) far outrank it, so I must be realistic about how much time I can put toward my blog.

My impatient side, however, wants to see this change. It wants importance now. It wants to make blogging a higher priority and for all of it to amount to something today — to call his own shots and be seen as some authority in some industry somewhere. He has no plan (he hates planning) and wants everything to happen immediately, without fully realizing how much work it takes for anyone to get anywhere.

Especially in social media.

But it’s the ambitious perfectionist side of me that’s really running the show. He refuses to release content until he’s added tags to the images; scanned the text to make sure it delivers as powerfully as possible; and feel like it’s the best possible effort that he could put out. Sure, he’d like to put content out regularly, but to him, blogging is an art form and he’s not about to compromise it by trying to force something mediocre out to try to hit an arbitrary schedule.

And that’s where I see the problem — too many bloggers are using an outdated rulebook and focusing on hitting that schedule without making sure that what they’re putting out is the very best that they can produce.

Quality Over Quantity — Every. Single. Time.

We can’t accomplish anything that’s worth it overnight — just ask the ridiculous amount of crosswords, Sudokus and other word and number puzzles I solved to try to hone my brain!

Blogs have been around for well over a decade, and it’s not like the market for people’s attention has shrunk since then. If you want to make an impact, you’ve got to give people a reason to want to pay attention to you. Engagement isn’t a natural by-product of creating content consistently — you have to earn it by making stuff that you stand behind. That you’re passionate about. That you believe in.

And you won’t get that if you half-ass your craft to hit a quota.

To those of you who’ve managed to balance quality and frequency, I applaud you. You invest the time, you don’t cut corners, but your time management skills are stupendous enough to keep it consistent. You are the type of bloggers we need to aspire to become if we ever want blogging to get the respect we so obviously crave.

To everyone else — it’s time to wake up; mediocrity isn’t going to cut it anymore. The Internet is flooded with content — most of it mediocre — and convincing an already-swamped audience that you’re the person to listen to will need info and content with the highest calibre of authority, entertainment and value available to them. It’s like I said before — stand for something or you’ll fall for anything, and guess what:

if you don’t step your game up, you’ll definitely be falling behind.

–case p.