Paying Dues — Stand for Something or Fall for Anything

Sometimes you must step outside of yourself to really see what you’re doing.

“Everybody wanna be a star, don’t wanna be who they are.”

— Beanie Sigel, “Everybody Wanna Be A Star”, The Truth (2000)

You can get sucked into the game faster than you can blink.

Build an audience and people will start knocking at your door. Brands, would-be collaborators, haters — making yourself visible for all to see will make you a target for all sorts of attention, like it or not.

But never forget what they came for in the first place.

We’re Bringin’ Blogging Back — YUP!!!

The blogger brand’s diluted. Everyone’s fighting for the same piece of pie and many bloggers are more than happy to do whatever it takes to stand out and go home with the biggest morsels. Some of us fight to keep our integrity, but often feel like integrity doesn’t pay. Commissions pay. Sponsored and affiliate posts pay. But at the same time, if you don’t do it right, they can take away from your brand  and everything that you stand for.

Many of us follow the same formula. Sure, we might tweak it — add a personal touch here, an amusing anecdote there — but ultimately, there’s a finite number of opportunities for a finite number of players, all who’re learning from each other how to keep those opportunities coming.

It’s all too easy to lose your way. I love a good event — the chance to practice photography with interesting subjects and to experience things that I wouldn’t otherwise. When brands send me on experiences because they want to see my words and understand my take on it, I’m honoured and flattered. But if I don’t keep a balance between event/product reviews and posts about what I’m really thinking, not only am I alienating my audience, I’m not being true to myself.

So where’s the sweet spot between integrity, relevancy and profitability?

Why Blog If You Can’t Keep It Real?

Cheryl Lynn had it right back in the 70s — “Got to be real!” And in keeping it real — it’s not easy to feed mouths from blogging alone. People are skeptical — selling stuff to people over the Internet takes an insane amount of charisma and influences; not just anyone can separate people from their hard-earned dollars. And being even more real, what incentive do many bloggers out there offer brands to trust them with the products and images that they’ve poured millions into? The idea of free labour and an engaged audience might seem like an attractive package to offer from a blogger’s perspective, but your following of a few thousand is nothing compared to the millions consuming TV, magazines, movies, etc.

If you don’t stand for anything — if all you do is parroting what other bloggers are doing and hoping to get the same success, you’ll soon find that first impression are the only ones to make impressions — you can’t pull the same stunt twice on the Internet and expect it to stick; people are always looking for the next thing. You are not the next social media darling. You are not the next big-time blogger. You’re the next you — what is it that you can do that no one else can?

 Going Back to Myself

In the end, this is my promise. I will stand for a higher standard. I will work to stand out from the crowd not through elitism, but through telling a story and sharing thoughts that improve the world, not simply beat to the rhythm it already has. I will challenge things and ask the hard questions. I will be a blogger — and not just a mouthpiece.

Stand for something or fall for anything. The world’s waiting for you to be yourself — why be the next whoever or act like everybody else? Show us what makes you different, and the world might start paying attention!

–case p.