Ethel has written a post. It’s a great post and it’s receiving lots of positive feedback. Janey wants lots of positive feedback too. Janey copies the post, changes a few words around, adds in a few extra ideas and publishes it as her ‘brand new, completely original post’ in all of the 232 Facebook groups that she’s a member of. Nobody will notice, right?
In the last week I’ve read two articles that I immediately connected with. The first, a completely fabulous post by Kate Toon – 19 Things NOT to Do in a Facebook Group – which hilariously highlighted just some of the silliness that I witness daily, and the second by Elena Peters – What’s Up With the Fast Blogging? – a short set of thoughts on the misconceptions of overnight blogging success and the desperation of bloggers to achieve it. They’re both completely different posts, but they essentially focus on the same thing:
Fear Of Missing Out, an all-consuming desire to keep up with everyone else, to have what they have, to do what they’re doing.
There are endless blogging success stories – the bloggers and vloggers who have achieved a lifestyle that most of us could only dream of. Millions of subscribers and views, endorsements and product opportunities, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and adventures, all accompanied with some serious cash. I’ve watched in the last few years as bloggers who appeared from seemingly nowhere have now gone on to become mega-successes. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I don’t want the same.
Except – and this is the key thing to remember here – their ‘overnight’ success was actually achieved after YEARS of daily graft and hard work. Unfortunately, this is something that many still refuse to acknowledge and the resulting FOMO can not only be the source of bad behaviour, but it can potentially hurt a blog and destroy a blogger’s confidence, reputation and integrity.
The main problem can be reduced down to a single thing: desperation. The sheer amount of us (and I’m not completely discounting myself in this at all as I’ve done some of this in my earlier blogging years) that are so desperate to keep up with everyone else has resulted in large percentage of the blogosphere now being made of up of people wildly throwing everything and anything that they can around in the hope that some of it will stick and take off into the blogging stratosphere.
Social media platforms are a confused minefield of stuff – a fast-paced mess that are completely saturated with links full of conflicting information, and this craving to be seen and idolised is enhanced with frantic and irrational behaviour. Facebook groups in particular are the WORST places to be if your self-confidence is fragile and I’ve witnessed successful, professional people resort to repeatedly spamming and/or randomly attacking and insulting others over absolutely nothing purely in an effort to appear as knowledgeable, successful and relevant. It’s an ongoing competition that nobody ever really wins.
My biggest issue with FOMO bloggers is that they bulldoze everything in their path, simply because they don’t take the time to read, learn and understand how to do something or spend some time working out who they are before they put themselves out into the wider online world. Stealing ideas, posts, graphics, images, joining hundreds of Facebook groups and Pinterest boards and frantically sharing as much of their stuff as they possibly can without reading any rules or guidelines, mass following and unfollowing, sending out spam emails, constantly badgering others to sign up to their mailing list, making thinly veiled attempts to disguise their latest course as a blog post so they can try and share it in places where course promotion isn’t allowed… It goes on and on in a political cycle of bullsh*t during which the genuine people simply going about their blogging day are subjected to constant bombardment of ‘LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT MY BLOG! LOOK AT HOW MUCH MONEY I EARNED IN MY FIRST 5 DAYS OF BLOGGING! TELL ME HOW TO DO SOMETHING BECAUSE I CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO GOOGLE IT OR PAY SOMEONE TO HELP ME!’…
What they don’t realise is that this ‘in-your-face’ approach is a massive waste of time. If someone doesn’t read your post by the tenth time you’ve shared it, or tweeted it, or left it in someone’s comments section, or emailed it to them (you’d be surprised at how many people like to email their latest post to make somebody else ‘aware’ of it), or blasted it into Pinterest group boards, then it’s highly unlikely that they’re ever going to interact with it, or with you. In fact, I started actively blocking and removing people who do this sort of thing a long time ago and I know many others who do the same.
Want to Avoid Being a FOMO Blogger?
Accept that you are who you are, and start to acknowledge that your uniqueness is your brand. I would love to be as witty and talented as some of my favourite bloggers, but I’m not. That isn’t a self-deprecating statement in any way – I generally write about who I am, what I know and how I live. I don’t have the time, inclination, money or the figure to spend hours creating the perfectly crafted photograph of myself looking all gorgeous and wistful in front of a beautiful skyline. I don’t have the cooking skills to post about the perfect lasagne. My cat, as awesome as he is, is not going to have his own Instagram account anytime soon. Great for those that can achieve this – and I live vicariously through others that do these sorts of posts incredibly well – but I’m happy with my sweat pants and a husband who excels at squirrel photography.
Stop focusing on what everybody else is doing around you and concentrate on what you enjoy writing about. The fact that a blogger friend has gained 150,000 views on a post about her favourite pair of socks does not mean that you need to write about the same thing (particularly if you don’t blog about socks regularly) – I can guarantee that you won’t get the same results, it will be blatantly obvious to everyone that you’re trying to jump on an invisible bandwagon and you’ll end up feeling deflated. Great content is what you make it, not defined by the number of people that read it.
Accept – and I can’t stress this enough – that it takes a LONG TIME to be an overnight success. And I’m not talking just posting every so often over a few years here, I mean regular and consistent content creation and genuine promotion.
Shut up about ‘going viral.’ I’ve said this a million times before and I’ll say it again – going viral is predominantly down to luck, and a large amount of the posts I’ve read about the subject have been written by people who have never experienced it. Forget the word and move on.
Focus on one specific area and then expand your reach slowly. Start with Twitter, or Facebook, or Pinterest and then move onto the others and/or when you feel confident.
Research and practice before jumping in. Want to learn how to use StumbleUpon? Read as many articles as you can about how it works. Practice using it. Try some SU based tasks out with some close blog friends. Watch what happens in an SU link-up, THEN participate in one yourself, rather than diving in head-first and expecting others to tell you what to do afterwards.
As Elena states very eloquently in her post, calm down and make your time count. Instead of sharing your latest post in every single place that you can think of all in one go, target one specific area and spend some time interacting with other people. You can easily visit, comment and share posts from at least ten other people in the same time it would take to blast your links repeatedly across every social media account you have and you’ll gain so much more for doing so. Or, create an effective social media checklist that allows you to share and interact without shoving your posts down everyone’s throats every single day for the next three weeks.
Don’t be shady. If you want to participate in something, actually read what it is that you have to do first and then join in properly. Don’t email people you’ve never interacted with before requesting a reblog, or a guest post, or some sort of promotion. Don’t post pointless questions in Facebook groups that you can easily Google in the hope that someone will reply with ‘followed’, or randomly attack people just because you’re behind the safety of a computer screen. Don’t leave your link in other people’s comment sections. Don’t email someone requesting that your post be added to their viral post of a similar theme. Make your interactions genuine ones.
And above all, stop focusing on world domination and find your friends. A decent group of like-minded, non-FOMO people will do far more for you in the long run than a bajillion groups.
What about you guys? Have you been subjected to nightmare FOMO bloggers? Or are you a FOMO blogger yourself?
You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to follow my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks