One of the funnier conversations I watched at BlogHer was between some big league blogger talk to a small crowd. The big leaguer was talking about how she’d built up traffic by creating a community around her, and linked to everyone else, and written positive comments across the Net, and held carnivals, and proptly replied to email from visitors. She then explained that she was now really guilty about all the mail she didn’t answer, and how her community was always needed tending because some drama was blowing up, and how much time she had to spend reading and commenting on other people’s posts. The listeners looked in horror; eventually one hesitantly said “So I write online because I’m introverted. Why would I want to deal with anyone else?” Cue buzz of agreement from everyone else hiding under the desk, including me.
Speaking from adjacent experience, I’d say that one of the pains of doing something for fame and fortune (apart from the usual lack of fortune), is that the incredibly low quality of mass-produced fame. I may have mentioned tangentially before, but if you scale up who knows your work, you often end up with fans whom you can’t stand. For many, this is quite disheartening. How are you supposed to value your own work when it appears that most of the people who love it are idiots?
If anything, the effect of this online is worse than in Ye Olde Traditionale Media. We all know people who produce great work, but are afflicted with cesspits of comments that hang on their every word. The beauty of new media is that you’re in direct contact with your readers: the horror is that you’re in direct contact with people who you never want to meet, but who feel that they have some sort of relationship with you.
In the end, the conversation moved away from “building traffic” and we ended up talking about how slowly you can grow a blog: avoiding ending up with a mass-produced audience, and instead taking the time to organically grow a smaller, perhaps more costly, but ultimately more satisfying bunch of readers.
Like you, of course. Group hug!