Aka: Why being an introvert can be your superpower
Blogging seems to come with a huge catalog of Do’s and Don’t’s nowadays, huh?
I mean, I’ve been doing this since 2005 – back when blogs were cute little diaries full of old-school emojis and *lol*s and *sigh*s and *[insert verb here]*s. I’ve never been into that stuff, so I just replaced them all with curse words and went on creating random ramblings about my boring life as a depressive teenager. I remember getting a lot of praise for vividly describing the sounds of my fellow patient’s bowel movements back when I spent a week in hospital because of pyelonephritis. When being farted at is the most exciting thing that happens to you, what does that say about your life?
Blogging about stuff like that was pretty much okay back then, though. I had quite a few readers that enjoyed my nonsense – and that was nice. I wasn’t in it for the money or anything like that. In 2005, depressed teenagers didn’t earn money with their blogs or called themselves “influencers”. They just were little freaks that spent too much time with their computers instead of going to parties and regurgitating cheap vodka.
How to be a blogger in 2020: “Buy! My! Stuff!”
But today? Blogging has become a job. It’s all about oh-so-valuable information and serving readers and desperately trying to make them buy something.
Visiting people’s websites is like accidentally opening a spam mail and absentmindedly clicking the “Get your life-long Viagra supply NOW!”-link inside. Before you’re even able to read a single word on the page popping up in your internet browser to realize what you have done, there’s a dozen neon-colored, furiously flashing pop-ups fighting for your attention:
“Like my Facebook Page!”
“Subscribe to my newsletter!”
“Follow me on Twitter! (Will send nudes!)”
“Go get my totally free ebook already! All I want is full access to your bank account!”
“I’ve kidnapped your cat! Send me all your goddamn money right now!”
(Bonus points, if there’s a Youtube video starting somewhere in the background – together with a poorly recorded podcast episode and some Justin Bieber song.)
And when you’re finally recovering from your epileptic seizure and start moving your cursor towards the saving X, the blog’s getting really mad at you: “If you close this tab I’ll send out the Basterds, Satan and Dexter Morgan to your address!!!11eleven YOU DO NOT WANT THIS, DO YOU?!?!?!?!”
Well… I guess… No?
At least I certainly do not want to have a blog if that what’s blogging is all about. (And if that’s your typical 2020 blog now, I should instantly quit blog surfing.)
Blogging as an introvert
I’m an introvert. I hate selling stuff. I hate selling out. I find that downright embarrassing. And I fucking hate playing perfect and pretending to be the bastard of Mother Theresa and Freddie Mercury just because the blog I started turns out to be even more psychically draining than my day job in a neurological clinic.
Of course, my blogs changed a lot over the years. My sarcastic little diary turned into a review collection. The reviews turned into long essays about topics like psychology, self-growth or politics – stuffed with information and references to research studies (I loved reading that stuff back then). Then, in 2016, I started a niche blog that got big enough to even put me into German TV once. That blog earns me some money – and, most importantly, it helps lots and lots of people (and their pets). That’s fucking cool.
The funny thing is, I know all the blogging advice out there. How to get traffic. What you absolutely have to do to grow your readership and make them all willingly follow you to Mount Doom.
But that’s not what gained me my readership. In fact, I tend to ignore a lot of what the big names keep saying.
Because there’s one thing that the big names prefer not to tell you: Your reader is no goddamn fool. So stop the hell taking him for one!
The perks of being introverted
Being an introvert is pretty helpful when it comes to assessing how other people see you.
That can be exhausting when memories of kindergarten pop up in your head in the middle of the night, uninvitedly remembering you that your nursery school teacher probably took you for a complete dumbass. Because, you know, there was this day where you were too shy to tell anybody that you felt terribly sick – and without warning just puked all over the breakfast table. (Was that me? Well, maybe.)
But there are quite a few circumstances where the introverted mindset can be gold (as long as you know how to use it). Being more careful with what you’re putting out there is actually a good thing. And spending far too much time analyzing your thoughts, behavior, and how people react to what you do or say really comes in handy when you’re trying to get information across in a not too pushy way.
Please do not behave like you’re the Robert Downey Jr. of the blogging world
I know, extroverted people are the shit. They are entertaining, they keep telling stories and anecdotes to kindly prevent you from being forced to make small talk, and their distinct aversion for silence makes them secret weapons against hearing your tinnitus. (Although one might think that too extroverted people can cause tinnitus in the first place.) (Not guys like Downey Jr., of course.)
Thing is, people who love to hear themselves talk aren’t necessarily brilliant or even interesting. Sadly, they often tend to think that everyone loves to hear their chatter anyway. Like, all day long. Which makes them happily open up the floodgates to chew everybody’s ears off… Not realizing that a not too low percentage of the persons in the same room might be too polite to tell them to shut up, but instead is just rolling their eyes and silently putting them into the narcissistic idiot-box.
If that happens to you as a blogger, you’re fucked. Blogging is all about the blogger-reader-relationship. You are no superstar who may ask everybody and their cat for love and money. You aren’t the only person offering specific pieces of information. Sorry, but everything you have to say is already out there. And if you prefer stealing your reader’s time with stupid pop-ups and begging constantly for attention and somebody finally buying your stuff, well, then people might just leave your blog and never come back.
A blog does not make you an entrepreneur
Not every blog is an online business. Not every blog has to be your personal gold mine. Not every blogger is really good at what he or she is doing (or has to be good in the first place). And lots and lots of blogs that keep telling you how many millions of dollars you’re supposed to make with blogging are just fake.
Fun fact: “Making money online” is one of the most popular blogging niches. So, if a newcomer wants to create a furiously popular blog, chances are he or she will just choose this niche because it seems lucrative… After all, everybody says so, right? Although this blog itself earns the blogger not more than 3 dollars per month, it’s still promoting blogging as a surefire get rich quick scheme. The blogger just fakes it (you know, till (s)he hopefully makes it).
That’s perfectly okay. A lot of people do that. But blog readers aren’t stupid. Many of them know perfectly well how to identify a successful blog. And there’s one thing that’s as inevitable as death and taxes: As soon as you get yourself out there… You will be judged. (For some reason, I always imagine John Kramer saying that.)
You might say: “Oh, I don’t care what people think about me!” And that’s healthy. If you want to blog professionally and create a magazine about politics or something, well, then that’s even necessary. But most new bloggers really just want to have a personal blog where they plan to betray little secrets and have a good time with their readers. And that just won’t work out if their readers think they’re assholes.
So… Being a little shy isn’t that bad if it means that you’re no pain in the ass. Many people even find that quite likable… At least 99,9% of blog readers prefer that over a puffer. Especially if you also manage to write entertaining articles with some kind of value! (Just try not to puke on the table. That turned out to be quite the no-go.)