“James, how do you do it? Are you sure you don’t have a legion of clones working for you?”
“Is it true that you’ve already single-handedly taken over the Blogosphere with a few well-placed and seemingly innocent guest posts?”
“Admit it, Chartrand, you write subliminal messages your content, don’t you?”
I do my best to shove James in the direction of the limo. The paparazzi jostle for position. Somewhere in the midst of the flashing bulbs and forest of microphones, I swear I hear James mutter.
“My life is chaos.”
The Fame Game
Not too long ago, James and I led a quiet life, planning our big dreams but generally just keeping on. We had our writing, a few graphics jobs here and there, and everything was on an even keel.
It all exploded seemingly overnight, just like an old west boomtown. Hey, I’m not complaining; I’m just amazed and dazed at how surreal this sudden popularity feels.
I had a small taste of my own chaos recently. I had guest posts to write, interviews to answer, jobs to finish and more jobs coming in that needed attention. I had a new blog fresh off the launch pad to maintain and we had other plotted projects in development.
At one point, I sat back and looked at what James was doing – or had been doing all along.
He had twice as many things on his plate than I did. Here’s a man with regular contributions to Copyblogger and Small Fuel. He’s guesting on blogs like Freelance Folder, Remarkablogger, and more. He comments just about everywhere in the blogosphere, comments here on our own blog regularly, and still finds time to write for clients, come up with new blog posts, work on our novel, network Twitter, answer emails and take care of management.
I’m not the only one asking James, “How do you do it?”
How Do You Get Your 15 Minutes?
Sometimes achieving fame is easy. It reminds me of one mommy blogger’s experience with fame. Innocently, a woman wrote up an amusing eBay description to try and sell some Pokeman cards her kids had thrown into the shopping cart at the grocery store. The eBay auction was a huge hit and Dawn was famous – practically overnight.
Before she knew it, Dawn’s blog had shot into the spotlight, she had the media calling for interviews, book deals offered to her and a slew of agents yammering for a manuscript.
In her case, Dawn was in the right place at the right time. Her fame was accidental, you could say.
Our fame is a little different. Most of the time, you have to work for your fifteen minutes in the spotlight. We put in long hours of hard work to be recognized. We had to change our approach and re-brand ourselves.
We knew we’d hit a winning combination when our blog soared to the top of the charts.
No One Ever Said It Was Easy
If you think being a professional blogger is easy, boy, do I have news for you. This is no cushy job by any means. Once you’ve gotten your blog off the ground, you still have to maintain momentum.
Sudden growth in any industry has a domino effect of consequences to deal with. Most companies plan for growth, but many aren’t prepared for unexpected takeoffs. James’ business consultant had pointed out a while back that we should brace ourselves and get ready.
We thought we were – but a vacation sure would be nice right about now.
“We could cut the posting frequency down to a few times a week,” James suggested uncertainly.
I shook my head and rescued the phone chord from a slow death by kitty. “We could, but people expect daily now.”
Would our readers leave if we took a break? Probably not, but when you’ve got a good thing going, you can’t become complacent. Such is the dilemma. Grab it while you have it because you don’t know how long it will last.
James and I both knew the same thing. This wasn’t the time to stop to catch our breath. We were caught in the hurricane and had to weather the storm.
“I’m rich, Bee-atch!” – Dave Chappelle
We’ve all heard the stories of overnight successes burning out. It’s just too much to handle. How many times have you heard celebrities say they can’t take the fame anymore? But people don’t understand that. Celebrities have everything they want. Life should be good.
All too often, it isn’t.
A bunch of other problems comes with fame. Sure, you have money and the whole world knows your name, but do you have any time to enjoy that money? Can you trust people to like you for who you are or is everyone just trying to leverage your fame for their benefit?
And just who are all those people following me anyway?
The biggest problem with instant fame is that your time is no longer your own. You belong to the world now. If you believe you have to work hard to get yourself noticed, wait. Try keeping your adoring fans happy and stay productive once you have been noticed.
Be Careful What You Wish For
“Did you ever think it would be like this?” I glanced back over my shoulder, watching the throng of photographers left behind in the glow of taillights. For the moment, I was grateful.
James laughed. He didn’t want or expect the spotlight to go away any time soon.
“Yeah,” he grinned. His expression said it all. “And it’s only going to get better.”
How do you cope once you have achieved success? That varies from person to person.
For example, James thrives on it. The crazier things become, the more it fuels his system. He might be proclaiming chaos, but I know him. He’d rather have the chaos than the quiet.
Then you have me, the opposite end of the spectrum. Too much too soon makes me want to head for a fallout shelter. I might attempt bravery for a short while, but it doesn’t last. I have to retreat and recharge for another round. It’s the only way I can keep the situation in perspective.
After all, I am the Voice of Reason.
If you happen to find yourself growing popular quickly, in the usual fast pace of the Internet, keep your head. Stay focused, keep your ego in check and stay away from the rose-colored glasses. It’s too easy to believe you’re better than you are when you’re always surrounded by fans telling you that you’re great.
You’re not invincible. You’re not above the law. You are replaceable. Sorry for the downer, but it’s true. If I didn’t point that out, I’d be violating the Code of Ethics for the Voice of Reason. To stay on top of the game, you have to stay on top of your game first.
“So how do you do it?” I asked James with a smile in my voice.
He sounded puzzled when he answered. “Damned if I know.” Then I heard the grin. “I just do.”