So You Think You’re the Next
Blog Superstar?

When I was doing the acting bit in Hollywood in the early 90′s, we would have laughed at the idea of Web 2.0.

Hell, we laughed at the web in general. Who needed it?

Back then, the tech available for getting yourself seen was ridiculously primitive. We had three options:

  1. Pay a geek an unbelievable amount of money to post your headshot and bio on a crappy domain that nobody ever went to.
  2. Regularly spam as many agents and casting directors as you could find email addresses for.
  3. Work the phone yourself, acting as your own agent, booking auditions.

Yeah, you remember the brick phones and the pagers…

While these tactics may have been helpful, the bottom line always came down to the work. Sure, there was a sense of providence in the grabbing of a paid acting gig, but the artists that enjoyed that providence more often than not, were the ones that worked like mules. The real deal. The Skilled Workers.

  • Not for fame.
  • Not for cash.
  • Not for a quick turn around.

It was about the work itself. The craft, if you want to get sentimental about it. These people were serious about what they did. Serious enough to starve for it. And I’m not just throwing an old cliché around here.

So now we’re playing with tools of creation and distribution that are infinitely more powerful than anything around in 1993.

So Ana Marie Cox grabs a book deal after three years of blogging.

So everyone goes crazy. Even more folks are taking up the laptop, thinking they have a shot at the big time. Fine. New York is always looking for the next Jonathan Swift.

Whether you like her stuff or not, I’d be willing to bet that Cox has not been casual in her use of these New Media firearms. And unless you’re only in it to write up the daily undertakings of your cat, neither should you.

Remember one thing when you’re looking into that beautiful, empty, .txt document.

No matter what happens to you, at the end of the day, you are alone with your work. You have to live with it, sleep with it, suffer the consequences of it and stand by it.

Don’t go for the cheap laugh. Get the real one.

Don’t think about New York, think about eternity.

Do your work. Do it well, when nobody is watching. Sweat it out.

Use the tools, don’t worship them.

And let New York worry about herself.

About the Author: Robert Bruce is Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter and Resident Recluse.

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Comments

  1. Howdy there.
    Your link to Knife Pen Gun seems to be busted.
    Thank ya.

  2. Robert, fantastic reality check. For me it’s all about the purpose behind my actions. If I catch myself doing something for the wrong reason(s), I either reconsider my intentions or stop all together.

    Time is my most valuable asset and wasting time on something that doesn’t fulfill me, probably won’t be beneficial to anyone else.

  3. Don’t you think we should also keep in mind that Cox’s book was a massive, massive failure?

  4. David –

    “Time is my most valuable asset and wasting time on something that doesn’t fulfill me, probably won’t be beneficial to anyone else.”

    Uh-huh. We’ve all got to pay the bills, but in the end, how we do it matters as much as that we do it. Maybe more…

  5. Ryan – I’m just looking at work ethic. What happens after publication is another matter completely (as I’m sure you know).

    Might be a better example, hers just seemed the biggest in recent memory. I don’t exactly have any poetry success stories to pull from ;)

    Any others you remember?

  6. I am a little biased but Tucker’s book is on its 10th month on the NYT Bestseller List.

    I totally agree with you of course, but she’s not exactly a great example.

  7. no but i finally give something back!

  8. i’ll be the next superstar!!!

  9. I totally agree with you of course, but she’s not exactly a great example.

    My takeaway from this post was that focusing too much on the end game of “success” (especially when people still measure success in terms of old media) pretty much guarantees mediocre results.

    I do think Tucker is a great example because, as far as I can tell, he’d be telling his stories even if he was living in a cardboard box under the freeway. And that’s Robert’s point.

    But there’s no doubt Wonkette motivated a ton of people to blog for book deals, just like Steve Pavlina indirectly encouraged people to blog for bucks. Such is life.

  10. Quelle wonderful suprise Robert!!!! Fancy seeing you here. Your prose bites as much as your poetry….bites into the truth of it all…what have we here “Salon Clark”? I like it.
    Move over Deux Magots et Café De Flore.
    All best, Jan

  11. I don’t believe in always thinking about the future value of your work. I am a big fan of write it down, get it out there, and hopefully valuable themes will “come out in the wash.”

  12. Hmmm, there’s no apparent craft, or heart, or thought, or love in the early work of, say, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis.

    They kinda learned on the job, and were strivers in the extreme.

    This buttresses Google Suck’s point and undercuts the author’s, it seems to me…

  13. Thinking on “future value” is a waste of time.

    Thinking on “eternity” brings an undeniable weight to everything you do, regardless of the outcome. Which is why so few do it and go for the cheap laugh, cry, etc. It’s easier and sometimes creates a quick, though shallow success.

    The opportunities for a starting actor are very different from the opportunities placed in front of a starting writer. Particularly today. A writer can now write exactly as she pleases and gain a massive audience, or toil in obscurity for years… completely independent from traditional publishing.

    And Mark, I guess you could argue about those boy’s current work as well ;)

  14. Janice, good to see you over here.

    Yeah, Clark and I are just sitting around drinking absinthe, eating steak tartare and smoking too much. Time to get some work done ;)

  15. @Robert- I am expecting a “Moveable Feast” from BOTH of you.
    Love the post. Bookmarked. ; )JC

  16. Fancy meeting you here Mr. Bruce.

    Great article. Great advice. But no matter how hard I try to “just read the words”, I can hear your voice behind them. Just like a video.

    @Darren – How about a Robert Bruce video?

  17. Beautiful piece, Robert.

    Experiencing and celebrating the process as the ultimate end result. Lots of let go, loads of here and now.

  18. Thats a nice and refreshing read.

  19. @David- I second the motion on the Robert Bruce video of this, make it downloadable to mp3 as well. We want son et lumière , but noir á la Bruce, s’il vous plait. :)́ Please, pretty please. JC

  20. Zemens – You’re an old school tough. I’m lucky to know you.

  21. Nik, Tom – Thanks fellas.

  22. What I took from this article is how you really should try to “do what you love” to be a “success.”

    Of course you don’t always become wealthy, famous, or rich – but you do come away with making a living at something you’d normally do for free because you love it. It’s that type of work you’d sweat and starve for.

    It’s that motivation that is part of the recipe of success. If money wasn’t an issue, what would you do?

  23. Wow! I do not care about New York I just want to write like you.

    Great story to suck me in, your voice in attitude came through the whole post, wonderful rhythm and timing.

    Aaron

  24. “Do your work. Do it well, even when nobody is watching.”

    That is the best quote in the whole post because it is the one that most people don’t get.

  25. Thanks!

    A slam dunk post. In the end, the secret to success is always the same regardless of the media.

    Success requires passion, persistence, and sound strategy.

  26. I do not think, I know!

  27. @Matthew-and that’s the one that matters most. Bright lights, big city or quiet atelier…we still live within our own skins. I would rather draw a sublime line or two than have the accolades of a hundred hollow souls chasing the latest thing.
    JC

  28. @Darren – How about a Robert Bruce video?

    Methinks you’re confused as to which blog you’re visiting. :-)

    But never fear… Robert has already done two videos for Copyblogger… he’s my official commercial talent.

    Sincerely,

    *Brian*

  29. Excellent, excellent article. I remember the days of people paying someone $3,000 to set up a crummy web site and I thought, ‘Why would I want to do anything on the web?”

    Things have definitely changed and there are incredible tools to work with, but as you said, we must not worship them. This is a personal message to me, thank you!

  30. There’s no secret, if you had a good idea like the one I forgot last night :) the only thing I would need is other 364 more!

    BTW the history of “forgoten doog ideas” made me to buy a voice recorder and to plase it under my pillow. Since then no ideas came up… excluding the one from last night. Unfortunately 2 days ago I have given the recorder to my friend. I was sure he needed it more that I did.

  31. Comparing blogging to Hollywood is spot on. It’s simple: do whatever it takes to get to the top.

  32. Well, it’s a dream of many. I thought the olden ways of becoming a blog superstar was funny. And true! Who really looks at those domains anyway? And I really like what you said about writing for yourself and not for anything or anybody else. In the end, you don’t want to look back and cringe at the crappy entries with your name on it. But I have to admit, that I am a bit guilty of a few points up there.

  33. yes.. maybe.. :D

  34. Great article. I think about this a lot: how the web has flipped the publishing world on its head. But hard work still reigns supreme.

    Tucker Max is a great example. That’s why I’m writing my senior thesis on him.

  35. “Don’t go for the cheap laugh. Go for the real one.” Ah… a very noble goal… but it seems like web 2.0 demands the cheap laugh in some ways… because it’s often faster, and people simply don’t have the time for sophistication/complexity…. or maybe i’m just lazy?

  36. Interesting article, and i like the stance you took with this one. I personally have never wanted to blog for fame or money. I just enjoy blogging, and love my niche, thats all the encouragement and benefits i need to be happy with what i do.

    Keep up the great work Robert. Hope to see you a regular feature hear at copyblogger.

  37. I’m one of the people who took up blogging for bucks after reading Steve Pavlina but I now stay in it because I enjoy it and because I’m developing my skills in writing and communication and because it’s fun and rewarding in and of itself.

    In my experience, if you don’t enjoy the process of whatever takes you to the end result that you aspire to then you will probably not make it. You end up running on empty very quickly that way and you rarely develop the abilities that actually deliver the result. Even if you get lucky you will find it hard to sustain that luck if you don’t have genuine skill and the dedication that it takes to apply it.

  38. Inspiring

  39. Sorry to spoil the party,but I sat in amazement reading about shallowness and “getting to the top”.The top of what? Let’s begin by just doing honest writing,with your true heart in it,and let come out what may.And if we all feel so artistic and talented,then we should show gratitude for such gifts,and bring our voices to help the most unfortunate.I totally agree with the last comment as far as loving what you do,in order to lead you to sustainable results,not luck,I beg to differ.This is one of the issues ,people that are success worshippers; success is not something you crawl to ,but a feat of letting out your human greatness;which by the way,every man and woman has just by being alive and it is the essence of divinity which we all feel as a species,too bad there are still too many that let greed and fakeness reign amongst us.I’d love to hear all of you are doing something to claim back all the jobs in America,get back to our great production skills and create great products instead of importing them.And as writers let’s produce our mightiest,zaniest,freeest, happiest,and most joyful works to impulse our generation which needs not get zombier or more generic.