If you either don't care about the rise of poor-quality writing all over the internet or if you just don't want to listen to me go on a long, curmudgeon of a rant about it, this is not the post for you. Move along, now.
If you do care about this topic or you (for some reason) enjoy listening to me get pissed off and rant, then you are in for a great time. Possibly. The fact of the matter is that everywhere you look these days, you'll find genuinely bad content all over the place. Poorly written, it is usually just a thinly veiled sales pitch, words cast into the wood-chipper of low-effort marketing and get-rich-quick schemes.
And I'm damn tired of it.
Where Have All The Good Blogs Gone?
When you used to ask people why they started a blog, the answers would be varied. Maybe they were an expert on a certain topic or skill, or perhaps they were just really passionate about model trains and lasagna recipes. Most bloggers just liked writing blogs - go figure, right?
Now the annoyingly-named "blogosphere" is overpopulated with greedy, unskilled profit-bloggers whose only real motive is to sell whatever they can via their much-abused mailing list and viewer count. They have no real interest in the things they write about, or at the very least they have no interest in writing about the topic they are actually passionate about.
Over time, these blogs all begin to sound the same. Many of them devolve into blogs about blogging which rely on the hopes and dreams of others who think they can make piles of cash by whinging words out into the void. I have seen blogs that were about genuine topics like volunteer work or green living transform totally into a sales funnel meant to lure in other bloggers.
It pisses me off. And no, it isn't some high-minded sense of writerly pride that stokes the rage, it's the sheer bombardment I and everyone else have flung into our faces from these content mills. If I see one more bogus "I made $6,000,000,000 in one month by blogging AND THIS IS HOW" post cluttering my Pinterest feed, I'm going to go ballistic.
Losing Sight of The Forest For All of The (Lying) Trees.
Let me tell you a little blogging secret. None of these people actually made that much money from blogging - not even in their dreams. Not even in their wet dreams. IF they have, in fact, made any significant income from their platform, it is in the same time-honored way as every other business. They sold things. To people like you. For money.
More and more often, what they sold was a bunch of vague, shoddy bullshit that adds exactly zero value to anyone's life. Most of the time the amount they say they brought in from their blogging is arbitrary and extremely inflated. In other words, they're lying to you.
Why? So they can drag ever more people into the giant, seething MLM scheme that blogging and content writing has become. You, too, can make X amount of money by signing up for their course or by buying their ebook (which has so many typos it makes you wonder if you're having a stroke while reading it). And look! You can have a bunch of completely useless, poached products FOR FREE by signing over your personal info! So that they can - you guessed it - try to sell you more bullshit.
To clarify, I have no problem with providing free resources or ebooks. I have no problem with blog monetization, either, or with content marketing in general. What I have a problem with is the endless stream of crappy, dishonest, and unoriginal content that has begun to consistently drown out higher-quality work. Not only has this influx of greed-mongering drivel driven down the value of good writing generally, it has also made it hard to even find good writing. Needles in a haystack, and all that.
I know how easy it is to get sucked into the glitzy blogging courses and free ebooks, the planner printables and the discounts. The image presented by "blogging gurus" and their authorial equivalents is extremely enticing - but unfortunately it's just an image. An illusion.
The Truth Doesn't Change Much - It's Called Persistence And Hard Work (And Usually Failure).
For a while I was gung-ho about making money with my writing in the same way so many new creators are. The internet and social media painted a picture of surefire marketing strategies and a steady stream of adoring, paying fans.
And then I grew up. There is absolutely nothing surefire about a writing career - the only certainties are that you will a) have to write a lot before you master your own work and b) you will not see success for a long time. As with any career, this is a long-term proposition that will absolutely fail unless you are willing to look way, way ahead and see your hard work as an investment.
You will see these get-rich-quick bloggers come and go many times over while you slave away creating good quality, meaningful content. You too will go on long and angry rants about it. If you persist, you'll also see the huge majority of those profit-generating machines go defunct and fizzle out as more and more people get tired of being used as a cash farm.
Meanwhile, you will have been building your foundation. Hopefully you'll have been steadily building several foundations, whether through freelance work, publishing books, interacting with the reading community, or the sustainable crafting of a genuinely engaging blog (holds out hand for praise). You will have learned the difference between long term success, which is built on knowledge and integrity, versus short term trends which sign their death warrants the moment they sacrifice originality for regurgitated leads.
There is, however, one problem.
Is It Me, Or Is The Market Looking a Bit Nauseous?
The problem is sustaining yourself long enough to outlast the cheapies. While mommy-blogger number ten billion (no offense to actual parent blogs, y'all are great and I love your work) uses the pyramid scheme tactics she learned from so-and-so's "discounted" $400-a-month course and sees some quick success, you'll be patiently picking the moths out of your empty wallet.
Most of you, I'm sorry to say, will not be able to wait as long as it will take for the income to roll in. And not for lack of trying, either. The fact of the matter is that even writers need real food and a roof over their heads, and two hundred blog posts plus some introspective novels won't bring you those things.
No one can deny that the market is beyond saturated. It is, more than ever, very hard to get your writing seen by the right people. To survive, you'll get a day job to pay the bills, and slowly but surely your time will get eaten up by obligations. Your energy won't be up to the herculean task of building an artistic career, because very, very few people can sustain that energy in the face of life's demands.
So, most writers who attempt to forge a career will fail. What they'll fail at first is realizing the truth that good writing does not mean financial success or even any recognition - good writing plus sustainable marketing plus continual learning plus resilient persistence means success, most of the time. And all of these things must be cultivated in the face of judgment, criticism, bad advice, and the onslaught born from an army of idiots masquerading as experts in every inane topic under the sun.
For a lot of writers, it's just not worth the fight.
And that's perfectly okay - you can still find work you don't hate and maybe even like. Maybe it'll be in a writing-related field, or maybe it'll be completely random. You have to decide the parameters for your own happiness and fulfillment.
I'm just mad that it's gotten really, really hard to do that. Probably because my only parameters are "be a writer or literally hate life itself." And yes, I am a big, whiny idealist baby. Doesn't change the fact that some people find that the trial-by-fire-mixed-with-a-200-mile-marathon is worth it, and not by any choice of our own.
In Conclusion - I'm Mad, I Don't Have A Solution, And I'm Going To Keep Writing My Ass Off Anyway.
The only way to deal with the flood of bad content out there is to make good content. Maybe you won't ever see any tangible results from that effort, but it will have made a difference if even one or two people reads what you've written. A really tiny, kind of disheartening difference.
Do it anyway.
If enough of us make those minuscule differences, eventually they won't be miniscule. People will learn how to sift the good content out and it is my honest opinion that they will expend the energy and time to do so. Those who love the written word are ravenous and determined in their pursuit of it.
That is the beauty of what we do, when all is said and done - we bring passion, creativity, and knowledge into the lives of people who value it highly.
And guess what, Suzy Blogger - we don't even need to make one trillion dollars a month to do it. So why don't you try taking a writing course and stop emailing me about your stupid how-to-piss-off-your-audience-until-they-form-an-angry-mob course, huh?
This concludes my rant. If you, too, would like to rant and rave with me, please do so in the comments (or privately via my contact page). In the meantime, I'll be seething in my den of iniquity. Until next time, everyone!