I received an email from one of my favorite readers not too long ago that posed this question:
“Also, I’ve recently found all these cool kids on Instagram who have websites and seem to be successful. And I just sit there like…dang, why isn’t my blog that cool? Do you ever find yourself comparing?”
I will not outline my very lengthy and personal response, but my answer in short was yes, I have found myself in the inevitable conundrum every blogger faces: comparison. Comparison is sort of like jealousy—everyone is capable of it, but not everyone succumbs to it. One of the things that separate bloggers who change the game from bloggers who twiddle their thumbs is whether or not those bloggers choose to surrender to the never-ending whirlwind of comparison.
The Internet is wide open, arguably more wide open than it has ever been before. Content is endless. People are telling stories, disrupting the status quo and doing incredibly amazing things. And everyone has access to those stories, disruptors and amazing things. So in some ways it’s beautiful. And in other ways, it’s a complete mind screw when you are trying to figure out just how and where you fit in the potpourri of blogging.
There’s a quote many people like to throw around when it comes to comparison: “Don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20.” (I think it was blogger and author Demetria Lucas D’Oyley who coined that.) In other words, it’s worthless to compare what you are doing in the early stages of your career to what someone else has done or accomplished when they’re 10 laps ahead of you.
Here are a few other concepts that have helped me when I feel the weight of comparison starting to come down heavy on me:
Develop your strategy; decide what your end game looks like: Many times when I’ve felt myself comparing my blogging journey to someone else’s, it was because I failed to realize I had a different strategy and vision for myself from what someone else was doing. Some people want to write books. Some people want bylines in top-tier magazines. Some people want to become experts and speak at conferences. Some people want to create their own media brands. Some people want huge followings and a million hits a month. What is your end game and how do you plan to get there? Once you make sense of those two very lofty questions, it’s easier to settle into your path and avoid the distraction of comparison.
Don’t compare, collaborate: When I see other bloggers doing things that I think are super dope, I usually will reach out to them to feature them on my site, guest write for theirs, team up on an event or co-host a Twitter chat. Instead of sulking and wondering why you aren’t doing what someone else is doing, team up with them. It’s a win-win situation.
Imitation is not always the sincerest form of flattery: This extends upon the aforementioned collaboration idea. When you see someone doing something you respect and like, reach out to them. Pick their brain. Again, collaborate. Get insight into the thought process behind the idea instead of just trying to replicate it. Don’t always assume that shamelessly stealing an idea (or only tweaking the idea a little bit and passing it off as your own) is going to fly over well. Knock-offs are usually more obvious and offensive than the real thing.
Reach out. Reach up. Reach back.
Reach out: To others in the blogging community whose work you respect and admire
Reach up: To those who are ahead of you in their career for mentorship, advice and guidance
Reach back: To those who are just starting their career so that you can be a mentor or Mama Bear to them
Most people in the blogging world are accessible and approachable, that’s how they have managed to garner a following. Shoot an email. Tweet them. Reach out, reach up and reach back is a motto that has sustained me as a blogger. It has helped me build a tribe of people who keep me motivated, serve as allies, steer me in the right direction, lift my spirits me when I’ve gone in the wrong direction and remind me that I am doing better than I assume. I have my own Mama Bear mentors and I am a Mama Bear to some amazing young women who are just starting their writing careers as well.
What about you? When have you found yourself comparing your work to that of other bloggers? What tips or mantras help you get out of the comparison pit and continue to produce amazing content? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!
Tyece Wilkins is the creator and editor-in-chief of Twenties Unscripted, a blog for millennial black women. She enjoys drinking red wine, reading, getting entrenched in long conversations with friends and creating customized things that she doesn’t need on Zazzle.
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