139 weeks ago, I bought the domain smartpassiveincome.com.
At that moment, I was unknown in the world of online business and blogging.
Three million pageviews, 25,000 subscribers, 50,000 Twitter followers, and almost 10,000 Facebook fans later, I've reached numbers I never even thought were possible, and here I am and it hasn't even been 3 years.
I'm not trying to boast here, but I'm very proud of what I've achieved so far and am extremely thankful for all of you who have helped me get here.
I really do feel like I'm living the dream—my dream. Being able to work from home, be here with my beautiful wife and son, flexible schedule, saving more than I spend—I couldn't ask for anything more, and I don't want anything more.
But, as wonderful as all this sounds, becoming a successful blogger does come with its dark side.
Successful public figures are seen in a certain light, however, everything that happens behind the scenes isn't always revealed.
For example, many people consider actors to be the luckiest people on earth—awesome career, lavish lifestyles, red carpet events and more money than they know what to do with. What most people don't realize (and I mean really realize) is how much work is actually involved, the crazy and ridiculous day to day schedules, the months (or even years) away from family while on location, and of course, the paparazzi and lack of privacy.
The same goes with athletes, politicians, performing artists, and anyone else with a huge following—including some bloggers.
Now, I'm not even going to begin to compare the talents and skills of bloggers with the aforementioned groups of people (although I'm sure some of our fellow bloggers could give some of them a run for their money!). The money, talent, and issues that arise with fame are generally on completely different levels, but—there are certain things that come with the territory of a large following for any person, no matter what their career may be, that one should realize before they really devote themselves to that particular lifestyle.
The Dark Side of Successful Blogging
All of the following come from my own experience as a blogger with a relatively large following. These examples may or may not be true for all big-time (or future big-time) bloggers, but I know I'm not alone.
This post was not written to scare you, nor was it written to make you feel bad or sorry for me. It was written to be transparent, truthful and informative about the things that come along with owning a blog with a large following—something I know many of you are striving for.
A Ton of Email
As a blog starts to grow, so do the number of people who contact you.
Just to give you an idea of where I'm coming from, on Monday, June 20th, I received a total of 158 emails:
- 67 were notifications from WordPress that I received a comment.
- 38 were from people who used the contact form here on the blog.
- 26 were from people responding to previous emails that I replied to or sent.
- 12 were notifications of affiliate commissions.
- 5 were from my VA.
- 5 were from newsletters that I am subscribed to.
- 10 were for miscellaneous items.
Yeah, it's getting a bit crazy, but I know I'm not the only one dealing with this issue.
Erica from Erica.biz recently announced a 30-day experiment to see if she could get rid of email all-together because, as she puts it, “…it's slowly but surely sucking my life away.”
Tim Ferriss even addresses the problem in his book, The 4-Hour Work Week. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
And all-star blogger, Glen Allsop from Viperchill.com, recently switched to a Forum model for communication because of his problems with email too.
I always do my best to respond to each and every email, but because of the sheer quantity, some are falling through the cracks, which I don't like.
Within the mass of emails I receive, I typically come across several joint venture (JV) offers.
A JV offer is a person's request to either work with me on a new project or product, or help promote one that the person has already created, for a share of the profits.
This may sound tempting because it's more money in the bank, but it's not in the best interest of my readers to say yes to most of these. I'm not going to blast you guys with product after product, which is something I've seen done on other blogs I respect(ed) that sort of made me think twice about why I was a subscriber.
Guest Post Submissions
Along with the JV offers, I receive a number of guest post request and submissions on a daily basis. Out of the 36 emails that were sent on June 20th using the contact form on my blog, 4 of them were about guest posting on SPI.
Many people even submit a draft of a post (a common guest posting strategy), which makes me feel even worse if I have to turn them down, which is usually the case. I did a rough calculation and over the past year, less than 1% of guest post requests have been published on SPI.
I hold high standards for what gets published on this blog, but unfortunately that means having to play the bad guy sometimes, which is tough because I want to help people as much as possible.
With over 2 years of consistent publishing of high-quality content on SPI, I am feeling more and more pressure to deliver awesome and unique content every time I write or record something.
In addition to that, with the popularity of my Income Reports, I'm feeling pressure to keep those numbers up since it's all out there for people to see.
Everyone expects SPI to perform at a certain level, and as the author it can be stressful at times.
Fortunately, I thrive under pressure.
Successful bloggers take on huge responsibilities.
As leaders they are uber-influential, and all it takes is a well-written post, an email, or even just a link in a post or a tweet to really influence a ton of people one way or another.
I can't just recommend any product. I can't just link to some random website. I can't just say something without knowing how it will effect people.
I'm happy to take on this responsibility and put extra care into what I publish and recommend, but for some it may be too much.
The Microscope Effect
The microscope effect is simply this: the more influential and popular you become, the more people will analyze you.
When you start to see success, people are quick to watch every move that you make and analyze everything that you say.
This can be a good thing, especially if you provide value and influence for the better. But, of course, this can be very very bad.
Anthony Weiner, Tracy Morgan, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Need I say more?
As bloggers, we don't necessarily have paparazzi following us around everywhere or media that is quick to make our latest going-ons the top story over other news that is really more important—but with social media and how quickly word can spread in the blogosphere—it can sometimes get close to feeling that way.
“One you eat, one you delete.”
The more popular your blog becomes and the higher your website ranks in the search engines, the more spam comments you're going to receive—that's just how it works.
This year, it's been ridiculous:
Yes, in the last 60 days, I had over 117,946 spam comments on my blog.
Thankfully, there are tools out there to help us combat spam comments, but not all of them are perfect.
I had been using a WordPress plugin called Akismet to fight spam, and it was working quite well until recently.
Over the past few months, a lot of regular commenters on the blog were getting put into the spam folder automatically.
This was very annoying—not only for my readers, but for me too since I had to fish all the false-positives out of the spam folder, which isn't easy because spammy comments were coming in every single minute of the day.
It didn't happen too often, but what really tipped me over the edge with Akismet happened last week, when all comments on SPI were going into the spam folder, including my own!
I had to manually go in and approve over 60 comments on Friday—which did not make me a happy camper.
I emailed Akismet support—no response.
I was advised to approve the good comments until Akismet “learns” what it's supposed to do, but a day later the same thing was happening, and it was a bit odd that I had to fish out my own comments, so I was done with them.
Thanks to some recommendations on Twitter, I landed on another WordPress plugin called the GrowMap Anti Spam Plugin, or G.A.S.P. for short.
Since installing the plugin, I've had zero spam comments on my blog. It's amazing.
The way it works is that it includes a simple checkbox in my comment form that auto-commenting and spamming software cannot read.
I'm just glad I can breath again.
Copycats and Content Stealers
I don't mind when people use my work and my designs to influence their own, however I do have an issue when people straight up rip off my content or designs without asking or without giving me credit.
Lately, more and more random websites are taking content that I've written and posted on SPI, and posting it on their own. Some offer a link back to my site, while others do not. Either way, it just boggles my mind because I can't understand exactly what they're trying to do.
How in the world are they going to get anywhere using these methods? I have no idea.
I once found my eBook, eBooks the Smart Way, on another person's website with a different cover. That eBook has since been taken down.
I accidentally found 2 YouTube videos, uploaded by two separate users, that were 100% copies of my own. No credit was given to me in the descriptions, and they were promoting some bogus make money online product that I had nothing to do with. The videos, however, were all of me speaking and even mentioning my Facebook page and Smart Passive Income. One even had ads on it.
Long story short:
Other people have copied my custom theme, which is more of a gray area when it comes to “stealing” and doesn't bother me as much, but still—how is anyone going to expect to get ahead by just simply copying others?
It's easy to get extremely angry and frustrated at these sorts of things, but expect them because they happen.
Plus, when you think about it—I must be doing something right if people are copying what I do.
As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
Again, I know that I'm not the only one dealing with this issue. The Blog Tyrant wrote a post about someone copying his blog, and I can't find the link but I remember somebody ripped off the Problogger logo, turned it upside down to create a “b” instead of a “p”, and thought that would fly.
On the internet, trolls are people who leave inflammatory or off-topic comments just to provoke some sort of emotional response.
The community on this blog is relatively troll-free, thankfully, although there have been some occasions recently where a troll or two appear and begins to harass me or some of the other commenters, which I simply cannot tolerate.
They have been dealt with, and I'll deal with any more that come along in the future.
It's tough though, because it can be really easy to get extremely upset and heated by some of the comments about you or what you do on your blog. Similar to cyber-bullying, it's a very real and dangerous thing that has caused some people to actually kill themselves because of the abuse.
It's sickening really, and I have absolutely no respect for trolls and cyber-bullies.
Expect it and if you run into a troll, don't take what they say personally, and ignore them.
Also, the community here at SPI is always quick to back me up, so I'm very fortunate and thankful for that.
You guys rock.
A non-believer is simply a person that doesn't agree with what you do.
It's impossible to please everybody and there will always be people who disagree with how you approach things, however some are more vocal than others.
Non-believers are not necessarily trolls, and for the most part they have all been very respectful here on my blog.
Many people would advise to let these kinds of people believe what they want to believe, because everyone should be entitled to their opinion—and they are. But, if you're blogging about something that you're absolutely passionate about, it can be difficult to just let it go sometimes.
Recently, a non-believer emailed me with details I'm not going to share here on this post (out of respect), but we ended up exchanging several emails back and forth and I invited him to chat with me on Skype, which we did. Opinions were said, facts were laid out, and now I feel we have an understanding about each other and all areas of misunderstanding are non-existent.
I've done this in the past, reaching out to those who were really vocal about what I do and how I approach online business, and often times these people have become my biggest fans who are happy to share what I do with their friends and followers.
Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Crush It! is very active on Amazon.com, in particular in the review area of his book. He contacts each and every 1 or 2 star negative review about his book and even offers to talk to them on the phone. He was my inspiration to take this approach with nay-sayers, because watching him had a huge impact on me and showed me really how genuine and passionate he is about what he does, and I'm a follower of his for life. [This link leads to Amazon. Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
To Finish Up…
Blogging isn't all fun and games, and as I hope you can see there are some negatives that come with success in this realm, however like I've mentioned before, I'm very happy and fortunate to be where I'm at and I'd gladly deal with these issues as I build my brand and live the lifestyle I live now.
What are some “dark side” things that you've come across so far during your blogging adventures?