How Popularity Causes Bloggers to Lose Authenticity

And how we’re asking for it.

I want to start a blog and a lot of the times I struggle to think of who I would become. Not because I don’t see the thrill of being on the map and incredibly well-received, that certain sort of pressure is fascinating and something I’d obviously explore. But to think of what it takes to make a blog popular today, it makes me weary. Oftentimes, you are the brand and the evolution of this person-based brand is a losing battle. The story always goes something like this:

  • Blogger gains popularity for unique and, oftentimes, relatable voice and approach
  • Blogger climbs the upper echelons of passion or skillset and slowly makes way into out-of-touch inner circle. This circle is comprised of people whose life and bank account revolves around said passion or skillset.
  • Blogger signs on promotions for more and more exclusive, pricey products. It’s easier to tote expensive items as justifiable purchase when this is your passion (therefor a pardoned expense) and you’re getting them for “free”. Note: Apparently, the median household income in America right now is $59,055. A $1500 bed frame to include in a “DIY” room makeover may not be in the cards for the majority of your readers. Spending $100 on a casual summer dress? How about $30?
  • Blogger monetizes their expertise by building out product offering — perhaps a line beautifully curated products carefully chosen with their well-versed eye or perhaps organized advice all wrapped up in a nifty book with pretty pictures.

You could argue that this makes them an expert, trend setter, a visionary and a business-person. You could also argue that this makes them lose site of the reality for so many of it’s readers and in-turn, dilutes the value of their original content and brand.

As a reader, you are no longer with them in this story of growth. You are watching them from the pedestal of their expertise.You are no longer a reader but a consumer receiving the marketing of their product. The blogger is no longer a blogger but a seasoned entrepreneur.

This happens over and over again because it is a natural progression from passionate novice hobby to full-fledged career expertise.

I assume this is a very tricky mountain to climb. How do you stay in touch with your readers when you’re really know longer like them and it’s not really a bad thing? You did exactly as promised. You mastered this skill? And with that, you shed the skin of an average Joe and became someone more-than in this niche.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with growing a business but it’s a careful line to toe that you are sharing authentic content when ultimately you’re intending to profit from it and you are not longer the brand that caught fire in the first place. There is now an purpose beyond education — your monetary success.

It’s easier to see readers as a mass, not an individual you know because they truly are a mass. You go from hundreds to hundreds of thousands. They become a blur of opinions and that genuine human-to-human relationship doesn’t seem possible. Again, growing a business from a blog is not a bad thing but sometimes, it’s not “true” to that initial brand you built your popularity off of.

So maybe you decide to keep it real about the other aspects of life that make you human and in-touch. But this will also lead to exposing the soft-underbelly of your life. The things that make it sacred and beautiful and as soon as you start sharing these you may be a “sell-out” in the beautiful minutia of living. You have to give up your privacy to remain relatable because you committed that terrible crime of making a living out of something you love. Sometimes turning passion into cold hard cash may not be all it’s cracked up to be. With every metric behind your product, escapes a little glimmer of innocent, raw magic that twinkled in front of you all those years before.

As a reader, it is interesting to see this push and pull within a single blog. You can see it in jagged evolution of their posts and the comments of their readers. Refreshingly, some bloggers are transparent about this struggle and have such a strong self-awareness that they constantly track their growth and what it means for their readers. But more often than not, they go from being a human to a business and we go from reader to consumer. From in-touch to removed. From “us” to “them”.

My point is that we cannot be mad at the system. We can’t be upset when someone evolves out of reach because it’s the perfect storm that we, as readers, created with them. We expected their success and they delivered.

On to the next charming novice!

Writing when the feeling is right.