I don’t actually regret the decision to pursue a full-time writing career, because unless you take that chance in life, you will always be saddled with the menacing nag of “what if.”
That being said, we can all agree that knowledge is power, and one of the major pitfalls of not being aware of the risks that you’re piling on with weighty decisions is the falsehood of idealism, and how it initially shields our vision from the sour outcome.
Back in the summer of 2013, the plan was to finally break away from the grip of 9 to 5 jobs that hold you hostage because of the immense benefits of steady paychecks, health insurance and all the other goodies that we slave for in order to barely keep a roof over our heads.
After 7 years of being over-worked and under-paid due to the systemic gluttony of JPMorgan Private Bank (we will discuss later), there was no other choice but to find satisfaction elsewhere. The New York Public Library seemed like the perfect location to fulfill those basic needs, but as it turned out, even non-profit institutions host working environments that aren’t conducive to overall mental stability.
The moment that we hope for arrived after the mutual parting of ways at the end of the summer with the severance package that would allow complete immersion into the craft that I was no longer willing to reserve in second place.
And then meetings with like-minded contacts brought the reassurance that I was headed in the right direction. I could be a writer and possibly make a decent living instead of pouring most of my faculties into dead-end office roles, while ceaselessly juggling editorial deadlines.
The beginning stages of this ambitious quest didn’t hurt much, as the hunger for growing recognition outweighed the balance of dollars and cents.
The exposure on Medium that began in August 2013 skyrocketed in early 2015, when a poem that I wrote on my phone while riding the local bus in Los Angeles, on a chilly dark morning, went viral.
That first experience of publishing an item that produced that level of appreciation was delightfully infectious, and the dreaminess of believing that nothing was going to be the same.
My audience grew substantially, and the constant attention from readers and editors of publications surpassed the need for financial rewards. I was also simultaneously holding down a number of editorial gigs that allowed me to flex my prowess as a content creator.
One was for a lifestyle brand that was just about to launch an app, and it was exciting to be a part of that process from start to finish. The other at the digital arm of a major media company that had developed the bad habit of keep contractors far away from the possibility of being permanent employees. And the last full-time gig I was able to amass was another recognizable brand, that ruthlessly hired me to be the content recycler for a handful of verticals.
All the while, Medium was the constant, that fueled my hope that blogging for a living could very well be the ultimate prize that would make up for shitty editorial outings, that seemed to indicate the industry’s dreary forecast, that’s currently on display.
Fast forward to the present, and we can agree that online journalism is in the shit hole.
Massive layoffs by prominent outlets like BuzzFeed, Vice Media, Digg, etc don’t bode well for the future of online publishing, and basically prove beyond a doubt that being at the mercy of cranky algorithms, that are often times manipulated in a last ditch effort to save the unsalvageable, isn’t going to cut it for longterm viability.
After joining the Partner Program when the honorable invite was extended, almost 2 years ago, there was hesitation in the first few months as I contemplated how charging loyal readers to read my work would backfire.
But after receiving the boost of hefty payments that were conveniently calculated beyond my comprehension, it was a lot easier to get with the program, by focusing on maintaining the reliable momentum that had garnered me the privilege to finally reap the earnings of my hard work.
It was the simplicity of acknowledging how never giving up and loving what you do enough to do it for free without complaints, can eventually shape into the very existence that skeptics mock with disdain, based on their astute understanding of a worn-out formula that doesn’t have the capacity to stretch further than it’s able to go.
The wear-and-tear of depleting stats and the unexplainable lack of engagement, and other weird shit that I’m determined to steer away from the first love that still remains my one and only, has been the enlightening bulb of realization that convinces me of how the art of blogging was never supposed to be anything but a bona fide hobby.
It’s hard as shit when you’re doing it on your own, which was my project from 2011–2016.
I only made about $100 from my blog, MyTrendyBuzz, back in 2015, but the pure joy of owning a space where I could delve into the stuff that spoke to my soul, made up for the lack of funds. I got to interview up and coming fashion designers, filmmakers, including 2019 Sundance darling Chinonye Chukwu, as well as spotlighting the issues that needed a ray of light.
Again, it was more about the content, and not the frustration of finding innovative ways to make money, and thank God there was no time wasted in that mission, because we now know that blogging is simply not a sustainable venture.
Looking back, there have been clues that illustrated how writing on the web was destroying the dignified station of journalism with the adherence to click-worthy headlines that provide reading material to those who don’t read.
And if you dared to click over to the article, you will understand why nobody reads.
The content being spewed out at a rapid pace usually contains tons of typos, and other glaring errors that get worse with endless revisions. And you can’t avoid noticing the way sensitive subject matters are twisted into unflattering tales bursting with the right amount of salaciousness, that makes gawkers forgive the disgracefully messy delivery.
As a writer, I’ve reached the place where decisions need to be made accordingly, based on the evidence that can’t be refuted.
The first assignment is to issue the official #RIP to online content creation, as it dies a slow and bitterly painful death.
I can’t deny that it was blissful being able to dwell in the optimism of something that I absolutely didn’t comprehend, but so desperately needed to support for the betterment of my disposition.
But now that the facts are lining up and I’m able to seamlessly pair them with my careful observations over the past three years — I can honestly say that I do regret becoming a full-time blogger.
The naivety of assuming that the market was only going to get better because of how I was able to balance a demanding day job with part-time gigs, blinded the reality of where things were headed, and why I would’ve been better off not putting all my eggs in one basket, regardless of the temptation to prove that writing on the web could be a lucrative endeavor.
No matter what you get screwed!
The bank and library job fucked me over, and the editorial world fucked me over even more.
As it turns out, none of these big name organizations want the responsibility of investing in a pool of dependably talented content creators because the quality of output isn’t the focus.
Basically robots could do what I was doing, and that’s definitely what will transpire in the years to come.
And even though keeping my blog alive without income was a difficulty that I could never overcome, it’s even more challenging submitting to the uneven mechanics of platforms that operate without your input.
You can’t control the suddenness of poor performances that have nothing to do with your unchanged work ethic. You just have to take it or get the hell out.
I regret becoming a blogger because of the limitations and veiled complications that occur after you’ve invested time and effort, and become disillusioned with the screeching halt that deafens without warning.
The good news is that I will never regret being a writer, and the great news is that there are durable methods of expression, that don’t require “claps” or stats to warrant inspiration and consistency.
It’s the old-fashioned way of writing that we flushed down the toilet when “likes” became the preferred mode of engagement.
Since I’ve also been flushed down the pipe, the only thing to do is to swim in the new normal when I find it.
Or hopefully when it finds me!