Staying on Top & The Gen Y Blogging Trend

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I probably read about 50-100 blog posts a day. A good half of these are probably business/marketing/social media related; down from nearly all I read about 6-8 months ago. In truth, that’s still too many, but I live in constant fear that someone is reading more than me, thus knowing more than me.

[In reality, there are lots people that know more than me. There will always be people who read more. And the doers not the readers are probably learning way more anyway.]

Carlos wrote a great post on this phenomenon.

The point is there’s an ebb and a flow to everything. I can’t read enough to know more than everyone any longer than a great blogger can consistently put out top quality content. I know this because I used to put out a top posts from around the blogosphere (of what I was reading) each month.

I remember months when Chris Brogan was stellar, others where Valeria Maltoni’s writing stood out, or David Armano’s. (For the record, Amber Naslund’s on fire right now). Bloggers who put out so much content will be better some months/weeks/days than others the same way baseball players go on hitting streaks or get in slumps.

Sure, the best players are usually near the top; but those top spots, they fluctuate.

That’s why most people settle into a niche.

And I believe it may be why many Gen Y writers are shifting away from writing about business, marketing and social media.

Seth Godin’s Linchpin talks about having the ultimate combination of high passion vs. high wisdom. And if we’re being honest, most of us who are Gen Y simply haven’t been in business long enough to necessarily have high wisdom.

If we stay with the theme of honesty, most of our elder peers would be reluctant to put us in the top stratosphere of business bloggers anyway.

The solution?

Get out of the echo chamber and write about our own lives.

Sydney is a great example of this shift that I’ve been witnessing for awhile now. As she was finishing school and scouring for an internship/job Syd wrote about a lot of social media and digital marketing topics, but shortly after becoming full-time at Weber Shandwick she altered the theme of her blog and made the transition to a much more personal route.

I can’t speak to Sydney’s reasons, but here’s my rationale on why so many younger (I’m trying to get away from the whole Generational labeling thing) bloggers are transitioning to a more personal approach:

1.) We blogged about social media marketing as we were learning about it, but we have the foundation now, which leads to…

2.) It’s so tough to break through the echo chamber day in and day out in order to stay near the top of such a crowded space. Sure, you can write an incredible post one day, but the next 3 you’re probably just adding your $0.02 to what Jason Falls already said.

3.) We’ve realized that social media isn’t this ridiculous craze, but that it’s part of the fabric of a lot of other things we do with respect to business. With the shine gone, perhaps we’ve grown a bit burnt out by all the chatter. Maybe our heads are down and we’re trying to get results, new things to talk about.

4.) With an increasing emphasis on relationships, transparency, and ideas we actually find reading about the everyday lives of others and the challenges they go through more pertinent. We still don’t give a crap about what anyone had for breakfast (unless we’re reading a fitness blog, right?), but we do like witnessing how other people our age are navigating similar career and social situations. Especially once we’ve grown to know these people.

5.) We’ve come to understand that with so much information at our finger tips virtually anyone can find the information they’re looking for online (how they organize and synthesize that information is a whole different story for a whole different post), and so maybe one way to stand out is via our ideas and our personalities. This is the goal of Brazen Careerist.

What do you think? Is the climb to the top a difficult one until you reach a certain point in your career? One that probably demands you’re a little older?

Are the reasons I’ve mentioned responsible for younger bloggers writing more about their personal lives and their own experiences than social media?

Have you made a similar transition in your own writing?

Photo Credit: Twiga269

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  • Great post. I empathize with your goal to read and take in as much as humanly possible. It is a daunting task and one that can bring the most diligent people to their knees. At any rate, I think you’re right that rising to the top of your field or even your company can be a tough task and one that can be enhanced through writing about your experiences. By sharing, you open the door to be noticed by an important person in your life or by an intelligent person to share ideas with. Either way, it can help.
    .-= Jake Rosen´s last blog ..A Love Poem To My Google Reader =-.

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    admin Reply:

    Though not the main point I was trying to convey you have extracted a key component of the post. And that is that we can’t possibly keep up with the flow of information, but by taking the time to interact and process the things that we find most compelling, we’re able to enhance not only our own overall experience, but potentially the experiences of those trying to learn from us as well. Good thoughts Jake!

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  • The only way you can get me to drop my marketing angle?

    From my cold dead hands.

    Doubt most really give a crap about my angst.
    .-= Stuart Foster´s last blog ..The Wikification of Business =-.

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    admin Reply:

    Yeah Stuart, but that’s because you KNOW nobody cares about your personal life. You spend way too much time marketing :p

    Besides, you probably do the marketing bit better than most of us.

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    Stuart Foster Reply:

    It’s because I don’t NEED to market myself.

    I’m awesome.
    .-= Stuart Foster´s last blog ..The Wikification of Business =-.

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    Carlos Miceli Reply:

    I’m with you, dude.
    .-= Carlos Miceli´s last blog ..5 Jobs We Should All Try =-.

  • I disagree, I don’t think that’s a “trend”, that’s a just some people’s approach to blogging. We’ve had people writing personal journals, others writing news and others writing thoughts and reflections since forever. The only difference is that now we can see them because they are online.

    There’s a whole lot more to blog about than social media and marketing. When you and I talk about Ben C. or Alex M., we both know that they are taking it further.

    Of my last 10 posts, only 1 is about social media/marketing.

    PS: If your are right, and this is a trend that’s going to increase in the future, then I’m done with blogs. Most people don’t have the personality/writing style to make their lives sound interesting like Sydney, Jamie Varon and Nicole Antoinette do. The result will be the most boring amount of egotistical crap the internet has ever seen.
    .-= Carlos Miceli´s last blog ..5 Jobs We Should All Try =-.

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    admin Reply:

    You’re right in that people have been writing about these things forever and that they’re more visible now, but I still contend that there’s a high percentage of bloggers making the transition from social media/business to a more personal approach.

    I’m in completely agreement with you re: Ben and Alex. Both are great thinkers with some valuable insights that frequently require me to think more about their content and my own experiences. There are others still who do a really good job of infusing their own personal lives into what they’re writing in a way that lends itself well to the context of the post and doesn’t come off narcissistic at all.

    As for your post script, I think I agree. Maybe we just have interesting friends!

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  • Spot on post. That’s actually why I haven’t written much in a while, I feel like it’s so easy to get caught in the echo and it seems like everything I’ve read latel (sans this) after I finish reading it I realize I’ve already read 3 or 4 other posts on the same subject…ironically most leading back to 2 or 3 core people. Sometimes I’ll read the title and know I’ve already read it elsewhere…it’s getting kind of annoying.

    It’s hard to come up with the original ideas to write about. Social media has been burned out, and so has personal finance (at least for me). All of the echos out there have lead me to change the format of my blog (still in the process)…

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    admin Reply:

    The thing is that is was happening long before we burst on the scene, but now we’ve been around long enough and read enough to know that it’s happening. It’s a continual effort to dig through all the echos and find that real value. And we know we want to contribute, but once we’re aware of what’s going on we don’t want to become part of the noise.

    And therein lies the challenge.

    Looking forward to the new format Daniel. Give me a shout when it’s live!

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  • Great post, Ryan! I know. I always joke that my Google Reader’s number stares at me throughout the day, mocking my inability to make time for all of it. You are right, there are always people that will be reading more and figuring out the time to fit more of that in. I also like that you pointed out that the writing about what you know thing can come from experience. I have struggled a lot with figuring out the niche for my own writing, and have come to find that my greatest success lies in straddling the line between career and my own life – they are interconnected of course!
    Great topic. I think its awesome to hear about other people’s success with blogging – or even their success with writing (feeling most authentic, etc.)
    .-= Beth Oppenheim´s last blog ..Productivity – Master or Disaster? =-.

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    admin Reply:

    Thanks for the kind words Beth! My Google reader constantly mocks me and I have an unhealthy obsession for wanting to read everything that comes into it, which doesn’t help when Chris Brogan decides to share 30+ posts a day. Damn you Chris! 🙂

    Like you (and others), I also try to straddle the line on the what I know based on what other smart people have said and then my own experiences in similar situations. Hopefully readers can identify with some of it and not worry too much about the rest.

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  • Ryan, this is a great post and really insightful of you to add.

    I read so many blogs for work (everyday) and personal interest as well so I see where you’re going with this and the trend that’s happening.

    I think it also relates to what finally fits and feels right. A lot of ‘Gen Y’ bloggers are still writing about social media and marketing, but that’s what they want to stick to. I think people like Sydney (which I love her transition) found it’s slightly more honest and raw with her topics and personal stories.

    Great post!
    .-= Grace Boyle´s last blog ..How Do You Hire? II =-.

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    admin Reply:

    G Money Millionaire…. It’s been too long since we’ve chatted… I’ll have to strike up a gchat convo soon!

    Do you find that you’re reading less of those that have stuck with social media marketing because you’re well versed in that area now?

    Do you, like Carlos, think that most people shouldn’t blog about their personal lives because it’s egotistical and just not that interesting?

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  • I think it’s interesting that you’re pointing out a shift toward more personal-focused blogs out there among the younger writers. Isn’t that how blogging kind of got a bad reputation in the first place? I know a lot of my friends at least think blogs are lame because they are all focused on the angst of teenagers looking for some pity or attention.

    I’ll assume we know that’s not even close to true, but the reputation is still out there. Is the younger crowd returning to that idea, or is there a movement toward meshing personal experience and professional ideas?

    The younger crowd simply can’t match-up in professional experience, but the life-experience is different.
    .-= Scott Hale´s last blog ..The Problem with RSS =-.

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    admin Reply:

    I think you’re probably right Scott, and this is something Beth alluded to as well. I think our demographic knows we simply don’t have the experience of other well respected writers so we’ve opted to really straddle that professional/personal line.

    Admittedly, there are VERY FEW people who I find interesting enough to read about their personal lives (Penelope Trunk is one), so I think the people navigating those waters need to be careful and at least acknowledge many will probably frown upon 20-something angst.

    But the blending of the two approaches? Well chances are readers have undergone similar experiences and perhaps they can learn and or evaluate how someone else handled the situation in an effort to better grasp their own.

    As always, great insights from you!

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  • Hey Ryan,

    I think this question really comes down to one thing. Who is your audience?

    Is it established advertising and marketing types who value analytical writing, how to posts, and case studies?

    Is it your friends, who want to hear about aspects of your life that interest them?

    Do you want to build a community of like-minded professionals around your blog?

    I’m not going to judge anyone for writing one way and not the other. I love that the medium gives us an opportunity to share and add value (or not).

    Besides, soon blogging won’t be seen as self-indulgent or special, but just a normal means of communication. We just got on the train a little early.
    .-= Daniel Prager´s last blog ..What Do You Want To Learn and Accomplish In The Near Future? =-.

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  • Ryan,

    I think that this is a natural progression with bloggers; I think we’re just beginning to see it more and more as those we read regularly settle into what feels comfortable for them. Writing is about discovery — some people began with social media and marketing and have kept at it because they’ve discovered that’s a passion, while others have found their niche (though I’m beginning to loathe that word) accidentally. Personally, I’m a storyteller — I always have been. I write to learn and philosophize and discover. I began writing about my career path early in the blog, but I found my voice with blogging — that wasn’t me, and I realized there was so much more to discover. But that’s personal, I get that.

    I think that the blogosphere has become saturated with how to posts while bloggign has become more mainstream, and while they are incredibly useful tools for learning and researching — I would never underestimate that power — I think there is a power, too, in good writing that let’s us get a glimpse into another’s life. That’s really connecting to another human being — learning through their experience, understanding their life. That’s what’s fascinating to me — everyone has a story.

    Maybe it just depends on which ones you prefer reading.

    Great thought-provoking post, Ryan.

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