When you work in any sort of creative profession, your success is inherently contingent on whether or not people like you. Or rather, whether or not they like what you create. And here’s the thing. The stuff you create doesn’t even need to be *good* in the traditional sense, as long as people want to consume it and, depending on the circumstances, pay for it.
Good or Profitable?
We see this all the time in the entertainment business. I don’t need to tell you that the biggest summer blockbusters to come out of Hollywood probably aren’t in the running for very many Golden Globes or Academy Awards aside from their work on visual effects, costume design and sound editing, perhaps. But these are the kinds of movies that rake in untold millions upon millions of dollars. They are box office smashes, even if they’re not necessarily critically acclaimed.
If you want to be successful, people have to like what you create enough to want to see it, hear it, and pay for it. The same is true with music. The more streams you get on Spotify, the more sales you get through iTunes, the more concert tickets you can sell, the more money goes in your pocket. The same applies for books, paintings, sculptures, and any number of other creative endeavors.
And yes, this even applies at the smaller end of the scale with us humble Internet creators.
Catch Me Online
Want to have a successful blog? Enough people have to like your site to come and read it. You need those traffic numbers to turn a profit, even though John has stated time and time again that’s it’s easier to double the amount of money you earn per visitor than it is to double your visitors. But I digress.
Want to have a successful podcast? You’d better rack up those subscribers and get as many of them listening to your program on a regular basis. The same holds true if you’re selling t-shirts and merch, just as much as it is true if you want to make money on YouTube. You need eyeballs. You need attention. You need people to like you.
Bring on the Hate
But here’s the thing that comes with all this extra attention. Invariably, you’re going to attract some trolls who are really only in it for one of two reasons: Either they’re just nefarious people and they want to get a rise of you, or they’re trying to attract attention to themselves. This can come in the form of nasty comments on your blog or YouTube channel. Maybe they send you hurtful tweets on Twitter.
Trolls and haters can really put a damper on your day, but you can’t let them get you down. In fact, if you’re smart about it, you can even make money off them instead. Yes, you can profit from the hate directed at you.
But that doesn’t make their hurtful comments sting any less, really, especially the comments that ring true in your head. Maybe they point out a weakness in your YouTube video that you noticed too and you were hoping was going to slide under the radar.
Maybe they point out that you’re just putting on a charade and posing with a certain online personality in an attempt to grow your audience and extend the reach of your influence… because that’s actually true too. It stings. Maybe they tap into your own self-doubt and wonder why you’re even trying.
But Do You Care?
These can hurt. You’re only human and you’re just as vulnerable as anyone else, regardless of the tough facade you might project.
But the one thing that is far worse than the hurtful comments you may receive from haters and trolls is indifference.
When you’re trying to build a brand and establish an online presence with your blog, your social media, your podcast, your ebooks, or anything else, the worst thing you can receive in return is apathy.
When a troll posts a hurtful comment, it means that you’ve made enough of an impact in that person’s life for them to care. You’ve made them care enough to take the time and write that comment in the first place. When you put something out in the world, not everyone is going to like it. That’s a fact. When you put that thing in the world, you want the world to react. You want to elicit a response.
Because the silence is so much worse.