Pro-Blogging: Developing a thick skin
Sometimes professional blogging is hard. Actually, scratch that: blogging professionally is hard pretty much all the time: it’s just that some weeks are tougher than others, and this has been one of those weeks. The fact that it’s still only Tuesday doesn’t do much to cheer me up about this…
One of the pieces of advice I normally give to people who’re thinking about starting a blog is to develop a thick skin. When you write for the public, you are, of course, opening yourself up to criticism, and sometimes abuse, and this is particularly true of blogging, where we tend to actively solicit feedback by leaving a handy little “comment” box at the bottom of each post.
Sometimes the comments are good ones. And actually, a lot of the time the comments are good ones – or are at least constructive ones. Other times? Not so much. Every now and then, every blogger gets negative comments. In the past, I’ve been called “butch and ugly” because I wrote a post in which I admitted to not being fond of sneakers; I’ve been told I deserve to be “shot in the head” because I admired a particular handbag; called “fat” because of a post mentioning a certain dress, and have opened myself up to a whole world of abuse by writing about Crocs.
Often, it’s easy to see that the people who write comments like this aren’t quite sane. Normal people, for instance, don’t go around wanting to shoot people who don’t share their taste in handbags. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to just shrug off negative comments, and as I mentioned at the start of this entry, this has been one of those weeks.
One thing I’ve noticed in the time I’ve been blogging is that when the negativity comes, it tends to come in waves. I’ll get normal, polite comments for months (and by “normal” I don’t necessarily mean people singing my praises and telling me I’m wonderful. I just mean people who, if they disagree with a post, are capable of voicing their disagreement without telling me I deserve to die.) and then all of a sudden there’ll be a little run of aggressive people telling me I’m ugly and fat and my blog sucks.
When this happens, it can be very hard not to take it personally. Is it me? I wonder. Have my posts gone downhill? Have I suddenly and dramatically lost touch with what my readers want? Am I just really bad at what I’m doing, and everyone’s suddenly realised it, all at the same time?
Well, I certainly hope it’s not that – and the fact that the negative comments I’ve had this week haven’t just been on new posts, but on older ones, which had previously not inspired any kind of aggression, would seem to back this up. Sometimes, though, when you’re in the midst of all this negativity, it can be really hard to convince yourself that you shouldn’t just give up blogging altogether and go and work in McDonalds or something. It can be very, very hard to keep coming up with posts when nothing you say seems to be right. It can be hard, in other words, not to take the comments to heart.
Hopefully things will go back to normal soon. In the meantime, my advice to would-be bloggers remains the same: grow a thick skin. You’re going to need it.