This is going to come across a bit rant-y, and that’s because it is. This was inspired by recent events but is not exclusively in reference to them.
When content creators (bloggers, vloggers, etc. for whom such creation is what pays their bills)…
- fail to meet the expectations that they set for their readership, viewership, subscribers – whoever consumes their content
Maybe they stopped publishing consistently. Maybe they are heavily deviating from their schedule. Maybe they promised content by X time and didn’t deliver.
- subsequently make (shoddy) excuses for not doing so
Especially when a pattern of not meeting expectations develops
- get upset and play victim when someone (gently) questions the excuse
Such as perhaps claiming a thing happened or did not happen (when that is not necessarily true), but that thing is readily available, public information.
…it vexes me.
As a part of that consumer base, do I feel personally insulted or cheated? No, but I do think it is lame to make a pattern of failing to meet the commitments you set for yourself for, you know, doing your job. Acting like a victim and getting defensive is never professional.
So, before I continue, let me explain what this is not. It is not:
- Saying people cannot have lives or adjust their publishing schedules or expectations.
If you need to adjust those expectations, do it! If you published content twice a week but could only manage three times per month simply state that due to your workload, this is what will be going on for the foreseeable future. You can share the reason if you wish to, but you don’t have to. We all have busier or more-stressful seasons of life!
- Applicable to those who have other careers. If your blog is a hobby, side- or passion-project, yeah; other things come first. The job that keeps a roof over your head and its workload, your health, etc. come first.
Moving on – then, when fans go, “Wait, the reasoning you (voluntarily) provided doesn’t quite add up, am I misunderstanding?” Others defend these individuals say, “They don’t owe you anything! You aren’t paying them!”
Allow me to cure you of your naïveté.
- You aren’t forking over your credit card numbers, no, but you are giving them your TIME. You are giving them page or video VIEWS. You are giving them AD IMPRESSIONS and CLICKS. You are probably giving them free advertising.
- Collabs are really popular right now. I’m sure you know a few off the top of your head. When you buy something that your favorite content creator collaborated on, they get a cut. I’ve shared my opinion on sponsorships, and I feel the same about collabs – there’s nothing wrong with them! In fact I think it is an excellent, mutually beneficial business choice in many cases. But if you buy collab or affiliate products, the content creator tied to it is getting paid.
You might not be paying a monthly subscription fee from your bank account, but those whose actual job this is are MOST ASSUREDLY making money off of you in one way or another. Like I said, that’s okay – I think it is awesome that it is a viable career. We are fortunate to live in a time where we have so many career options.
If you grow a readership or viewership and you set expectations for your consumers, you actually do owe them. They are the reason your career is viable. They are the reason you had the opportunity to earn those paychecks – be it from YouTube, collabs, or whatever – in the first place, and they are the reason you continue to do so. The least you could do is say, “Hey, I couldn’t make time to write/film like I wanted to. I’m sorry for that, and I’ll be back next week/weekend/month/whatever. Thanks for your support.” Shit happens, most people will understand that.
Just don’t make sob stories and shoddy excuses and then act victimized when someone realizes that the excuses don’t hold water and asks about it. When you make a pattern of excuses (especially ones that don’t hold water) and continually fail to meet expectations that you established, your consumers lose faith and trust in you and you ultimately undermine your whole operation. That does not make good business sense. If a writer commits to a deadline and then fails to meet it without any heads up of delays, does their publisher go, “Oh no, it’s okay, you do you, boo! Heart emoji, praise-hands emoji” No. They don’t.
If you don’t want the burden of having the expectations of a professional or someone who is getting paid, find another career and go back to doing this, “just for fun.”
I try very hard to be consistent with my Monday-Wednesday-Friday by 10AM EST publishing in spite of a 50+ hour work week. Sometimes, I miss the mark – something that, for someone who is as Type-A as I am, feels like a crushing defeat. I don’t earn an income from Beauty Skeptic; the non-intrusive ads and affiliate links net enough, annually, to cover most (not all!) of my hosting and domain ownership fees. So to me, it’s a bit ridiculous that people who are making tens- if not hundreds-of-thousands of dollars per year can’t take time to do what they set their consumers up to expect from them to earn that paycheck.
I’m interested in reading your thoughts on meeting expectations like these, readers, so I’d love it if we could discuss in the comments.