I’ve been reading Ryan Holiday‘s book, Trust Me, I’m Lying, and let me tell you, the experience is depressing. In the book, Mr, Holiday not only talks about how he’s manipulated the media countless times, he also argues over and over again that the world of social media is not based on value or truth or quality writing; it’s based on tricking readers to view more pages. It’s worth noting that as I read this book, I started to wonder if I was part of some kind of meta-experience set up by the author. I wondered if the book itself was just a trick in that it repeated the same basic point over and over again. Was my buying the book–a book that promises to describe in full detail the ins and outs of the media landscape–a trick?
But the most depressing part of reading this book has more to do with where I am than where the book or its author is. I heard Mr. Holiday interviewed on Brian Lehrer‘s public radio show, and I bought his book because he said that in it, he would give away the tools of his trade. In other words, he would teach his readers how to manipulate social media. I’m not saying that I wanted to do anything dishonest, but I was hoping to learn something I hadn’t known before–some trick of the trade that would help my blog, my career as a writer. Kind of sad and lame, I’ll admit.
The only thing I really learned from the book is to ask this question of myself an of all of you bloggers out there. Mr. Holiday repeatedly quotes big-time bloggers all saying the same thing: focus on one thing and become an authority on that one thing if you want people to come read you. As a generalist, this troubles me, but at the same time, it stands to reason. People like to know what they are getting, so if they want spots, they go to that blog or channel or whatever, and likewise, they want to know about food or clothes or relationships. Blogs, so Mr. Holiday argues, are all about consistency. That sells, by which he means, that’s what readers want. Is that so?
What do you all think? Do you care if people read or if they comment? Do you write for yourself or are you trying to get your stuff read by as many people as possible? Do you force yourself to post about a limited amount of topics or are you all over the place?