Making your voice heard above the noise.
As a writer, I’m blessed to be witnessing the age of Internet. The barriers to publication entry are extremely low — anyone can run a blog. Unsurprisingly, this opens the floodgates for ideologues and fickle writers alike to weigh in on with whatever they please.
Sometimes I feel as though I’m only a small cog in an overwhelming machine. I work hard to generate articles that pose stimulating responses, but they receive little attention.
Am I just a drop in the rainstorm that is the Internet? Yes, and no — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
One blogger named 2013, The Year of the Online Writer, and introduced ways in which content marketing provides spaces for creative writers to interact with online communities, marketing strategies and business structures as they never had before. Content marketing requires an investment from business to elevate the value and quality of their produced content. Consumers can discern poor quality content from the clean, well-researched interfaces, articles, images and videos that companies advertise.
The writer, according to this blogger, becomes the entrepreneur, and can promote their articulate talents, as they themselves are the machines of production. Likewise, the online writer merges their set of values and advocacies, or their platform, to their self-brand. Beyond simply self-publishing, online writers can talk about their values platform which strengthens with public perception; writers, themselves, are the brand. The notoriety they gain from viral articles on Gawker, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Alternet etc., fuse their written words and actions with their online persona.
Some marketing experts, such as Mark Schaefer, godfather to the controversial theory “content shock,” argue that the exponential rate at which valuable, good content is growing is far too much for the Internet consumer to absorb. Content shock, as defined by Schaefer, is the “emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.“
The question begs to be answered, what does this mean for the quality of online content produced? Now, more money, time and energy is needed to ascertain valuable content, which means that producers must almost pay their audiences to consume it. Are we experiencing a time in which the Internet is just too much for us? One stat quotes the quantity of content uploaded online as doubling every 9 to 24 months. Which is truly incredible — if not a little shocking.
Is it possible to make some voices heard above the rest of the noise?
Perhaps we’ve reached a point during which our meek human capacity for absorbing information is approaching its limits?
I can’t say I agree. A few writers over at Copyblogger and the Sales Lion dispute that it’s beyond our capability to absorb all of this content. In reality, it’s the evolution of content, rather than a shocking point. Good, thorough and interesting content will always be valuable to consumers, that will never change. People will always seek out evidence to support their inquiries, and they will continue to trust that which is consistent, backed by fact, and seemingly genuine.
As for the online writer, this is still very good news. Since we bind ourselves to our personal brand, we can now be the most authentic version of ourselves in order to raise our voices above white noise. Author David McNally, of Be Your Own Brand, details that the strongest form of the self-brand is born out of the closest alignment to one’s own values platform.
There are no good or bad self-brands, but instead strong and weak. A strong personal brand gauges its consumer base and audiences, and acts consistently in order to facilitate positive change in others. McNally posits that the bigger the impact, which can also be negative, the stronger the brand.
This isn’t to say that those who identify with a strong self-brand are entirely dogmatic or unwavering, but rather hone their skills and strengths to create a resonating impact with their audiences. While there is an inconceivable rate of growth for good online content, it does not suggest that people will miss it.
There is no foolproof method for promoting my work, my voice and my system of beliefs above others. That implies a sense of hierarchy that is quickly being redefined within the online realm — it resembles more of an interweb (see what I did there?). Instead, the best I can do, as an online writer, is to adhere to my values and communicate them clearly, authentically and justly, while staying relevant by remaining attentive to my critiques and strengths.
As many of my advisors, editors, parents, and peers have imparted before “the best way to get ahead in writing is to get started.” Good content is invaluable, and people will always seek it out. What encourages me to continue producing and raising the standard for content is remaining authentic to myself, and strengthening my personal brand. Doing this both enhances my personal development by understanding myself, and still nurturing my work to be more meaningful to my readers.