We worry about our reputation. How are we perceived? What do people say about us? If we’re not around, what gets said differently? The trick is that reputation comes from the perspectives of others, and as such, it’s not ours to worry about.
The Myth of Reputation
Ask my dozens of haters and they’ll say I’m overrated, have nothing new to say, and am in it for the money. Ask my devoted and loyal following and they’ll say that everything I put out is a gem and that I can spin garbage into gold. Both are right. It’s a perspective.
When I started Blog Topics, people wrote angry posts stating that I was evil for selling this, and that topics exist everywhere for free. At the same time those posts were being labored over, hundreds of people subscribed to Blog Topics and are still subscribed, getting weekly writing advice. When I’m an hour or two late with publishing the latest issue, I get emails asking for it. Both are right. You can get topics anywhere for free. You can pay for writing advice from me.
Reputation is Slippery
Some of your clients will love what you did. Others will say you were a waste of their money. Both might be right. It just depends. I have both types of reputation, and have earned it in all cases. So, what counts as reputation? Do you count the masses? When has that ever been a good idea? Consensus just means that people stop forming their own opinion and go with what’s around them.
The other slippery part of reputation comes from outward perceptions based on status. Because I’ve been around the Internet for a while, some no longer know my origins, no longer know from what meager beginnings I’ve come, and they form opinions that way. The past fades (sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse), and with it fades some of what bolsters up the image of who you are to newcomers.
Why I Learned to Stop Caring About Reputation
Reputation isn’t useful to me. What I’ve learned is that connecting with my core audience and community matters to me. What I’ve learned is that execution is what you can focus on that can help. What I’ve learned is that you don’t care about reputation; you care about repetition. If I please a client, I want that client to refer me. If I please my audience, I want them to share that with others. Beyond that, I am face down and doing the work.
Reputation Takes Time That You Need
Worrying about reputation means that you have less time to do what needs doing. I’ve come to appreciate that my detractors spend time reading my posts, and then composing posts on why I’m bad or wrong or whatever. I love that they spend so much time commenting back and forth on such posts with why I’m wrong. Because all that time they use for that is time I’m using to build value for the people who matter to me. You need that time. Worrying about reputation doesn’t pay you anything. It doesn’t change other people’s opinions.
The only thing that changes opinions is your success, and success (the kind that’s worth anything) is built on helping others. Count yourself successful when your clients or audience get what they want. That’s the focus.
Leave reputation conversations for those who have the time to waste having them.