Dealing With Our Own Irrelevance

Last year around this time, I was asking people on all 5 of my blogs to vote for me in blogging in the Shorty Awards online competition. This year I’ve decided totally against anything like that for my own sanity, pride, and peace of mind.

me 1991

What’s the deal? Last year at this time I was feeling as though I was actually something sort of special. I had a highly ranked blog, was writing lots of posts everywhere, starting my Black Web Friday series because I just knew that I had the juice to get things done, to change some minds, to actually make a difference.

You know what; none of it made a difference. I got 26 votes in the Shorty category after working it hard for almost an entire month. Not only did the Black Web Friday series mean nothing to almost anyone but it didn’t mean much to the people and websites I profiled either; they didn’t care. And even though my blog was ranked nicely then, around 78,000 on Alexa (don’t give me any grief about Alexa; I don’t want to hear it), the rank is now sitting around 160,000, even with consistent posting, and feels like it’s falling fast (although traffic has been up since the beginning of January & Alexa works on a 3-month model so within a couple of weeks it should start moving up again).

Some of you know that I’ve written a number of posts on the topic of influence, and why having influence can help you not only make a better income, but get things done in ways that being more anonymous, or irrelevant, can do for you. Well, while that’s still true, it seems that irrelevance is destined to follow all of us around for a long time, which is basically our entire lives.

That almost sounds depressing doesn’t it? Well, I’m not going to let it go quite that far, but I do need to explore this topic a little further. How many of you folks who read this blog know the name Chris Brogan? What about Scott Stratten, or Gary Vanderchuk or Marcus Sheridan or Ileane Smith? In blogging and social media, these are pretty big names. Take them out of blogging and put them on the street, and maybe one day in six months someone will walk up to one of them and say “Hey, aren’t you…” So much for influence or relevance.

Want more examples? How many people think of Tony Orlando these days? What about Brittany Morgan? Ric Ocasek? Michael Anthony Hall? Robert Townsend? All of these were super huge names at some point, all had influence in multiple ways, and all have, or seem to have, disappeared; I bet most of you have no idea who any of those folks are.

You want more? The nominations for the Academy Awards just came out last week. I knew almost none of the movies and almost none of the actors and actresses who are up for those awards. Last year’s Grammys, I asked myself why I would even think of watching it when the only name I knew that I’d heard of previously was Taylor Swift; that will be the same thing for this year’s ceremony, another one I won’t be watching.

See, we’re not alone. And truth be told, the guy who got the most votes for blogging last year was totally unknown in the United States, so even though he got an award, what did it get him in the long run? Maybe in his country he was elected Pope (I know, I know…).

What does all of this mean? Do we stop trying for significance? Do we stop participating in social media, in blogging, in our local activities and such? Do we crawl into bed, watch TV and eat chips and give up the rest of our lives to this reality?

Ain’t no way! Here’s another truth; we’re not as irrelevant as we think we are. For all the lack of relevance I’m talking about here, there are nearly 375 people who are subscribed to the feed for this blog. There’s lots of people higher but I’m happy with that figure. There’s nearly 300 subscribed to my main business blog. And I have a nice number of people subscribed to my business newsletter, though I couldn’t tell you if people are reading it or not.

The videos I do with my Hot Blog Tips Hangout crew have reached close to 8,000 views; that’s not bad for just over a year of videos; at least I think we’ve been doing it that long. My own video channels are quite paltry by comparison, yet I have had some views so I’m not complaining.

In other words, irrelevance doesn’t mean obsolete; it doesn’t mean hidden, and it doesn’t mean useless. Each of us, through our blogs, our outside actions, what we do at work, etc, are relevant to someone. That’s important to note because sometimes we feel as though no one notices what we do. We want more comments on our blogs; we want to make more money across the board; we want people to call us up and tell us how much they want us, need us, can’t live without us.

Tough to be us isn’t it? Well, here’s the thing. We are what we are. We can decide to try to be more, we can decide to try to be better, or we can try to be ourselves. Frankly, being ourselves might or might not put us over, but what more comfortable spot is there when all is said and done? Strive to be the best you can be, strive for bigger and better things if that’s what you want. But when you start thinking about insignificance, think about someone else. You are special; we all are.

39 thoughts on “Dealing With Our Own Irrelevance”

  1. Powerful post Mitch. All bloggers should really read this one. We sometimes wonder – does anyone care? Then we remember those that DO subscribe and those that DO leave comments and become very thankful for them. I did not know all those bloggers you mentioned but I remember Tony Orlando. My grandmother loved him and would watch anytime he performed. Tie a Yellow Ribbon…..

    1. Thanks Lisa. I’m not ashamed to mention that I had an album of the greatest hits of Tony Orlando & Dawn. lol We do tend to forget that even if we’re not Michael Jackson that all of us mean something to someone. I do want more, but I accept what I have and who I get to play with at this time.

  2. This is super epic advice I have ever get this year. I have once fell into making decision of being irrelevant in my blogging field until when I start to change my believe and things have been working well since then.

    Winning contest here and there for me isn’t a big thing but I don’t personally like participating in something of such in hope of getting my names out there.

    I believe if I am worth it, people will suggest me to be included without fighting for it.

    Happy Sunday Mitch and thanks a ton for sharing this post about influencing our world.

    I’m happy to be a subscriber

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Olawale. I have to tell you that I love winning contests as well, but there’s no sens in being a part of something that’s not going to come close to reality. It’s best to concentrate on those people who do seem to appreciate what you do and work slowly on increasing influence if it’s going to occur. That is, unless you train to drop from space; then again, what was that guy’s name? lol

  3. If I can keep myself from comparing I’m good. I live my life, do my writing, and gloss over the amount of followers and comments others get.. That is my road to sanity and fulfillment. Of course, I secretly wish I had as many followers as you have. Everything I say is SO important.

    1. LOL! It’s funny to say this but I don’t really compare myself to too many people either. What I do is chart where someone happens to be and try to figure out what it will take to get there, or at least get close to.

  4. Hi Mitch,

    At times, I feel irrelevant, but then someone will come along and say or do something that makes me realize and see that I am not as irrelevant as I think I am.

    Thanks for the pep talk, I needed it!!

    1. No problem Evelyn; that’s what I’m here for. And even if I don’t get into most of your vegetable posts (vegetables; yuck! lol), I do check out the other stuff. And I’m sure the rest of your audience is eating better because of the information you give them.

  5. Alright Mitch, you know I have an opinion. First off, “Maybe in his country he was elected Pope”? You killed me with that one. lol

    It’s true that no one can be a significant part of everyone’s life, but we all can become a positive influence on others. No one has had more influence on me than my mother, not even Chris Brogan; or even, dare I say it, Al Pacino? So no matter how many of the masses we try to appeal to, what really matters, what really counts, are our family and true friends. The ‘h’ with everyone else because in the end, none of that’s going to matter or be remembered.

    I’ve been writing a lot on influence too, it’s very important in business. Its real life and we’re just trying to translate into an online activity. That’s fine but no tool will ever give an accurate measurement, not Google, Alexa or even Klout. We can only strive to touch others in a positive manner and worry about make our mark on those that really matter.

    1. Good stuff Brian; glad you like that line so much. lol Wow, not even Al Pacino, talking about your “little friend”?

      Yes, we all touch someone, and in our blogging and other things we do in public, it might be a small circle of people but those people are responding in their own way and that’s pretty powerful stuff.

  6. I would just say, that you still feel holiday blues, my friend. Same thoughts come to me every year and everytime, I come back home from holiday or business trip. You touch the right strings, but it didn’t quite worked, well the year was tough for everybody and this one would be better.

    1. I might still have some of those holiday blues Carl. Still, my personal pep talk that graduated into a pep talk for everyone else will hopefully boost me and them into feeling better and striving for better in 2013. I know you’re going to reach for the sky. lol

      1. You can do it and I don’t doubt in that and there will be major update in the next week or two, so we will see. I also need to reconsider my strategy. I’ve started this year very optimistic, but recently realize that I carry too many project. Most likely I will take 2-3 days to figure out more realistic plan.

  7. Really inspiring post…We all have to deal with our irrelevancy at some point of time..But that doesn’t stop us from pursuing our dream for fame..Hope prevails..Thanks for writing this post..Much appreciated…

    1. Those who don’t have any doubts or moments of irrelevancy will never reach the top as they don’t know what feeling of falling is.

  8. Inspirational thoughts, although it isn’t easy at all to deal with our irrelevance or own setbacks. Sometimes we have to switch our point of view for this, and we only can reach that while stepping out of our comfort zones…

    1. That’s true Emoke. And sometimes people need just a little bit of inspiration, or another way of looking at things, to get started. That’s what this post is all about.

  9. Great post, Mitch.

    It’s tough for me to remain positive sometimes and see the value in what I do, but yes my “problems” are actually quite small in the grand scheme of things.

    Every time I’m knocked down (which unfortunately has been a lot recently) I always manage to get back up just because I’m too stubborn to let some old Bull&^% beat me! lol

    My overwhelming success hasn’t exactly come on schedule, but just because I’m not a household name doesn’t mean I’m not relevant in some sense.

    To me it’s important to keep striving if for no other reason that I couldn’t live with myself if I just gave up. Thanks for the timely piece!

    1. No problem John, and I’m glad you don’t stay down. Can’t let those stupid clowns get in the way of your being successful now can we? 🙂 I’m the same as you; I thought I’d actually be a millionaire easily by now and it didn’t come about. But it’s going to; I feel it!

  10. Lovely article! I admire the way you ended this article. Each one of us has some special quality which if explored can make you feel at your best. I believe every person is different and if we start comparing ourselves with others then it will create more mess in our head. It is always better to be optimistic about things and avoid the situation where you feel insignificant. Great one, Mitch!

    1. Thanks David. Sometimes we feel the worst when we see that someone else has what we believe we want, but when we look at what they actually have, then at what we actually have, we can find our own inspiration out of that. It’s not always easy I’ll admit.

  11. This is deep. I feel depressed just reading it. Life as a blogger isn’t easy. I was blogging for years and got nowhere, I had about 20 loyal readers but even they went away… In the end I realized that my writing was pointless and no one’s interested.

    As for being a millionaire… keep dreaming or rob a bank!

    1. If you’re feeling depressed Harley you’re missing the point. You said you lost the 20 loyal readers; what were you doing to try to get others, or do keep them? Blogging ends up being a 2-way street, but so is the rest of life.

  12. Hello, Mitch!

    Thanks for this post – I guess that many people don’t think about what you wrote, but it’s important to see a point in what you’re doing.

    Almost every year I have doubts about what I’m doing – I run some web related projects and few of them works great, others not so much. But overall I don’t really care that much in what others in my niche have reached – I’m looking at what I’ve reached – despite all the inconveniences that I was facing.

    Overall I think it’s just about doing what you like the best way you can and be proud of it.

    Anyway – thanks for this post, sorry for my bad english grammar and take care 😉

    1. John, your grammar was just fine, and you have a nice outlook on things. I do pay attention to what others are doing, not because I’m jealous but because I’m interested in how they do things and how I might do things differently, if I even want to do what some of them do. I want to have the success and such, but there may be things they do that I just can’t live with. Still, knowing that we all touch someone who appreciates what we do is pretty cool.

  13. Blogging is the best way i use in dealing with my irrelevance. I make sure i’m not doing this only to please myself but also my readers.

  14. Hi Mitch, your topic is very inspiring. I agree with John Garrett that there are times that remaining positive is really hard to do especially when you see your competitors are beating you down. There was a time that my mind was telling me to give up. But as far as I can, I won’t give up! So to keep myself motivated, I will look back at the past and figure out my achievements.. though it was small but enough to strive and continue…

  15. I know of Brogan. I’ve spoken to Marcus who was very helpful.

    I write my blog for me. I’m not looking for accolades. I write to be a better writer. I’ll write as long as it’s fun.

    For me, the key is to be authentic.

    1. That’s good stuff Steve, and it’s important to be authentic. But we both know some people start feeling a bit ignored when they don’t see great success with some of the things they do.

  16. Hi Mitch,

    It’s funny you bring this up. The blogosphere is such a huge place, and there are some really big names out there. When you visit those blogs and see how “good” they are, it’s hard sometimes to not put your head down and sigh.

    But, you’re right. We all have influence over a group of people. We can make a difference with that group. The quicker we understand that and work from that premise, the quicker we can start to grow that influence. And that’s how we grow a bigger audience.

    Thanks for sharing. I hope you have a great week!


    1. Thanks Barry. I actually just started reading a short little something that I’m not sure how I acquired, which I have in PDF format, which talks about getting at least 100 fans who are rabid about you, because those fans will end up bringing others to you. It’s more about sales than blogging, yet I think it’s interesting to think of it in those terms. It’s kind of what Google’s been doing, feeling that if you see the image of someone you know next to a link that they’ll give it more value, thus want to visit you. Not sure that’s quite how it works in the real world but it’s a thought.

      We are all important to someone in our way though; it’s a point hard to deal with sometimes, which is why I wrote the post.

  17. Mitch, this post reminded me of something one of my writing professors told us in college. He said you could have a book make the bestseller list, then spend the rest of your life going door-to-door trying to find someone who’s read your book, or has even heard of it. I think we’re all just looking for our thin slice of the potential audience. World fame comes for a tiny number of people, and even for them, that fame is fleeting. Your concept of influence, though, is harder to measure. Numbers and awards aside, I think you have a great deal of influence.

    P.S. I remember Tony Orlando.

    1. Good stuff Charles, and I like that story a lot. Last week my wife asked me to watch a particular episode of Oprah with her and this guy Rick Warren was on. I had no clue who he was but it turns out that not only is he some type of mega pastor but also wrote a book 10 years ago that is the best selling nonfiction book ever, and I’d never heard of it. So his influence on me was nil, but he influences thousands, if not millions, every day. Thus, we all have to find our audience, right?

  18. I think the way we see ourselves and the world around us is what matters the most, and this perspective goes a long way in deciding our future too. I too feel at times that I am irrelevant or I am unwanted but then with the passage of time I come to realize my importance, and the fact that things wouldn’t be the same without me. All I can say is that we all have a purpose in life, and sometimes we just don’t realize that we are working towards our purpose.

    1. Thanks Merlin. It’s easy to fall into the mindset of “no one cares”, and I do often. But I then have to back myself out one step at a time to see that maybe I do make a difference in at least a couple of people’s lives. We all do.

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