Forget Other People’s Approval. Focus on This Instead.
Every writer wants everyone to read their work. It’s a secret desire that we all have. And we also want everyone to love what we write.
So when we publish something that no one reads, we’re left with all these negative emotions. We feel like no one cares, or that people don’t understand us.
Where does this desire to be liked come from? Because if we look at the facts, it’s more likely that no one reads our stuff. It’s actually very rare that a lot of people would read your work.
But our ego doesn’t care about that. We just want to hit “publish” and get one million claps within 60 seconds!
In my experience, these types of thoughts are destructive as a writer. It makes you want to quit. And it all comes from our need to be liked. We’re trying so hard to get the approval of everyone, that we forget why we write.
When I talk about approval, I’m talking about the belief that someone or something is good. And that expresses itself in our obsession with vanity metrics.
Let’s face it; why do we look at statistics? Why do we care about how many claps a Medium article gets? Why are we obsessed with how much other writers are earning?
We want to be liked. We need approval. Otherwise, we don’t feel good enough.
That’s nonsense. So forget about approval altogether! Instead, focus on the following three things.
1. Only care about your true fans
Kevin Kelly coined the term “1,000 true fans.” He argued that a creator can earn a living by serving 1,000 fans that love and support their work.
To me, this is the best advice when it comes to creative work. When you care about your true fans, and they care about you, you no longer need to worry about whether other people like you or not.
It’s like the support of a parent or best friend. For example, my parents always supported me in my career. When I went to college, they had their preferences like other parents: Go to law school or become a doctor, or something traditional like that.
But when I pursued entrepreneurship and business, they still supported me. And I didn’t need their approval. I just did what I thought was right, and they were still there for me regardless.
A true fan is like that. I’ve been publishing online since 2015, and there have been people with me since the beginning. They followed me regardless of what I published and created.
The support of those people matters more to me than people who just read one or two of my articles and voice their opinion. Who cares? I care about the people who care about me.
2. Be honest
When you know who you are and what you stand for, there’s no need to hide that from others. Be honest about your work, and always treat your readers with respect. If you do that, you never worry about being liked.
One of the best examples is Tim Ferriss. I’ve been following him for something like 8 years, and he’s always been real. He always respects his audience and never serves them with bullshit.
Compare that to most online creators, and you’ll see that 99% of them just want to sell you something. One of my friends recently talked about her experience with following Jay Shetty. She was disappointed. Everything on his social media was about selling books and programs.
I also wasn’t aware of this. But apparently, it’s a social media tactic to bombard people’s DM’s when they respond to your posts. She responded to something and got messages from someone on that guy’s team. They wanted to sell her a $1000 course she wasn’t interested in. What’s that all about?
I get that people are trying to run a business. I also teach a course about building an online business, but I don’t like to shove my products down people’s throats. Because that’s what it looks like with most creators.
But Tim Ferriss is the perfect example of how you don’t need to do that. I’ve bought all his books without hesitation. And if he launches new products, I’ll buy that too. That’s because he’s honest and I like his work.
Sometimes people confuse forgetting about approval with being stubborn. You can be someone who doesn’t need approval, but you can still listen to other people.
The title of this article was suggested by a friend as an alternative title for my Stoic Letter on being your own witness. I thought it was a great suggestion, and I got inspired to write this piece.
You can always care about what others think. But it shouldn’t drive you. For example, my mission is to serve my true fans. And if there’s something in their best interest, I will always consider that.
But if something doesn’t impact that, I don’t pay attention. One example is writing headlines for articles. I personally don’t spend a lot of time figuring out ways to get more clicks.
I come up with a title for a post and then start writing it. And I often don’t change the headline when I’m finished writing. That’s because I know what I want to say before I write a full article.
I get that people are obsessed about it. And it’s good to attract more readers. But over-optimizing for clicks is not a good long-term strategy. So what if non-fans don’t click on your headline?
Someone else that I’ve been following for many years is Seth Godin. Check out his headlines. They’re often very short and don’t feel like clickbait. “But he’s Seth Godin! He doesn’t need that.” That’s just an excuse many new writers use.
There was also a time when no one knew Seth. So don’t worry about that stuff.
Do what’s right for your true fans. And remember that the people who don’t like what you do aren’t your true fans (which is the majority of people). But the ones who do, will appreciate you more.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, feel free to check out my free course about wealth building: dariusforoux.com/wealth-strategies