If you’re a music blogger, I’m sure you’ve heard it all. From the condescending remarks to the puzzled looks upon the faces of those who just don’t understand what it is we do, it’s hard not to feel a bit snubbed whenever we talk about our passions. At some point, it starts to feel like your entire career is constantly being dictated from a huge bubble of unsolicited advice everywhere you turn. You’re dodging insults, back-handed compliments and pity from those you had hoped would support you.
If you’re like me, you take your job very seriously. There are those who blog as a hobby (which is totally fine) and then there are those who strive to make it a career (along with other freelance options) along the way. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that confidence goes a long way. Without it, we’re just more susceptible of second-guessing ourselves and made to feel as if what we do isn’t enough. NEWSFLASH: it is!
Music bloggers create a narrative of an intangible experience. Every experience is subjective, but at the same time, we have the ability to take listeners on a journey of how we perceive certain songs or albums. We have the honor of helping people discover new artists while giving said artists a platform to thrive on. Sometimes if we’re lucky, other listeners who interpret things the same way will find us, thus helping us cultivate a solid following.
Here are 10 types of unsolicited advice you’ve probably heard as a music blogger along with some clever ways to respond! Time to put those sassy pants on!
1. “So what’s your REAL job?”
I do not know one single writer on this earth who hasn’t heard this line before. In fact, it’s getting kind of played out.
Instead of rolling your eyes (I know you want to) hit ‘em with this: Ask them what it is they do. If they sound pretty bored by their answer, ask them what job they’d really love to have if they could do anything in the world. Watch as their face lights up. Then, after they’ve responded, mention how writing fulfills you while explaining that you’re happy to be doing something you enjoy rather than being stuck in a soul-sucking job with nothing to offer but regrets down the line.
Own what you do like the boss that you are!
2. “Why bother if you’re not making money?”
Let’s be real here. They do have a point. This, however, depends on your level of experience.
When I started out, I wrote whatever I could without a single payment for three years. I wouldn’t have all of this experience without getting my feet wet first and I still have a long way to go!
Unfortunately, not many publications offer payment to inexperienced writers. They need to see some writing samples and/or proof that you’re competent.
At some point in this industry, you’re going to have to swallow your pride and make a name for yourself on your own. Is it ideal? Probably not but you’ll be better off in the long run with the connections you’ve made along the way.
It’s hard to find paying work in this industry, but it is possible. Just make sure you’re being fairly compensated when the time comes.
Also, discover ways to monetize your site if you have one. Learn about SEO and affiliate marketing. There is a market out there; you just have to dig deeper to find it.
It’s hard to explain this to people who are incredulous as to why you work for free, and to be fair, their judgements are justified to an extent. Explain to them that you’re in a cut-throat industry and you’re working your ass off to build something worthwhile. They don’t have to understand.
3. “You should write for Rolling Stone!”
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have heard this.
The funny thing is, everyone makes it sound so easy! Sure, I’ll send in my resume to RS. I’ll assume they know or even give a shit who I am and before you know it: BOOM! I have a byline in the world’s largest music magazine!
I’m not saying it’s impossible, but in this industry – especially if you’re a champion of smaller, indie acts – it’s not going to happen that fast.
Thank them for the suggestion (and for their faith in you) and remind them that you’re taking baby steps. You want to enjoy the journey, not rush it.
Maybe Rolling Stone isn’t for you and you’re happy where you are. That’s fine, too. You don’t need to explain yourself to anyone.
4. “I wish I could just sit around and listen to music/write all day. You’re so lucky to have such an easy job like that!”
LOL! This one really grinds me gears.
You don’t have to justify how hard you work, but if you’re feeling on the sassy side, you can always give them a rundown of everything you do in a day’s work and watch their faces turn red.
Some of us don’t sit in Starbucks all day pretending to write. Some of us even consider it to be a miracle if we have any time for ourselves. As any hardworking writer will tell you, this shit isn’t easy and it takes discipline and stamina to maintain our sanity most days, even if we have the luxury of working from home.
By sharing your daily routine with them, you might open their eyes to all the possibilities they may be missing out on, so it’s a win-win.
5. “Can you check out my band?”
Stating you’re a music blogger does not mean you are available to be solicited with requests 24/7.
Explain your publication’s submission guidelines, give them a place to contact you and tell them you’ll be in touch.
If you make the mistake of being accessible to anyone at any time, burn out will catch up to you sooner rather than later. Trust me on this one.
You are not obligated to write about anything someone throws in your face. You’re a human being and you should be treated like one.
6. “You should contact [inaccessible famous person] to share your pieces!”
Our parents and loved ones are known for giving this type of unsolicited advice, and while it can be quite endearing at times, it can also be a huge pain in the ass.
Being that I grew up watching TRL on MTV, my mom always insists that I should write Carson Daly a letter asking him to check out The Daily Listening. I mean, I’d love it if he did check us out and give us a few shout outs but I’m also aware that he has no obligation to do so.
Like the point mentioned above, we should always be respectful of those we admire and spamming our idols and/or people we want to potentially work with won’t help our cause.
Explain to them that this scenario goes both ways; just like we don’t appreciate someone soliciting us, we shouldn’t do it either. Professionalism goes a long way. If it’s meant to be, it will be.
7. “How’s your little site going?”
This is the most patronizing of them all and I don’t care what anyone says, but whoever says this to you does not have your best interests at heart.
You have two options here: walk away without even dignifying that dig with a response or be smug AF and give it right back to them. You can still be civil while still standing up for yourself.
The choice is yours but make it a classy one that leaves them feeling like maybe they should have kept their mouth shut. Be proud of what you’ve created!
8. “Oh, I didn’t expect your site to be as professional-looking as it is!”
I’ve heard this before and it actually made me laugh, considering it came from someone who has followed the rules their whole life without ever considering life’s possibilities outside of the box.
Hey, I’ll admit that even I was surprised to see how good this site came out, being that I have zero graphic/web design experience. Now that I think about it, it’s probably the thing I’m most proud of.
Thank them and mention how great things come out of stepping outside your comfort zone. Then go on and shock the shit out of them some more!
9. “Why do you write about music when you could write about so many other things?”
Good point! In fact, a lot of us do write about things other than music but since music is our passion, that’s where we focus most of our time. Is that a crime?
Do we bombard you with these types of questions? Do we ask you why you work where you do when you could be working somewhere else? Nope.
Some of us are trying to build something and anything worth having doesn’t come easy. Tell them you appreciate their concern, but you’re excited about where your journey is taking you and you’re going to pursue it further.
10. “You should write about…”
I’m willing to bet there isn’t one writer out there who hasn’t been told what they should write about from someone clueless as to what they actually do write about.
It’s bad enough when we’re given unwanted submissions everywhere we turn, but to be told what to write about from someone who isn’t our boss – or, us – can be pretty frustrating.
You can either make them feel important by telling them your editorial calendar is all planned out for the next three months while thanking them for the ideas or you can simply ignore them.
Like my previous point above, don’t let anyone make you feel inferior about your work. Work on your ideas. Hone your craft. Remember that you have no obligation to prove anything to anyone, but it sure feels good when you do.
Share your pains of unsolicited advice with us! Tweet us @DailyListening to start the conversation!