How tired are you of seeing headlines promising riches and wealth with blogging, only to find the same old tired platitudes and outdated information? How often have you heard lies by the blogging gurus who promise success but only offer fluff?
How disgusted are you by the cheesy online marketers using our desperation to trick us into reading their boilerplate content? These are the scam artists who prop up our hope and desire to make passive income from a blog when they know that, except for a few outliers, the only people making millions are the “authorities” teaching other people to make money by blogging about making money with a blog.
Phew! Sorry, I get a bit fired up. Sure, people are making some money, but there is nothing passive or easy about how they got there. The same old blogging formula that the blogging scammers are teaching isn’t going to get anyone to a point where they are making millions a month.
There are two ways to make millions blogging:
blogging success tip # 1:
Cheat. Yes, this happened a lot more back in Google’s salad days, when scummy marketers figured out you could make a lot of quick money by tricking the system. They set up many “shell” blogs, populated with plagiarized content, keyword-stuffed, and sealed with black hat SEO magic to reach the number one SERP.
Then, when you arrived on one of their blogs, faced with weak content and a wall of ads, they made it difficult for you to leave.
This scam went on until Google nipped it, but people are and will always be looking for ways to cheat the system. There are still black hat SEO specialists who make money by showing you how to trick Google and a dark web full of advice on how to steal content and profit from other people’s hard work by sprinkling SPAM all over it.
It doesn’t happen as often, but it does happen because there is a lot of money made from SPAM and scam.
blogging success tip # 2
I didn’t lie when I said five blogs make over $2 million per month in revenue. Courtesy of Forbes magazine and R.L. Adams:
(note: this information was released in 2017, and these numbers could either be much higher or much lower right now. The pandemic hurt everyone, but the big players are still out there earning. I will note the 2019 income numbers if I can source them)
- TechCrunch.com — $2.5 million per month — This blog was initially founded in 2005 by Michael Arrington and Keith Teare, but AOL acquired the site in 2010, and Verizon acquired AOL. They must still be going healthy and profitable if it is up and running.
- Mashable — $2 million per month — proving once again that clickbait pays the bills, Mashable continues to be on the list of the best blogs in the world. Owler still estimates their revenue at $30 million per year, so they bring in the cash. Interesting to see what the 2020 numbers will bring.
- MOZ — $4.25 million per month — SEO is a big business, and Rand Fishkin is a well-known authority. The blog and software are still going strong even though Rand left his company in 2018. MOZ still earned $70 million in revenue in 2019.
- Engadget — $5.5 Million per month — Another technology brand with humble roots continues to prove that people cannot get enough content about tech. Owler estimates yearly revenue to be between $25 and $100 million per year.
- Huffington Post (HuffPost) — $14 Million per month — The Pulitzer Prize-winning blog was another acquired by AOL, then gobbled up by Verizon Communications. They rebranded as HuffPost but still seem to have revenue between $500 Million and $1 Billion per year, so business is not bad. Again, I would like to see the 2020 numbers.
So, as you can see, it is possible to earn big, but it’s not likely. These blogs all started small before selling out to larger companies, so it is possible to create something that makes millions of dollars.
What do these blogs have in common, and how can you replicate their success, you ask?
a good blogging question — how can i make millions?
You might think the first thing I say you must have is a lot of money, but that is bullshit. The item you need most is luck. In combination with a few other things, these bloggers happened to occupy the right space at the right time.
It’s not a cop-out to say these bloggers had luck because that is what it was. They may not have had overnight success, but their success did come from filling the right space at precisely the right time.
How many companies offering the same product and content never saw a dime? They were correctly positioned and happened to do the following at the right time:
- They filled an unmet need — There were ten other companies with the same content, but these blogs presented it so that they filled a massive demand in the blogosphere. They solved a problem or filled a niche, for lack of a better term.
- They provided the right viral content — They used headlines that worked (and may or may not have been clickbait) and put out content that people wanted, from massive SEO guides to the listicles that people love to read with their morning coffee. They didn’t listen to the people who told them they were selling out and published content that the audience wanted.
- They had the right people and resources — Ariana Huffington and Rand Fishkin were two of the names behind these blogs’ successes. And they went on to hire other people and visionaries that would help them climb to the top. They would get bought out by giant corporations with unlimited budgets to hire and market, and the rest is history.
- They didn’t quit — The most significant thing they had going for them was the drive to succeed despite hurdles and failures. They kept riding in the rodeo when everyone else hung up their spurs. If you look at all those companies, they had longevity, and that should tell you something.
It was a combination of a thousand big and little things that caused them to be a success, and when you sprinkle a lot of luck on top, it’s the icing on the cake. It’s not easy, and that is why so few people and companies make money blogging.
Blogging is a cutthroat world, and if you aren’t ready to swim with the sharks, you shouldn’t ever go swimming.
how can you be a blogging success?
Honestly, the chance you or I have to make millions every month is slim. But, there is a massive list of blogs and bloggers who make great money that no one would turn down, but I guarantee they all had the same recipe:
- Luck, and something more
- They filled an unmet need
- They provided the right viral content at the right time
- They had the right person or people and had some resources to help them along
- They didn’t quit
But, these people didn’t just rely on luck to get them there. They had the drive and determination, and they put in the hard work to get them to the top. They wanted it more than everyone else, and that is why they earn when others fail.
who are they?
There is quite a big list of bloggers earning well, some even over $100k per year. Here are a few that stand out:
- Kat Kinsman of TastingTable — Kat used her passion and celebrity, along with the right kind of know-how, to fill a need as a hugely successful food blogger.
- Lindsay Ostrom of PinchofYum.com — Clearly, there was a need for content in the food industry, and Lindsey filled it with her superb visuals and engaging content.
- Abby of JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com — Abby combined her knowledge and passion for organizing, decorating, and helping others create online businesses to fill an unmet need with fantastic content.
- Michelle Gardner of MakingCentsofCents — Personal finance is a niche where people with experience and know-how, who can put out great content are doing very well. Michelle consistently delivers and has been helping people with their finances for over five years.
These are a few of the people who have proven that it is possible to be a successful blogger and earn from knowledge and expertise. Sure, they aren’t making millions, but they are earning.
Sadly, only a few outliers will ever make millions of dollars every month, but it is possible to make a living if you don’t quit.
Most don’t have what it takes to be a success, and those scam marketers are doing a disservice getting people’s hopes up with promises of easy, passive income.
I believe in blogging and continuing to learn every day, which will contribute to my success. If you do the same and follow the above recipe, you may earn your millions with blogging one day. Just don’t listen to the scam artists, and don’t be a cheater.
While you hustled away at your 9–5 and came home to a soggy TV dinner and Netflix, influencers were making billions. Influencer Marketing Hub says the influencer economy had grown from a $1.7 billion industry in 2016 to around $6.5 billion in 2019.
And even though the influencer marketing industry is set to grow to approximately $9.7B in 2020, they took a big hit like everyone else when the pandemic struck. Sure, influencers are still there, chugging away on Instagram, making cash money. But the all-expense-paid trips on private jets with designer clothes have gone by the wayside. Instead, more favor content that touts the benefits of hunkering down and spending less on non-essentials.
Travel influencers have stopped pushing $800 carry-on backpacks and $100 Merino wool T-shirts and started advising us on the best facemasks and hygiene essentials to carry when we need to go grocery shopping.
But, there are still those influencers that just don’t get it. They don’t see that it is no longer “business as usual” and continue to act as if our lives are not upside down. We all need to realize that we live in a new reality, and if we all get on the same page, will be much better off.
The fact is, people will always look up to the beautiful and famous humans in society. They will gravitate towards the movers and shakers wearing designer handbags, drinking Voss water, and snapping selfies with the latest iPhones. There will always be a place for the faux-fluencers as long as unbridled capitalism reigns supreme.
The problem with these influencers and their economy is that the number of people who can afford these luxuries is getting smaller every day. Sadly, most wage-earners are under the impression that if they keep slogging along to their job, they will be able to afford an Instagram lifestyle one day.
What’s sad is: It will never happen in this society as it is now.
Well-meaning working-class citizens will go to their graves standing up for the billionaires and the beautiful people because they hope to be just like them one day. But, the chances are that regular folk, like you and I, will never see a billion or even a million dollars. If we are working 80-hours a week at our desk jobs, no matter how frugal we are, we will never get a lifestyle like the hashtag-homies on social media.
Are we living vicariously through the lives we see on social media, or are we romanticizing the life we want to live?
The influencers are doing us a disservice by normalizing uninhibited spending on a designer lifestyle we are never likely to be able to afford. Most get their products free on top of a hefty check for convincing you to max out your credit card buying expensive shoes and hair products made from the tears and blood of marginalized people.
It’s time the pandemic did some good and showed us a new kind of influencer, or better yet, an anti-influencer. Instead of blonde twinkies telling us which sports-drink to buy, we need more people advising us how to start businesses and get better jobs. Instead of movie stars pouring their tequila down our throats (sorry Dwayne, I do love your work, man), we need more nutritionists advising us on foods that best boost our immune systems.
Instead of suntanned teeny-boppers bringing us along on their all-expense-paid trip to Bali, we need more experienced travelers showing us how to travel safely post-pandemic.
We need more influencers giving away information and experienced-based advice and less uncontrolled spending of money none of us have anymore. Instead of trying to get us to buy things we don’t need, we need anti-influencers who focus on the things that will give us a better life.
How much longer do we keep giving power over our lives to the people and corporations who only want to profit?
They try to capitalize on your goodwill and your hope that someday, you can have the luxuries they all seem to have.
- It’s time that more influencers step up to the plate and start doing what it takes to make everyone’s lives better
- It’s time we call out influencers who lie to you and make you think that the only thing that defines success is excess
- It’s time we stopped using pretty faces, fit bodies, and fat stacks of cash to get people to buy more shit they won’t ever need
- It’s time to JUST BE REAL
Who is watching out for you? Perhaps it’s time to take back our own best interests and become our own influencer or start putting our trust in the right kind of people.
Call me your anti-influencer.
When I try to tell you the truth, you are not looking at a botoxed talking head. I won’t use sex, power, greed, and shame to make you buy things you are never likely to need.
I may suggest something to make your life better, but you can rest assured it can enhance or improve you. I may provide advice contrary to what the so-called “gurus” and life coaches say, but I will always give it to you straight, and it will reflect what I have already done myself and had success doing.
I want to help you find success, whatever your definition of success is, even if you think you want to be a billionaire, or even an influencer yourself.
It’s time to shake things up, and together, we can do that.
These words may be coming from a nobody, but they are not empty promises and platitudes. It’s time you expect more from your influencers!
So, if I call out a movie star for bad behavior or give you my take on the latest advice from the internet marketing gurus, you can be sure it’s coming from a good place. If I see an opportunity to make you think, I will take it. We will not always agree, and that is okay. If you have a differing opinion, make your stance known. I don’t want to exist in an echo chamber, so get your voice heard!
I want to help, and I hope you let me prove that to you.
It’s time for a new kind of influencer. We need to unsully the word and make it mean something.
Let’s do this!
Did you know when you signed up for Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger, you gave them explicit permission to use your microphone? Ever wonder how targeted ads show up in your feed when you have only ever talked out loud to someone else about it?
Is Zuckerberg listening to your private conversations? No, I am afraid not.
There is no proof that a guy is sitting in an office somewhere in Menlo Park, listening to you screaming to your partner to bring you toilet paper. Facebook has denied allegations of privacy violations time after time, and as much as we want to believe they are spying on us, there is no way yet to prove it.
There’s never been any concrete evidence – beyond hearsay and anecdotes – that Facebook is recording your real-life conversations.
The fact is, the mechanics involved in listening to your private conversations and mining it for keywords wouldn’t be an easy thing. But that is not why you should know that they aren’t listening.
They don’t need to listen; they already have all the data they need from you. But, if you are not the trusting type and still want to block Facebook from having access to the microphone on your device, do the following:
On the iPhone:
- Go to Settings
- Choose Privacy
- Tap Microphone
- Toggle Facebook to OFF
- Go to Settings
- Choose Apps & Notifications
- Locate Facebook
- Tap Permissions
- Toggle Microphone to OFF
how does facebook track me?
When you sign up for Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, you agree to their data policy. On Facebook, you agree to let them collect data that “includes information about the websites and apps you visit, your use of our services on those websites and apps, as well as information the developer or publisher of the app or website provides to you or us.”
Facebook also always knows your location. When Apple and Google announced new features in their operating systems that allow users to limit apps from knowing your location, Facebook threw a fit and wrote a blog post telling everyone that it would dramatically affect the user experience. Believe it or not, the blog post tries to make the argument that protecting your privacy is bad for you.
But wait, there’s more. Facebook also analyzes “photos and videos we think you’re in, such as your profile picture and photos you’ve already been tagged in, to create a template for you. We use your template to recognize you in other photos, videos and other places where the camera is used (like live video) on Facebook.” – Facebook help center
Thankfully, in the help center, they explain how to turn this “feature” off.
And finally, Facebook touts an ad marketing service called “Lookalike Audiences,” which goes even deeper into the data they collect from us and allows advertisers to target people by their ages or likes. The feature lets marketers examine their existing customers, audience, or even voters for predispositions — like big spending or left-leaning ideals — and have Facebook find other users with similar inclinations.
This information is by no means exhaustive, and if you want to find out exactly what data Facebook collects, find out straight from the source.
how do i make it stop?
Frankly, there is no way to completely stop all the data collection behind the scenes, even on other websites and platforms. But, there is a way to prevent other websites from sharing information with Facebook about you.
Go to your “Off-Facebook Activity” (the link takes you directly there), and you can see which sites and apps are sharing data. Once there, you can clear your history, turn off tracking for specific websites or apps, or stop this tracking completely. To be clear, if you turn tracking off, Facebook will still get information about your activity; it just won’t be associated with you or your account.
the only way to stop facebook, messenger, and instagram
On the internet, you and your attention are the product that platforms like Facebook are selling to the highest bidder. These platforms are making billions by giving advertisers audiences with unlimited attention.
They record every scroll and click. Every time you hesitate to look at an ad, Facebook knows you showed interest, and because they know, so does anyone with a credit card who wants to target you for an ad.
Sadly, many have given up trying to protect themselves and look at data collection as a necessary evil. They willingly trade their attention and privacy for the “privilege” of using these social media apps for free.
Until we force Facebook and the others to stop making money by monetizing our attention and activities, we may have to accept that these platforms will know our every move and will sell that information to anyone with cash money.
The only way to make sure Facebook is not tracking you and associating that data with you and your account is to delete it entirely from your lives and devices.
(Note: Before you delete your Facebook account, you may want to get a copy of your data file, especially if you have pictures you want to save.)
- Click in the top right of Facebook.
- Select Settings & Privacy, then click Settings
- Click Your Facebook Information in the left column.
- Click Deactivation and Deletion.
- Choose Permanently Delete Account, then click Continue to Account Deletion.
- Click Delete Account, enter your password, and then click Continue.
Source – Facebook Help
to remove facebook from your device
- Go to your Android’s settings and open your application manager.
- Tap Facebook.
- Tap Uninstall.
– iPhone and iPad
- Press and hold the app icon.
- Tap the x that appears.
- To confirm, tap Delete.
Source – Facebook Help
Take it from me; life without Facebook is not horrible. As long as you don’t need Facebook to promote a business, life without can free up some time and attention for you.
If you don’t want to be so drastic and you want to keep Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, know a lot is going on behind the scenes that we don’t see, and as hard as we try, there never will be a way to be completely private on the internet.
That is unless you go off the grid and live in a van, down by the river.
I’ll bring my flannel shirt and Crocs.
Scrolling through my social media feed is like flying over a battle zone. A trip to my favorite restaurant usually means some entitled Karen or Ken complaining they had to wait too long or upset because they had to wear a facemask and shield to gain entry.
On the road, people are getting cut off, and angry tempers flare.
Everywhere you go virtually and in real life, people are treating each other like shit. Trolls have come out of hiding, encouraged by their Tweeter-in-Chief. The racists, misogynists, and incels aren’t afraid to show their true colors anymore because even those of us who check their behavior are getting tired of being the voice of clarity and justice.
What happened to just being kind and pleasant? Why so much outrage?
trump didn’t create this
That’s right. As much as I love to hate Trump, he didn’t create hate. Hate has been a thing worldwide for as long as we have been walking upright, maybe longer. We pay so much attention to it now because everyone has a camera, and it is in our face 24/7.
- White woman called the police on a Black man for existing? Let’s get that bitch on video!
- Dude in a MAGA hat doesn’t want to wear a mask in Walmart? You are now Facebook-famous!
- Cops harassing, beating, and killing Black people? Let’s finally give the police what they deserve!
I don’t usually go off on political rants (yes, I do), but it’s good to finally have the ugliness on display for everyone to view, just for the reason that people can now see we haven’t been lying about the injustice all this time.
The only problem is that we have become so focused on our hate — conservatives and liberals alike — that our whole lives are just varying levels of outrage.
This is how it goes for me. I will most likely be working, maybe catching up with my people on Facebook or Instagram, and old Zuck knows just which buttons to push to get me on a fire-breathing rampage of comments and shares that now has turned into hours.
My work, forgotten.
Now, not only have I done my duty and outed the source of my outrage, but I just alienated every one of my friends and followers. Zuckerberg loves that because now more people are furious and spending all their time on the platform sharing their outrage.
Do you know what else we are doing? We are interacting with his ads. We are making him wealthier while spreading the rage around the internet.
Yes, we should focus on society’s social ills like racism and income disparity. But at some point, we have to escape the cycle of fury and start treating other people like gold.
In America, eventually, we are all going to have to come together — no more Trumpers or Libs — and do what we can as Americans to fix this mess we have created. Yes, Trump put us back 20 years, but he also shined the light on the cockroaches living on the underbelly of the country.
How many more people in the world understand what Black Lives Matter is all about? How many more people finally see the truth about racism and police brutality? How many more Americans are now aware that the rich and powerful are pulling strings in the world, and all this time, we have been making it easier for them to get wealthier and untouchable?
Now that we know the real evil of the white supremacists and evangelical right and are finally doing something to combat it, don’t you think it’s time we started addressing the hate and division in society?
My fourth-grade teacher is turning over in her grave because I am using the word “nice” so much, but it does describe the point I am trying to get across.
I’m sure Mrs. Redman will agree that it’s time we all started treating each other better. Right now, we are all on fire from the sheer volume of vitriol spilled around the world and on social media. We are all walking wounded from the constant barrage of spite and anger.
But don’t expect Zuck is going to let up anytime soon on his quest for his first trillion dollars.
We need to take it upon ourselves, every one of us, to start treating each other with respect and stop reacting out of outrage. Sure, there will always be the McConnells of the world who deserve every bit of hate they get, but the majority of us are good people, despite our fucked-up view of the world.
We deserve better treatment, which is not privilege or entitlement talking; that is the facts. Black, white, right, left, rich, poor, man, woman — we deserve better than what we are all receiving from each other.
It doesn’t matter if you identify as a Proud Boy or QAnon; all you are is misguided and have fallen under a spell of stupidity. You still deserve to have dignity and be able to enjoy your idea of a good life without hate and anger from all sides. But, if you want respect, you have to give it. You have to treat everyone else like royalty if you’re going to be King of your castle.
No more hate and division. No more demagogues.
We all need to come together against the evil in society and start treating each other like brother and sister. The human race will not survive divided as we are. From here, it only gets worse until we won’t be able to stop killing each other in the name of whatever cause we choose to place our loyalty.
All that will remain if we do nothing about the hate in this world is a smoking husk of a planet and a page in some alien civilizations “what not to do manual for intelligent societies.”
Be nice or die in outrage — your choice.
If you have read any of my previous work on Medium, you know my life is, at best, a shit-show. That is a polite way of saying it. It almost seems as though I spend my days on a rollercoaster, but instead of putting my hands over my head when I go into the valleys, screaming in delight, I grip the railing white-knuckled and scream in horror as I descend into the darkness.
A little overdramatic, but you get the idea.
This past week has shown how easy it is for me to fall into the muck. I spent much of the end of the week in bed with a pillow over my head, trying to rid my brain of the demons inside. When I started the week, I was on top of the world. I had been writing at night, publishing like a pro, and working on my blogs. I was father and husband of the year material, and I smiled in fulfillment more than anything else.
But before I knew it, I was screaming down the track into a rabbit hole.
Whether I am bright-eyed and focused, or psychotic and depressed, the funniest thing about me is I am optimistic. I am always thinking of the big picture.
Monday, when I was on top of the world, I was saying to myself, “The good times will last forever!” But, even though by Wednesday I felt like I was in hell, I calmed myself by repeating, “This episode won’t last forever; I’ll be back on top soon.”
Why do I always choose to see the bright side when my life seems to be in flames around me? Is it because I also see the big picture, or is there something else? How is my approach to dealing with my illness helpful for the rest of my life, career, and relationships?
How do you take optimism and big thinking and come out at the end of your journey a success?
when life gives you lemons
My friend G Correia and I work on several projects together, one being the Medium publication, Freethinkr. Many of our discussions revolve around the publication’s future, and I always approach our success by visualizing the pie-in-the-sky. I see a future of tens of thousands of subscribers and writers, with newsletters and merchandise. But he is much more reserved. Not pessimistic; realistic. We are very different people, but it has always worked for us since back in the agency days in the early 2000s.
To stay motivated despite the rollercoaster, I need to see the top of the mountain, whereas my friend, Mr. Correia doesn’t waste his time in the “could-potentially-be,” instead, setting his sights on crushing the next goal.
I am always jumping to the next huge thing, spending my days in ideas and big thinking. I like to think I can see the whole picture, and my partner is the same way, but thankfully he is more grounded and can see the forest and the trees.
Every day I have to tame my ideas and wrangle them down into action because while being a big thinker is excellent, if you can’t act on the ideas that come out of your head, you aren’t likely to be a success in life.
Think of some big thinkers from recent years in politics, science, and business: Barak and Michelle Obama, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jane Goodall, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking. They are famous because they could see the mountain tops, and they could do what it took to see their ideas to fruition.
Big thinking + optimism + action = success.
And while I have the equation memorized, I am still learning how to take action and realize my ambitions.
How do we take big ideas and optimism and turn them into success and achievement?
how to be a success — working the equation
I have been successful at battling my mental illness because I am optimistic and a big picture thinker. You can use these same principles to apply it to anything in your life, be it finances, career, or life goals.
1Think big about all areas of your life. Apply the equation to everything, from your relationship with your partner to your business or brand. In everything you do, do it big. Be a dreamer. But don’t forget always to take action on your ideas.
2Step outside yourself and think like a child. Children know wonder and have no preconceived notions of what works and what doesn’t. To them, everything is possible. So whether you are a writer or an entrepreneur, or both, have a childlike innocence in everything you do.
3Remove barriers to your success, like sensitivity to criticism from peers, or your bad habits, like procrastination. Removing hurdles means you don’t have to make gigantic leaps to make progress continually. You can move forward steadily and with purpose and get to the final goal without losing yourself in the process.
4Be positive yet realistic. Toxic positivity will get you nowhere. Affirmations are great when you are sitting on the toilet, but the real work starts when you push towards being positive without being fake or unnatural. The people who say, “Smile! It will get better!” never stick around to offer ideas on making it that way, so balance the positivity concept with an ability to sniff out and get rid of the bullshit that never helps the situation.
5Stop looking for a magic bullet. Reading more self-help articles isn’t likely to help if you haven’t implemented the ideas you have already read. Stop looking and start doing! More is not always better. Sometimes you have to be satisfied with the information you have and move forward.
6Get out there and make the magic happen. Take action. There is no secret formula for taking action. All you must do is get out there and do it. If you are a writer, write. If you own an eCommerce store, sell by any means necessary. If you are an artist, do art. Put the pen to the page and get it done. There is no other way.
Being a big thinker is excellent for figuring out ways around obstacles and seeing the whole picture before taking action. Optimism helps in keeping you on track and goal-focused. But eventually, you have to take action.
Sitting around, coming up with new ideas will never lead you to success. Trust me; I’ve been doing it my whole life. The idea is to start making the ideas happen. Start doing something. Anything.
Being a big picture thinker is terrific, but don’t forget that someone has to paint that picture before it can be real.
Also be the painter, not just the idea-person.
It was a night like most others. 2 am. Cold. The only light was streaming in through the blinds from outside. No electricity. I couldn’t bring myself to leave my house and go to the office to take care of the shut-off notice, so I had no light – no heat.
I’d bought two cartons of Marlboro Reds earlier in the month, so at least I could smoke in the dark.
I hadn’t showered in at least two weeks, and it wasn’t happening tonight with cold water, so I had to live with the smell coming from under the blanket. Fomunda – that’s what we used to call it when it was a joke.
The noise was unbearable, but my neighbors couldn’t have heard it because the screaming was in my head. The bastards in charge had spent the better part of the day and night trying to get me to slice open a vein with the razor blade I had been using on my upper arm.
For the most part, I wasn’t listening. In my mind, I was hiking up a cliff above a fjord in Norway. The view was breathtaking and a credit to the imagination who had created this reality for me, so I didn’t have to deal with the pain, blood, darkness, and fear in my real life.
“If I get through this, I’m going there someday.”
I survived each new day with the promise to myself that when things got better, I would travel and visit places like the ones my broken mind had fabricated.
Over the years, my mind had taken me to the beaches of southeast Asia, the craggy mountains of Norway, the cloistered streets of the old town in Estonia, the rivers and peaks of Switzerland, and the streets of Paris where I ate croissants and spoke terrible French. Each day was a new place to visit, and by the time I was able to fall asleep, I felt like I had explored every nook and cranny of these manufactured realities.
I was going to visit them all for real one day.
Fast-forward – twenty years later – and although I have walked the beaches of the Philippines, I haven’t been anywhere else. It’s not that I forgot about the promises I made to my past self those nights sitting in the dark; it’s that right now, even if there was no pandemic, I couldn’t afford to go anywhere.
A little over two years ago, I decided I wouldn’t let my illness keep me from my dreams. I hadn’t worked in over a decade, except for a few freelance jobs, but I had spent so much time learning ways to cope with my episodes of psychosis, depression, and anxiety that I felt I could take on a bit of a career in writing.
At times it seemed as if I would make progress, only to push myself too hard and end up fighting the voices in my head and those pesky suicidal tendencies. But I would always bounce back, and each time would jump into writing with an enthusiasm unmatched.
For two years, its been a cycle of intense work and focus, and then a period where I would lick my wounds and recover my strength.
I do this to myself because I can feel the Jason from twenty years ago pushing me to be better than I was the day before. He wants to see Norway and France because I promised and he won’t let me forget.
I push myself both because 30-year-old me demands it, and because I want a better life for my family. If I drive myself hard enough and I can afford to travel the world, you can imagine that my family would be well-taken-care-of as well.
My dream is to travel, but it’s not my wife’s dream. If I can travel though, I can afford to finance her wants as well. I can put money away for the time when my kids want to spread their wings and experience all that life has to offer. I want to help my aging parents live out their life without wanting for anything, and I’d like the boys I raised to be men to be able to count on me if they ever need anything.
It’s not just a selfish desire to take my past self to exotic places, it’s also to make sure every member of my family is safe and cared for.
I have big dreams, and I must push to reach all the goals I set for myself.
Everyone is counting on me. I depend on me.
Here I sit. 2 am. The air is cool, and the electricity is on. Like every other night, I am working – writing, building blogs and brands, and battling the demons that seek to engulf me.
I push myself hard, but not enough that I topple from my perch above the darkness. I don’t push myself too hard because I can hear the voices screaming my name, deep down where I locked them. They look for any opportunity to break out, so I have to be careful not to leave the keys lying around.
I run harder and harder because I can see the finish line in the distance. I am at the precipice of a breakthrough that will give me everything I want and need and allow me to take care of my family.
I push harder, but I am strong, and I know I can run forever.
I move forward because my past self wants a croissant.
It has taken me almost a week to compose myself enough that I know I can safely write about this subject without breaking down into an emotional mess. After six years, I thought I wouldn’t be so sensitive, but this is the first time in a long time that I read my old secret blog.
From December of 2013 to June of 2014, I wrote down what I couldn’t tell anyone else and published the words in a blog under a pseudonym. Most of it was day-to-day angst, but a few things caught my eye as I scrolled through the posts.
On May 28th, 2014, I wrote a (suicide) note I published after midnight the next day, then took three handfuls of pills and waited to die. I would post it here in full, but you might find it a bit dry unless you are one of my family members.
There are a few things I wrote that day that stand out to me now.
I was very hard on myself because I felt I was a quitter. I never finished anything, mostly because of my mental illness, but in my mind, it just proved I was weak, and my life would never amount to anything.
“…I just couldn’t handle the pain anymore, and I am giving up. Yes, after all this time, I prove to everyone that I am a quitter. I live my last hours comfortable with that thought, not at all ashamed, because I have fought this for so long, and I just can’t do it anymore.”
The pain of having lived a life with nothing to show for it was too much for me to handle, even though, at that time, I had four beautiful kids who loved me, and a wife. Despite every obstacle thrown at her, she tried to love the real me, but I hid from her. I felt like a failure and a burden because my toxic mind told me all I had ever been was a sick loser and nothing else.
Even at the end of my life, I worried about what people would think of me. It was bad enough that my family was going to have to live with the stain of suicide in their lives. They would also live with the stigma of having someone close to them feel like they had no one to turn to in their last moments.
“I know you are probably thinking it was incredibly selfish of me to kill myself. I can’t disagree with you on that. I feel guilty right now, as the hour draws near, and I am sorry to all of you. I expect you will at some time be angry with me, but I hope you will get over it with time.”
I was scared, and I was sad to be going, but I felt I had nothing left to fight with, and this was the only thing left to me.
“As time is upon me, I don’t want to say goodbye. I want one more hug and kiss from each and every one of you, but I know I can’t have that. I’m crying as I write these final lines.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
I hope you can forgive me.”
Then, before I sent out the note and took the pills, I took a picture on the webcam and captioned it “Goodbye. I love you all!”
This is the picture that will haunt me forever.
Over the past six years, I have analyzed this night and have written about it at length many times, but until I reread the suicide note, I wasn’t able to put myself back in the frame of mind I was swimming in.
Now I remember it vividly, which you might think to be a bad thing, but it’s not. Now, I remember what it’s like to be at the lowest point in my life. Now, no matter how bad my episodes of psychosis are, or how deep my depression is, or how painful my anxiety and panic attacks are, I know I’ve already touched the bottom of the rabbit hole, and I know I don’t have to go back there again.
I still have suicidal thoughts, but the difference is that now, suicide is not an option or an answer to my problems.
On June 7th, 2014, I was out of the hospital and had been writing. I wanted to put down all the details of what happened before I lost it to the fog of medication and the cruelty of time.
Going back after six years and reliving the days before the suicide attempt through my time on the mental ward left me gutted. I took a week and let my mind mull over and ruminate about it.
Tonight, I sit here at 3:00 am on October 8th, 2020, and am grateful that I didn’t die. I could have died, considering the number of pills I took, but somehow I am here today and alive to tell the story.
My three boys, men, are all happy and living in the U.S., and here in the Philippines, I have my daughter Zoey, and our newest addition, Joey. If I had died, I could not have seen Zoey grow, and would not have been here to bring another life in the world.
I would never have finally started something and stuck with it. My writing career has been going strong for two years, and I have seen incredible growth within myself as a person.
I would never have seen this time in my life where I am starting to manage and control my illness and earn for the first time in decades.
I am a father five times over, and a proud husband for the second and final time. I am fulfilled and happy, and in the version of success I hold dear in my mind, I am one in every sense of the word.
The suicide attempt is terrible, and I wish it didn’t have to be the catalyst that finally lit the spark that changed my life. How something so awful and appalling could mold me like clay and create the different person I am today is a mystery.
I wish it never happened, but I am thankful it did.
I guess I keep writing about this because I hope that one day, someone who is suffering will read my words and change their path before they do something drastic like I did. One day, I hope all the pain and anguish I still feel will help at least one person realize that taking their life is not the answer to the question they are asking.
I’ve battled the voices I know aren’t real and this brain that is so incredibly noisy, the depression that tries to sink my life into a spiral of darkness, and the anxiety that threatens to send me into a panic I will never recover from, so I can get to a point in my life where I can help others.
I lived for my family, and I lived for myself. But I also lived so I could give hope to someone else.
Are you that person who is feeling like they have no choice? Are you at the end of your rope and feel like you have no one to talk to? Is your brain trying to convince you that taking your own life is the only answer?
No matter how wrong everything seems right now, your life is worth living.
If you need to talk, I am only a comment away.
Get help, and prove to yourself that your life means something because it does.
I almost died to prove that to myself. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
My endless scroll often consists of paper-thin and tanned people and influencers, frolicking in Bali in designer swimwear. Perfectly-posed pictures show off their “best” features, beckoning you to join them in their made-up fantasy lives.
Okay, stop it, Jason!
I don’t have anything against the “fake” influencers anymore because, underneath, we are all the same, and they are entertaining. Shouldn’t we be all-inclusive and include all body types and life situations when we talk about positivity? How can we say we love people of all kinds when we demean thin, fit, and “beautiful” people to boost our message?
My Instagram feed is a combination of thin and fat influencers. I love cisgender and straight couples as much as I like LGBTQ people.
I am slightly obsessed with two kinds of folks right now — travelers and people with tattoos. Tattooed travelers light my fire.
I even follow several goth-type people because I love their style and anyone who can rock a black overcoat and Doc Martens in summer is my hero.
I also like other real people who make me laugh and cry. I like people who are closer to the real-life average. Who dare to enjoy their lives and refuse to be less than because there are haters offended by bodies with sagging moobs and stretch marks. They live despite the fat-phobic, homophobic, misogynist, ableist, racist, and sexist incels and trolls.
The thing about it is — all bodies and people are good. I love seeing curvy and full-figured women on the beach in revealing swimwear and much as I love a thin woman sweating it up in a gym. I like getting a peek into the lives of well-muscled, bearded gods, as much as I do the 400lb guy showing off his 100lb weight loss for the camera.
I love seeing the life of a struggling creative as much as a CEO posing at her desk with a Rolex.
The things that most people hate about Instagram I love. I love duck-lipped blondes with sportscars and impeccably-posed brunches on the savannah. I love people wearing gobs of makeup as much as I love a more natural look. I love seeing the broke influencers posing on fake private jets with champagne and stacks of 100 dollar bills because they think it will get them more likes.
Even more than body types I see every day, I love the real lives of these people. More than posed pictures in exotic locations, I look for the imperfectly perfect moments in our days.
These are the posts without 100 #hashtags at the end, and never more than one filter.
These are the solo woman traveling the American west — writing and sleeping in AirBnB’s. They are also a disabled father and mother suffering from depression, giving their child the happiest life ever.
You will also find more writers sharing their poetry and lives filled with books and word processors. I like to see accountability videos and family outings. I love the hilarious mother who says FUCK a lot and makes me laugh-spit my coffee at least once a day.
I love the wannabees, the wantrepreneurs, and the micro-influencers. I love the single and happy powerlifters. I even like to see my friends who are sex writers being naughty, even when I have to explain to my wife why my feed is full of naked people.
I love the real parts of life — the pimples and the stretch marks, the unpolished pitches, and the off-the-cuff comedy. I love the family photos where no one smiles, and the delicious images of what you feasted on for dinner last night, even if I would never eat it.
I like dogs and cats and nature pictures. I want to see the view outside your window this morning, and the daisies you saw when you went for a walk.
And, in case you think no one appreciates you, I love every damn selfie you post, from the drive-thru at Taco Loco to standing in the bathroom with the toilet behind you.
Do you know what we need to see more of on Instagram? Real people, real life, real situations. We already have plenty of the staged poses and perfect makeup; we need to see more of the ones in harsh sunlight with a butt-cheek hanging out at the beach.
Every body-type is beautiful, so strip off the layers and show that skin! Don’t just show us what you look like made-up, show us what you look like 30 seconds after you open your eyes. Don’t show us your meal before you eat it; show the after-belly and the sauce you dripped on your white T-shirt.
I want to see two bearded dudes with beer-bellies kissing in the moonlight in Paris and the real-life Ken and Barbie rushing through O’Hare. I want to see the pictures of all their kids when they get home.
I can’t get enough reality.
Remember when reality was good? Pay attention, Instagrammers!
Thirty years ago, I had a dream. I dreamed that computer technology improved exponentially until computers became a trillion times more intelligent than any human could be. Instead of destroying the human race, these computers set out to help the humans who had created them.
Computers figured out newer and better ways to solve everyday problems and improve upon ideas and inventions that were destroying the earth and the minds and bodies of the humans they wanted to help.
It started with implants that would allow the human brain to interface with the computer intelligence and improve within a framework of neurons. But the computers began to see that improving within the faulty lattice of the human brain and body was futile and figured out a way for us to download our consciousness — what makes us human — into a network where we could all interact together as if we were living and breathing on earth.
The computers knew that the human psyche couldn’t handle the disconnect of no longer breathing, tasting, feeling, and seeing with our eyes, so they built a world or a matrix, but I wouldn’t use that word to describe it until Neo fought the agents onscreen in 1999.
Within this environment, the work to improve each human package continued, solving problems like mental illness, autism, dementia, and all other forms of diseases of the mind that couldn’t be solved while our minds existed within the prison of the human brain.
With technology, humans were able to evolve into a new realm of existence and occur as quantum impulses that could travel anywhere in the universe instantaneously.
This event describes a technological singularity, or what some would call the “Rapture of the Nerds,” but I wouldn’t know that minds much more intelligent than mine had conceived this reality long ago.
The Reality of The Singularity
“The technological singularity — also, simply, the singularity — is a hypothetical point in time at which technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to human civilization.” — Wikipedia
It used to be, according to Moore’s Law, that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles every two years. So we could estimate future computing power based on this rule. Still, there was also the law of accelerating returns to take into consideration, that the “pace of technological progress — especially information technology — speeds up exponentially over time because there is a common force driving it forward. Being exponential, as it turns out, is all about evolution.”
Technology evolves as new technologies build on the backs of previous generations, and the growth accelerates.
“The first computers were designed on paper and assembled by hand. Today, they are designed on computer workstations with the computers themselves working out many details of the next generation’s design, and are then produced in fully automated factories with only limited human intervention.” — Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near
Technology will keep improving, and innovations like quantum computing will take the computer or artificial intelligence to a level where it no longer requires human intervention to improve. It will innovate for itself until it achieves consciousness, limitless intellect, and the power to make crucial decisions by itself.
The technology will become so advanced that people will first interface with the intelligence then download their whole consciousness into a computer, finally achieving immortality of a sort.
But, in the minds of many, this progression is not inevitable. One of my heroes, Jaron Lanier, virtual reality pioneer and technology thought leader, thinks “it’s still just a thought experiment — not a reality or even a virtual-reality hot ticket to immortality. It’s a surreality.”
So even though thinkers like myself are writing stories that predict a tech-utopia, it is not a given, and thousands of other possibilities could occur instead.
But what if?
Can Limitless Technology Cure Mental Illness and Disease?
To consider if an advanced enough computer could download your consciousness, or you could interface with it through some form of implant and affect change upon the failings of the mind, we have to step back into the realm of science fiction again.
So far, scientists have been unable to create a medical or pharmaceutical cure for mental illness and the various diseases of the mind like dementia, and they have only been able to provide prophylactics that almost work on the symptoms.
What if an advanced enough computer could take the impulses of a mind, or could even change the nature of DNA to cure the demons that infect the mind of people like me?
I have a stake in this game. I have fought and come to terms with severe mental illness, only through a lifetime of hard work and medication. But I am not cured by any means, and my sick but intelligent mind is constantly coming up with ideas and realities where the failings of our brains do not limit us.
And, although I think in circles on the advice and ideas of pioneers like Paul Allen, Jeff Hawkins, John Holland, Jaron Lanier, and Gordon Moore, I am nowhere closer to knowing if the singularity is plausible enough that I could put hope in a future where I am not fighting my mind for control of my life.
For now, I have the dream of a younger man to keep me afloat and the knowledge that one day, computer technology will advance past the point that any human ever could, and it would find a way to cure and rearrange minds that are not optimal like mine.
We have to keep studying and learning about the good that technology could do, and not listen to the naysayers who say that artificial intelligence will turn against us and destroy humanity. We have to turn away from the religions who seek our indoctrination and speak out against using technology to aid the evolution of humankind because it goes against their idea that only a god can create perfection.
Humans can hope, and for those of us who battle our minds, we look forward to a day when we are not controlled by impulses and the influence of a less than optimal mind.
We can hope.
How many blogs have you built, filled with content, and monetized, only to stop publishing a few months later? You start with your hair on fire, but life gets in the way, and before long, the blog seems like the last thing you want to deal with.
I went back over the last 20+ years of blogging and made a count of the blogs I let go fallow, and die on the vine.
It was 27.
I spent the time to purchase hosting, set up my WordPress installation, write content, design logos and social media graphics, monetize, and promote only to lose interest and shut it down in disgust.
But, my past is not all bad.
I’ve created successful blogs, and one, which I cannot name, I even sold for a tidy sum of money. I’ve built blogs for others that went on to do very well and contributed my expertise for free to startups who went on to be the talk of the town.
And then there is Medium, my biggest success story.
Doing the Work for Two Years
Considering the amount of failure I’ve experienced, you might think I would have started publishing on Medium with low expectations.
I joined Medium intending to be the number one earning writer on the platform.
Is it confidence or an inflated ego? Both. I overestimated my writing skill when I started and had to learn some tough lessons about what makes a good writer. I had to learn there was more to writing than saying what you think people want to hear. I had to learn that even though my mom thought I was a good writer, no one else did, and I had to put in the work to make sure that people would, in fact, come to read what I write.
So I’ve been writing every day and publishing as often as I have a quality piece to release. I have been reading and learning. I have been searching for a voice. I have been doing whatever I have to do to put my best work out for people to read.
And, I’ve done one other thing that is totally responsible for any success up until this point.
I’ve been consistent.
I committed to writing and publishing, and in the almost two years I’ve been writing on Medium I haven’t taken my foot off the gas pedal.
Why now, and why Medium?
Another Stake in the Ground
- I am a poser in the worst way possible, and I have been for all my adult life. I get interested in something and announce to everyone that I will be the most successful (fill in the blank) ever! But I never finish anything.
- I am a multipotentialite who constantly picks up and discards hobbies and projects as I walk the path of my life.
- I am a wantrepreneur who starts and fails at businesses as smoothly as most people change their clothes.
- I am like the Japanese idiom, mikka bouzo, which translates literally as: ‘three-day monk’. It refers to a person who easily gives up after starting something new.
- I am ineffectual and feckless.
Most of the time.
But I’ve stuck with Medium. I am consistent to a fault. Even the times in my life when my mental illness gets the best of me, I recover and get right back to work where I left off.
Even when my son was born last year, when I wasn’t able to publish near as much as I wanted, I still wrote every day and created some fantastic pieces.
I’ve been consistent because I don’t gauge my success by a yardstick the others use. I’ve stayed on the path even though doubt creeps in, and I start thinking I am moving too slow.
I’ve followed through even after becoming discouraged by my stats and my curation percentage.
I decided that if I couldn’t be consistent, I would just quit blogging and writing on Medium and retire my laptop.
For me, it’s all or nothing.
I am far from financial success, but I still feel successful because more than anything else in my life, I have stuck with Medium.
I am going to see this thing through to the end.
Don’t Do Anything Halfway
What is the lesson here?
Even if you are a multipod like me, and jump from thing to thing, there comes a time in life when you have to put a stake in the ground and decide once and for all that you will succeed at something.
If Medium isn’t the thing for you, pick one other thing. Maybe it’s a blog or a newsletter. Perhaps it’s not writing at all but vlogging or streaming. Maybe it’s an offline business.
Find your thing and follow through. Be consistent and do whatever it takes to get to the point where you feel you are a success, whether that be at 1 million dollars or 100 articles published.
If you find something you enjoy doing, put all your effort into doing it.
Because, if you aren’t consistent, be it with blogging, or life, you might as well just quit.