Bags of Smoke

Hype dies. The channel does not.

The problem with your 15 minutes is that it will end. Especially if you’re renting other people’s attention, it won’t last forever. You’ll become a has-been very quickly if this is all you do.

For a long time, I didn’t blog or podcast very much. I just worked on my own stuff, in private, and didn’t develop my platform. I realized recently that it wasn’t a smart decision.

It was a mistake, because no amount of hype will ever carry you forward all the way to where you want to go. You need to own a strong, popular channel. No one will ever give you one forever. You need to build one. To do anything else is to be at the mercy of other people’s whims.

Those of you that are bloggers, think of all the PR pitches you get every day. Why are you getting them? Because people are throwing money at the problem– they’re trying to create hype instead of a platform. They’re throwing money at the problem– buying bags of smoke that often result in nothing.

Even if you do blog about one of their widgets, that hype will die. It’s inevitable. And it’ll leave them needing to throw more money at the problem next time they need more attention.

Seems like a vicious cycle, doesn’t it?

Rather than rent, the real way to freedom and power is to buy everything. Simple examples include buying a house so you don’t have to pay rent, buying a car so you don’t have to pay cabs, etc. Everyone can relate to that.

But the renting you do is leaving you at the same place you started, sometimes even digging you into a hole (in terms of money, favours, etc). The buying, on the other hand, is helping you accumulate advantage and facilitating leverage fore future projects.

The good thing is that the web allows you to buy a platform with your time– what people usually call sweat equity. Potentially, you can do that in real life, too– by building your own house, say. But the web is one of the easiest places to do it.

This is only one of the reasons why working on the web facilitates your rise to wherever you want to go. But there are many, many more.





6 responses to “Bags of Smoke”

  1. CT Moore Avatar

    Does that mean that the medium is the message? ‘Cuz I really f**king hate that saying… but the platform is a medium, and by developing, you are saying something, aren’t you?

    1. Julien Avatar

      CT, I think when McLuhan said that, what he meant was “the medium itself is communicating something, and that is louder than what you think the message could ever be.” I’m not a HUGE McLuhan guy, even though we quote him in our book, but in a lot of these cases, I suspect McLuhan is talking about power structures.

      Anyway I think it’s a great saying, and I do think it’s pretty true. 🙂

  2. Emily-Sarah Avatar

    Excellent — and so true. Love the line about “buying bags of smoke.”

    1. Julien Avatar

      Thanks Emily-Sarah. I can’t take credit for that phrase though. It comes from Frank Schilling (check the link in the post) for context.

  3. Christina Avatar

    Just because I’m curious (and possibly a little ornery), do you think there are times/situations when renting is a better approach? If yes, how would you go about distinguishing?

  4. Joe Sorge Avatar

    This concept will never die! What a great angle to look at it Julien. Especially timely for me to ready this now, so thank you,….again.

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