I feel some of this as I write across multiple topics. I’ve been told many times that I need to stick to a tighter lane of content, but I’m interested in so many things and they all come together to make the business/freelance content be what it is for you readers that come for it.

Paul Jarvis talks about being known and his struggles with it. This one particularly resonated with me:

Known people who voice a political opinion are frowned upon and told that they should just shut up and do the thing they’re known for and stay in their lane. It’s not like they’re also well rounded human beings with ideas, opinions and voices on many more subjects than they’re known for, right?… I’m not exactly Bono-level in my penchant for talking issues, but they do come up in articles or on Twitter and I always get the same response about sticking to my lane. Oh, and feel free to swap out political for religious, social, or economic as well.

Second was this one:

Known people can’t make mistakes, even small ones like typos, without being blasted for it. I received 100s of emails from people saying they don’t trust my writing because I made a spelling mistake or that I can’t be the expert I apparently said I was because an email of mine from years ago has a URL in it that’s now malfunctioning.

While he cites an email link, Malcom Gladwell dug deep into what our memories do and how fragile they are. It’s likely that the big figure who embellished a story, wasn’t lying. Their memory is as broken as ours and they made a mistake.

Okay, I almost said there was a 3rd, 4th, 5th thing…so really pretty much every single point he makes is awesome and you should read his post.

2 responses to “Paul Jarvis on Being “known””

  1. John Locke Avatar

    There are people in our industry that I have talked to that are scared to take a stand for things they believe in: political, social, economic, etc.

    I suppose I get it, but I find it more difficult to resonate with people who only stay in their lane, and only talk about their technical topic of choice. It’s much more interesting to know that someone has hobbies, or likes a certain type of music, or read the same book that I did. It makes me feel more connected to that person, even if I never shook their hand IRL.

    There are a lot of downsides to being known I would imagine, but most people who criticize were never going to buy from that person anyway. Small but loyal tribes go a long way.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      You’re the guy to answer this question, how does “not staying in your lane” affect SEO though? I know you’ve said that Google sees your site as related to some topic, but if you’re a bit all over with your content…how does that affect your rankings?