Reacting to Inaction: You Can Build It, But They Might Not Come

I’m Kevin Costner, standing in a corn field, and a mysterious voice is telling me “if you build it, they will come”. I have no idea what this dude is talking about, but I go on ahead and build it anyway, and all of a sudden it’s the bottom of the 9th and shoeless Joe Jackson is running bases like it’s nobody’s business…

Field Of Dreams is a classic, what my kids would call a “mommy movie”, because, like me, it was made eons before they were born. The message is magical, inspirational, and a even bit prophetic in today’s content-driven society. Just look at the blogosphere, look at Instagram, look at the pipeline of Netflix originals. Content is king, and if you create it, and if it’s good, people will simply flock to it. Right? 

I always thought that was the case. But I’m learning- the hard way- that it takes a heck of a lot more than a good topic or a fancy title or a titillating image to draw in (and enrapture) an audience.

Just look at this blog. It‘ s great stuff, isn’t it? Why haven’t I signed the book deal, not to mention the made for TV, Reese Witherspoon produced movie deal already? I mic drop my thoughts on the vast WordPress community with no regularity whatsoever, leveraging my wit, my perception, and my way with words, hoping to worm my way into the hearts of millions of other would-be bloggers for life. I’m proud of the approaching 200 of you who haven’t bailed on me (isn’t auto delete a great feature?), but the past 2 years have hardly been overnight success. I can’t quit my day job just yet.

Speaking of my day job, it also happens to be content driven in the sense that 2000+ investors rely on me to provide insight on stocks on a daily basis. I want- no, I need- as many of them as possible to not only open my email, but read to the end, reply with feedback (or pushback, I’m an equal opportunity recipient), and choose to reward my firm with monetary compensation. I need to be provocative, relevant, punny, and controversial to get people to feel compelled to act. That’s a lot of pressure, and sometimes it’s still not enough, and I find myself talking to no one.

As my role has expanded, and I’ve taken on more leadership at the firm, that’s come with increased responsibility to provide support and assistance for the employee base. I’m asked to put together programming like panels and speakers on topics that will appeal to the masses (women, parents, and other affinity groups). When I deliver a premium product complete with experts and even free cocktails– why in the world does NO ONE show up? Why do I feel like I’m the one asking- no, begging, for help and support?

It’s because simply putting it out there is not enough. In today’s environment, no one feels compelled to “show up” anymore. We don’t need to respond to emails or texts in real time (or at all). The phone really isn’t ringing, so there’s no need to answer a call to action. We actually don’t have to “talk” to anyone because we can find out what everyone we’ve ever known is up to this morning by scrolling through Facebook or Insta stories. We don’t have to make it home for our favorite TV show because the DVR has our back. Almost everything in our lives today is passive, there is no urgency. And we’re absolutely inundated by content, so for those of us providing it, it better be so outrageous or offer an incredible value proposition, otherwise the eyeballs are not stopping for a second glance.

It’s heart wrenching when you build it, and they don’t come. But we can’t let that leave us standing at the pitcher’s mound on a baseball diamond in the middle of a Iowan cornfield. We have to continue to work hard, dust those bases, water the turf, and rake the dirt, and eventually, with that relentless effort, the seeds we’ve sown will sprout. It might take more self-promotion, more shameless pleas for friends to spread the word, more jumping up and down while screaming “look over here!”. I truly believe we cannot be deterred. They will come, we just may have to drag them there.

Don’t lose hope! And like this post gosh darn it!

5 thoughts on “Reacting to Inaction: You Can Build It, But They Might Not Come

  1. I love the film Field of Dreams and we often use that line around here, “If we build it they will come” – But you are right, it’s just not enough any more. Like you, I realised early on in my blogging career that there are now probably more bloggers than bloggees so however great the content, hard to be found amongst the millions of other blogs. In my real-world life, I have recently started a new venture where I had hoped people would want more than just make use of my excellent holiday accommodation, but use me as a guide, host, giver-of-local-information/folklore. Again, early on it became apparent that most people don’t actually want to meet you at all any more, they just want a key, access to good wifi so that they can look up local info for themselves and then leave you to clean up after them. My business model has now been updated (exceptionally good food and drink “compliments” go down well) but I’m sad that so few people actually want to meet face to face.

    But hey, the great thing about having a blog is that you can build up virtual friendships with like-minded people you would never have “met” otherwise. A few of my blogging buddies have started to meet up in the real world so all is not lost. In a back to front kind of way, I have made new real world friends out of something that was only ever supposed to be virtual.

    Keep writing though just for yourself – Enjoy it and they will come.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post. I hear you! Someone once told me that it took ten years for them to get the number of subscribers they have (just over 700), and that it is not about the numbers, but writing for the love of it (can be hard to hear, I know), but it is true! People will be drawn to quality content, but it has to be authentic content. Write from the heart – nothing else matters. You have an amazing blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. It takes a lot of trust and faith in humanity to put your deepest most sincere thoughts out there for the public to read. It takes time and heart and when no one “shows up” it can feel kinda offensive!!!

      Liked by 1 person

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