Some advice sticks with you.
When I got into blogging, I came across one particular pearl of wisdom that really resonated with me. Sadly, I don’t remember the exact words or the name of the individual who offered it, but here’s the gist of their advice:
If someone asks you to contribute a quote, say yes. If someone asks to interview you, let them. Never turn down the opportunity to be perceived as an “expert” in your field. The more people see you in roundups and interviews, the more they’re going to perceive you as an expert with influence.
It’s sound advice.
And as I glanced around at the popular bloggers and entrepreneurs I admired, it appeared an overwhelming majority of them followed it.
So, I followed suit.
If someone asked me to provide a quote, I happily obliged. If someone requested an interview, I responded with a “what time works for you?” If someone invited me to write a guest post for them, I quickly added them to my calendar.
It didn’t matter if the requester was a friend or a stranger. It didn’t matter if they were popular or unknown. It didn’t matter if English was their first language or their third.
If they asked, I said yes.
In the movie Office Space, Milton realized there wasn’t enough cake for everyone to get a piece. As he sadly mumbled, “the ratio of people to cake is too big.”
Our time, though not nearly as delicious, is a lot like cake.
We only have so much of it – there’s a finite supply. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Oh, sure, we can try to stretch it out. We can offer a few crumbs without icing and hope no one complains. We can even give away the piece we were saving for ourselves.
But, eventually, we’re going to run out.
What I failed to realize for a long time is the ratio of people to cake – “cake” being you and me – can get too big. As time passes and our profiles increase, it gets increasingly difficult to satisfy everyone.
It’s easy to respond to every request when you receive one or two a week. As time goes by and you gain in popularity, you start to receive one or two a day. Then three a day. Then four. Then five.
Eventually, the ratio of people to cake becomes too big. How do you meet every request? How do you make everyone happy?
The sad truth? You can’t.
It’s a conundrum all bloggers striving to be successful will have to face at some point…
Sometimes, you have to say no.
Sometimes, you have to take rain checks. Sometimes, you have to politely decline. Sometimes, you have to say “I can’t right now, but maybe next week.”
Why? Because you can only stretch the cake so far.
One of the biggest challenges we bloggers face is learning to manage our time. We have our blogs, families, day jobs, and more to juggle each and every day.
Some days we’re able to do it all. Most days we can’t.
They key is learning to accept that this is okay. It doesn’t mean you’re a jerk. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure.
It just means you’ve run out of cake.
Creative Commons Image via thematthewknot (adapted).