Crabs in a Bucket

No, the title of today’s blog post has nothing to do with that k-os song from 2004. Instead, it’s more about taking a literal bucket of crabs and using that visualization to better understand our current situation with social media, professional blogging, and online publishing. It’s about putting everything into perspective so that we can better understand how we can find success in this business. And it starts by understanding who are your supporters and who is your competition.

Your Immediate Surroundings

In your mind’s eye, picture a literal bucket. Now, fill that bucket up about halfway with a bunch of live crabs. Think about how that must feel for the literal crabs in a bucket. They’ve been pulled out their presumably happy homes in the ocean, where they have near limitless room to roam free, and thrown in the overcrowded confines of a bucket. The crabs are literally crawling all over one another.

If you’ve ever been in an overly crowded situation, particularly surrounded by other crabby people (pun intended), then you’ll know all these undesirable circumstances. It’s only natural to assume that conflict will arise. The crabs may start to get on each other’s nerves and they might even start to fight with one another. Be honest. The situation really sucks! And they don’t even know that they’re destined for the dinner table.

Look Around You

It’s only human nature to compare ourselves to others. And while we might glimpse at the Warren Buffetts and Elon Musks of the world, we also recognize that getting to that level of success is probably not much more than a pipe dream. Instead, we spend much more time comparing ourselves to our peer group. And those who may be just a tier or two or three above where we are.

In other words, you compare yourself to the other crabs in roughly in the same bucket. You look at the other bloggers who are at about the same (or higher) level as you are, or the other influencers who are in the same niche. Maybe you look at some of them with derision, like they didn’t deserve to get that brand deal when you’re the one who should’ve gotten it. Maybe you’re a little jealous, so you undercut their success and talk about them behind their back.

They are your competition in this zero sum game. If Brand XYZ decides to work with them, it means they’re not working with you. But, is that really the case?

Climbing Out of the Bucket

So, what if we were to evaluate this crabby situation from a slightly different way. Rather than looking to the other crabs with a sense of frustration, irritation and anger, what if we were to look at these other crabs as teammates? What if we were to see that we’re facing the same set of circumstances, so why not work together to see how we can lift ourselves into better living conditions?

Instead of constant in-fighting, what if we worked together to build something bigger, like a ladder or tower to get out of the bucket altogether? While we probably can’t expect your average crustacean to have those kinds of construction skills, we can apply the same mindset to pro blogging. Put another way, we have to recognize that other bloggers are not the competition. They’re your colleagues.

I belong to a few blogger groups on Facebook and have developed several friendships over the years. We talk about the different campaigns or events that are coming up. We discuss best practices or how to troubleshoot some challenges we might be facing with blogging, from WordPress to Facebook to Gleam. While we may “compete” for some of the same collaborations, the net result on the macro scale is that we all benefit more from our teamwork than we would if we fought like crabs in a bucket.

And that’s a good thing. Because some of them can have some mean pinchers.