11 Reasons Not to Become Famous (or “A Few Lessons Learned Since 2007”) – The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

This is an excellent—and harrowing—look at the downsides that come with being well-known.

Various measures of “success” in today’s world seem to bring some measure of fame along with them—insofar as you have to create content to get people’s attention, for a lot of small creators especially, that attention is focused on you.

This quote (and the quotes it includes) sums up how I feel about fame:

During my college years, one of my dorm mate’s dads was a famous Hollywood producer. He once said to me, “You want everyone to know your name and no one to know your face.”

Taking it a step further, we could quote Bill Murray:

I always want to say to people who want to be rich and famous: ‘try being rich first.’ See if that doesn’t cover most of it. There’s not much downside to being rich, other than paying taxes and having your relatives ask you for money. But when you become famous, you end up with a 24-hour job. . . . The only good thing about fame is that I’ve gotten out of a couple of speeding tickets. I’ve gotten into a restaurant when I didn’t have a suit and tie on. That’s really about it.

Being rich would suit me fine. Being rich and famous would be obnoxious, as per Mr. Murray. The worst thing, reading Tim’s article, would be being famous without being rich (emphasis mine):

If you don’t have your own ammo, [extortion] can be catastrophic. In other words, if you have more fame than resources, you paint yourself into a vulnerable corner. If you have fewer options and fewer allies, you’ll be attractive to predators.

You might think, “how likely is it that I would be famous at all?” But if you’re building an audience on the internet in order to, for example, build an online business… well, this article will tell you about the inevitable downsides that come with an audience that climbs up beyond “tribe” size to “city” size.

I’m going to meditate on this one on the regular, as I try to build any sort of business or brand for myself.

A couple tactical notes:

  • If you run an email list, using something like ConvertKit or Mailchimp, you have probably needed to provide an address; emails from mailing lists need to contain a postal address for the business as an anti-spam measure (I don’t know the source of that specific requirement). Don’t use your home address for this. Even if you have a tiny mailing list… all it takes is one unsavoury person signing up. Rent a P.O. Box, if at all possible, or some similar thing in your own jurisdiction.
  • I’ve been meaning to get a “virtual” phone number (or more than one), and use it in places that require a phone number instead of my actual mobile. Again, if you catch any level of fame, this becomes far more important. You don’t want your contact info logged somewhere that people from the internet can find it, and our existing institutions are notoriously bad at keeping personal info like this private. Best to keep your real information behind a smoke screen as much as possible.