When I first began writing finance articles at Seeking Alpha, I was immediately drawn to a contributor named Rocco Pendola. Aside from the fact that he has the right taste in music (like me, he’s a Springsteen guy), I quickly became aware of the fact that no one was able to generate tons of tons of comments on their articles quite like Rocco could. He was Seeking Alpha’s “it” writer, and whatever he chose to write about, a crowd soon gathered.
Fortunately for me, when I first started writing, Rocco reached out to me and regularly offered advice on how to deal with the tumultuous waves of “being out there” as they presented themselves. As someone new to the game, I was caught off guard by how negative a reading audience could be when you think you’re writing about the benign topic of large-cap defensive investments that pay dividends. Sure, if you’re burning your draft card for the Vietnam War outside the White House, you have the baked-in expectation that you’re going to get some pushback. But when you’re trying to develop your craft about something you perceive as an innocent topic (Will Johnson & Johnson raise its dividend by 7% or 11% next year!), it rocks you a bit at first when everything you write leads to at least three or four intensely negative e-mails from people that seem pretty dead-set on attacking you as a person.