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Here Come The Themed Series

Here Come The Themed Series

Man with short brown hair in a yellow dress standing against a Mondrian mural

Finding a niche for Fake and Basic has been a constant thorn in my side.

Taking pictures, writing, and then matching each piece with the perfect picture is never easy, but I love it. Casually fucking around with sets of potential Instagram grids on Planoly is a nice way to relax. Networking can be taxing, because I dread small talk and it’s exhausting having to guess who I can swear like a sailor be myself around right away, but it’s all worth it when I find people I instantaneously click with. 

The hardest, hardest part has always been finding a niche.

I tried talking about fashion and just didn’t have the words to do so (seriously, I’d spend hours sitting and staring at my word processor before producing a few embarrassing vapid sentences and calling it a day). I like writing about productivity and the systems I use to get a bunch of stuff done, but I only have a finite amount of systems I follow, and I don’t like the underlying implication that one is unproductive simply because they don’t do the same things I do. I travel a lot and document the living shit out of everything, but I have no desire to be on the go all the time. I love exploring my gender identity, and doing so has helped my social transition tremendously, but I am more than a boy in a dress. My end-goal with transition is to just be able to exist and be myself. Being transgender isn’t a personality, nor is it what I solely want to be known for. 

A niche! A niche! I had to find a niche! At least that’s what every single blogger, Instagrammer, influencer coach, and/or online personality told me. You have no niche. Who is your audience? How can you expect good views when your topics are all over the place?

This stalled me for a long time and made me want to bang my head against a wall. Three whole years passed. In the meantime, I created three separate sites — one for lifestyle and opinion, one for personal development, and one for tech. God, maintaining three separate sites was fucking miserable. It felt fundamentally wrong, spending all of this time getting super-laser-targeted towards a certain topic. It felt like following advice that just … didn’t work for me. [1]

In July of 2019, I conducted a writing experiment, telling myself that I could post whatever I wished for a month. I ended up getting paralyzed by the sheer amount of options and overthinking what I should post. I also discovered that, in the past, I’ve gone through “phases” of writing consecutive articles on the same topic for months.

I came up with the idea of making monthly series, each focused around a cohesive theme. I was greatly inspired by how Tavi Gevinson and her team organized Rookie Magazine — all of their articles fit into a finite list of categories, but each month there was a new “issue,” or theme, that explored a niche category. Some of these themes were the loss of innocence, that moment of anticipation before something new happens, or staying up all night. I thought it would be cool if I dedicated each month to a similarly small topic and talked about it here on Fake and Basic. I could explore them through all sorts of posts — confessional pieces, informational essays, rants, those song-inspired pictures I occasionally do. The site could evolve and grow alongside me. As a bonus, I can plan out the grid beforehand and make it look all nice and pretty, like so:

Marty Noel Chenyao | Fake and Basic

Marty Noel Chenyao | Fake and Basic

Marty Noel Chenyao | Fake and Basic

Marty Noel Chenyao | Fake and Basic

Marty Noel Chenyao | Fake and Basic

Marty Noel Chenyao | Fake and Basic

Marty Noel Chenyao | Fake and Basic

(Thanks for letting me flex my grid-planning skills there — I’m just as inspired by visuals as I am by words!)

I don’t want to be constrained by a brand, or a niche, or Instagram engagement, or any of the things I once convinced myself I “had” to do in order to run a successful blog. Instead, I want to create a place where I can explore ideas and write about what’s important to me. This new structure will give me room to explore talking about a bunch of different things, to do deep dives when I feel like it and keep things light and airy when I don’t (although I only seem to favor “light and airy” when it comes to my pictures).

I’m fully aware that some people may not jive with this decision, and that I’ll probably experience continual ebbs and flows in readership, since themes will drastically vary from month to month. That’s okay with me. My endgame is not to make myself into a brand, or to shill things to you on the Internet. [2] It’s to have a place to showcase my art, share my opinions, and generally express myself, especially during times when I feel silenced by the world. 

If that’s something you vibe with, awesome! If not, that’s okay, too. I want Fake and Basic to be a lifelong project. This is pretty much the only way I can see that feasibly happening.

What will happen to One Month Projects?

The themed series will more or less replace the One Month Projects. I can see myself doing a series that includes a project component, though!

How the publishing schedule will work

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still hung up on that one-article-a-day ideal. If I can one day produce a piece of what I deem as “good content” every single day, then I would have fucking made it. In my book, that would be a much sweeter success than winning a million dollars or taking my startup public.

Sadly, as the data has repeatedly suggested, I cannot produce one good piece of content a day. I would love to promise you 30 articles a month, but I’m starting to realize that real self love looks a lot like not stressing myself out to the point that I can’t focus on my actual job, and that real self care looks like giving myself the time and space I need to be a whole person.

So here’s my compromise. I promise that I will have, at the bare minimum, six pieces out every month. That’s one introductory article, one retrospective article, and one essay/photo tour/song-inspired picture or whatever per week. A new topic will be introduced within the first week of each month, and a retrospective will be held on the last day of that month. I will try my damn best to publish every other day, for a total of about fifteen posts per month, but I do have a full-time job and a social(ish) life, so that will most likely not happen.

As someone who still harbors unhealthy expectations of productivity and really likes the idea of publishing one post per day, slowing down is the healthiest choice I can make right now. It’s not fun or relaxing, like the type of treat-yo-self care that has been popularized lately, but it’s necessary. Slowing down will hopefully also give me more time to think and reflect on things, which means better content overall.

I feel like I’ve written “I’m really excited for ____” and “here’s to the next chapter” a billion times on here already, but I actually do get this excited to launch new shit? Really, every single time. So here it is again: Here’s to the next chapter of Fake and Basic history that I’m really excited for!


[1] I’m not shading anyone who has found their niche — hey, good for you! I’m just saying that restricting myself to one thing isn’t my thing.

[2] I am not above monetizing Fake and Basic; I regularly use my content as a portfolio of my writing and photography. In the future, I may set up a Patreon account, or take pictures for other bloggers, or get some more freelance writing gigs. I’m just not super into the idea of sponsored content or ads right now, and I’ll expand on why I think so in a future piece.

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