Alright. Let’s start with the obvious. Running your own blog is no easy task. It’s a completely saturated market. And with all the endless advice out there about *right* and *wrong* ways to go about it, I wouldn’t blame you for getting overwhelmed and wanting to avoid the whole thing altogether. Not to mention that, you know, there are already over 152 million blogs out there…
This isn’t to put you off, I swear. It’s to make you realise whether you want to do this enough or not.
First off, all the advice out there? It’s not right or wrong. It’s just someone’s opinion. They did things a certain way and they’re choosing to share them with you. It’s up to YOU whether you listen or not.
What’s important is to create instead of consume. So the key to having a blog you’re proud of? Just start.
Easier said than done though, right? Starting something, whatever it is can be SO scary. You might try to avoid it and you might try to let things hold you back from taking any action.
You can’t do that.
If blogging is something you are serious about (whether it’s a hobby or not), you’ve got to dive in head first. It’s like writing an essay - the hardest bit is writing the first paragraph. After that, it just flows.
I spent nine months consuming every piece of information I could find before starting my own blog. It’s only three years later that I’ve realised putting things into practice, whether they work or not, is much more effective.
So today, I want us to embrace the fear. I’m going to share with you the things that stopped me from moving forward, what I did about them and how they helped me, plus how they can help YOU too.
LETTING FEAR CONTROL YOUR MINDSET
I’d always been drawn to writing. How words can create a picture in the mind and tell a story. But for an introvert like me, I always focused on writing in my own journal and keeping all the words to myself.
It took me a while to realise it, but when I did, I knew something needed to change. This wasn’t going to get me anywhere. It wasn’t going to help me grow as a person. I wanted to do something about it.
The one thing that kept stopping me? Fear. Here’s something to know about me: I’ve always been a worrier. I get it from my grandparents and it’s a part of who I am. In any situation, my mind is always drawn to the “what-ifs”. That’s exactly what happened here.
What if everyone hates me? What if people say my writing is rubbish? What if I’m SO bad that bloggers form a team against me and try to push me out?
Yep. Welcome to the mind of Holly…
Your action step
If you constantly focus on the negatives, you’re distracting yourself from the realisation of all the good things that could well and truly happen. I’ve spent over three years in the blogging community. I promise you that no one is going to try and gang up against you!
I used to look at big bloggers and think, how do they do it? How are they so brave? The truth is that the fear is always there. They just go for it anyway.
The fear is always there for me. And it will be for you too.
Whenever it’s the day that a new post has gone live on my blog, I always get butterflies in my stomach, wondering how people will react to it. Will they find it valuable? Will it help them? Will they take action from it?
Whatever you do for your blog, the fear will be there. But the point is that you do it anyway. And the more you follow this process, the more the fear will subside.
Fear is something that will go away for good. But it IS something that we can control.
So really, there is no answer. The best thing you can do is accept that your fear is there - and then go ahead and fight it!
NOT KNOWING WHERE TO START
Like I said earlier, I spent nine months before I started my blog reading every article I could and trying out every free email course I could get my hands on. NINE MONTHS.
How much of it was helpful? I’m going to estimate at about 5%. The rest? It didn’t make the slightest bit of difference in helping me start.
Over and over again I kept thinking I need to learn more about this and learn more about that. But the truth is I didn’t NEED any of that knowledge to help me start. Really, I was just trying to avoid it.
You don’t learn best by consuming - you learn best by creating. You can take inspiration from other people, but their methods aren’t necessarily always going to work for you. You’ve got to try your own thing. The way you run your blog is your own and will be different to everyone else. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Just try.
Your action step
You need something to work towards.
Think about what you really want to accomplish for your blog and write down some goals. Writing them down or telling them to someone will make you so much likely to achieve them. Plus, this makes them real. That way, you’re more likely to commit.
I always talk through my goals with Tom, my photographer/fiancée/go-to guy. He helps me figure out what I need to focus on the most, what’s realistic and how I’m actually going to get there. It might not seem like a big thing, but when he checks in with me every so often, it can give me the good kick that I need!
When it comes to your goals, you want to have one overall aim and break it down into mini tasks to accomplish.
So when it comes to starting a blog, that’s your main goal and that’s great. But you can’t just set that as your goal without knowing how you’re actually going to get there. You need to break it down into the steps you need to take to get there.
Here are some things to think about:
- Decide on a niche
- Come up with some content categories
- Figure out a purpose - what your blog is going to be about and who you’re going to target (and why)
- Work on your personal brand
- Promote yourself on social media
- Network and interact (Twitter chats, Facebook groups etc.)
- Create some article ideas (how will I create content?)
- Set up a website (how did I do that?)
- Mark a launch date
- Create a schedule and overall plan
- Launch and learn by doing
By breaking things down into mini steps like this, you can see exactly what you need to do to get to where you want to be. From a basic outline (but you can go into as much detail as you want), you can create a plan that will definitely help you achieve your goals.
Will it always go to plan? Of course not! But that’s what it’s all about. When you come across obstacles or hurdles, you’ll be more prepared to face them.
BEING AFRAID TO START A CONVERSATION
Ah, networking. An introvert’s biggest enemy, right? When I was younger, I used to point-blank REFUSE to put my hand up in class. I liked to keep myself to myself and that was it. I found speaking up terrifying and it was only when I was 14/15 that I finally started to battle my fear.
Translate that into blogging and it was the same. I didn’t used to want to interact on social media AT ALL. Twitter chats? No thank you. Scheduling tweets? Hell no - what if everyone ignored them? And when it came to emails, I wanted to avoid them completely.
But my nine months of research did teach me one thing - if I wanted to take my blog seriously, I need to start interacting. My blog would not be where it is today without the same level of engagement I’ve kept up with my social media channels.
You might think you run your blog alone, but you don’t. You really don’t.
Your action step
- Share other people’s content
This was one of the first things I started doing, even before my blog had officially launched. It's a tactic that really works. By sharing other people’s content, you’re getting your name out there, supporting the bloggers you admire, getting used to everything to do with social media and leaving doors open for the future. What more could you ask for?
I have my own personal social media schedule and use Buffer to schedule all my tweets. I also use bit.ly to shorten and track all my links so I can see which ones are the most popular. This helps me to stay active and has really helped to grow my community.
- Comment, comment, comment
Commenting is NOT dead! Yes, we might get fewer comments now than a year ago, but they still mean something. This is an essential part to building relationships online and increasing your brand awareness.
Like with Instagram comments, make them valuable. “Nice post” or “love this!” just won’t cut it. Share your thoughts. Take time to craft your response. Show them you read their post and that you’re a fan. It’ll make you more memorable.
- Take part in Twitter chats and Facebook groups
If you’re not familiar with these, I’ll help you out.
Twitter chats: a Q&A based on a specific topic. You’re given a hashtag to use which you include in all of your tweets relating to the chat so the conversation is kept together. Each chat happens at a specific time (usually the same time each week) and there are set questions that everyone replies to. They’re awesome!
Facebook groups: you can add or be added to any Facebook group. They’re usually managed by one person who facilities the group. You can take part in daily threads, ask your own questions and help other people out when they post queries too.
I’ve met so many great people through these two networking events and some fab opportunities have come my way too. Not only do you get to share your expertise, but you’ll also grow your following too!
My three favourite chats at the moment are:
- #HustleChat by Zoe Linda, every Thursday at 9pm GMT
- #Blogtacular, every Wednesday at 9pm GMT
- #TheInstaChat by Sara, every Wednesday at 8pm GMT
There are loads more you can take part in, so make sure you do some research!
NOT BELIEVING IN YOURSELF
Doubting myself is something I continue to struggle with and I think will always struggle with. I’ll doubt myself at everything and overthink even the smallest things.
As well as my blog, I’m also doing a course to get my freelance business up and running. Before I bought the course though, I was reading the success stories from people who had completed it thinking, wow, this is incredible. But it also made me think, I won’t see this success. I bet I just fall into the background. I’ll do everything right, complete all the modules and not get anywhere, you watch.
How ridiculous is that?
So I’m sure you can imagine what my track record has been like over the past three and a half years since I started blogging.
I’ve been doubting myself this whole time and gave into all the overthinking I was experiencing. Not to mention the competition I face on a daily basis. If they can do it, why can’t I?
But the thing is, I think this is what’s holding me back right now. I think this is stopping me from moving forward. You’ve got to believe you can. You can do this. You have the voice, the story, the experience and the talent to get to where you want to be. You need to have belief and more importantly, hold onto that belief.
Your action step
You need to know WHY you’re doing this.
I won’t lie, I used to think this was a load of rubbish. But I can’t tell you how important it is for you and your blog. It’s what keeps you going. The first thing I was told to do in my freelance course was to decide my *why* and then write it on a sticky note to put on the fridge.
Now, when things are getting tough or the self-doubt comes creeping in, I look at my *why* and it reminds me why I’m doing this.
It’s the driving force behind everything you do. It’s the core of your blog. It represents you and your personal brand.
It’s SO important in fact, that I wrote a whole post about developing your *why* and turning it into a brand statement. You can check it out here.
So as you may have guessed, even though I’ve been in this industry for a while, fear is still something that is very present in my life and my blog. But it comes with the job. No, it’s not easy. But is it worth it? Definitely.
If you’re struggling with your blog, no matter what stage you’re at, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or reach out to me. I’d love to help you!
Have fears held you back in the past with your blog? What do you do to fight them?
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