Let's just get this out of the way: starting your own blog and/or business is no small task.
There's SO much advice out there about what you "should" and "shouldn't be" doing, and it can be damn near impossible to make heads or tails of any of it, especially when you're first starting out.
Not to mention the fact that all of that information can freeze you right in your tracks. How do you make sure you do everything right?
Listen, there is no "right way" to start. What's important is that you START.
But starting can be scary, I know. Really scary. And there are a lot of things that might try to hold you back.
You cannot let that happen.
If this is something you want, then grab it by the horns and face it head on. I skirted around my dreams of starting my own blog + biz for 3 whole years. Don't waste time like I did.
Today, I'm sharing the 4 main things that held me back, how I overcame them, and how YOU can overcome them too.
1. Focusing on the fear.
I'd always been drawn to the idea of letting my voice be heard, but for an introvert like me, I remained on the sidelines as an observer and nothing more. But I was sick of being an observer. I wanted to be a doer.
But my fear sucked away my energy. I constantly worried about the "what-ifs." The bad ones. You know, like "What if no one likes me?" or "What if I suck?" or "What if I suck so bad that the entire internet forms a massive, angry mob with torches and pitchforks that surrounds my house and demands my head on a spike???"
Huh. Maybe I watch too much Game of Thrones.... Haha nahhhh.
If you're only focusing on the worst case scenario, you're cheating yourself of all the great things that could result instead. Pretty sure no one's going to demand your head on a spike, so you can scratch that off to start.
I'll be honest with you, my fear isn't something I've "conquered" or eliminated. It's always there.
Whenever I publish a new post, approach someone new, or push myself out of my comfort zone, I'm always TERRIFIED.
But that's okay. Wanna know why?
Because I do it anyway.
Fear isn't something we can truly eliminate, but it IS something we can overcome.
That's the key. There's no shortcut around it. Accept your fear and acknowledge that it's there, BUT THEN DO IT ANYWAY. Whatever your "it" is.
Related Post: Are You Brave Enough to Create? (Spoiler Alert: You are)
2. Not knowing where to begin or where to go from there.
I spent hours at a time reading blog post after blog post and book after book trying to learn everything I could. For 3 YEARS.
I'd be a millionaire if I had a penny for every wasted second I spent researching things that wouldn't make a world of a difference in helping me start.
I thought if I could learn more about x, y, or z, THEN I would be ready. THEN I could start. Over and over again I kept thinking like this, all the while not even knowing what "starting" really looked like.
When it came down to it, I was procrastinating.
You learn best by doing. What works for someone else isn't always going to work for you. You have to experiment. The way you create, work, and live is entirely unique to you. Just because you go about things differently doesn't make you wrong.
Write out all of your goals.
Take some time to really think about what it is you wish to accomplish, and then WRITE THEM DOWN. Don't just think about them. Make them real. Commit to your goals. Tell your family or friends, create a poster for your wall, or do whatever it is you need to do in order to hold yourself accountable.
I made my goal of starting a blog public when I officially set my launch day. I gave myself a month and a half to get things ready, which might not sound like a lot of time, but it's what got me hustling. I was done with wasting time. I wanted to make shit happen!
Choose one main goal to focus on and break it down into manageable chunks.
For me, starting a blog was my main goal. Now that's all well and good, but unless I had taken the time to map out exactly what steps I needed to take to get there, I probably wouldn't be writing this post.
I had to do some reverse engineering that looked something like this:
- Start writing blog posts (what do I write about?)
- Topics in my niche (how do I find my niche?)
- Figure out what it is I really want to do and who I want to help (how will I share these things?)
- Develop my brand (how do I raise awareness?)
- Network and form meaningful relationships with others (where do I find people?)
- Become more active on social media (but how do I get over my fear and stick with it?)
- Make a public commitment (what will hold me accountable?)
- Set a launch date (what do I do now?)
- Set up a website (how do I start a website?)
- Find a hosting provider (how do I find out which one is right for me?)
- Start a trial with Squarespace (how do I set it up in time?)
- Set a schedule and stick to it (what if I'm not ready?)
- Launch and learn
By breaking things down one step at a time, it's much easier to visualize where you're headed and what you need to do to get there. From this basic outline, I was able to make a plan that covered the main points I needed to make my goals a reality.
Were there some unexpected surprises? Of course. There always will be. But since I had already carved myself a rough path, I was much better equipped to face them.
3. Fear of networking.
I used to be straight up terrified of anything that could be remotely categorized as networking. Facebook groups were intimidating. Twitter was overwhelming (sending out a tweet was out of the question, let alone tweeting TO someone). And emails? Ohhh man, the thought of sending one of those was a nightmare.
But I knew that if I ever wanted this to become a real thing, I had to start reaching out to others. My blog would not have launched with the same impact it did if I hadn't been actively utilizing social media.
You shouldn't have to run your blog + biz alone. You DON'T have to.
Share other's content on social media.
Even if your website is not anywhere near launch, start sharing. You can never start sharing too soon. By sharing other's content, you're supporting your fellow bloggers by spreading the word, easing yourself into the flow of social media, and opening doors to future connections and friendships.
One of my favorite tools for this is Buffer, which allows you to schedule updates in advance as well as shorten URLs. It's played a big part in helping me stay active by consistently sharing useful content with my followers.
Comment on other blogs.
I know this is almost like a blogger cliché, but that's because commenting on other blogs is such an essential part to building relationships and extending your outreach.
Be sure your comments offer something of value to the post's author. Don't just say things like "Wow, great post!" or worse "Nice! Come check out my blog now!" These types of comments are spammy, and spam is just gross.
Show that you actually put in the effort to read through their post. Talk about points that resonated with you most, your experiences, or any questions you might have.
Join Twitter chats.
If you're not familiar with a Twitter chat, basically it's a Q&A based chat on a specific topic where everyone uses a unique hashtag to keep the conversation together. The host sets a specific time, then asks questions (Usually in a Q1, Q2, etc. format) to which everyone replies to and BOOM. Awesome conversations galore.
Think mini networking event, but you can go in your jammies.
I've met so many amazing people through Twitter chats, and on top of that, I'll usually gain at least 5-10 new followers with each one. Some of my favorite chats are:
- #CreateLounge by Kayla Hollatz - Wednesdays @ 8PM EST
- #ElleChat by Elle and Co. - Thursdays @ 8PM EST
- #FireworkPeople by We are Firework People - Tuesday @ 9PM & Wednesdays @ 3PM EST
- #NectarChat by The Nectar Collective - Every other Wednesday @ 9PM EST
4. Lack of confidence.
Second guessing myself is something I've always struggled with. I'll even second guess the dumbest of things.
In addition to the blog, I also run a music studio business. One time when I was shopping for supplies, I was struggling to decide on which stickers would get me the most for my money while still appealing to my students. Safari animals with 251 stickers or cute little owls with 248? Or maybe springtime flowers with 257??? WHICH DO I CHOOSE?!?!
Did I mention they were only $1 each? ....Yeaaahhhh.
So I'm sure you can imagine how indecisive I was when it came to launching an entire website.
I doubted everything and gave into the excessive amount of worries I had. Not to mention the fact that everyone and their cat seemed like they had already jumped on the blogging bandwagon. Why should I?
But the thing is, every single one of us has something unique to offer. You have your own voice, stories, experiences, personality, and opinions that are unlike those of anyone else. These are the things you need to hold onto.
Define your WHY.
This is one of, if not THE most important step of starting your blog + biz. I mentioned in last week's newsletter how your WHY is the driving force behind everything you do - every blog post, every product, every service, every single piece of content you create. It's the very core of your entire brand.
- Your WHY defines your purpose.
- Your WHY shapes who you are and what you do.
- Your WHY makes you stand out from the crowd.
- Your WHY connects you with other like-minded people and those you can help most.
- Your WHY prevents you from giving up when things get tough.
Since this is such an essential part of your blog + biz no matter what stage you're at with it, I have a free worksheet of 10 questions to help you define your WHY.
Keep it in mind at all times.
As you can tell, I'm no stranger to the fear that comes along with blogging, starting your own business, and putting yourself out there. It's not easy, but I promise you it's so worth it!
If you're struggling with your blog or biz start-up or have any questions, please don't hesitate to leave a comment below or get in touch with me. :)
What fears have held you back?
How have you overcome them?
So who wrote this, anyway?
Hey there! My name's Allison Barclay, and I'm a brand designer and mentor for adventurous creatives who carve their own path and don't play by the rules.
I'm here to help you get focused, take action, and set your brand ablaze. Click here to learn more!