In What are You Most Afraid of about Blogging? I asked you to lay bare your fears about blogging. In Blogging Fears and How to Overcome Them – Part 1, I took some of those fears and made them less fearful for you, and the response to that was gratifying. In Part 2, we continued to shine light into the dark corners of the blogging mind. Here is the next (and final) set of blogging fears:
- I’m afraid I’ll go “too far” with personal content and turn off readers
- I’m afraid I’ll write something that’s already been done a million times
- I’m afraid I’ll be exposed as a fraud
I’m afraid I’ll go “too far” with personal content and turn off readers
This is a deadly fear because it shackles any greatness you have within you (and I believe we all have greatness within us). Here is something you must remember: no blogger ever won thousands of subscribers and tons of links by playing it safe and holding back. You don’t need to be afraid of going too far as long as you remember there are two kinds of personal content you can put on your blog:
- Stuff that’s personal and carries a relevant lesson for your readers: it is way harder to get too personal in this case.
- Stuff that’s just too personal without any applicable lesson for your readers. You don’t want people to wonder: why is he telling me this? I don’t care about his bizarre sexual fetish! What does this have to do with MY interests?
I exaggerated for a bit of humor, but the point is clear: there must be a pay-off for the reader. Don’t forget who you’re writing for: it’s not just yourself. That’s the sign of an amateur. I hope you’re getting the distinction, here: personal stories have to teach a lesson that’s meaningful to your readers, or you run the risk of turning them off. When the lesson is highly relevant, the more personal your story is, the more powerfully you will convey the lesson. But if the personal story isn’t relevant, it just feels too personal.
I’m afraid I’ll write something that’s already been done a million times
So what if what you want to write about has been done a million times before? It hasn’t yet been been done by you. Learning this was a surprise to me: my readers want to hear it from me, in my voice, my style, my words. They know they can find tons of blog posts elsewhere about many of the same subject I cover, but they like the way I do it better. There’s almost nothing I’ve written about that Darren Rowse hasn’t written about at Problogger, but my writing style and voice are very different from his.
And it’s not like anyone has to choose between me or Darren. You can subscribe to both of us and the world will keep spinning as it hurtles through space. The sky will not fall. Getting Darren’s take on blog SEO and my take on it might give you a more complete picture than just one of us alone could provide.
More than one post on the same topic is actually a good thing: it’s a major benefit to the reader. Search engines let you know which posts on a topic are authoritative.
Think about how many of the same type of restaurant there are in the world. Or how many people are freelance graphic designers. Or how many romance novelists there are.
As the old saying goes, there’s nothing new under the sun. What matters is not whether something has been done a million times before. What matters is how you are going to do it.
I’m afraid I’ll be exposed as a fraud
I don’t want to repeat everything I said in my previous post, How to be Authentic, Even when You Feel like a Fake, but I do want to emphasize the connection between that post and this fear. Here it is: if you’re being authentic, there’s no way you can be exposed as a fraud. So the goal is to not focus on what we’re afraid of, but to focus on where we’re going. Authenticity is the antidote for feeling like a fraud or experiencing the fear of being exposed as a fraud.
Of course, if you actually are a fraud, I have no sympathy for you. In other words, if you’re lying or misrepresenting your knowledge, credentials, background, or accomplishments, then it’s likely you’ll be found out.
Points to remember:
- Being inexperienced does not make you a fraud. Acting like you know everything or have experience when you don’t makes you a fraud (and a dangerous one at that).
- Struggling with authenticity does not make you a fraud. We all struggle with this. We’re all at a certain point on the path.
- Somebody else knowing more than you does not make you a fraud. But if you’ve been trying to wear pants that are too big (so to speak), then you can expect to get called out at some point.
- Using a pseudonym does not make you a fraud. This is a time-honored tradition and is a practice many writers and bloggers follow today. If you’re writing about sensitive or controversial material (especially if you’re a woman, sadly, in the 21st freaking century), a pseudonym and a shit ton of WordPress security may be necessary for your own (and your family’s) protection.
- Being mistaken or wrong about something does not make you a fraud. You may feel embarrassed when your mistake gets pointed out to you, but that’s natural. Thank whoever informed you of the error, correct it, confidently let your readers know of the correction, and move on.
Now that this series is over, a final thought: fears are not real. They’re bad movies we play in our heads. We come by them in all kinds of unpleasant ways, but in the end, they are ours. And we’re the only ones with the power to do anything about them.
We all have goals and dreams and hopes. Those are the lights along our path. But we also have fears. Those are the shadows along our path. And we all know you can’t have light without also having a few shadows. There are no shortcuts to success. But consciously and deliberately breaking through our fears gets us there sooner rather than later. Awareness, effort, and persistence make all the difference.
Was this series of posts helpful? How do you overcome fear?