This guest post is by Scott McIntyre of Vivid Ways.
You’ve just launched a shiny new blog and you’re buzzing with excitement about sharing content and building an audience. At first, it requires a lot of time and effort to get things off the ground, but your confidence is sky-high that this blogging thing will take off and push you straight up to the A List.
Then, slowly but surely, you begin to doubt what you’re doing. Success doesn’t come quite as quickly as you’d hoped, despite your hard work. Disappointment sets in. You lose motivation. After a while, this lack of self-belief causes you to ask yourself if it’s even worth publishing another post.
Did you ever feel this way?
Perhaps you’re a more experienced blogger who still remembers when you questioned what on Earth you were doing and whether you were any good. Or, maybe you’re facing this crisis of confidence right now.
If that’s the case, you need to tackle these self-doubts before they sabotage your blogging dreams!
Self-doubt and the New Blogger
I recently started my first blog, and one of my initial articles looked at how to conquer self-doubt in general. This got me thinking about the specific doubts new bloggers come up against, and the ways in which a lack of self-belief can negatively affect our blogging activities.
Feelings of self-doubt have little to do with how good a blogger you really are—they’re about how not-so-good you perceive yourself to be. There’s a crucial difference.
So, there’s no shame or weakness in admitting that you experience self-doubt (I’m sure even top bloggers suffer from the occasional wobble in confidence). In fact, the opposite is true: you have to be willing to recognize and shine a light on your doubts so you can deal with them head-on.
Here are seven of the biggest self-doubts you can face as a new blogger, and useful tips on how to beat them before they crack your confidence.
1. Have I chosen the best topic to blog about?
At some stage early on, you nervously wonder if you’ve chosen the right topic to blog about. Of course, you’ve done your research and opted for a subject that’s a good match for your knowledge, experience, and passion. But, until you start seeing results, how can you be sure it’s the best niche for you?
The fact that you decided upon a topic based on your interests is a reasonable indication that you’re on the right track. As you’ll be producing content for a long time (hopefully), you need to maintain an enthusiasm for the subject matter from the outset. That way, you’ll want to learn more so that you can pass on new insights to your readers in the future.
If, however, after only a few months of blogging you find yourself struggling to come up with ideas for posts, or you haven’t the heart to publish regularly, this is usually an early warning sign that you have to rethink your first choice of blog topic. Do a reassessment of your current interests against a range of different niches.
Don’t panic too much if you decide to change to another topic. Your blog is still in its infancy, and it’s better to alter your course sooner rather than later.
2. What if no one wants to read what I’ve got to say?
When you start off blogging, you could very well find that there’s a readership of only one: yourself! It’s all too easy to become disheartened when you see your carefully crafted content languishing with no comments and very few visitors.
Don’t be tempted to throw in the towel quite yet. Rather than it being the case that no one is interested in what you’re publishing, it’s more likely that you’ve yet to reach your target audience. It’s your job to get out there and help those ideal readers come across your blog.
People always want to discover fresh, useful, and thought-provoking content online and that’s a huge opportunity for you to tap into. No one, however, says that attracting readers is easy—it’s not.
There are, fortunately, many tips and techniques you can use to help increase your readership. Experiment with these proven methods, or be brave and go do something unique that draws in your special crowd. It’s far too early to give up until you’ve done everything you possibly can to entice those ideal readers back to your blog.
3. Am I just saying the same old stuff in the same old way?
You’re concerned that when you follow the trail of links to other blogs within your niche, everyone seems to be talking about exactly the same things you are. With so many blogs creating so much content, it can be very difficult to come up with original ideas that haven’t been explored a million times before.
The blogosphere loves original thinkers with fresh perspectives. Any blogger can gain popularity when they stand out from the crowd by both a) what they say and b) how they say it. When you deal with a subject, remember that it’s never been addressed from your viewpoint before. That’s why telling your own personal story and sharing your opinions breathes energetic life into what could simply be run-of-the-mill content we’ve all seen before.
There’s always going to be a unique angle on whatever topic you look at, because the knowledge and experience you bring are different to those of the next blogger. With practice, you’ll learn how to build your blog’s voice in a way that sets it apart from all the other sites out there.
4. Is my writing all right or all wrong?
You’re eager to get your thoughts out there, but you’re afraid that people will criticize the amateur writing style and rip apart the spelling and grammar.
It’s reassuring that writing content for blogs is very different from anything you’ve ever written before. Every new blogger can learn how to adapt these tried-and-tested techniques for themselves.
Sure, some folk will point out your mistakes—there will always be critics lining up to take a shot. Correct spelling shows you care about attention to detail, while good grammar helps the reader more easily grasp the points you want to get across. Bear in mind, though, that what you write is just as important as the way it is written.
Put it this way: wrongly spelled words and awkward grammar can hinder the reader’s understanding and enjoyment of your post, so try your best to get it right. But don’t allow this concern to stifle your creativity or limit what it is you desperately want to say. The more you write, the more confident you’ll become in expressing yourself through the medium of a blog post.
5. Am I getting too personal?
Sharing your experiences in life is a critical part of connecting with an audience on a deeper level. Readers respond well to a blogger who can show first-hand that he or she understands the challenges they face. Yet, how can you be certain that you don’t reveal “too much information?”
Personal story telling works best when it brings home a learning point that the reader needs to know. The lesson has to be relevant and appropriate to help someone solve a specific problem or deal with a particular issue. In other words, the personal information you share has to be of benefit to the reader in some way. Otherwise, it could be seen as irrelevant and self-indulgent.
Ultimately, it’s down to your individual judgment: you choose exactly what you tell your readers about your life in a blog post. Before hitting the Publish button, ask yourself this: “Do I really want the whole world (literally) overhearing that fact about me, or my family and friends?” The old saying holds true: If in doubt, leave it out.
6. I’m nervous about networking
You realize that it’s essential to build relationships with other bloggers to get ahead in blogging nowadays. However, this is easier said than done: you feel awkward about getting in touch with them. What could a newbie like you possibly have to offer a big-name blogger?
Well, if you feel like this, instead of contacting A-list bloggers straight away, reach out to others who are at the same stage of their blogging journey as you. You’re bound to have a lot in common, giving plenty of opportunities to assist each other as you grow your blogs together.
The main priority of a blogging-based relationship is to provide mutual value and benefit to each of you. That’s why linking up with bloggers in a similar position can work so well—each can appreciate the other’s situation and provide the same kind of support.
Forming strong bonds with other bloggers online is basically no different to the way you’d get to know someone in the real world. Courtesy, genuine interest in what they’re doing, and offers of help go a long way! Don’t be shy to make the first move, as it could very well be the start of a very productive partnership.
7. Will I ever be a success?
This is probably the biggest single doubt that keeps popping into your head as you try hard to kick-start your blog. After all, it’s the reason you’re doing all this work, isn’t it? Constant worrying over whether you’re ever going to make it gradually eats away at your self-confidence. How you define “success,” and how long you’re prepared to wait for it, will help you cope with this doubt—one that’s felt by nearly every new blogger.
What success means to you will be different from the criteria set by another blogger. Getting subscribers, attracting thoughtful comments, reaching a target of earnings, and establishing a reputation as an industry expert are only a few examples of possible performance benchmarks that you might use. Pinpoint your own measures of blogging success. This exercise provides concrete facts on which to assess how well you’re doing, rather than having to rely on your own opinion and impatience.
Successful blogging also requires a considerable investment of your time. While we’d all love quick wins, overnight success is rare. It’s much more realistic to assess your blogging activities over a period of at least six to 18 months, rather than a few weeks. Adopting a longer-term view relieves the pressure on you to meet an overambitious deadline, and lessens the likelihood that you’ll become depressed when you fail to meet it.
Beating self-doubt as a new blogger
We’re most vulnerable to self-doubt at the beginning of our blogging journey. When you feel a lack of belief in yourself, take time to identify the knowledge and skills you need, as well as the practical steps you can take to overcome that doubt. Have a browse through the archives here on ProBlogger to get ideas and encouragement.
Your loyal readers of tomorrow will appreciate that you stuck around and persevered…
Have you faced any self doubts as a new blogger? How did you beat those doubts to keep on blogging? Please share your experiences in the comments section. Let’s encourage each other!
Scott McIntyre aims to encourage ordinary people to do great things every day. You can learn how to live a colorful life—right now—at Vivid Ways. You can also add color in your life by following Scott on Twitter.