This guest post is by Ayelet Weisz of All Colores.
As Matt Setter recently pointed out here on ProBlogger, pretty much anyone can set up a blog these days without worrying about technical mumbo-jumbo.
Yet as I learned when I transferred my blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, sometimes the technical mambo-jumbo will haunt you regardless, and your choices will be to learn its language, to pay highly for others to handle it, or to give up.
Did you, like me, turn to a free platform such as WordPress.com because you didn’t want to deal with technical set up? Are you holding back on transferring to your own domain because you’re afraid it will cost you a fortune to hire a webmaster, or wear your nerves if you do it on your own? Is WordPress refusing to create space between lines no matter how many times you log in, log out, save?
Fearing the dive into the world of technical activities makes sense.
If every past encounter with technical challenges left you feeling frozen, or was easily resolved by someone else in your office or home, it makes sense that you won’t necessarily feel comfortable in this area just because you’re now a blogger. If you’re not used to dealing with technicalities, fear will show up to remind you you’re doing something new.
Give yourself a pat on the shoulder to congratulate yourself for sailing off to a life of online entrepreneurship, then commit to stepping out of that comfort zone to a place where opportunities await. You must be willing to practice feeling more comfortable in the technical platform on which you base your business.
Here are a few easy ways to do just that.
Count to 10 before asking for help
Asking for help is a valuable skill to posses and can help you a lot in life. You will learn things faster this way, and perhaps save yourself some heartache.
Yet if you’re used to running to someone else any time a technical challenge arises, you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to test the waters yourself. Did a keyboard button detach? Is your phone acting crazy when you need to make an important call?
These days, information is more available than ever before. Take a moment to Google the problem, or do a search on YouTube and see if you can find a tutorial. Start with small projects—many times they’ll be easier to resolve than you expect.
Overcoming these problems yourself won’t only save you the money you would have paid the technician, or the time you would have waited for a sibling to come from another city—it will give you proof that you can learn new things. And it will give you courage to keep learning about more aspects of your blogging business—SEO or social marketing, for example.
Take a class
Be it online or off, a class enables you to learn from an expert and get feedback on your work. It will usually involve homework, “obligating” you to face your fear and practice feeling comfortable. You can find classes in colleges and universities, at community learning centers and, of course, online.
Real-world classes usually take place at set times, enabling you to pick the one that best fits your schedule. Alternatively, many online classes allow you to tune in to the lessons’ recordings whenever it’s convenient for you. Some of these provide message boards where you can get feedback, even though you won’t meet your teachers and classmates face to face.
Classes don’t always come with an exam at the end, so don’t be intimidated. Focus on the process and the opportunity to grow beyond your past limits.
Hire a private teacher
If you feel you need more personal support, hire someone to work with you one on one. If it’s a friend or a relative, you can meet at home. If it’s someone from your community, you can meet at your local library. In today’s world, you can hire someone from the other side of the world and make a new, long-distance friend while you’re learning.
If you hire someone to work only with you, it will be easier to share your concerns and discomforts. Make sure to tell your teacher why you’re hiring her or him (for example: you’re a blogger, you want to set up a blog, or you want to make changes to your blog’s design), so that the teacher can provide you with the information you really need.
Hiring a private teacher won’t necessarily be expensive. Email the computer science department in your city’s college to find a student who’s more skilled than you—or hire someone for a quick, $5 session on Fiverr.
Work for a tech support department
Many times, you can get into a tech support department with little or no experience in the area. This is easier to achieve if you find a general customer service department that also provides tech support.
In these departments, there are usually supervisors available for serious technical challenges, while the everyday challenges—those that can be solved relatively easily—are handled by the general staff. The department will usually teach you everything you need to know before you start attending to customers’ needs.
Note that “relatively easily” doesn’t mean it will be easy for you right away. When you go in for your training, it might all sound like Chinese (unless you’re already in China, in which case it might sound like Icelandic). When you go through your first call, you might politely put the customer on hold to get support from your supervisors and fellow employees.
Yet pretty soon you’ll find yourself helping people who are even less tech savvy than you are, and you’ll start to realize you can handle bigger tech projects than you could ever have imagined.
Many tech support positions enable you to work part-time, leaving you plenty of time for your blogging or other, better-paying job. If you find a company that specializes in your niche, working for them could provide you with priceless industry information and connections. Perhaps you can even pitch that company your blogging services after a while, or create some other collaboration between this company and your blog.
Create a learning group … and network while you’re at it
You might think you’re the only one who’s scared, and that others have it easier, but I guarantee you there are many more people—even bloggers—who are just as terrified or uncomfortable as you are at the thought of becoming even a bit tech savvy.
As a group, you can set goals. You can search for information online, look up tutorials on YouTube, consult with one another, and hold each other accountable. You can do all this by yourself, yet if you’re a ProBlogger reader, you know you can’t make it on the blogsphere on your own. Networking is key. Why not create a learning group and invite bloggers in your niche to participate?
You’ll be able to check two goals off your list at once.
Leverage what you’ve learned—and learn even more
Once you know the information, you can use it to grow your business. If you document your process, you’ll be able to know what worked and what didn’t, and what you learned along the way. You’ll also be able to look back and acknowledge how far you’ve travelled along the technical road.
Then, you’ll be able to teach it. Teaching others strengthens your confidence in what you’ve learned and encourages you to keep on learning. Knowing you’ll be sharing your experience or knowledge will give you the courage to keep moving forward.
To leverage what you learned, you don’t have to a class, though you could. You could also create a blog to document your progress and improve your learning process. You’ll attract people just like you, who are interested in the value you can now provide. Heck, maybe they can even teach you a thing or two by commenting on your posts!
Of course, leveraging your knowledge can be as simple as creating one single post and submitting it to a big blog as a guest post. Maybe even the blog you’re reading right now? Facing my fears of technical mumbo jumbo got me published on ProBlogger twice—three times if you count the post you’re reading now.
The result? Not only does Google love me more (aww, Google!), but the feedback I received for the tutorial series I published here earlier this year encourages me to keep challenging myself, and make this technical mumbo jumbo a little more Ayelet-friendly.
If I can do it, you can do it! Do you know any other ways to overcome tech fears? Tell us in the comments.
Ayelet Weisz is an enthusiastic freelance writer, blogger and screenwriter. She celebrates the everyday and extraordinary joys of life on her travel blog, All Colores. Be sure to stop by and connect with her on Twitter.