- “I don’t think I have what it takes to put myself ‘out there’ every day.”
- “Who would want to read what I have to say?”
- “Do you ever get used to the fact that strangers are reading what you write?”
- “I don’t think I have enough ego to do this!”
These statements—and others like them—are pretty typical sentiments that I hear from many new bloggers whose main barrier to blogging comes down to self-doubt, shyness or … Blogger Fright.
I remember having similar feelings myself. The thought of writing something and having complete strangers read and comment upon it was something that took me a little time to come to grips with, particularly as a relatively shy and private person.
So how do you “get over it”?
Let me start by saying that I’m not sure you ever completely get over these feelings—and perhaps that’s a good thing.
I still get a little freaked out from time to time that people are reading what I have to say. It strikes me most when I meet in real life a person who has been reading my blogs. The sense that they “know” me (or feel like they do), despite me not knowing who they are, is a feeling I doubt I’ll ever completely get used to.
I don’t think that there’s any problem with having these feelings. In some ways, it’s probably good.
I suspect that if I didn’t have the feelings there’d be a danger: I’d be blogging without boundaries or consideration of personal safety/privacy. I also find that these feelings drive me to ask myself whether what I’m writing is going to be useful to others.
Having said that, I do come across some bloggers (and by no means is it the majority) who become a little paralyzed by their own shyness and self doubt. Perhaps there’s a middle ground that we should be aiming for as bloggers.
How to become more comfortable as a shy blogger
1. Take your time
Most bloggers become more comfortable with the public nature of blogging over time. It takes time to work out boundaries and to get used to interacting with complete strangers online. It also takes time for your readers to get to know you and become comfortable with you.
This is similar to a real-life relationship in some ways—you generally wouldn’t walk up to a compete stranger and tell them about your love life, or that nasty rash, or your financial situation. You start off on a lighter level and, in time, as you develop trust and build the relationship, you might move on to deeper things.
2. Start small
If you do wish to get a little more personal on your blog, but you don’t quite know how, start small. Perhaps one way to do this is to tell a story of an experience you’ve had. It might not be a tale of a major personal turning point, but revealing something about an interest you have or a non-threatening experience that you’ve had might be a good starting point.
It might be an in-passing comment about something you did over the weekend, a reference to a conversation you’ve had, or a mention of a job you once held.
In time, as you get comfortable sharing a little about these smaller things, you might find yourself becoming comfortable with revealing a little more.
The same is true for using your own image or even posting a video of yourself. You don’t need to do these things on day one of your blog—in fact, you may never need to.
For example: I know one blogger who started blogging anonymously (with a nickname). Then a few weeks later, she started using her first name and published a small picture of herself which just showed her eye. In time, she became more comfortable—she now blogs under her full name and regularly posts videos of herself. The blogger let things develop as she grew more comfortable, but it was a series of small steps.
3. Identify boundaries
It’s good in the early days of your blog to identify some boundaries around what you will and won’t share. You might draw the line at people knowing your name (or your full name). You might decide that you’ll let people know your name but never share your photo. Or perhaps the line is around talking about the city you live in, or some level of revealing details about your family.
Knowing ahead of time where your boundaries are on some of these issues is good, because it’ll stop you getting carried away in the heat of the moment. Of course you’ll probably also want to discuss your boundaries with family and friends to make sure that they’re comfortable with them, too (where they apply to them).
4. Write for people you do know
Some bloggers I come across tell me that it’s the ‘stranger’ factor that makes it hard for them to write in a personal way. Writing for an unknown number of faceless and nameless people makes it hard for them to get in the groove of writing.
One technique that I’ve found helpful in this area is to write posts with people I do know in mind. Actually visualizing a friend when you’re writing, and producing a post for them rather than a crowd of strangers, can help you to get going and write in a more personal tone.
5. Find a blog buddy
If you know you’re a person who gets Blogger Fright and it’s holding you back, find someone who you trust to help you move forward in this area. A blogging buddy need not be another blogger (although that could be useful)—really they should just be someone who believes in you, who is encouraging, and who will help you to move forward.
In the early days of my own blogging, I had another blogger friend who I would regularly send posts to, to bounce them off him—particularly posts that I felt a little uncomfortable with or had doubts about. On 95% of the occasions I sent him those posts, he simply replied with, “this is great. You need to publish it.” Occasionally he’d reply with suggestions. And on one occasion he told me it might not be a good thing to post, and to listen to my own internal hesitation.
In time, I found myself sending fewer posts to him as I gained confidence, and found my voice and style of blogging.
You do have something important to say!
I guess the last thing I’d want to say to encourage those suffering Blogger Fright is that I believe we all have something worthwhile and important to share. Don’t completely ignore the fears or nervousness you might have—but don’t let them paralyze you either.
Most people who feel this way find it improves in time, so the best thing you can do is to start blogging in a way that you’re comfortable with, and to let yourself become more comfortable with it over time.
Lastly, remember that in the early days of most blogs that, while your content is out there for anyone to read, it takes time to build an audience. You’re unlike to have a vast crowd reading from Day 1—your audience will grow bigger as you grow as a blogger.