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Overcoming Blogger Fright

Posted By Darren Rowse 22nd of March 2011 Featured Posts, Writing Content 0 Comments
  • “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.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Good advice Darren, Confidence indeed takes time to build :-)

    • And it certainly builds upon itself. Let’s not forget people that the most important part about us as bloggers is that we are unique individuals. No one else can bring the same personality and opinion to the table like we each can on our own. Have confidence in your ability to solve problems and provide your individual take on any subject.

  2. Thanks for the encouraging post. I particularly had trouble with point 2 about adding in personal style and anecdotes when i first started. Then I realised that if I kept writing just impersonal how to type posts then there would be nothing to make my writing any different from anyone else online so I chose to move on and it has definitely improved my blogging experience.

  3. I think we all have something to say.

    I always try to write it down so I can remember the thought. It eventually ends up as a blog post somewhere.

    We can all do it! It’s just discipline ;-)

  4. Brilliant ideas from someone who has been there! Thanks for sharing Darren.

  5. Nancy Davis says: 03/22/2011 at 1:12 am

    Finding someone who believes in you is the biggest hurdle for me. This is excellent advice all around. I am starting a personal blog and I also blog on behalf of my company.

    Writing content for the company blog can be very disheartening at times. I find it much more enjoyable to blog for myself because I am more connected to the subject matter.

  6. I personally suffer from “Blogger Fright”, it mostly comes from being afraid that my post will not read well or be full of typos. I have begun having a friend who used to work as an editor read over my posts before I publish them. I know everyone doesn’t have an editor as a friend but just havin a blog buddy to read you first draft is an excellent suggestion. Thanks for the post!

  7. I’ve never worried about any of this. But I’m starting to think … maybe I should worry.

  8. Thanks a lot Darren!

    I know fear can sometimes paralyze us, but we never know what we’re capable of until we try. I know confidence takes time to build, but you know it IS the internet. You really have no idea whose reading your posts unless they comment. You don’t know the person and they don’t know you, if they don’t like what you have to say, then oh well! ;)

  9. Just tell your story and the others will follow. don’t worry about what people say because if you want to make it online you will need some thick skin..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  10. The blogging buddy has been very helpful for me. I have a friend that helps me to focus on whats important with my msg. Very good post!! Thank you

  11. “Do you ever get used to the fact that strangers are reading what you write?”

    My concern is 180 degrees in the opposite direction – I strongly suspect that I could say ANYthing and get no reaction, because no one is reading! (Granted, I’m new, but it’s not a great feeling to be talking to the ether….)

    • know the feeling – there were days early on for me where I wondered if I’d forgotten to make my blog live and readable to anyone but me :-)

  12. Great post Darren. I have anxiety which causes me to be a big shut-in, in “real” life, but online I have found that I can be more free than ever, which is a great feeling. I think that if someone who is blogging takes the time to build their own voice, they can become more comfortable as a blogger.

    Knowing that someone is reading my content and learning from it is definitely a weird feeling because at times I am not sure why I am looked at as someone who knows anything about anything, but at the end of the day, if my blogging is helping someone, I am happy.

  13. Great advice. It does take some dedication, perseverance, and thick skin to put yourself out there every day.

  14. Nice post, Darren. BTW, it’s good to hear from you. You’re not home a lot lately.

  15. Darren,

    Wow, what a great site. I’ve just started to review some of the articles, and the information here is invaluable.

    I am definitely “starting small.” After almost a year of blogging, I think I have received maybe five comments on my posts. I know that my writing skills are improving, and that eventually my audience will grow. For now, I just keep plodding along and to reading other blogs that spark my interest.

    Thanks for all the wonderful tips and help that you supply here.

  16. I have had most of these thoughts, but I didn’t let it stop me. Blogging was a major growth experience for me. It is definitely a great vehicle for expressing your own uniqueness.

  17. It’s really great to find some inspiration and some inspiring blogger who already achieved what you intend to achieve so you kind of look at him as your role model and “guardian”. I am more confident and peaceful when climbing the big blogging mountain if I keep in mind that ohers have made it to the top.

  18. Starting small is key to success. I know that was the case for me! I started small so i didn’t get overwhelmed. Don’t worry, your blog will grow, but starting small is great advice!

  19. Great post! By the way, I am more shy around people I know than around strangers! I’m much more comfortable with strangers reading my posts than people I know. Any else?

    • I’m with you on that, and I’ve never had an issue worrying about what people think, except for my writing.

    • I’m also more nervous about people I know personally reading what I write. I think it’s because I worry something I write could make them angry at me or even hate me. I would rather a stranger hate me than a friend. Not that I would want a stranger to hate me either!

      Still great advice for all the insecurities I have struggled with and am still struggling with putting myself out there.

  20. Great post Darren. I think that while we all do have something important or interesting to say, it doesn’t really matter who “we” are. Nicknames and usernames are fair currency with blogs, just as on your twitter or tumblr account. Starting off with an alias may well lead to a great following that a blogger is keen to attach their real name to.

  21. Darren I tried to email you but it says the message didn’t go through. Hope I didn’t offend you over something?

  22. Just started my first blog. I wrote the “about” page but have not officially published it yet…due to timidness… this post gave me great advice and tips to overcome my shyness and increase my courage in expressing myself… I love the suggestion of getting feedback from a friend in the beginning until building up confidence.

    • Hey Lark,

      No worries about being shy online. The beauty of blogging is that you don’t have to look at anyone nor deal with any verbal opposition face to face. Just keep blogging to your heart’s content and you’ll notice in due time your heart will sprout out online in sharing more than you think! (smile)

  23. Great advice! Been blogging for 2 months now, and I feel like your advice is right on.

  24. I feel like it would be more intimidating to write knowing that people I know personally will see it. For me, writing for the faceless masses is a piece of cake. I’ve been blogging about how to get started with making money online, but am waiting for my really really good stuff before marketing it to my friends.

    Is that weird?

  25. Very good and truthful article :)

  26. It’s so weird that I just tweeted a question about this very subject. My goal is to blog every week about my photography, but I haven’t posted since last year. Any specific advice for introverts and perfectionists? I think these two things really trip me up. Also, worrying about whether it supports my “branding” is another big deal.

    Great post.


  27. It’s good to know that I am not alone haha. Have ideas… Lots of them! Putting them down on paper seems to be the real hurdle. Will consider what you said from now on. Thanks for sharing

  28. Darren, you’re so good at getting back to that “beginner’s mind.” I face fewer of these now than I used to, but like you, I still have a few “shy blogger” issues pop up from time to time. :)

    • you’d never know it Sonia – although I have to say that recently I felt it for the first time in a while too – when I had to post something on someone else’s blog. Something about stepping off my own blog into a new spotlight was a little freaky and gave me all kinds of self doubt! :-)

  29. Great article, and insight Darren. As a novice, I can definitely identify with the boundaries issue. Still working it out! Your article makes sense.

  30. To me the biggest tip for overcoming “Blogger Fright” is to make peace with the fact that not everyone will like what you have to say. Once you’re over that, it just gets easier and easier to say what you want and not worry.

  31. Darren, Thank you for your advice. I too am new to blogging these last 6 weeks or so. I find it hard to get the post in on a weekly basis when I am so busy. And I then have difficulty writing posts for I wonder if anyone cares what I have to say. But I checked my google analytics after a few weeks and discovered there are people out there actually reading my blog. This gives me more confidence. Amazing how strangers find a new blog like mine.Once I knew someone was reading, it made it easier to write. I also like the comment by someone to write down your thoughts all day and use them as posts. I do this now too. There really are a lot of things I have experience with that I can write about.

    • Keep going Ellen – in time it grows. There are periods for most of us where it’s harder than others and for many it is in those first few months before it becomes a part of your daily rhythm.

  32. I heard this from a client. I built his blog, with a killer theme and awesome plugins. Its now been sitting there for 3 months with NO content. When I asked why, he said that he was afraid to blog. Mind you this person is a Youtube partner with MILLIONS of hits on his videos and tens of thousands of subscribers but he is intimidated.

  33. Right on the money.I think all of us take far to long to publish. Take Seth Godins advice and just ship (which as a blogger is a synonym for publish).

  34. My reply here will be short,everything you have said in this piece Darren is so true and will be so helpful to myself and I’m sure your other readers also.Thank you very much for this post.My response will continue on my own blog,if you like please come by.

  35. I jumped in with both feet 6 months ago and have been thoroughly getting my feet wet in blogging. I’ve learned just enough to realize there’s a lot I don’t know! Ha. But I’m not as scared anymore. :)

  36. It is like I was reading about me. But I started my blog recently and I am trying out another one. And YES I do have something to say. Should print it and hang it on the wall in front of me.

  37. I find it is not just fear which inhibits many bloggers but also apathy or not knowing what to write about.

    If I ever get stuck for something to write I simply look through old posts (popular ones) and then try to write a new post which goes off at a tangent (I also add a link from the popular post to the new post – good for SEO and keeping people on your blog!).

  38. I’ve been reading ProBlogger for months now and I LOVE it! I know that whatever question I have on a given day, I can come here to find an answer. But I’m so shy that I’ve just come to terms with leaving comments on people’s blogs, let alone blogging myself. I have just started blogging, and as Maikke said above, I am much more freaked out by people I know reading my blog than by strangers.
    Thanks for giving me the push I need to do it anyway!

  39. Maybe it’s a topic for a different article, but I’ve often feared that to blog about an activity would detract from the time available to doing that activity – in other words, you can do something or blog about doing it, but not do both effectively.

  40. “I don’t think I have enough ego to do this!”

    I don’t think it takes EGO to blog… it’s totally the OPPOSITE.
    To “put yourself out there” required a disassociation from Ego. You need courage to expose the real, inner you – not false labels and worry about what other people will think, things that the egoic mind is concerned about.

    To take your time in revealing yourself is great advice….
    but the total opposite of what I’ve started doing!!
    ha ha.
    I think I need to take on board what you said about setting boundaries – I’ll think about that.

  41. All great strategies to overcome fear, move beyond your comfort zone, confront lack of confidence and attack low self esteem. And if you don’t address these issues, you are consigned to playing life small and not realizing your potential. Although you focussed on blogging, I think the principles behind what you said can be applied in all areas of life.


  42. Great article. In fact I am currently going through the current stages mentioned above as I am new to the online world of blogging. I do not believe in get rich quick overnight schemes. I believe patience is the key to success. I really liked the first point “start small.” This is what I have been trying to convey to bloggers on my blog as well. I am myself starting as a small blogger with a small blog on ways to earn and save money in today’s economically crippling environments.

  43. Rad post as usual my friend.

    I think you’re right, it may be good to never get over these feelings but to use them as a catalyst to generate new ways of increasing your feeling of competence.

    I just wrote a post about this man, talking about the need to reward yourself, even when no one else is. This is such an important topic. Great last couple sentences. Don’t let fear paralyze you, and don’t completely ignore it. A balance is needed for sure.

    We all do have something to say, and somewhere, there is an audience that aligns with everything we all think and write about.

    Awesome post, as usual D.

  44. JanaC2 says: 03/23/2011 at 5:40 am

    Thanks for the great article! Although I have lots of ideas, I am intimidated by all the great blogs I read. Yet I know I have something new to add to the discussion. There is just so much to navigate just to get started that I lose momentum before I get to the actual process of blogging.
    I’ll check out this site in more depth to answer my logistical questions and get blogging soon!
    Thanks again!

  45. Thanks for the very insightful and useful post, Darren!
    I believe the key to long term success in blogging comes down to:

    -letting your passion shine through with as little mental effort as possible
    -sticking to a regular schedule – consistency is king!
    -building relationships based on trust with your readers, one at a time (don’t obsess over the numbers)
    -PATIENCE – the attitude that quitting is simply NOT an option is crucial. Just keep at it.

    By keeping the above points in mind, I am a firm believer that your writing will improve rapidly and dramatically, you’ll become more enthusiastic about your area of expertise, and, as a result, your blog will attract more readers.

    p.s. Practicing different marketing techniques and strategies to see what brings in more readers will also prove advantageous, of course!


  46. I think also that negative reinforcement is what stopping a lot of people continuing to blog. Once you get over that hump and start writing, you sort of want to see if people are reading your content. Telling someone that you have an important voice is a great thing to do, but if the stats don’t back them up then it can be a negative reinforcement.

    So to pre-frame that is by letting the new blogger know that you will get more people reading your content over time. That’s really important.

    And the tips of starting small….TOTALLY!

  47. Maricel says: 03/23/2011 at 5:03 pm

    Wonderful post Darren! Such great advice to keep for a newbie like me. Thank you so much for sharing! :)

  48. Hi there! thanks for this post. Your blog is widely suggested by many people I meet online. i already blogged 2 years ago via blogger but I left them all to pursue my studies. Right now i am planning on starting a new blog, this time via wordpress and with my own hosting and domain. Confidence is the thing I must have right because I lack that online and offline. Im afraid that people who will not like my posts. I am not an expert on anything, and I still need more practice on my english skills. Blogging fright however is a good thing in on way or another because it proves that we bloggers care for the people who will read our blogs.

    See more of me here because I will be watching out your blog Darren. Thanks again.

  49. I battle with this every time I start blogging – right before hitting “publish.” Thanks for the word!

  50. Good advice, but unfortunately blogs are not as they once were – ever since FB and Twitter stole everyone’s hearts. I see more and more people abandonong their blogs.

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