- “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.
Darren, this post really resonates with me — mainly because you’re reminding me of s few things I’d forgotten. I used to keep a blog in which I just wrote about my life: goals, fears, likes, dislikes, setbacks, triumphs, sillinesses. I wasn’t really writing *for* anyone; it was an online journal where I shared everything but the most personal stuff. And I wasn’t afraid to share, because I didn’t care who read it.
A few months ago, I started my new blog, which I use as a platform for launching my published novel(s). I talk about the writing life and about inspiration. And because I have an actual goal for the blog, I suddenly feel intimidated when it comes to making myself vulnerable.
The thing is, I know that sharing the true, gritty stuff is what reaches people. It reached people through my old blog. I have a great friend now who became my friend because he read six years’ worth of my blog archives.
He also eventually became my publisher.
Thanks, Darren, for reminding me that I’ve done this genuine-blogging thing before — and that it led to great things. If I did it once, I can do it again. : )
well, i really enjoy reading this article ..
Blogger fright <3 Thanks Daren
You know what, I also felt the same way when I started blogging. I think every blogger has started with this feeling where he is not confident enough that people will actually read his posts or articles. But hey! After a while, I realized that it is the online web — chances are, people will eventually read my posts.
The secret for people to come back to your site is still the content. If the content is creatively crafted, then people will eventually keep on coming back and then your blog will be recommended somewhere else and then the fun part begins. Plus adding positivity every time you write or open your site sure helps! Trust me.
When you have something to say, people will surely listen — or in our case, people will surely read.
I love your post by the way! Good job! :)
I think finding a blogging buddy is something that has been very helpful to me over the past 1 year of blogging. It has been difficult blogging when no one else around you is really into it. Thankfully, I’ve found one to bounce ideas off before posting it on my blog. He also comes and give some ideas on improvement which I find really helpful.
Nice tips about blogger fright. It’s really help for me as a new blogger.
I think I’m at the current stage of “Identifying Boundaries” which seems a tad tricky at times. The purpose of my new blog is essentially promoting awareness on mental illness through my own experiences. I feel like for each post so far, I’ve had to heavily weigh out and redefine those boundaries depending on what the post is over–it never stays the same. At least I can feel good that I’m not the only one feeling ‘blogger fright’ and am on the right track of facing it. I think the info is applicable to any social media use. I appreciate the helpful post!
I purchased your book (ProBlogger), about a year ago and have since set up three blogs. And, I am also writing articles on Articlesnatch. I like to write.
I am thinking of blogging for money, so now, I am re-reading your book. I am also going to follow along with your blogger tips. Thanks for both your book and your tips. I believe they will be helpful.
I think it’s useful to have the paradigm that hurtful comments usually say more about the commenter than they do about the blog. Hurtful comments are never fun to read but they don’t have to have a crippling effect on your lifestyle that makes you want to withdraw and not participate or engage in life.
Everyone has something to say. Personally I’ve wanted to do some documentation of my life’s experiences. Thanks to “Blogger’s” simplicity, startup was easy. I then just started a little at a time.
In the begining, my parameters were simple: write a post every 5 days, keep my humor PG-13, make it entertaining to read (pictures, videos) and throw it some content to make people think.
I believe blogging gives you freedom you’ll experience nowhere else. I’m just now to the point that I’m examining other blogs, getting ideas and asking questions. I’m in an IT Field and initially I looked to other bloggers for tech tips but it is amazing how much good content is out there.
I’m an outgoing, social person and I think my blog relects that. Make your blog just that, a reflection of yourself. Provides something positive to your readers wheter simply a good laugh or something that challenges their thinking.
I’m still rough around the edges but I learn more everyday. Just get in there and do it! You’ll feel the satisfaction and be glad you did.
As there are so many options of making money online, i think blogging is a great way to get started as it is free so there are no money risks involved.Thanks for sharing.
wise words, good read, thanks for the tips.
Reading some one else’s personal life (when they choose to put it out there) is quite interesting, no matter who you are because everyone is different. If your afraid of posting a blog, chances are you have something phenomenal to share or at least something that will draw readers towards your writings.
Hello Darren! I’m brazilian and I’m still starting to use blogger plattaporm. I’m still learning English so if do I can write manythings wrong. I liked so much your post and your blog! I’d like to return again and see others of your posts…
I think it’s useful to have the paradigm that hurtful comments usually say more about the commenter than they do about the blog.I liked so much your post and your blog! I’d like to return again and see others of your posts…
This is a really really great post. I just started a blog a couple of months ago and after the initial excitement of getting it up and running, I was overwhelmed by anxiety and I felt so vulnerable and exposed. It has gradually gotten better but I still get bouts of that same anxiety here and there.
Thanks for helping us to be brave!
A month ago I started a blog. I’d thought about doing so for the longest time but fear – of what to write about, of what to share, of what not to share, of having nothing interesting to say – held me back. With some encouragement from a few friends I took the plunge and began writing with them in mind. It’s only been a month, very early days, but I haven’t looked back. I find writing as if i’m talking to those friends, helps alleviate my fears. Thanks for these tips.
This post have changed my mindset, Thanks for sharing your God giving wisdom.
Great article – I used to have a seroius blogger fright for two reasons:
First of all, english is NOT my native language, so I was afraid to come across as stupid or sloppy, if I made any grammer or spelling mistakes.
Secondly, I tried to “fake” that I was an expert in my business area.
That all changed in January this year where I decided to show the
world what it really takes to start an online buisness.
I decided to be completely honest and share my mistakes and my results.
The funny thing was that I got so many really sweet comments back about how nice it was that I was so honest….. So lesson learned – be yourself, be honest – that made blogging one of my favorite thing to do in my business.
When somebody comment on your blogpost, reply to them, go to their blog and leave a comment – before you know it you have some great blogging buddies.
This is the first post that i have read that covers this subject,very thoughtful. When you start a new Blog,how long does it take untill you know it has taken off and people are reading?
I started my blog 3.23.11 I still have a lot to learn.Darren,I like your post.I also ordered your book,31 Days to Build a Better Blog,but I have not received it yet.
I might add one of the most important activities to avoid blogging anxiety is to get ahead. When you have four to eight weeks worth of posts sitting in WordPress waiting to be published it eliminates a lot of fear.