Sometimes before I press the button to publish a blog post or post something on social media, I think things like,
“Who am I to talk about this?”
“Who actually cares?”
“Who am I even helping?”
and, “Wow, I sound obnoxious.”
Those feelings have kept me from starting a blog with my name on it for a long, long time. Freelance work has been “safe” for me because I work on helping other people express their thoughts and their work. I get to hide behind it and move on to the next one (while I secretly wish I was working on my own stuff). Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy freelance work and it’s rewarding when I can help someone with their business. But, I’m left feeling like I want to help people in my own way with my own experiences, and up until this point I haven’t felt like I have the authority to do that.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the last couple of years while I’ve worked up the confidence to start my own blog and promote myself:
1. Thinking about it isn’t equal to working on it.
I’m an overthinker and a perfectionist, and neither thing actually helps with anything. Not once has my overthinking protected me from a bad situation and perfectionism has never made me a million bucks. So, when I decided that this was going to be the year that I was really going to go for it, I had to promise myself that I’d leave those two things behind.
Last year, I bought blogging courses, learned a lot, but didn’t take a lot of action. I spent a lot of time comparing myself to other bloggers, studying other websites, and agonizing over things that didn’t matter (like making everything look perfect). At the end of the year, I ended up with what looked like a half-effort blog (because most of the effort was just done in my head) that I didn’t even like or share much with anyone.
So if you’re wanting to start a blog, just start it. Blogs are fluid, it will take shape as you go. Each day is different. Yes, if you want to make money from your blog, you have to strategize, but getting in your head over every little thing is going to keep you from writing your best content and content is what it’s all about.
2. It’s okay to learn out loud.
I kept starting blogs I had no interest in because I only chose niches that felt safe. I was dancing around what I really wanted to write about, which is money and writing and blogging, because I thought no one would want to listen to me because I’m not a big shot millionaire doing those things yet. But guess what? I’m passionate about those topics, I love to learn about alternative income and how to improve my writing and blogging, so those are the things that take up my time. Trying to write about anything else just took time away from what I was actually interested in, so it eventually felt like a forced effort. I didn’t feel like I was adding much value to those niches anyway because I couldn’t really find a connection with what I was writing, so it was hard to know what readers wanted (and I didn’t care to find out).
But, it took that experience to realize that it’s okay for me to not be an expert in any of these things I’m sharing on this blog because I’m not claiming to be. I’m just sharing my experiences and what I learn along the way to help you. Giving people the tools and the ideas to start living more on their own terms and expressing themselves in this format makes me want to jump out of bed in the morning. I would do this for free. The other blogs I started were truly just to make money, and I started this blog because I just couldn’t keep it inside anymore. There’s a big difference, but you don’t know it til you know it. Ya know?
3. Content is everything.
As I write this, I know that like, four of the links on my homepage don’t actually go to anything yet, I don’t have a category menu set up, my Mailchimp email service is down, and I’m not in love with my layout. In the past, I would spend the next week fixing those things and not writing a single word.
This time around, I know that content is everything. If something you read here really helps you, do you really care that one of my links is broken? Probably not. Maybe you do, but, I don’t care. This is the content, take it or leave it.
I recently discovered Gary Vaynerchuk because I’m way late to that game (that guy has been cranking out content for a long time now), but I was so excited to finally hear someone tell it like it is and affirm what I’ve been finding out this whole time: quality is good, but quantity, sometimes, is better. It’s about consistency and content, and pretty much nothing else.
If you’re starting a blog, or you want to revive an old one, just see where your ideas take you. Follow them and do it with an open mind because you’ll probably churn out some bad writing and useless content at times, but if you’re consistent, it just becomes a numbers game. If you only write one post a week and it’s crap, you’re not giving yourself a very good chance to churn out something good.
The way I come up with blog post ideas is to think about things I would search for and things I have searched for. I think of the questions I had on a certain topic and then I just answer those questions. Like with this post, I’ve actually searched for things like “blogger mistakes” and “what to know if you’re starting a blog”. And here we are.
Don’t let people’s opinions get in the way of you starting your blog or whatever else you want to do. As I write this right now, I actually have a few people in mind in my personal life who, when I picture them reading this, I cringe just thinking that they might think this is stupid or weird or that I’m annoying for writing about these things that I’m interested in. The funny thing is, they’re probably not thinking those things at all, and if they are, it certainly won’t kill me. I’m here for anyone who needs this, and anything else gets thrown out the window.
I see too many talented, unhappy people who are waiting for permission to do what they want and I’m on a mission to encourage as many of those people as I can to take the leap.
Start the blog, do the thing.