In this post Chris Guillebeau from The Art of Nonconformity examines the topic of blogger insecurity.
Here’s a confession: every time I post a new essay on my site, I experience a brief moment of panic. At first, the panic is the same feeling I get when sending an email or turning in an important memo.
“Did I just commit a horrible grammar crime?” I wonder. “Did I misspell something obvious?”
But even after the momentary panic passes as I proofread the post yet again, a deeper, more serious feeling sets in. The questions I ask myself shift from grammar concerns to fears about what I’ve actually written.
“What if the readers don’t like it… or worse, what if they just don’t care?”
That’s my confession—I am a highly insecure blogger. I worry a lot about what people think, even though I fully realize that this fear is not always rational and certainly not optimal for good writing.
In talking with other bloggers recently, I’ve begun to suspect that I’m not alone in my insecurity. Many of us struggle with the same emotional issue of learning to overcome fear and insecurity in presenting ideas to the blogosphere.
At least for me, the fear of presenting free ideas for the world’s benefit is much greater than the fear of presenting commercial projects for personal profit.
I’ve produced about 20 commercial websites and consulted on a lot more. But none of them have caused me as much anxiety—or as much fulfillment—as my new personal site. I’m not entirely sure why this is true, but I do know that I feel much more personally invested in my writing project than in any for-profit venture I’ve been involved in.
When I write, I think about the fact that these ideas are originally my own, but my greatest hope is that they will go out into the world and help others. Throughout the writing and publishing process, I experience these fears:
- The world is so crowded… how will I break through all the noise?
- What if I can’t stick to my publication schedule?
- What if no one notices?
- What if people notice and they don’t like it?
Countering these fears, the medium of blogging presents a number of opportunities that will help you overcome the insecurity and get your ideas to the people who need to hear.
4 Great Things about Presenting Your Ideas through Blogging
1. The gatekeepers aren’t in charge anymore. Perhaps the greatest thing about the blogging revolution is the increased democratization of information. People can decide not to pay attention to your ideas, but no one can hinder your ability to put them on the table.
2. You’ll receive instant feedback that is usually positive. Eventually, all bloggers who gain a significant audience of fans will also attract their share of critics. You need a strategy to deal with the critics, but in most cases, the fans will greatly outnumber the critics. While you probably shouldn’t present big ideas in anticipation of being praised, the positive feedback will help you break through the moments of insecurity.
3. Thanks to archives, your ideas will always be available. With traditional forms of communicating big ideas, such as public speaking, your ideas are more limited in distribution. Contrast this to blog posts and other online content, where a good idea can last a long time after you first publish it.
4. You can change your mind. If the passing of time or the availability of new information causes you to change your mind about the original position you took, that’s OK. You can either write a new post explaining the change, or simply modify the original article. Some people will object to this, but remember—it’s your blog. You are ultimately responsible for the ideas you present, so you also have the freedom to change your mind.
My Own Story
In my own quest to visit every country in the world and lead the crusade against conventional thinking, I spent nearly a full year outlining and writing initial content before I started the Art of Nonconformity site.
I devoted hours to learning from the masters here at Problogger and other authority sites. I actively followed other bloggers I admired, especially those who were able to quickly establish a following. I solicited—and paid attention to—good advice from those who have gone before.
But finally, I could wait no longer. With the help of a great designer, I set up my site and started publishing on a regular schedule.
The time to start presenting your big ideas is when you can no longer keep them to yourself in good conscience.
When you reach that same point, and when you’re willing to sacrifice for it, nothing can stop you. Some of the best advice I heard came from John Wesley at PicktheBrain.com. John told me that the turning point for his site was when it went from being about what he wanted to what the readers wanted.
I really liked that perspective, and we’ve been doing some redesigning over the past couple of weeks to focus more on what our own readers have shared through site comments and email messages.
Do you have big ideas of your own to share with the world? In the end, you may find that any insecurity you experience will be worth it. Despite the challenges, there is a great deal of freedom in knowing that you have the courage to come out of hiding and share your ideas with anyone who cares to listen.
Chris Guillebeau is a social entrepreneur who writes at The Art of Nonconformity. Over the next five years he will be traveling to every country in the world.