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The 7 Deadly Fears of Blogging and How to Overcome Them

This guest post is by Nathan Hangen of Build Your Digital Empire.

I remember back to early 2008, when I’d just started blogging, that even though I had great ambitions, my knowledge, expertise, and confidence as a blogger was sorely lacking. I stumbled through my blogging career for over a year before I felt I had a really good grip on things, and even then, there were many things I struggled with.

But more than anything, through all of the struggles I faced, there was one enemy that kept popping up time and time again, each time in a different form than the last. This enemy was fierce, determined, and relentless, and eventually I had no choice but to either confront it, or forever commit to a life of running.

Finally, in a Bruce Wayne moment of clarity, I decided to turn-around, face this enemy, and obliterate him. His name was fear, and there are seven ways that he tried to take me out. Here are the tactics I used to fight back.

1. Manic idea generation

I never thought that having too many ideas would be a bad thing, but what’s worse, I never suspected that the culprit would actually be fear itself.

In the early days, I found that just when I’d get close to completion on an idea, I’d suddenly be overwhelmed with dozens of new ideas. As a result, I’d move from idea to idea, never finishing a single one. In the end, I realized that my own fear of going all in on a single idea was keeping me from being successful as a blogger.

Tactic 1: Stop running from idea to idea and ship the ones you’re already committed to.

2. Holding back

Once I’d committed to a single idea, I often found myself running out of things to write about. It wasn’t that I didn’t have any ideas, but that I was too scared to actually talk about them.

“What if people make fun of me?”
“What if people think I’m an idiot?”
“What if I don’t really know what I’m talking about?”

This kind of self-talk is a blog killer, and it’s a great way to take yourself out of the fight before you get a chance to grow. Successful bloggers don’t run from their best ideas, they give them to the world.

Tactic 2: Don’t be afraid to be you. Turn your little flame into a wildfire. Some of the best bloggers I know are more personal and open than even I’m comfortable with, and guess what…their audience loves them for it.

3. Low confidence

My wife often asks me this very question: “Who cares what you think?”

And for a while, it hurt like a dagger, not because it was a silly question, but because it’s one that I was asking myself every single day.

“Who really cares what I think?”
“Why do my ideas matter?”

This is a confidence issue, and it’s where fear likes to play serious mind games. First of all, it doesn’t matter if anyone cares what you think. The only person you need to serve is yourself. Furthermore, there are people just like you everywhere, and you’d be surprised how many come out of hiding when they see a true leader emerge.

You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be a great leader to the people that resonate with and connect with your ideas and philosophies. However, they can’t do that if you don’t share them.

Tactic 3: Seth Godin wrote about it in Tribes, and the truth is that yes—we need you to lead us. People do care what you think, in fact, much more than you can imagine. You owe it to them to share it; don’t be selfish.

4. Little guy syndrome

I see this one all the time. Bloggers still call themselves hobby bloggers even though they don’t want to be. They call themselves B-List or C-List even when they’re capable of more.

Fear likes to tell you that you’re not good enough to be great, and that you’re always bound to the role of a follower, or a 2nd rate talent. It’s not true, but it’s easy to fall prey to that kind of talk.

There aren’t any rules that say you have to be just an average blogger. In fact, the road is wide open for anyone willing to walk it.

Tactic 4: Stop cutting yourself down and give yourself permission to be great. No one is going to ask you to be great, but they’ll step in line the minute you prove that you are. Claim your authority; don’t wait for it.

5. Irrational fear of guest posts

I remember shivering at the thought of asking a fellow blogger for a guest posting opportunity. Her name was Caroline Middlebrook, and though we’d talked a bit via email, I was nervous as hell asking for her permission. Finally one day I just did it, and guess what? Success! Unfortunately, I see many bloggers fear that step, and as a result, they toil in isolation for years.

I joked with Kelly Diels about this once—that asking a blogger for a guest post opportunity is like asking a friend to go on a date with you. You might have a great relationship on Twitter or in the comment section, but you don’t want to ruin it for the sake of a guest post … so you wait.

Tactic 5: The word no is nothing to be afraid of, and instead of fearing it, you should get used to hearing it. Don’t view no as a crippling blow, but as a way to get one step closer to a yes. If the simple act of making a request is enough to ruin a relationship, then it wasn’t worth much in the first place.

6. Resistance to product creation

People aren’t just going to show up on your blog and offer to send you free cash via email; you need to be able to offer them something.

You’ve been told time and time again that you need to develop your own online store, which means you start planning a series of products, courses, webinars, and anything else you can think of. But that’s where you stop.
For some reason, there’s always something that gets in the way of your product actually getting finished.

  • Blog posts
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Emergency this and crazy that.

You know it’s true, but you do it anyway.

Look, I know it’s not easy to sit down and create a product, and the minute you try to do so, you get distracted. It’s easy to do, but you have to fight it.

Tactic 6: Don’t let the resistance win. Rather than focusing on the fear of losing time to do something else, or your inability to create a perfect product, focus on the positive … focus on shipping. Product creation, like blogging, takes time to perfect, but you’ll never get there if you don’t start.

7. Fear of asking for money

This is a big one, and sadly, it’s probably the most prevalent fear in the blogosphere. How can you ask for money when you love what you do? How can you ask a friend or a peer to buy something, especially when you like seeing them comment and retweet your blog posts?

Well here’s the deal, if you aren’t asking for the sale, then you’ll never get one. Case closed.

You can try to avoid “scammy” sales pages, big launches, or affiliates, but unless you’ve got an army of people waiting for you to sell them something, a weak close is never going to work. If you want to make a living doing this, then you have to fight for it; you cannot be afraid of the close.

Tactic 7: Get comfortable asking for the sale. Find every opportunity you can to practice this, and keep going until the fear goes away. Eventually, it will become second nature, I promise you.

Commit, practice, and practice some more

I think the biggest fear that bloggers face is that all of this hard work they’re doing is never going to pay off. I know how it feels.

You don’t want to waste time on something that won’t work. You want to “Crush It,” and you want to make a difference. You don’t want to lose, or to look like a fool.

The best advice that I can give you is this:

No one knows if what you’re doing is going to pay off. However, I can say without reserve that as long as you want to succeed, with every fiber of your soul, and you are willing to do what it takes to do it (this could mean shifting gears or changing your business), then the fear monster will not have anything close to a fighting chance against you.

Turn around, look fear into its eyes, and deal it a finishing blow, Mortal Kombat style.

Nathan Hangen is an entrepreneur and author that writes about building a digital empire. If you’re tired of letting fear get in the way of your success, click here to get a free sneak preview of Fear to Fuel, a revolutionary course for creative entrepreneurs.

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Comments

  1. Beth Gabor says:

    Great points! As Nike says “Just do it” So much to blog, so little time. This covers all the bases.

  2. Paul Yokota says:

    As far as “Who cares what you think?” the proof is in the pudding. You’ll find out pretty quickly who cares what you think. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but you’ll never know til you try. The fear is no reason to quit before you start.

  3. Rich Wallace says:

    Awesome post, Nathan!

    Many of these challenges are on the daily menu for almost every blogger and it is indeed a struggle to get through them. I value such posts that display the humanity of the trailblazers and it helps us ‘little guys’ to truly appreciate that success is within reach.

    The hard work and determination has to be there and I can’t thank you (and the many others sharing this message) enough for the supporting and inspiring push.

    -Rich

  4. Great tips! What’s been most valuable for me was to face that “fear” of shipping – I’ve somehow managed to do it by firstly producing posts on the topics I’m good about and then making it onto the others – fear has gone away!

  5. Inspirational post. I am still in the hobby-blogger phase so a timely wake up call.

    Darragh

  6. Paul says:

    Definitely, asking for money was the most difficult part for me. But I’ve managed to persevere (but my sales weren’t too big at that time) until I started to rework my oldest posts. There it was much easier to add a clear call to action. This way I’ve managed to make it much easier for myself to include CTAs in my latest posts too.

  7. JD Ebberly says:

    You know what is paralyzing me?

    Blogging about the WRONG NICHE.

    I could easily spend ten years blogging about THE WRONG NICHE – a niche that is ultimately unprofitable.

    I got everything else licked – public speaking, guest blogging, ebook development, Interactive Learning Environment design and implementation – But that “You’d better find the RIGHT profitable niche” thing………

    It’s got me stopped COLD.

    I’m scared to death that I’ll spend 2010 to 2020 blogging about some worthless niche that will prove futile.

    I’ll be ten years older. I’ll be old, fat and all washed up.

    A good keyword engine costs a prohibitive amount.

    So – I’m stuck in analysis paralysis lol.

    if I ever find the right niche – I’m going to take the entire blogging world by storm.

    IF I can overcome the niche fear.

  8. Unbelievably great insight on #1!

    In my coaching and entrepreneurial career, it’s never really explicitly occurred to me that Idea mania might be just another “fear masking” phenomenon.

    Unless blogging is being done for hobby, #6 & #7 should be obvious to bloggers. No business can stand without an offer to the marketplace.

    And every offer must be sold…even sliced bread had to be sold by the Wonder company before it gained popular acceptance.

  9. Hi Nathan,
    Awesome post bro! i agree with you. fear is the main problem and one must learn how to face it. because if you keep running away from it, you will never get anywhere. thanks for sharing. take care.

  10. Jaco says:

    I needed to read this today, yesterday and tomorrow. I’ve been in a state of fear…the fear of blogging. I know I can do it, but fear has weighed me down. Thanks for lifting some of the weight! Great post!

  11. Rick LaPoint says:

    This is an interesting list, Nathan.

    It reminds me of a movie about a new golfer playing a seasoned pro.

    At each shot they would both see visions of their own particular fears. After a lifetime in the game, the veteran tournament champ still had to fight back his ghosts and re-assert, in his own mind, his right to be where he was.

    I wonder if we ever completely get over these fears. Or maybe it’s best if we don’t; they may prompt us to always to our best and never get complacent.

    Rick

  12. Ivan Walsh says:

    hi @jd

    I hear what you’re saying about choosing the wrong niche but I disagree slightly.

    One way of looking at this is that if there is a demand offline, then you can monitize if online.

    My first blog sold rare coins. That’s about as narrow a niche as you’ll get and my regret isn’t that it didn’t work but that I didn’t invest enough in it.

    It was working but not at the speed I had hoped.

    Today, I know I could have built a healthy income from it… if I’d stayed the course.

    The niche was fine.

    My reluctance to invest time/money was the real problem.

    Ivan

  13. D. Rhodes says:

    I found this very helpful. Thank you!

    So many of your suggestions are pertinent to writing in general, not just blogging. Also, having worked in non-profits for years, I can tell you that number 7, fear of asking for money, is a big problem even for fundraising professionals! So anyone who has this as an issue is not alone. One of the things we always talked about was that people don’t give money to causes, they give money to people. That means they trust and have an affinity with the fundraiser. I think the same can be true of sales. Yes, people give money to get a product, but they enjoy it more if they have some idea who they’re buying a product from. That goes right back to Tactic 2: don’t be afraid to be you.

    Anyway, thanks again for this article. D

  14. Drew Griffin says:

    Fear almost prevented me from commenting on this post. I understand that this is a well read blog with many subscribers. Being a fairly new blogger myself, I have hesitated to create and write. I have no problem in coming up with ideas for blogs, on fact I probably have purchased way too many domains for ‘potential’ blog or podcast ideas. Often I worry that my ideas are stupid or what if nobody reads what I have published. I’m working on getting better at these things.

    Today I’ve committed to reading and commenting on other’s blogs as a step forward to becoming a better blogger as well as a contributor to the community. I’ve sat on the sidelines and watched too much.

    Last week I attended Podcamp Philly and went outside my comfort zone. I met some extraordinary people who were quite talented and inspired me to engage more often. Further, I am compelled to create and produce content. I’m starting slowly and just hitting publish with some more frequency.

    Thanks for the inspiring post. Sometimes recognizing what is holding you back is all you need to move forward, create and hit Publish.

  15. Dia says:

    Hi Nathan,

    Confidence is a huge issue in terms of blogging. If we are confident in what we are doing, then we won’t go far and our audience won’t have confidence in us. We have to become confident of our ideas and everything we offer. Thanks for sharing

  16. Steven says:

    Over my year and 4 months blogging I have overcome some of these hurdles. I am just beginning to find my voice and feel comfortable expressing, however 6 and 7 are still tough for me. I need to make a product that will blow people away and then I’ll be comfortable marketing it and asking for money. It’s going to take a few months of work but that is something I’ve already accepted.

    Thanks a lot Nathan!

  17. Suzie Cheel says:

    thanks for this wonderful post Nathan- I love this You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be a great leader to the people that resonate with and connect with your ideas and philosophies. However, they can’t do that if you don’t share them.”
    There is much wisdom in your writing
    namaste
    Suzie

  18. Nathan, what a great post. I must tell you, when I first began reading your post, I thought I was reading a version of one of my own. Take a look at this:
    http://www.empoweredpeace.org/2010/10/hakuna-matata-it-means-lot-of-worries.html

    I take to heart your 7 fears and love the way you summed up each one with a clear answer. Awesome!

  19. Zahid says:

    Its really good to read this.

    Great motivation. Its true that Ideas and more ideas coming in and implementing them is getting difficult.

    I think the best thing is to focus on one task complete it and move on to next and stay focus.

    Thanks for the nice post.

  20. Kate says:

    Loved this post…especially #2 about holding back. Or, what if I look like an idiot? I THINK I’ve overcome this fear with my recent post about a wiener dog arguing with me about impersonating Lady Gaga. Oh wait….I may have fallen off the crazy cliff!
    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

  21. Hi Nathan! Incredible post and exactly what I needed to hear. Blogging is tough! But I make it a lot tougher on myself than anyone else does… if only that little voice in my head would be quiet and let me work :)

    I’m dashing over to your website right now to see what you are all about … see you there.

    DJD

  22. Andrea says:

    What a great article!
    I really needed to read this. I’ve been travel blogging to family and friends for awhile, and now I’m pushing myself to take it to the next level. Fear is without doubt, my biggest hurdle at the moment. It is very nice to know that I am not alone, and that I just need to deal with it!
    Thanks a million Nathan!!! (and ProBlogger)

  23. I have the traffic… It’s the product fear!…

    :]

  24. Gemma says:

    I have really struggled to get going with my blog, for many of the same reasons which you have detailed here. Its nice to know that its not just me, and this post has definitely given me the encouragement to continue with it.

  25. Han says:

    Great tactics Nathan!

    This post make me feel more motivate and have more confident with my self.

    Anyways, this is really nice post!

  26. Michael says:

    Hi Nathan

    Fear is the number reason why bloggers, nay, people in general fail. Like you say who cares if your guest post is rejected; move on to the next one or publish it yourself. As a former BDM in the ‘real’ world I can relate to your just ask for the sale line. I learned pretty quickly that if you don’t you die. If course the secret to selling like a pro is building strong relationships and giving the customer enough information to make a purchase. The same applies to blogging – focus on building community and trust and your readers will more than likely buy when you ask them.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Michael

  27. Great post with a personal and down to earth approach. Thank you Nathan! As a new blogger this is the kind of information you need. All these fears have held me back, but now I´m driving step by step. I´m not sure what the road will look like but I know where I want to go :-)

  28. greg urbano says:

    number 4 seems to be a big obstacle for me

  29. Hi Nathan,

    One of the best posts I’ve read in a while…it’s like you were inside my head!!!!

    I know these things. I know how to fix them. I know I procrastinate b/c of these things. And yet I still have 0 archives…URGH!

    Anyway thx and I am going to print your post and tape it next to my monitor!!!!!

    Pam

  30. Tami Heim says:

    Thanks Nathan (and Darren, too)

    This is incredibly timely for me! Problogger has been part of my daily diet for a very long time. I always find the posts both educational and inspirational. I am deeply grateful!

    Today I went live, with a dear friend and partner, on a blog that has been growing in our hearts for over a seven months. After I checked that it was up and running, I found my daily dose of Problogger faithfully deposited in my inbox and I am thanking God for the encouragement in this post.

    Yes – feeling all these emotions, overcoming the fears, and comforted to know we are not alone. We are ALL IN for the journey – fully committed to do what we feel called to do to make a difference. Thanks again to both of you – it’s as if this one started with, “Dear Tami” /…

    May all you give – come back to you in great abundance.
    Thank you.

  31. Barbara says:

    I was in sales most of my life and successful at it. I had no problem closing the sale. It’s so different when you are essentially selling yourself, and it’s something you love to do. But, this reminded me of the skills I do possess, and I’m going after the $$ now.
    Thanks Nathan!

  32. This is great advice, Nathan and it coincides with something I just read on Seth Godin’s page this morning about not being another cog.

    This is stuff I needed to hear for sure!

  33. Martha says:

    I’ve battled with the “who cares what you really think” demon for years. Something that helped me was something a Buddhist monk told me. “You have a gift to share with the world.”

    When you think about giving a gift to the world with your writing, then it becomes easier to blog, even when you’re not getting responses.

    I’ve been doing a series that I worried wouldn’t get much attention. And honestly, it’s not getting many comments, but several of my readers have told me that they are really enjoying it, so I keep doing it. It’s a gift to a small portion of my readers. That’s okay with me.

  34. Thanks Martha for your comment, “When you think about giving a gift to the world with your writing, then it becomes easier to blog”

    I have just graved that in my memory I am sure it will be a great help to me in the future.

    Darragh

  35. Thanks Martha for your comment, “When you think about giving a gift to the world with your writing, then it becomes easier to blog”

    I have just graved that in my memory I am sure it will be a great help to me in the future.

    Darragh

  36. Erika says:

    Totally agree with these. As a corollary to the “little guy syndrome,” sometimes it’s OK to be small. I found a great post last week that highlighted some really effective niche blogs. They were all successful, had a couple of thousand faithful subscribers, and all generated income for the bloggers. (http://www.copyblogger.com/small-audience/) I also happened to write about fears – more specifically for business blogs – last week.

  37. Those fears make so much sense and seem so familiar.
    I believe blogging is like any other activity, you get better the more you practice doing it. Those fears make perfect sense at the beginning, but if you just stop reading a blog post you wrote even just a month ago and compare to a more recent one, you’ll notice exactly what I mean.
    It’s perfectly normal to have no people interested in your message (so to say) at first, influence comes with time, with relating to more people, sharing and engaging in conversations on the various social media platforms, Twitter in primis. You won’t become recognized in a month or two.

  38. very informative and tutor article for newbie bloggers. like that writing style.

    THanks for sharing

  39. Patti B. says:

    I have anxiety about any number of things. Even though I blog because I love to write and to keep practicing, I frequently let fear get the best of me. Just find topics I am passionate about and get out there and do it is the best advice I can give myself and anyone else. Thanks for the inspiration.

  40. John says:

    Great post, I have felt each of those, and number two, still have that problem, it is hard to be yourself, especially running a new blog, I don’t know if what I am writing is any good :)

    The next blog post will be more personal, I will make sure I do :)

    Thanks again.

  41. Bill says:

    Thanks Nathan, as a beginning blogger I can relate to each of the fears, especially fears 3 and 4. Your timing is perfect. The key for me is to stick with it, learn more about blogging, get better at it, and become more comfortable putting my thoughts out there.

  42. Why is it there are so many fears these days? It feels like we fear everything now. Unlike when we were young, we were fearless and care-free. I wonder if babies were able to blog, they would be very successful because they weren’t afraid to look like fools. Every one has to look like a fool in the beginning but it seems that everyone now like to look like a master. Every master was once a fool. Why skip the fun stage?

  43. thanks for the informative and useful encouragement.

    fear is crippling.

  44. “He who whispers down a well
    about the goods he has to sell
    will never make as many dollars
    as he who goes to town and hollers!”

    It’s a big pond and we all have room to swim around. Blogs are meant to be informal – if it’s important and of interest to YOU then someone else will also think the same.

    Just do it!

  45. Jhay says:

    Fear has always been a powerful obstacle to any human endeavor. I for one have been sitting on two or three ideas for a new blog because of anxieties about my capacity, not the viability of the ideas.

  46. Wendy says:

    We have ran into the Fear factor a lot. Always afraid that I have the little bit of wrong info and everything will explode.

    I also hate asking for a sale. I think the fact that I feel someone either wants the product or they don’t. If they want it they will do it without me telling them to.

    We have started doing a few video’s (terrified). Yes, we stink but, I guess that’s part of the learning process.

    I am a perfectionist and it kills me to know I am not perfect at everything I put out.

  47. Thanks for all of the great feedback, I’m so glad the post was of use to you. Hit me up on Twitter (@nhangen) if you’d like to chat.

    For those of you attending, come see us speak at BWE10!

  48. Carolee says:

    Boy have I experienced #1- a bit of advice, jot down those other ideas for future blog posts.

    Number 6 & 7 resonate with me…I have a weekly blogging tips newsletter..

    It took me FOREVER to get the first one done- now I pop ‘em out in no time.

    I’m currently writing an ebook- I KNOW I just need to do it!

    JD Ebberly, we need to talk: Get a free 1/2 consult! i’ll brainstorm niches with you!

    http://www.bloggingbizmom.com

  49. James says:

    So true.. its amazing how much fear can get in the way even when you’re just writing blog posts..

    When I have a ton of great ideas, I usually write them all down as “drafts” in wordpress, then when I’m ready to focus I pick one and don’t stop till its done.. but that way I always have 20+ ideas in the hopper..

    fantastic guest post

  50. Wow this fits in with the theme I have going this week, everyone I read is talking about self sabotage and how to overcome it. Just watched a video where the speaker said something very similar to your first points, you don’t need to be more creative, you are TOO creative already, you need to DO IT, do ANYTHING. The only thing different about successful people is they overcome the fears rampaging in our lower brain and produce something. It doesn’t really get easier with practice, but you do get better at recognizing the destructive behavior for what it is!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Nathan Hangen wrote an awesome piece over at Problogger called The 7 Deadly Fears of Blogging and How to Overcome Them. As you know it’s fear has played a big role in my blogging motivation. The more I understand [...]

  2. [...] “7 Deadly Fears of Blogging and How to Overcome Them.” This is pretty inspirational. The asking for money fear is really not an issue for me since I do not blog for money (yet. One should never say never). I do need to be reminded to stop running from idea to idea and focus once in a while so I can bring ideas to completion. [...]

  3. [...] The 7 Deadly Fears of Blogging and How to Overcome Them – I can’t tell you how many times I have heard friends, family and coworkers balk when they hear I am a blogger or when I suggest they might benefit from blogging. Don’t worry, if you are a blogger or are interested in getting started, Nathan Hagen provides us with some great advice on how to overcome several common fears about blogging. Unfortunately, he doesn’t cover the “negative reputation” that bloggers sometimes get, but he does cover several key issues you will face. [...]