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7 Self-doubts New Bloggers Can Beat

This guest post is by Scott McIntyre of Vivid Ways.

You’ve just launched a shiny new blog and you’re buzzing with excitement about sharing content and building an audience. At first, it requires a lot of time and effort to get things off the ground, but your confidence is sky-high that this blogging thing will take off and push you straight up to the A List.

Sometimes I believe I can fly

Image by R'eyes

Then, slowly but surely, you begin to doubt what you’re doing. Success doesn’t come quite as quickly as you’d hoped, despite your hard work. Disappointment sets in. You lose motivation. After a while, this lack of self-belief causes you to ask yourself if it’s even worth publishing another post.

Did you ever feel this way?

Perhaps you’re a more experienced blogger who still remembers when you questioned what on Earth you were doing and whether you were any good. Or, maybe you’re facing this crisis of confidence right now.

If that’s the case, you need to tackle these self-doubts before they sabotage your blogging dreams!

Self-doubt and the New Blogger

I recently started my first blog, and one of my initial articles looked at how to conquer self-doubt in general. This got me thinking about the specific doubts new bloggers come up against, and the ways in which a lack of self-belief can negatively affect our blogging activities.

Feelings of self-doubt have little to do with how good a blogger you really are—they’re about how not-so-good you perceive yourself to be. There’s a crucial difference.

So, there’s no shame or weakness in admitting that you experience self-doubt (I’m sure even top bloggers suffer from the occasional wobble in confidence). In fact, the opposite is true: you have to be willing to recognize and shine a light on your doubts so you can deal with them head-on.

Here are seven of the biggest self-doubts you can face as a new blogger, and useful tips on how to beat them before they crack your confidence.

1. Have I chosen the best topic to blog about?

At some stage early on, you nervously wonder if you’ve chosen the right topic to blog about. Of course, you’ve done your research and opted for a subject that’s a good match for your knowledge, experience, and passion. But, until you start seeing results, how can you be sure it’s the best niche for you?

The fact that you decided upon a topic based on your interests is a reasonable indication that you’re on the right track. As you’ll be producing content for a long time (hopefully), you need to maintain an enthusiasm for the subject matter from the outset. That way, you’ll want to learn more so that you can pass on new insights to your readers in the future.

If, however, after only a few months of blogging you find yourself struggling to come up with ideas for posts, or you haven’t the heart to publish regularly, this is usually an early warning sign that you have to rethink your first choice of blog topic. Do a reassessment of your current interests against a range of different niches.

Don’t panic too much if you decide to change to another topic. Your blog is still in its infancy, and it’s better to alter your course sooner rather than later.

2. What if no one wants to read what I’ve got to say?

When you start off blogging, you could very well find that there’s a readership of only one: yourself! It’s all too easy to become disheartened when you see your carefully crafted content languishing with no comments and very few visitors.

Don’t be tempted to throw in the towel quite yet. Rather than it being the case that no one is interested in what you’re publishing, it’s more likely that you’ve yet to reach your target audience. It’s your job to get out there and help those ideal readers come across your blog.

People always want to discover fresh, useful, and thought-provoking content online and that’s a huge opportunity for you to tap into. No one, however, says that attracting readers is easy—it’s not.

There are, fortunately, many tips and techniques you can use to help increase your readership. Experiment with these proven methods, or be brave and go do something unique that draws in your special crowd. It’s far too early to give up until you’ve done everything you possibly can to entice those ideal readers back to your blog.

3. Am I just saying the same old stuff in the same old way?

You’re concerned that when you follow the trail of links to other blogs within your niche, everyone seems to be talking about exactly the same things you are. With so many blogs creating so much content, it can be very difficult to come up with original ideas that haven’t been explored a million times before.

The blogosphere loves original thinkers with fresh perspectives. Any blogger can gain popularity when they stand out from the crowd by both a) what they say and b) how they say it. When you deal with a subject, remember that it’s never been addressed from your viewpoint before. That’s why telling your own personal story and sharing your opinions breathes energetic life into what could simply be run-of-the-mill content we’ve all seen before.

There’s always going to be a unique angle on whatever topic you look at, because the knowledge and experience you bring are different to those of the next blogger. With practice, you’ll learn how to build your blog’s voice in a way that sets it apart from all the other sites out there.

4. Is my writing all right or all wrong?

You’re eager to get your thoughts out there, but you’re afraid that people will criticize the amateur writing style and rip apart the spelling and grammar.

It’s reassuring that writing content for blogs is very different from anything you’ve ever written before. Every new blogger can learn how to adapt these tried-and-tested techniques for themselves.

Sure, some folk will point out your mistakes—there will always be critics lining up to take a shot. Correct spelling shows you care about attention to detail, while good grammar helps the reader more easily grasp the points you want to get across. Bear in mind, though, that what you write is just as important as the way it is written.

Put it this way: wrongly spelled words and awkward grammar can hinder the reader’s understanding and enjoyment of your post, so try your best to get it right. But don’t allow this concern to stifle your creativity or limit what it is you desperately want to say. The more you write, the more confident you’ll become in expressing yourself through the medium of a blog post.

5. Am I getting too personal?

Sharing your experiences in life is a critical part of connecting with an audience on a deeper level. Readers respond well to a blogger who can show first-hand that he or she understands the challenges they face. Yet, how can you be certain that you don’t reveal  “too much information?”

Personal story telling works best when it brings home a learning point that the reader needs to know. The lesson has to be relevant and appropriate to help someone solve a specific problem or deal with a particular issue. In other words, the personal information you share has to be of benefit to the reader in some way. Otherwise, it could be seen as irrelevant and self-indulgent.

Ultimately, it’s down to your individual judgment: you choose exactly what you tell your readers about your life in a blog post. Before hitting the Publish button, ask yourself this: “Do I really want the whole world (literally) overhearing that fact about me, or my family and friends?” The old saying holds true: If in doubt, leave it out.

6. I’m nervous about networking

You realize that it’s essential to build relationships with other bloggers to get ahead in blogging nowadays. However, this is easier said than done: you feel awkward about getting in touch with them. What could a newbie like you possibly have to offer a big-name blogger?

Well, if you feel like this, instead of contacting A-list bloggers straight away, reach out to others who are at the same stage of their blogging journey as you. You’re bound to have a lot in common, giving plenty of opportunities to assist each other as you grow your blogs together.

The main priority of a blogging-based relationship is to provide mutual value and benefit to each of you. That’s why linking up with bloggers in a similar position can work so well—each can appreciate the other’s situation and provide the same kind of support.

Forming strong bonds with other bloggers online is basically no different to the way you’d get to know someone in the real world. Courtesy, genuine interest in what they’re doing, and offers of help go a long way! Don’t be shy to make the first move, as it could very well be the start of a very productive partnership.

7. Will I ever be a success?

This is probably the biggest single doubt that keeps popping into your head as you try hard to kick-start your blog. After all, it’s the reason you’re doing all this work, isn’t it? Constant worrying over whether you’re ever going to make it gradually eats away at your self-confidence. How you define “success,” and how long you’re prepared to wait for it, will help you cope with this doubt—one that’s felt by nearly every new blogger.

What success means to you will be different from the criteria set by another blogger. Getting subscribers, attracting thoughtful comments, reaching a target of earnings, and establishing a reputation as an industry expert are only a few examples of possible performance benchmarks that you might use. Pinpoint your own measures of blogging success. This exercise provides concrete facts on which to assess how well you’re doing, rather than having to rely on your own opinion and impatience.

Successful blogging also requires a considerable investment of your time. While we’d all love quick wins, overnight success is rare. It’s much more realistic to assess your blogging activities over a period of at least six to 18 months, rather than a few weeks. Adopting a longer-term view relieves the pressure on you to meet an overambitious deadline, and lessens the likelihood that you’ll become depressed when you fail to meet it.

Beating self-doubt as a new blogger

We’re most vulnerable to self-doubt at the beginning of our blogging journey. When you feel a lack of belief in yourself, take time to identify the knowledge and skills you need, as well as the practical steps you can take to overcome that doubt. Have a browse through the archives here on ProBlogger to get ideas and encouragement.

Your loyal readers of tomorrow will appreciate that you stuck around and persevered…

Have you faced any self doubts as a new blogger? How did you beat those doubts to keep on blogging? Please share your experiences in the comments section. Let’s encourage each other!

Scott McIntyre aims to encourage ordinary people to do great things every day. You can learn how to live a colorful life—right now—at Vivid Ways. You can also add color in your life by following Scott on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Manuel says:

    Thanks, the first two really got me. Choosing the right topic for the right audience is very crucial to any blog’s success. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Manuel says:

    Thanks Scott, the first two really got me. Choosing the right topic for the right audience is very crucial to any blog’s success. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sven says:

    Hehe, I remember an interview with some beauty products blogging queen.

    After she wrote her first blogpost (spending almost three days on it) she waited another 6 months to publish it!

    Only to discover, that no one read it ;)

    That’s when she started to become a regular “fearless” blogger.
    So if in the beginning no one reads your blog posts, it might be a good thing since it gives you some time to grow and become more comfortable with blogging.

  4. Wayne Tully says:

    I have beat my doubts by just getting on with more posts about my art topic, although dealing with imagination and creativity it really does spur me on to try and create some posts that are instructional and a mix of other posts that are inspirational, as well as insightful at times.

    Occasionally I do have doubts, but I clear them by knuckling down and creating new challenges, like more drawing videos and new pieces of art to blog about and explain some reasonings behind them.

    I also feel quite good when I am able to go back through previous posts and add more to them, generous updates, some posts do need updating particularly my earlier posts, but I try and create a momentum of constant energy and focus on new stuff.

    Doubts are an everyday occurence, but I can keep them in check with a plan of action and just getting on with blogging helps tremendously.

    Imagination is the key to the possibilites!

  5. dotCOMreport says:

    Thanks for this article Scott. One way to overcome self doubt in blogging is for the blogger to know his/her voice and also to realise what he/she has to offer. This can go a long way to build confidence.

  6. Sometimes you can think too much..just go out there and do it.

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  7. Wow! This really is a great article for all bloggers. I think that whatever stage you’re at in your blogging career that these kinds of self-doubt can emerge or re-emerge. To be honest, it was challenging for me to find a niche that I could be passionate about and sustain for an extended period of time. There were a few I selected that just didn’t pan out. But it’s a journey, right? You just have to keep having fun. :)

  8. When a blogger starts his blogging career, he doubts upon his abilities a lot. Like the number games comes into play. The stats, rankings matters. If he is able to tackle the first stage; then he would love blogging.

  9. Bill says:

    Great points. I know that I will benefit from them. So will all my readers- all 3 of them.

    Starting something new is always tough. I think your points about sticking to what you know, paying attention to detail (grammar and spelling) and just working hard

  10. Bill says:

    Great points. I know that I will benefit from them. So will all my readers- all 3 of them.

    Starting something new is always tough. I think your points about sticking to what you know, paying attention to detail (grammar and spelling) and just working hard are key.

    One of the best pieces of advice I got when I started was to tell people what I learned, not what I did. I think sticking to that helps offset any personal stories you may share.

    As for networking, is hard for some of us to meet new people. Doing it online does not make it any easier – for me anyway. But I know that I will benefit from knowing other people in my field and I know I can contribute to their experiences as well. Just have to get started and make sure I contribute to the relationship.

  11. Barry Wells says:

    Hi Scott, great post.

    Self doubt is a major hurdle to many people, i’ve been there myself many times when i first started my blog.

    I was extremely unsure of what i wanted to say and to who i would be saying it to. It comes together over time and you’re absolutley right when you say mix with others in the same boat first. That’s exactly what i done, and seeing others in the same boat really does help build your confidence.

    Regarding spelling and grammer: I write my posts in Open Office writer (similar to word) as it spell checks as you type, (but be sure to make the corrections when you have finished typing and not as you’re typing). I then get my wife or daughter to read them and make sure they make sense to them. Then i’ll leave the post over nght and re-read it the following day. If i’m still happy with the content i’ll publish it.

    Great tips Scott, i’m now on your twitter list :) and look forward to more tips like these.

    Regards,
    Barry

  12. Even after three years it can still be tough. I find reading Tony Robbins helps.

  13. Very nice article, just right on the target about the doubts which new blogger face.

  14. d3so says:

    I think that self-doubt is a complete waste of time like worrying.
    Instead of worrying about what others will think just give it a shot and see what happens. Test to see what kind of articles get more responses and views.

  15. Michael says:

    This is a great post for a novice blogger like me. As of now I have decided not to worry about blogging income, but rather concentrate on getting more exposure to my blogs.

  16. @ dotCOMreport: Knowing your own voice is certainly a skill worth developing. It helps your blogging stand out from the crowd and brings the confidence of knowing who you are as a blogger.

    @ TrafficColeman: Yes – nothing puts self doubt to rest like action. Only then do we know for sure if we can do it.

    @ Freddy Rodriguez: Good on you for sticking it out until you found a niche you were passionate about. Making sure blogging always stays a fun thing to do is a great attitude.

    @ Mani Viswanathan: Stats are useful to watch, but there needs to be a self belief to see us through until the numbers grow.

    @ Bill: Trying something new e.g. blogging is when we’re most likely to suffer self doubt. After a while doing it, we develop more confidence as we understand what we’re doing; what does/ doesn’t work. It all comes with time – and practice!

    @ Michael Fowke: A good motivational boost can indeed get us fired up to tackle blogging challenges head on.

    @ Viren & Reena: Thank you for the comment.

  17. Great post Scott, especially for newbiess. I am surely going to refer it to my fellow friends. Good motivation and inspiration. I have seen so many new bloggers giving up too early. Most of the people dont understant that you have to be patient to get successful.

  18. Melanie says:

    Phew, I identify with all of these points, plus I’m always doubting that my blog looks good enough!
    Glad I’m not the only one. Every comment that is left on my blog does push away a tiny bit of self-doubt. All i want to do is go learn, read, and write some more!

  19. jason says:

    Self-doubt surely is a big hurdle in the beginning, but most good bloggers end up getting past that. A little bit of skill and self-confidence goes a long way.

  20. jason says:

    Self-doubt surely is a big hurdle in the beginning, but most good bloggers end up getting past that. A little bit of skill and self-confidence goes a long way. Great article!

  21. Only the fittest survive right? I started several blogs. Some of them are still running well, some died. To some point, starting a new blog is an act of faith. And you have to stick to it until you get a response. The best way to fuel your blog until then is passion and being a bit selfish. If you do it for you as well as for your audience, you’re more likely to not drop your blog too early.

    Be selfish and passionate enough to preach in the desert for a while. But try not being too stubborn and don’t trap yourself in a failed blog.

  22. MontyBucks says:

    Self-doubt can kill you if you let it. Every time I launch a new blog, I go through that “doubtful” phase.

    Is anyone going to read it? Will anyone care?

    After about 6 months, you should be able to tell whether you’ve created a winner or a loser.

  23. Since most of my readers come reddit.com I am terribly scared that they will point out my spelling and grammar. I have tried to limit this by using Microsoft Word 2007 but even then I still a few things wrong. I used to get pissed when people pointed out my mistakes but now I user their criticism as a way to learn and not to take it too personally. Trust me folks the grammar Nazi’s can be annoying but they are just trying to help.

  24. Nicola says:

    Thanks Scott. This is absolutely where I am right now! I’ve got a loyal core of readers, albeit very small, but I’m just struggling to grow at all without spending all day every day on Twitter or commenting on other blogs. Have been starting to lose faith but will redouble efforts immediately : )

  25. Tony says:

    Hi Scott, The very first one is me, but I just do my blog for mostly something to do. I use to sell Watkins spices, but after 5 years I gave it up cause of no money being made ( I know this has nothing to do with blogging). So this is why I say I really don’t blog for money, though a little would be nice:).

  26. Excellent post.

    Yeah, I can’t imagine a blogger not having self-doubts at times.

    One great hope we can all have as bloggers is that our skill level, how effective a blogger we are, can constantly evolve as times goes by as long as we’re serious students of the craft.

  27. These are some good things to keep in mind as you are starting out. I am 6 months in and have gained “some” confidence as I have gained a steadily growing readership, but soon comes the monetization. We’ll see how my sefl-esteem does then!
    Bernice
    http://livingthebalancedlife.com/about/

  28. I really appreciated this post. I started my blog in June and I hit my first real snag in October: a number of different situations collided and knocked me for a loop. For a few weeks, it was all I could do to get up each day and do what had to be done. Unfortunately, I let my blog slip, and I’m in the midst of picking up the pieces right now.

    After a few solid guest posts and some diligent social networking, I had upwards of 100 visitors a day coming in (sounds pretty pitiful on Problogger, I know, but remember, this is a young blog…) and now I’m down to 7-10 a day again.

    So, needless to say, this post has come at the right time. I’m going to get them back and let them know what they could have missed!

  29. It’s been away , coming back again to this blog with new design is great, Many things I learn from this community.Great work

  30. Kicksgallery says:

    Great post, Really like the first 2 topics.
    I do what I love to do.

  31. Sahadev says:

    I am about 8 weeks into blogging on spiritual topics. Scott, you covered great things for the newbies to think about. One tip that I can think of and working on myself is this: Shutdown google analytics, don’t look at stats for weeks if possible. Let it do its job, but just don’t look at it!

    I want to write so that it satisfies my desire to learn(before I write) and to teach others what I learnt using some personal touch(your tip #5). Everything else is a minor detail. In the process you reach out to other people thinking along the same lines and help and learn from each other(Your tip #6). As long as you are writing to please others, I think it will appear to be a daunting task!

  32. Ngozi Nwoke says:

    Great post.

    The first 2 points describe many new bloggers, especially the second one. Reading this post confirms to me again that I am not the only one facing this self doubts. It sort of gives hope and encourages one.

    Thanks for sharing.

  33. Derick Lee says:

    Very interesting and nice post. Actually i really benefic it from the idea of your post. Is a good article for those just new to the blog. Thanks for sharing

  34. @ Barry: Linking up with other bloggers at the same stage as you can really boost your confidence. The fact that they’re going through the same issues makes it all feel less overwhelming.

    @ IM Secrets Revealed: A good deal of patience might be needed before you start seeing the results you want. But, stick in there and you’ll have a chance of reaching these.

    @ Melanie: It’s great to hear you’re fired up to take action. Good luck!

    @ Jason: With a little bit of blogging self-confidence, you can weather the down times at the start, while you develop the right skills.

    @ Sleepless Blogger: I guess there’s a fine balance to be struck between blogging for your own self interests against serving your audience firstly.Though you’ve certainly got to have a healthy and strong interest in what you’re doing.

    @ MontyBucks: Waiting until at least 6 months should allow you the chance to judge whether you’re close to meeting your goals. Any sooner and you’ve not given yourself at least a fighting chance to succeed.

    @ Retroscifigeek: Correct spelling is very important to some folk. But, there’s no need to panic about it… there’s nothing a quick spell check and careful editing won’t fix.

    @ Nicola: Never underestimate the power of an audience of loyal readers – even a small number. That’s your valuable base on which to build upon to the next level.

    @ Tony: It’s helpful to be clear on your motivation for blogging, because that will keep you encouraged when the tough times come.

    @ Bamboo Forest: Like any skill, the ‘art of blogging’ can be continually worked on and our skill levels ever increased. There’s so many learning points, but focussing on small techniques you can put into effect straightaway will make it all less intimidating.

    @ Bernice: You’ve done very well to grow a loyal readership. True – there will be a different set of challenges involved when you try monetizing your blog, but you can deal with these too.

    @ Ngozi: I’m pleased you’ve been inspired by reading that there are many others in the same ‘self doubt’ boat as you. Onwards and upwards!

  35. Kathy Condon says:

    Experienced getting comments from a person that I respect that, perhaps, I it would be better if I left out my stories. Since I have always used stories to make my points, my ego took a hit.

    Before long, I started getting comments–”I miss your stories.”

    So I am back to using stories…Like you said, important to speak/write with your voice.

    http://www.kathycondon.info/blog

  36. Lauren Rains says:

    Hey Scott!

    Whoa you’re everywhere! I just read your guest post yesterday on GoodLife Zen haha :P Well done!

    This post actually came at me at the perfect time. I just officially launched my blog YESTERDAY! And the thing is, I’ve had it ready to go for months! It was just the self doubt that in asking myself, “Can I really make this happen?” kept creeping its head in at me.

    So, with that said, if I could add 1 more to this list from my personal experience it would be: Am I ready to Press GO?
    - And the answer would be YES – not just in regards to getting your new blog out there, but also when it comes to anything in life. So, the answer is YES to writing that 1st post, or reaching out to that like-minded blogger, or writing that first e-book. Sometimes you just have to go for it – every expert was once a noobie :)

    Enjoyed your post! It gave me a little boost :)

  37. Hi Scott,

    Yes self doubt. I think if we didn’t get it from time to time, we would have a serious problem.
    Like you said getting your audience is harder sometimes than blogging itself.
    I am not a big fan of writing, but I do like making “how To” videos. So for now that is my aim. With video you can also transcribe it into text. I find this easier because the content is already there.
    If no one wants to read your blog to start with, so what. Keep creating content, and as you have rightly said, they will come.
    Hard Work, that’s what’s needed, and dedication.
    Don’t give up.

    Pete

  38. Yup, had every single one of these doubts but with every share, tweet or comment, they become less powerful. Blogging buddies, comment buddies and helping others out is very important.

  39. trailsnet says:

    Just when I think problogger can’t keep coming up w/ better blogs, you prove me wrong.
    Your guest bloggers are always right on target.
    This one really hit home, because it reflects my feelings/questions to a tee. (or should that be tea?)
    I am plenty enthusiastic about my blog topic and never run out of blog ideas.
    And the topic seems to be a popular one that wasn’t being covered very well when I first got started.
    But it’s not blossoming quite as well as I’d like.
    I guess I need to focus more on the networking and keep reading problogger for ideas.
    Thanks for the great blog!!

  40. I’ve whipped through several of these doubts this year. I’ve started four blogs, and I’m finally sticking with two. And I went through most of the layers of doubt that you talk about. And one more: Do I really want to do this?

    I recently heard a successful blogger talk about how blogging problems remain–they just change shape. At first, we’re upset about a lack of readers, and at some point, we’re upset because we have too many readers and we can’t keep up with the comments and e-mails.

    I think the key is to just be in the process. Trust it to unfold.

    I caught myself recently starting to obsess after I did a guest post that gave me a nice spike in traffic but got me only about 30 new subscribers. I’d wanted more than that, and my mind began to trot down the path of doubt–what was wrong with the blog that such a small percentage signed up.

    I had to deliberately stop myself and pull myself back to my focus. Write good content. Be real. Connect with people. Fill a need. And let the rest of it work itself out.

  41. TumblTips says:

    Blogging simply for success I feel is something that will be shown in your posts, despite your best efforts to hide it. It’s so cliche and has been hurled at you in many different forms of advice before but it still rings true: just write about a topic you have a passion for and let your bloggin in turn help you become even more knowledgeable on the subject.

    In turn, you are able to share the experience you have and will gain with readers (whether they be few or many) and all the while you get to progress in your writing abilities.

    What more can you ask from a blog than that?

  42. I am new to blogging. I have been doing it a month. I just created a site 2 days ago. I know I have a great niche. I just wish I knew ALL of the ways to get traffic. It is so important and I am trying to discover all of the ways.

  43. Jo says:

    Thanks for the advice… it took me a while to start reading all the blogging posts but am now hooked to ensure I am making the most of my blog(s)… chefonice.blogspot.com.
    Looking forward to the next one already.

  44. I sometimes have the feeling of doubt especially when I write, it becomes a challenge. I doubt that what I write will be of interest to others. My current posts have less likes than the older posts, those are what discourage me.

  45. Nova says:

    Thanks for the encouragement and for the concrete tips on what is too personal – I needed to review that. In my culture blogging is not common, so extra encouragement is needed to step out of the box!

  46. This is a terrific article. Many of my readers ask me for advice on starting their own blog. I’ve shared this article on my site because it will very helpful to my readers. Thank you so much.

  47. Excellent content, Scott. I thank you for sharing your concise, extremely helpful ideas here. I aim to implement all of the above!
    Best to you!

    Peter