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How to Overcome Blogging’s Fear Factor

December 10th, 2010 · 6 Comments · All Posts, MarkSchaefer

Mark Schaefer is indeed one of our shining lights here @TheSocialCMO when it comes to blogging! Not only does he write individual posts that resonate and put the “social” into social media (see Spirituality) he also produces pieces with very practical guidance to help others follow along the path that he’s blazing! See his latest post below which will I think inspire many more to face and overcome blogging’s fear factor!

I talk to a lot of bloggers. In fact I speak to some blogger somewhere almost every day … supporting, encouraging, listening, and helping where I can.

And I think I’ve determined the biggest hurdle that keeps people from ever beginning a blog.

It’s not a lack of ideas.

It’s not time.

It’s not writing ability.

It’s CONFIDENCE.

Fear of failure and criticism seems to be the most overwhelming reason why people don’t blog. Having some trepidation about blogging is reasonable. After all, it’s kind of like public speaking in a way, isn’t it? I think it is a pretty rare person who can put themselves out there in a public way and not have at least a little insecurity.

So what do we do about it? Here are a few ideas that seem to be working …

Re-frame the fear. “Blogging” is a word associated with publishing and being in the spotlight. Let’s use a different word — “essay.” Can you compose a 500-word essay on a topic that interests you once a month? In analog terms, 500 words is one page, double-spaced. That seems pretty easy, doesn’t it? Well, let’s start there. Set a goal to write one 500-word essay every month on a topic related to your passion or profession (or if you’re lucky, both!).

Now, let’s look at writing a second essay every month. This one is based on something that you’ve read — a book, a newspaper article, a blog post. Write this 500-word essay on why you liked the article, what you learned from it, or how it impacted you. Focusing on two essays a month … that seems achievable doesn’t it?

Focus on fun. Now, let’s address the fear factor directly. If you’re thinking about blogging, you probably have some thought that you will enjoy it, right? Well blogging IS fun. It’s an interesting challenge, a wonderful creative outlet, and an opportunity to join an amazing global community of bloggers.

So one way to get over the anxiety is to focus on the benefits to yourself, not the fear of criticism from unknown “others.” Even if nobody reads the thing, many bloggers tell me they keep doing it just because it’s so enjoyable. Focus on this opportunity to learn a fun skill that might open up some new doors.

Seek active support. When I started blogging there was a small group of people who were also just starting out and we encouraged each other along the way — Jayme Soulati, John Bottom, Steve Dodd and Gregg Morris, to name a few. They would leave a comment now and then or tweet a post out just to keep me going. I’ll never forget — one time I was beginning to wonder if anybody was reading the posts I was writing and out of the blue I got this email from Dan Levine:

I appreciate what you’re doing — slowly and surely, thoughtfully and methodically, you’re helping shape the direction of this “new” medium. In a landscape filled with yes-people and a few too many sheep, your posts are making ripples that will eventually lead to new ideas and fresh approaches. I have no doubt. So … thank you.

Let me tell you — that was a great confidence booster at a critical time for me. Blogging can be a lonely job. Remember that on average, only 2% of your readers ever leave a comment. So take the time to build your support group of fellow beginners and encourage them by becoming active on their blogs.

Handling hate — I’ve received about 7,000 comments on {grow}. I take a lot of risks in this forum and would say I have only received two or three comments that were unprofessional pot-shots. That’s 0.04%. Now I get plenty of criticism and dissent because I encourage that. But mean? No.

Expecting negativity is an unfounded fear. Bloggers, and those who read blogs, are generally an extremely nice and supportive bunch of folks. They may push you, they may disagree with you, but that is sign that they care about what you say. It’s recognition that you’ve had an impact and you’re making people think. That can be a point of pride, not a source of fear.

Fear of failure — If you define success as attracting a thousand readers, or achieving professional recognition, or even becoming rich from your blog, well, you might fail. But there are lots of other personal and business benefits of blogging even if you have a small audience or you never get rich. And you’ll never achieve any of them if you don’t try. What’s the worst that can happen if you “fail?” Probably not much.

You are unique and amazing in your own way. There are people who would benefit from hearing your stories and learning from your experiences. Dive in. The water’s fine!

Join the conversation. What fears did you have when you started and how did you overcome them? What advice would you provide beginners?

Mark Schaefer

Mark is Executive Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions and CMO of Freesource Inc. You can find him on Twitter at @markwschaefer and on his blog {grow} at www.businessesGROW.com

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