Some beginning bloggers think it's going to be easy. They find blogs all over the net and think, “If they can do it, so can I.”
And it's true.
And yet, despite this initial blast of courage, it's not long before overwhelm creeps into your blogging plans. The things that bear the mark of simplicity on successful blogs suddenly seem as complicated as planning a trip to the moon.
And with that, comes the gut-wrenching worries.
In and of itself, worry isn't such a bad thing. It's your brain's way of telling you that things are going to need a response. But your brain is also programmed to deliver you old school jungle thinking. It's the kind of thinking that tells you resources are scarce and your only hope is to run.
Well, fear no longer, beginning blogger. We're going to look at five big fears that bloggers face and toss them out the window one by one.
1. The Fear Of Spending Money
It's true. Putting up a website that matters can cost you a bit of coin. And because you're going to want your own URL and the ability to use some advanced tools. This means that you'll also need self-hosting. On top of that, there's building a list and the costs of storing email addresses and a host of other potential expenses.
That said, if you're looking for some quick victories to see whether blogging is right for you, by all means, services exist to let you play in the sandbox. Try blogger.com, Weebly.com or the free version of WordPress.
WordPress is probably your best bet. Why? Because if you do get the blogging bug, you'll want a content management system with some rigor. And this way you can move gradually from their hosting to your own.
Ultimately, try to think of the Return On Investment principle as a Return On Adventure. You really cannot lose when you enter the game with that positive attitude. You're investing in your niche, your technological development, your emergence as a writer and every area of your life.
2. Lack Of Knowledge
As with reluctance to spend money, people seize up when it comes to their knowledge level. The feeling that you don't know enough to get started can rob you of motivation.
But here's the thing: You don't need motivation to take action. In fact, there's good reason to believe that action precedes motivation. Scientists once thought that the brain – specifically the frontal lobe right behind your forehead – comes up with your plans. Then the motor cortex, a little deeper in the brain, helps you carry out these plans.
It turns out that this understanding was wrong. MRI scans have shown that when people take deliberate action, motor pathways light up the frontal lobe. Without getting too medical on you, this process boils down to the old saying that you can't feel bad if you're smiling. You take the action first and the feeling comes second.
And the reality is that if you navigated your way to this blog, you know enough to run one. You just have to keep in mind that old Nike cliché. “Just do it.”
Of course, that doesn't mean you should do it in an uninformed way. Seek out tutorials, online training and get out into the community. Remember that library your taxes help support? Chances are they offer a course on blogging or can tell you where to find one.
3. There's Not Enough Time
Can you feel that sensation in your hand? It's the grains of time slipping away.
But what would it be like if you could put a little water on that sand and make some of it clump up for a while, almost as if you could freeze time.
Here's the good news: You can.
The old myth that time moves for everyone equally isn't true. In fact, time moves according to how you perceive it. And so finding more time starts with a mind shift. And then you take action so that you're motivated to feel like you're more in control.
One way to find more time involves tracking your activities. A simple notebook and pen or pencil will do. The next you start an activity jot down the start time and the job. When you're finished, note the end time and write what you're about to start doing next. Like this:
8:30 Draft post for Sue's blog.
9:15 Break 9:30
9:3o Email 10:15
10:15 Play bass 10:45
10:45 Polish post for Sue's blog …
This technique helps you win for several reasons:
- You get to see where all your time is going at a glance.
- Your focus increased because you know that you're being “timed.”
- You're less likely to try to multi-task because you'll have to write the end time of your present task and the one you're starting.
There's a bit of discipline in taking time-tracking up as a habit, but it's worth it. And again, if you take action, you can build the motivation to do it even if you have no desire to give it a try.
Time. Just track it.
4. Not Enough Good Ideas
Heck, some people worry about having enough ideas to begin with, let alone having good ones.
Let's start with getting ideas in the first place. That way we can shape the ideas we have to make them good, or at least create a reference pool.
In Choose Yourself! James Altucher suggests writing down ten ideas every day. Their quality doesn't matter. They just have to be ideas.
This list becomes like an idea incubator. You can take up this practice easily on your smartphone by downloading the free PlainText app. PlainText is great because it syncs to your Dropbox, helping to make sure that you never lose any of those precious ideas.
By writing down a list of ideas every day, you train your brain to generate ideas with greater ease. Then, by going back to those ideas and analyzing them for refinement, you practice the fine art of idea expansion.
How does this work?
It's actually pretty easy.
Let's take the following list of ideas, for example. If you're writing a blog about Speculative Fiction, a couple of your ideas might be:
- Interview an astronaut
- Invite people to watch me write an SF novel
- Draw a diagram for a Time Machine
To flesh these ideas out, you can ask questions.
- What astronaut would blog readers find most interesting. (This leads to sending out a survey and getting lots more ideas from your readers and bonding with them.)
- How could I share the process of writing a novel? (This leads to thinking about bringing Twitter, YouTube, Podcasting and other social media together.)
- If I Time Machine really could exist, what would it look like? (This leads to looking up Michio Kaku's ideas about Time Warps, reading H. G. Wells and some background on pataphysics.)
No matter how crazy the idea, by asking some simple questions, they can become elegant and worth writing about.
The next step is to test those ideas. There are lots of ways to put ideas through the wringer and you can pop “how to test ideas” into a search engine for an endless supply.
One of my favorite ways is to ask readers for their responses using a simple survey. Another great idea tester is one I learned from Jon Morrow. In this case, he's talking about testing headlines for blog posts, but it'll work for any idea.
Here's how it works: Write your idea on an index card so that it's no more than three sentences. Walk into a bar and tell someone you want to run your idea past them. When they agree, read what you've got on your index card. If they get excited, you've got a great idea. If their eyes glaze over … back to the drawing board.
Of course, it doesn't have to be a bar. But do avoid asking a friend or family member. They tend to be either overly supportive or overly critical of our ideas, both of which only lead to frustration. Or you can use a search engine to find an Idea Party or hold one of your own. You can find more information about these in Barbara Sher's free online book, Wishcraft.
The next step is to put the idea into place. Taking action will tell you just about everything you need to know about the idea's value. And the good news is that you'll probably get a good sense for that once fairly quickly once you've gotten started.
And it's okay to stop. You don't have to follow through an idea gone wrong and you can still extract valuable experience from abandoned projects. Just remember the difference between seeking a Return on Investment and a Return on Adventure.
5. You Worry About The Quality Of Your Writing
Once you've gotten over your worries about bringing quality ideas to the table, quality writing awaits. But just as creating quality ideas is a multi-step process, you can tackle quality writing in stages.
The first step is to get your idea in order and then take action. Whereas some people like to draft freely, others like to write from an outline. Try both to find out what suits you best. Chances are that you'll wind up using a combination of both.
Next, optimize your writing using technology. The Hemingway app is a great way to create simplicity and Grammarly analyzes your writing for errors. You can then hire an editor to look over the text, or ask a friend to point out glaring errors.
Whatever you do, don't let concerns about quality hold you back. No matter how long you fuss over your writing, the day will come when you have to put it out there. You have no other means of knowing whether it's good or not without exposing it to the world.
And will you know that it's good because people talk about the strength of your grammar and your excellent use of vocabulary?
But the real test will be the response. They'll start talking about what you've written and look forward to reading more.
And once you know that your audience responds to your writing, you can take a good hard look at what worked and repeat the process. Should you get a poor response, or no response at all, you can rinse it off, rework the idea or shelve it in the stockroom of experience.
The point is to try things and be absolutely unafraid in the face of failure. Even the most successful people still fail. And as many have argued, successful people get successful because they fail harder and faster than most.
The trick is in figuring out how you're going to get yourself on the path. You already have the answer: Don't wait for motivation. Just do it.
And that's true for overcoming the five gut-wrenching worries mentioned in this post. My goal has been to make “just do it” sound as proactive and positive as it truly is, so please do not make the mistake of hearing it as a flippant cliché. Here's the reality: Everything you read online and every tool you use is the result of someone, somewhere taking an action. And the best way to ease all those gut-wrenching fears you face is to be moving too fast for them to get their hooks into you.
Good luck, post any questions or comments you have below and keep moving towards your goals!
Anthony Metivier shows you how to learn, memorize and recall anything using simple memory techniques you can master in under an hour. Visit Magnetic Memory Method today for a FREE video series that will teach you everything you need to know about improving your memory.