Number four in our series on how to take some of the scary out of blogging.
If you want to catch up, here you go:
Part 1. What if people are mean to me?
Part 2. What if I throw a party and no one shows up?
Part 3. Why even bother when there are already other people doing it better?
And today we’re talking about the whole omg I don’t know what to saaaaaaaaaay problem.
And I know I’ve said this every single time but it does bear repeating: what we’re really dealing with is the process of working on your “stuff”. So even if you’ve never had a blog and don’t plan to — or if you’re a total A-list superstar, there should be something for you in here.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh! I don’t know what to say!
Oh boy. We all know this problem. And yet, I’m kind of having the opposite one at the moment …
Yes, even though I’ve totally had this problem too, at the moment I have so much to say about this particular topic that I’m actually feeling a bit overwhelmed.
So, to avoid this morphing into a hundred different posts, I’m going to speak to a couple of specific questions I’ve been asked that relate to aspects of this problem … and (she types hopefully) come up with some useful points to consider.
Scenario 1: What if I the stuff I have to say isn’t interesting?
This is familiar stuff. Mostly fear of being judged and fear of being “found out”.
Because what if people figure out that you’re really not that great? Or — and maybe this is even worse — what if you discover that you’re really not that great?
I know. This feeling is awful. I’m sorry. Hug.
I’m not going to talk you out of it or tell you how great you are or anything. At the same time …
Things to think about …
Not interesting? To whom? So what?
There are what, six and half billion people on earth? If the tiniest sliver of a miniscule fraction of a percentage of those people find you interesting you’ll already have a ridiculously popular blog.
All you want to do is talk to your right people.
Your right people will never find you boring because they’re your right people. And they’re the ones you want to be talking to anyway!
Your writing is the best red velvet rope there is.
“Red velvet rope” is a Michael-Port-ism. It means that you want to welcome your “right people” in and keep everyone else out.
I’m sure lots of people find my blog dull as dirt. They couldn’t care less about self-work or biggification or non-icky self-promotion. They don’t even like my duck. (Don’t tell Selma though, because she might cry).
You know what? I don’t want those people here. And luckily, they don’t hang out here. Because the stuff I write about and how I write it is a big, fat, red velvet rope that says this stuff isn’t for them.
Anyone who doesn’t find your stuff interesting doesn’t need to be there.
Be yourself and it can’t be boring.
Yes, there are a ton of blogs out there that bore me to tears. But I’m 99% convinced that it’s not because the people who write them are boring.
I’m pretty sure that it’s actually because the people writing them are reining themselves in. Restraining themselves. Holding back from putting their true internal dialogue out there.
There’s something reserved or constrained. Some stuckification that’s keeping them from letting their inner goofball come out and play.
If you show up as YOURSELF it won’t be boring. It can’t be.
But even if I’m completely wrong and these people really are that boring, there’s still the “right people” thing. Maybe I’m just not their right people. And their right people will love them madly regardless. So either way, you’re good.
Scenario 2: I can’t talk about this stuff to total strangers.
Yes, blogging can get pretty personal. I’ve talked about the second worst summer of my life. About being poor and terrified and about falling apart completely over my friend who killed himself. About going back in time and healing my heart.
Is that hard? Absolutely.
And, as someone wrote in the comments to last weeks post:
I especially hesitate on issues of privacy. How much of myself do I want to expose to strangers? How much of my family?
Things to consider:
You don’t have to expose everything.
Start talking about stuff you’re comfortable with and gradually expand your comfort zone without having to leave it.
Set boundaries. (With yourself and with others)
You can make up nicknames for people. Or use initials. Or leave out certain bits.
Things will morph and shift and change anyway, but at least you’ll be interacting consciously with the process.
Maybe you want to agree with certain people in your life about which topics will be off-limits. Not everything needs to be shared.
Or whatever, you could go completely postmodern like the addictively great Black Hockey Jesus and have a blog that defies reality in all of its forms. He might or might not have a wife who might or might not have a hundred different names.
And is he just kidding about his four year old daughter’s fifteen year old phantasmagorical boyfriend? Is any of this happening at all? And does that matter?
Vulnerability and honesty are the highest currency online.
They’re also your protection against scenario #1. Trust me, you will not be boring if you’re talking truthfully about the stuff you really think about.
Being honest and vulnerable makes it easier for people to relate to you. It allows you to be human, which is the sexiest thing there is in the land of blog.
The biggest problem I see with blogs (yes, the boring ones!) is that the people writing them try to protect themselves by wrapping themselves up in Expertise. They talk down to me. They lecture me.
They give me lists and bullet points and concepts but there’s no one there to connect with. And it’s not the sexy kind of distance. It’s the lonely kind.
No one wants a flawless expert. We want empathy. We want to identify with you. We want to know that you understand our pain because you know it intimately and are moving through it. Well, that’s what I want.
You don’t need to be vulnerable in a “strategic” way (ew). You just want to let who you are shine a little brighter.
Bottom line: the more personality you show, the better. As Naomi says, show a little skin.
And given the fact that every time she writes about cowering under the covers in terror of failure she gets more clients, I think we could all use a bit more of that sort of thing.
Terrifying? Oh, absolutely. I’m feeling kinda nervous right this second telling you how nervous I sometimes get when I post.
But it’s honest. It’s a practice. A practice I get to do at my own pace in my own quiet, introverted way in my own room from behind a screen.
And — in a very weird, completely discomfiting and counter-intuitive way — it’s shockingly good for business.
In fact, ever since I realized I could just be myself on my blog and this is actually enough to support my entire business, I’ve dropped every single “marketing strategy” that I was either doing or — more likely — thinking I should be doing. But we can talk more about that some other time.
One last point.
This point actually works for just about any scenarios you could imagine. In fact, I could have probably skipped my other points and just made this one.
Because this is …. um, whatever you call the card that takes all in a really brutal game of poker. This is my ace of spades or something. I don’t know. You know. You’ll tell me.
Anyway. Here it is.
Blogging is nothing more than therapy you don’t have to pay for.
That’s it. Just think of it as the cheapest form of therapy known to man. It’s your own 50 minute hour with no one interrupting you!
Forget about all these people. Forget about your “target market” and “their needs” and all the stuff that the experts and biggifiers tell us we should be focusing on every second of the day.
Writing is healing. It will be healing for your right people when they read it. It will be their gift later. But right now — in the writing — it’s for you.
The rest is gravy.
Next week we’ll be talking about the other thing that keeps us from knowing what to say: perfectionism. Ahhhhh, perfectionism.
But this will do for now … and if not, I can work on my own perfectionism over the week and see what comes up. Or not. Either way I’ll probably be writing about it though.