We talk a lot here about how scary it can be to be seen.

Also about the longing to be seen — seen by certain people. To be acknowledged for what you have done or who you are.

The safety of not being found versus the desire to be found.

I’ve written about when you don’t want anyone to look at you.

And ohmygod what if they actually read something you wrote? About sneaking around the whole vulnerability thing.

The fear of being discovered.

And about reclaiming the power of being invisible.

The wanting. And the not wanting. The hiding and the seeking.

All of it. It’s not easy.

Especially online. Quadruple-especially if you want to (gasp!) make money, and you need your right people to find you.

Just like with anything we work on, there are steps you can take “in the soft” (symbolic, under-the-surface, inside stuff), and then there’s everything that happens “in the hard”. The practical, tangible, real life stuff.

Today is about three things you might want to try in the hard. Three hacks.

Three ways to have a symbolic online invisibility cloak that still lets you be accessible to the people you want in, without necessarily showing yourself to the rest of the world.

Invisibility Hack #1: The super-secret hidden services page.

The situation:

You have a thing you want to offer but you’re not ready to tell the whole world all about it.

Maybe you’re not sure how it relates to the other things you do right now, or to the types of things you want to blog about.

Maybe you’re not sure if it’s something that anyone would ever want ever. Or you just feel self-conscious.

What you do:

So you make a private page. You can even password-protect it if you like.

Then when someone emails you saying ohmygod I wish you could help me with that one thing, you can tell them that actually you do but it’s a private thing and please don’t tell anyone.

Or you send a little note to a few trusted people, and tell them to please only pass it on to people who are awesome.

And, of course, you can tell me here, and if I know someone who might be a right person for your thing, I can sneakily send them there.

Why it’s brilliant.

A number of my clients have done this, on my advice. With terrific results.

Everyone likes going to a secret page and feeling special. And you get to skip the energy suck of dealing with “leads” and “following up” with random people.

Plus you feel safe in your invisibility cloak. And it’s that safety that (paradoxically) allows you to expand into being biggified.

Invisibility Hack #2: Comment zen and the comment moderation tag-team.

The situation:

You write stuff but don’t publish it.

Or you publish it, but secretly.

Or you publish it, but you live in debilitating anxiety because you know that all it will take is one mean comment to stifle your creative fabulousness for years. If not forever.

What you do:

Two things.

First: you write a very clear request that goes at the end of every single post, stating exactly what you want, and — more importantly — what you don’t want.

Like this:

“This writing is part of my practice of expressing myself creatively. This is something that’s hard for me and requires love, patience and compassion.

“What I really appreciate: being acknowledged (and maybe even cheered on) for being in the process. I like it when you say yay, you!

“What I can’t deal with right now: any form of critique. I’m not interested in knowing about how I can do better or what I’ve misspelled. Maybe later on. But right now this is about me and my process. Thanks!”

Second: you find someone (maybe here) who also has a blog. You set up comment moderation so that comments-to-be-approved go to his email, and his comments come to you.

That way neither of you ever has to see anything potentially depressing.

Why it’s brilliant.

Clear boundaries make everyone happy.

Also, it’s way easier to delete someone else’s well-meaning hurled shoes.

What ultimately happens is that, by creating safety for yourself, you have more room to begin to deconstruct whatever internal barricades are keeping your creativity and you-ness trapped.

Invisibility Hack #3: Hiding your name.

The situation:

You’re launching a site for your new thing but holy crap you’re going to be findable on Google.

What if that creepy guy starts hanging out there? Or what if your parents or former co-workers find it and then start criticizing your tiny, sweet thing before it’s ready for that kind of attention?

What you do:

Activate ninja costume!

Put your name as an image in the header.

And nowhere else.

So while your site might announce your name in large letters at the top, it’s not google-able, because it’s hidden inside of an image.

Set up your posts to publish as “By [your first name only], and just use your first name everywhere else. Or a nickname, if — like me — your first name is ridiculously unusual.

Or by your DBA. Like, I could just be Havi from The Fluent Self. Or that one chick with the duck.

Why it’s brilliant.

You’re out there. You’re biggifying it up.

People actively looking for the stuff you talk about can find you. But any not-right people looking for stuff about you won’t get anywhere.

So there’s a sense of sanctuary.

And then, once you’re biggified and you realize you’re cool with being found under your name, lift the veil and start using your name everywhere.

The relationship between the hard and the soft.

All these hacks are things you can do in the hard to make room to start feeling comfortable. To make space for yourself.

The stuff you do in the soft is where you untangle stuckified patterns. It’s where you unravel what isn’t working and replace it with something better.

We all need both.

Working on my stuff helps me make practical changes in real life, which then get reinforced by doing more wacky transformational stuff to back up what I’ve done in the hard.

Doing things in the soft makes everything in the hard work insanely better. And, luckily, since this whole thing is an ongoing process, we get to play with it over time.

Earning your invisibility cloak. Spending some time working on this.

I so wish the how of shifting things in the soft was more readily transmittable by blog post. Because once stuff moves in the soft, it’s a lot easier to translate that into changes in the hard.

However, Selma and I will be devoting an entire day to destuckifying your visibility-invisibility thing in the soft during our three-day Camp Biggification: Earn Your Invisibility Cloak retreat-thing.

And then we’ll figure out what your next steps are in the hard and get you a plan. But one you’ll actually use because we’ve taken care of stuff in the soft like:

  • ninja invisibility training (and how to turn it on and off at will)
  • how to get in front of the people who do need to see you without feeling like an ass
  • shining your light in non-cheesy ways and without feeling vulnerable and terrified
  • secret veils, magic cloaks, pirate tricks

That’s all I have to say about that. There’s a lot more here if you’re interested.

And … comment zen for today.

We all have stuff. We’re all working on our stuff.

And our stuff takes different forms for different people at different times. Because people vary.

We give each other room. We don’t give advice but it’s cool to share something that has worked for you in the past or something you’re currently playing with.

And we blow kisses at the Beloved Lurkers. Hiding is totally allowed here. 🙂

The Fluent Self