I've noticed a theme in conversations I've had with friends, clients, and colleagues lately.
"I get tired thinking about writing on my blog. I mean, who's going to care?"
"I'd love to start a blog, but there's so much pressure to be perfect. I don't think I know enough."
"I'm frustrated by low / no comments on my blog."
"Blogging has changed since I started. It used to be a great way to have conversations with people. Now all that happens on social media."
I believe a blog is an important part of your soulful business. I really do.
If you are in the first few years of your business you REALLY need to be blogging (for all the reasons in the post above), but here's the rub:
There is so little validation in the early stages of your blog, it can feel demoralizing at times.
I'm in that stage. And - get this - I'm 100% transparent about it AND totally cool with it.
Because I think we all could use a reality check;)
My 7th grade daughter and I were recently discussing a version of this topic after she relayed yet another tale of middle school drama. She's made choices to remove herself from the soap opera this year, but loves to observe it and then relay wild stories to me as we sit on the front steps after school munching on Pocky Sticks and sipping blueberry seltzer.
Here's what we've decided:
Being all Katniss involves more than having a sideways braid down the back of your head.
Katniss had to go through some serious shit.
Katniss had to work hard. So, so hard.
She had to practice and hone her skills (which stemmed from her natural interests).
She had to stand for something.
Even when things looked bleak.
Even when nothing made sense.
Especially, when it seemed no-one else was on her side.
I think we've become a culture addicted to validation.
So here's the reality check...
If you are waiting for someone to give you a thumbs up, a comment, a heart, a share, or a pin to give you permission to take another step, you'll always feel like crap.
Even when you're rockin' it.
Because when you give your power away to others as in...
I can't feel good about this until other people say it's good
you're sense of success is external.
And we all know external things can change at any moment, beyond our control, for no bloomin' reason.
Externally validated wins are like crack cocaine. The high is so damn high. It's bliss.
But after we sleep it off and come back down to earth, we start shaking with agitation, craving to feel that way again.
Don't misunderstand. I am not above this. Lord knows I fall into these pits of despair. (Not the cocaine ones, the blog cricket ones:). I think you'd have to be superhuman or totally detached from modern culture to NOT feel this way.
Our work is to be completely aware of this and PRACTICE navigating it.
Here are some ways I am standing firm
in my commitment to this blog,
even when it feels like no-one gives a rip.
1 // DETACH FROM EXTERNAL STATS
I don't look at my Squarespace metrics dashboard or Google Analytics anymore. I only go onto social media when it feels like a good time to connect with people I care about.
I used to check stats and LIKES frequently and drove myself a little nuts wondering what I was doing wrong.
This energy seeped into my writing and affected the authenticity of my voice.
2 // GIVE UNCONDITIONALLY
That means, without any expectation of reciprocation. I love this approach to life in general.
When fear starts to creep in after I've hit publish, I know that I am not giving with the energy of unconditional love; and it's my job to consciously redirect my thoughts (much like I used to redirect my toddlers - back in the day - away from the tantrum-inducing candy aisle at the grocery store).
3 // REMEMBER WHO YOU'RE WRITING FOR
I write for people who are like me. People who are on a path similar to mine, but perhaps feel alone or would benefit from hearing about some of what I've learned along my journey.
My peeps (like me) are fairly introverted. They are silent obsessors. They love solitude, but have to be purposeful about not letting it turn into isolation (because it's a slippery slope from one to the other AND the latter is a creativity killer).
They have an inner wild child (that rebels against hypey things like "Nine Steps to Blah, Blah, Blah" and "Learn the Secrets to My Six Figure Blah!"); but they also have an inner dictator that pressures them to be as perfect as possible (which can keep them stuck in research and planning mode for BIG chunks of time).
My readers are less apt to leave comments after a blog post and more likely to take things into their hearts for contemplation. They send me private messages and personal emails instead.
4 // STAND FOR SOMETHING
I stand for real connection. Vulnerable authenticity. The subtle power of simplicity and soulfulness in life and business.
I want to help my readers: shift their perspectives, widen their creativity, connect with helpful resources, and let them know it's okay.
It's all okay.
It's okay to be a beginner.
It's okay to not know.
It's okay to feel overwhelmed.
It's okay to be real.
It's okay to not follow a prescribed formula.
It's okay to goof up.
It's okay to change directions.
I feel all these things and I'm successful (by my definition). When we take off our mental girdles, we feel free; and our freedom inspires others to feel free too.
5 // BE CURIOUS
I read different kinds of blogs and books; and listen to podcasts that open my mind to a wide array of possibilities. When I don't take the time to do this, my mind convinces me that success has to look like this.
Recently I've been loving:
Lady Business Radio (podcast) // Because host Jessica Kupferman is so down-to-earth and funny. Because her guests are women business owners who break business rules (to some degree) and have awesome, profitable businesses. (I listen on my iphone. Get the Stitcher app). Hot tip: listen to Nicole Antoinette's interview first. You'll feel exhausted afterward because she talks super fast, BUT her take on fun vs. joy is a must-listen!
Do The Work by Steven Pressfield // Because it's a concise and powerful laser beam that cuts through pissy, whiney excuses FAST. I've read it many times. Especially when I'm feeling low and need a perspective shift.
Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon // Because it has recently become my creative bible. Mind. Blown.
Show Your Work by Austin Kleon // Because it's easy to feel confused about online marketing when there's so much to learn, so much to know, so much to manage, so much to consider, so much to research. This awesome little book has boiled online marketing down to it's most creative and beautiful essence - connection - with do-able tips that feel really good to me.
Creating Money by Sanaya Roman & Duane Packer // Because it's helping me rewrite my money stories, increase my intuition, and the mantras make my whole body smile.
Anything by Alexandra Franzen // Because I'm pretty sure she oozes wisdom from her pores. Reading Alexandra's writing on a Saturday morning with a cup of coffee beside me? It just doesn't get any better.
6 // BELIEVE WHAT IRA GLASS SAYS
7 // GET GOOD AT WHAT YOU DO
I believe the first few years of my work need to be focused (obsessively) about becoming really good at my craft.
Right now I'm less concerned about pleasing crowds and more interested in serving my clients. Serving my clients means continually streamlining my systems, continually growing my skill-set, continually caring enough to create collaborative experiences that feel like sweet relief for the people who hire me.
My reputation is my best marketing. And my reputation is built upon the quality of my work. Eventually I'll scale things, but this is my foundation. What's more important than a solid foundation?
8 // NOTICE THEMES & TELL STORIES
The posts I've written that seemed to touch the most hearts found me when I was paying attention to the themes showing up around me (just like the idea for this post).
9 // EMBRACE BEING A BEGINNER
Having a creative business is one experiment after another. Experiments can have varied outcomes. It's best if you just accept that.
If I try something that doesn't feel right, I have no problem changing my mind and trying something else. I don't think this makes me (or you) a flake. I think it makes us creators. It makes us perpetual beginners. And being a beginner is a GOOD thing! When we begin something we are passionate, nervous, excited, stubborn, and ready for action.
10 // INTENTION-INFUSED ACTION CREATES WAVES
Or as Steven Pressfield puts it:
I believe the outcomes I desire for my business mirror the intention-infused action I take.
Because I believe all of this is energy (entrepreneurship, blog readership, money), I often remind myself to release my vice grip and let my intentions and work flow in the most natural ways possible.
Into the hearts that need it.
Into the lives that are seeking it.
Into the opportunities aligned with it.
It's a leap of faith, for sure.
It's requires giving up the illusion of security (the external metrics we think will make us feel good) and welcoming the wildness of our work as energy ripples that expand out into the universe, crossing paths with similar (and lovely) energy ripples.
How are you or did you get through the early stages of your blog? I'd love hear your insights either in the comments below or at email@example.com!