Growth

5 Common Derailers for Newbie Bloggers

Starting a new blog is an exciting time - until the challenges hit. Before you know it, you're feeling overwhelmed by all that needs to be done and deciding what to do next. Eek! Never fear, I'm here to help you out. Click through to read how to easily overcome common challenges for new bloggers.

You've made the decision that you want to be a blogger, and to actually make it your profession. After all, there's so much to be gained from a career in this space - from the platform it provides for your self-expression to the freedom that comes from working for yourself. Being able to set your own hours and work from anywhere in the world. The capacity to earn money based on what you have to offer rather than just what your employer thinks is fair. Whatever your motivations, when it comes to this whole 'blogging' thing - you're in!

Not only all this, but there are so many people out there already making a huge success of it and are telling you how easy, and well, this all just helps to make it feels so enticingly possible. You're being told how to make it all happen with articles like "How to triple your list in 10 days" or "Start a website for free and in 2 easy steps!" or maybe "How I made a bazillion dollars from just one blog post!" Surely with all those bold assurances, it can't be that hard to create a successful blog...

But then you get down to it and find that maybe it isn't the walk in the park you hoped it would be. You keep coming up against challenges and hurdles you couldn't even imagine when you first started out. You're armed with all this information about how to blog successfully and yet it takes you weeks to figure out something that you thought was supposed to be so easy. I confess that I've nearly been in tears too many times to count, shouting at the screen "why is this so frigging hard?!" Self-doubt creeps in and it can be very tempting to pack it all in. 

Yet, despite all this you know you've got a message that is just crying out to be shared in the world. You still want the dream, even in the face of all the frustration and overwhelm.

So, how to do you stay the course and keep from becoming derailed by these challenges as you start out on this blogging journey?

I'm so glad you asked. Read on, dear friend...

Derailer # 1: You're Easily distracted, without a plan or proper prioritisation

Once you start scratching at the surface of what it takes to be a successful blogger, you quickly realise there is a lot to do. Writing, design, social media, branding, the technical side of running a website, planning and strategy etc. etc. Some of this you may really enjoy, while other tasks serve more of a means to an end and feel like a chore. In this scenario it's understandable that you would spend the most time on the tasks you find enjoyable, especially while you're still navigating what you want your blog to be. However, as a result your blog can quickly become lop-sided with amazing graphics, but little content and no social media engagement, or great blog posts on a site that's laid out badly and is visually unappealing.

It can be really frustrating to be stuck in this place as you have such a clear vision in your head of how you want your blogging future to look and feel, but can't seem to get it all together to make it happen.

How to overcome:

Write it all down!

The first stage of figuring our a plan for your blog is to just dream as big and wide as your heart desires. Don't worry about timelines or being realistic or knowing when and how it will all get done. For now just get the ideas out of your head and onto paper.

Once you're happy with this vision, then comes the time to break it down into smaller chunks. Consider what is both a priority and do-able in the short term. Getting a few wins under your belt will help your confidence, so try to select things that will be easy enough to achieve. Know that so many elements of this dream will feel urgent because you love them already, so try to identify the very foundational building blocks and put those in motion. Remember that it's ok to still work on the things you enjoy the most - after all, it's still important to enjoy the process - just work on these in tandem with the other more essential elements.

Remember to start small.

You can always ramp things up later as you grow your skill and experience level. Heck, as you grow you may even want to hire out the jobs you don't like to free up the time to do more of what you love! After all, you're the boss of you.

There are some great free tools online to help you with your time management. I like Asana when I'm working on a particular project as it helps to have everything organised visually in one place. And there are rainbows and unicorns. What's not to love!

I also use the calendar on my phone to schedule in pretty much everything. I have found that if I don't have a plan for the day ahead I will get very little done, so I usually try to work things out a few days in advance. (I've got a whole module on scheduling in my course "How to Get What You Want" if you feel like checking that out.)

  • Bonus tip: try one thing and see how it goes for a while. Not working? No worries. Just tweak it until you find what works for you. 
  • Bonus tip: don't spend too much time researching 'time management strategies.' While it may feel like you're still 'working' on your blog, ultimately it can be just one more distraction and time waster.

Looking for your free guided Acceptance meditation? Sign up below to get access:

Derailer # 2: Too damned much information AVAILABLE!

There are so many resources out there about creating a successful blog and online business. Some free, some paid. Some great, some not so great. This is a very exciting time for creating a business you love in the online space, and as such there are so many resources available from successful bloggers who want to help you create your own amazing blog. Reading and applying proven strategies can have an amazing impact on helping you create and grow your brand, yet with so many people talking about the best way to achieve your online business goals it can very quickly start to feel overwhelming and like you simply must do everything all at once. Everything feels both possible and necessary, and very quickly the list of tasks you want to (nay, must!) work on gets longer and longer, and overwhelm can kick in. I know I've been there!

There are a couple of ways content overload can can derail bloggers, and not just newbies!

  • Firstly, the overwhelm can stop you from taking action on anything because everything feels urgent and you get stuck in analysis paralysis. List building! Blogging! Marketing! Branding! Social Media! SEO! All too soon your start to think 'Oh my goodness, I need and want all those things and just have to make them happen. And be brilliant at them!' Talk about setting yourself up for burn out.
  • Secondly, you can spend most of your time consuming content and thinking you're actually still working on your blog and business. You're loving all the amazing content out there but pretty soon most of your time is spent falling down interwebby rabbit-holes of spending most of your time consuming more and more and more, and overwhelm builds further.

How to overcome: 

Be selective about who you follow and trust.

My process over the years has been to follow people I discover in my travels, but I quickly reached the point of an overly full email inbox. I could see value in all the emails I was being sent, so wanted to read and action everything, and pretty soon I had hundreds of unread emails and an overwhelming sense of too much to do! Something had to give.

It was time to get ruthless. I started filtering and unsubscribing until I settled on receiving updates from a few of my favourites. In order to do this for yourself, I suggest the following questions:

  • Whose email do you select to read first in your inbox?
  • Who feels relevant?
  • Who gives great free content, rather than just trying to sell you stuff all the time without offering anything?
  • Whose branding appeals to you?
  • Who inspires you?

If someone just doesn't float your boat, unsubscribe - even if everyone is telling you how amazing they are. As with so much in life and business, follow your instincts. There are no wrong answers. 

Don't be afraid to invest in a program if it feels right and you trust the creator.

With so much free content available, paying for a course can feel pointless, even extravagant, but I've found that paid courses go into much more detail and actually step out the process of how to achieve your desired outcome, and you can therefore reach your goals much sooner with this expert guidance. The important factor to consider is if you trust this person and value what they have to say, and not just get swept up in amazing promises they make during their launch process. I'm still kicking myself for signing up (and spending a substantial amount of money!) on a course that promised so much but just didn't deliver the goods. The whole brand just wasn't a good match for my personality and didn't vibe with my personal ethics. I know that I ultimately got caught up in the hype and the promises of a successful sales pitch.

If you're unsure about whether a course will help, do your research. Check out testimonials or other recommendations for the course or the creator. Look into whether there is a refund period and what you will need to do to get a refund if you decide the course isn't for you. Just remember, if you do sign up for a program, you really need to do the work! You won't get the outcome you desire if you don't apply the learning.

Derailer # 3: Self-doubt from comparison

Carrying on from the previous derailer, having access to so many others doing and achieving what you want can lead to a sharp case of comparison syndrome. You know you want to create something of value in the world through your blog, and you have a unique message that is worth sharing, but with so many others out there you wonder: "How can I do better than that? Maybe I should just give up now."

Yep, I've been there too. I'm not sure you ever really get past this feeling as there will always be others you admire who are doing an amazing and inspiring job. I think you just get better at working past this insecurity and doubt, especially when you truly find your own rhythm.

How to overcome:

Set your expectations to match the stage you're in.

You may want the shiny, amazing blogs of your online heroes but let me assure you that this is a pretty tall order. Of course other people have amazing sites with tonnes of great content - they've probably been doing it for years! Be proud of yourself for starting, and know that by working steadily on your goals that not only are you building something worthwhile, you're also further along than someone who doesn't take any action.

Know that you have a message worth sharing.

There are people out there who will love what you have to say. Not only have you had a distinctly unique experience of life and the world, but there over 7.4 billion people on the planet so it is pretty much guaranteed that statistically more than a couple will find resonance with your filter of the human experience! 

Remember, as Oscar Wilde said: "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."

Derailer # 4: Sharing so much of yourself can feel super uncomfortable

Blogging is a very personal. When you blog you share parts of yourself on a global stage and potentially open yourself up to criticism and negativity. You share your thoughts about the world, and deliver your message in a way that is unique to you. Sharing your thoughts and who you are as a person can be one of the best parts of blogging, but also one of the most daunting.

Putting yourself out there leaves you open to scrutiny - from others and yourself. It's potentially very exposing to see your face up close and in zoom on screen, hear your voice on a podcast or read your words in a blog post. It can all feel a bit icky!

Not everyone minds sharing themselves online. In fact, some people love a bit of over-sharing and don't know when to rein it in! But for others (me included) it can feel like a very vulnerable experience to share so much of ourselves and so I've come up with a few ways to help deal with this potential derailer:

How to overcome:

Go slowly and be kind to yourself

Know that it can, and probably will, take time to find the right balance between being open and personal, and knowing how much to keep back. The important thing to keep in mind is that you must find what works for you and be kind to yourself if you don't always strike the best balance for you. Learn from what made you uncomfortable and adjust accordingly.

Be mindful of what you're sharing and set healthy boundaries

It can be really helpful to establish guidelines for how much of yourself you want to share, and these boundaries can be adjusted as you get a better understanding of your comfort level. I find it helpful to ask: will sharing this help my audience? Is this aligned with my values? Am I doing this just because someone else I admire does it, and it seems like the right thing?

Get a bit comfortable with discomfort

Know that you might feel this way for a while. Learning anything new requires you to be at the edge of your comfort zone (or beyond!) and growth comes from stretching ourselves beyond just what is easy. I find it helps to remember that your readers want to know you're not just a robot, so personal stories can, and do, enrich their experience and build their connection with you and your message. Just make sure you still respect your boundaries.

Derailer # 5: Haters

While there are so many kind and amazing people in the world, there are some who are just plain jerks. For reasons I will never fully understand, some people will act in the most hateful way toward others. They will say hideously mean things and act in ways that seem to defy rational explanation.

Unfortunately, when it comes to blogging, this can be part and parcel of the whole deal. When you share parts of yourself this is just the nature of the beast, and the dark underbelly of being a creator in the world.

I feel like jerks just say the jerkiest thing they can muster (because, as we've already established, they're jerks), but sometimes their comments can hit a nerve because it relates to an especially personal and vulnerable point. Maybe they find a way to tap right into that most sensitive part of your soul, and one hurtful comment can make you want to pack it all in before you've even really started.

But like I've said before, what you have to say is so very worthwhile and it would be a tragedy to let a jerk, or even a few jerks, make you want to walk away.

So, how do you take care of yourself, striking that balance between sharing yourself and being ok with how the world perceives this, even in the face of hurt and criticism?

How to overcome:

Act in a way that helps you

When it comes to dealing with haters, the choice of whether to engage should be well considered, and in a way that best serves your interests and wellbeing. Rather than reacting right away from a place of hurt or anger, step away until you can look more dispassionately at the situation. Does their comment warrant a response? Laying some intelligent and considered smack-down right back at them may be just what the doctor ordered, but only do this if you know it will serve you in a healthy way. Blocking them from being able to comment again, and leaving them to be forgotten can also work.

Another thing to consider is whether there is anything positive to take from their message, however hatefully it may have been delivered. Is there any merit in their comments? Could listening to, and acting upon, any part of this message actually help you improve your message? The answer may very well be 'hell no!' but at least considering that may take some of the sting out of their delivery.

Remember: hurt people hurt people

It helps to remember that those who inflict suffering upon others are often in a place of suffering themselves. While their behaviour is messy and hurtful, it may arise from not knowing how to process their feelings in a healthy and productive way, and so they find ways to hurt others to perpetuate a cycle of misery.

Knowing there is a reason behind their hateful behaviour can help take some of the sting away. Once it's possible to look past our own feelings of hurt to see the unhappy human behind their actions, you may accept how little value should be placed on the comment, and ultimately you can move on more quickly. Heck, you might even start to feel some compassion for the hater!

Accept that you will never please everyone - and that's ok

Not everyone is going to dig your vibe. It's just a fact of life. If you can truly accept this and not try to please everyone you will not only sleep better at night but you'll also find you create things of greater authenticity, and from the heart. After all, the best revenge against haters can be to rock the heck out of your own awesomeness! By showing up and sharing yourself you will add more truth and beauty to the world and thereby diminish some of the negativity spread by others. And the best bit? Haters really hate that.

  • Bonus: If you would like some help with cultivating more acceptance in your life, especially in the context of your blog, I'd love for you to check out my Self-Care Series. It is a free, five-day email series designed specifically to help bloggers and online creatives to get happier by implementing a self-care plan into their lives, and features two exclusive guided meditations including one specifically for acceptance. Click the button below for access:

In all things, remember kindness, patience and compassion can help overcome so much. Beating yourself up or hating on others will not help you get out of a slump, so remember to show yourself the kindness you would show a friend. Shower your kindness and compassion on others - maybe, even the haters.

The Futile Pursuit of Perfection

In business (and life) chasing perfection is setting you up to be disappointed for the very simple reason that perfection does not exist. There is no such thing as ‘perfect’ and Stephen Hawking is here to tell you why. Click through to read this article and watch the video.

Stephen Hawking is rather a clever chap. Along with being one of history’s truly great scientific minds, he also has the ability to explain highly complex concepts and processes in accessible ways to the layperson. I am just such a layperson. Despite my creative, non-scientific mind, I have a mad love of documentaries about physics, especially about space and the Universe. I wish I could say I understood everything these contained but alas, no. Quite the opposite at times.

Hawking, on the other hand, is behind some of my favourite documentaries for precisely the reason that one of his many considerable gifts is to illustrate intelligent yet understandable explanations of scientific concepts. Most incredibly though are the beautiful parallels he draws between physics and how we live our lives. Talk about making science accessible!

I love to look at how what I learn can be applied to my own life, and challenges I face, and one such lesson that struck a chord with me was hearing him talk about perfection. In his own words, one of the basic rules of the Universe is that nothing’s perfect – perfection simply does not exist.

I wanted to share this as an invitation for you to consider the role the pursuit of perfection plays in your life, and your business. Does working toward perfection hold you back from being willing to give things a go, unless you can control the outcome? Maybe you struggle to get past the dream stage because in reality things won't always go how you planned?

Realising that perfection doesn't exist may just set you free.

This short video contains an excerpt from one of his documentaries, Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking, which does a very elegant job of explaining why perfection does not exist and why we wouldn't want it to anyway:

Considering the necessity for imperfection in creating anything new. why is it we strive so hard for the opposite? This may sound rather cynical but I think this is because

'perfection' is something our culture encourages, whether consciously or otherwise, because it is unachievable. If we keep trying and striving to be and do more, we buy into a cycle of self-improvement and consumption that never ends. The beauty industry is one such example of a mechanism to keep us endlessly chasing perfection.

Indeed, anyone who tells you that perfection is achievable is trying to sell you something.

Given that perfection is impossible, instead of wearing the badge of ‘perfectionist’ with a kind of battle-worn pride, or trying to change ourselves to suit an ideal archetype, I believe we should embrace the imperfection in our selves, in others and in life - as that is truly where the magic lies.

As bloggers and creatives, striving for an unattainable perfection can all too often hold us back from sharing our message with the world.

To paraphrase Stephen Hawking, without imperfection nothing would be here. That means there would be no hot chips or potato fries, no puppies, no sunsets over snow-capped mountains, no Ewan McGregor. And really, who would want to live in a Universe like that? Certainly not me.


What do you think about perfection? Does it hold you back, or have you been able to let go of the belief in one ideal outcome? I'd love for you to share your thoughts in comments below, and don't forget to share this with a friend who might also like it.

The Importance of Connections

This is another post from my 2013 United States trip. Apart from a bit of fun travelling around, the main purpose of my trip was to attend the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. More information about the Summit can be found by following the link below. I hope you enjoy this post.

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I write to you tonight from another US location – Portland, Oregon to be precise. I have arrived a few days before the World Domination Summit in order to settle in and check out the sights (and do a wee bit if shopping!) before things kick off on Friday.

Amongst its other many fantastic draw cards, one of the greatest aspects of the Summit is the opportunity to meet some very cool, totally engaged, interesting and like-minded people.

It’s in this context that I have been thinking about how important for growth it is to spend time with people who are on the same page, and the equal importance of finding opportunities to meet and spend time with these people. We all have friends who we’ve met through a variety of circumstances – school, work or other interests. These may be amazing people but perhaps just don’t understand you as well as you’d like to be understood. You’re interested in so many things, not least of which is your desire to live a happier and more fulfilling life, and you are perhaps on a path to uncovering some of this. You want to share what you’re learning but are just not having the conversations you’d like to have in order to further explore all this brilliant new stuff.

I know I’ve felt like this. I’ve been learning about some incredible, life changing things and sometimes when I share this with my people I can see their interest is just not there, or I feel their genuine support that I’m all fired up but they’re not really on board.

I also know the thrill of meeting or talking to someone who totally gets it. Suddenly I’m sitting up straighter, feeling animated and riffing off the other person with all these crazy and exciting ideas of possibility. These interactions give me such a buzz and help me to know I’m on the right track with some of my ideas and the direction I’m taking my life. More of it I say!

This is why it is key to connect with these like-minded souls, and to find ways to meet new people who are interested in similar ideas. These don’t necessarily have to become or replace your best friends but they sure can make great lunch buddies! It is also really worthwhile to foster these relationships in the online world if that’s where the cool kids are. A fantastic way to do this (but then, you probably already know this!) is to find a place of ideologically aligned folk gathering together online. Blogs are ideal as there are so many different sites to check out that you’re bound to find something that floats your boat. Indeed, it was the beginning of the reason why I’m now sitting here in Portland!

This is one of the key purposes behind this blog and why I am so grateful for the people engaging in this community. It is why I am also genuinely interested in hearing more from you and about you. I’d love you to share some examples of people you’ve met who serve this role in your life or ways you’ve met folks who just get it. Or just feel free to stop by the comments section below to say hi!

Here’s to making great connections.

Cheers
Tracy