Over the course of this column, I’ve talked a great deal about the various pitfalls bloggers may encounter over the course of running their sites. This has included everything from hosting disasters to libel lawsuits and more. Blogging can be a scary place and I’ve done more than almost anyone to point out the reasons to be afraid and worried.
However, Franklin D. Roosevelt perhaps said it best when, during his first inaugural address in 1932, he told a suffering nation, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. He was right.
Fear is a paralyzing force. It causes us to freeze or seek safety, it pushes us to avoid risks, shirk the spotlight and to take the much safer path. For a blogger, this can be a death blow. Blogging can be a risky activity but fear of those risks can often be greater than the risk itself. Fear prevents you from blogging, it prevents you from creating your best content and, most importantly, it prevents you from truly growing your site.
Learning to address and deal with fear, whether fear of success, fear of failure or something else entirely, is crucial for every blogger. Unfortunately though, this is one of those pitfalls that isn’t easily avoided, especially if you have a very fear-prone personality.
Blogging at all is an act of courage. By blogging you are taking yourself, your writing and your views and putting in front of the whole of the world. As your blog grows, it may be come a bigger part of your life and a bigger part of your income, as such, it becomes more and more crucial that your blog continue on the path it is on.
The problem is that fear leads you to do whatever is “safe”. Whether it’s writing the same kind of posts over and over, whether it is not changing to a new and genuinely improved layout or even if it is not blogging at all, fear pushes you to keep the status quo and maintain it all costs.
The problem with the status quo is that it leads stagnation. When one doesn’t take risks, they don’t improve and, when one doesn’t actively work at getting better, they eventually stop doing what they are doing as well. In short, one deteriorates very quickly when they try to do the same thing over and over again.
If you aren’t reaching out, trying new things and exploring new options, your blog is dying (or not being born if you aren’t a blogger yet). If you want to be a successful blogger, you can’t let yourself be afraid to experiment, to make mistakes and explore new horizons.
However, overcoming that fear can be difficult. The Internet is, quite literally, the must public “place” ever invented. Nearly every person in the world can see what you do, including your successes and your failures and no rational person isn’t going to pause and think about the implications of that before posting.
The difference between successful bloggers and those who wallow in fear is that those who do great things not only move past this fear, but find ways to put it to good use. After all, it is a rational response, to very real dangers. The goal is to not let it cripple you and your site from doing great things.
How to Avoid it
Part of the problem many bloggers have with fear is that they don’t even realize they are afraid. They feel uncomfortable doing X or Y and don’t really know why. They worry their audience won’t like it or that it won’t be as good as their previous works but some don’t recognize it as the fear that it is.
Being afraid is natural. Trying new things, especially on an established site, is a risk and it should be seen as such. If you’re not afraid, you’re not looking at all of the possibilities and not seeing the dangers.
But being afraid doesn’t mean you stop. it’s an opportunity to take a look at what it is that’s holding you back, a chance to analyze the risks and mitigate against them.
So the best thing you can do when you find yourself wanting to do something but afraid, is to take the opportunity to really analyze the fear. Ask yourself “What are you afraid of?”, “What is the worst that can reasonably happen?” and “How can you mitigate against those dangers?”
Then, when it’s all said and done, you need to ask yourself if, with the dangers as small as you can make them, is the risk worth the potential reward? If the answer is yes, go forward. If it isn’t, don’t, but don’t waste any further time mulling the idea, at least not until the situation changes.
If, after doing this, you find it difficult to approach your fears rationally, you may need to rethink your blogging. With that in mind though, here are a few additional tips that can help you overcome your fears if you are having trouble putting things into perspective.
- Have a Sense of Humor: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Keeping a sense of humor about yourself and your site, as serious as they may be, is crucial for taking chances with it. Mistakes are much easier when you can laugh them off and even easier when you can share the laugh with your audience.
- Learn How to Recover from Failure: Very few mistakes can’t be recovered from, learning how to recover from mistakes is a crucial skill for any blogger as we are all human. Having confidence in your ability to do that makes you more comfortable risking failure.
- Be Honest About Your Blunders: Finally, if you make a mistake, be honest about it. Everyone is human and no reasonable person is going to expect complete perfection. If you’re honest about your mistakes, you not only seem more human, but you don’t have to worry about tarnishing your perfect record.
In the end, it all comes down to being comfortable with being human. Being human means failing from time to time, it means taking a few wrong turns and, more importantly, it means being in a constant state of growth and learning.
Even veteran bloggers don’t get everything right on the first try. The wise ones just don’t let that knowledge stop them from moving forward.
It might seem odd for a guy who writes an entire column dedicated to blogging dangers and blogging pitfalls to tell others to not be afraid. However, I don’t think we shouldn’t be afraid, I just think we shouldn’t let our fear stop us from trying and doing great new things.
We need to be aware of the dangers that come with blogging so that we can mitigate against them and not unwittingly walk into traps. However, we can’t let those dangers, or the fears of them, stop us from blogging and doing the best work possible.
In short, what I want others to take away from my posts is not that blogging is scary and filled with risk, but that those risks can be mitigated against and shouldn’t stop you from creating great blogs.