Is fear of putting yourself out there getting in your way? Understanding the whys of your fear and what to do about it is key to moving forward with your blog. Gain confidence through action.
Fear of Being Seen and Vulnerability
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Lately I’ve seen a lot of would-be business owners who feel frightened at the thought of putting their work out there. They spend their time thinking about blogging or making videos and wish to be a successful, but then avoid doing anything about it because they are so scared of being judged or of failing.
You want to start an online business and spend a lot of time researching, taking courses, and thinking about it…but have a little more trouble when it comes to implementation.
It all sounds good when you learn the stuff, but when it comes to the blank screen…well, the screen stays blank.
Fear of putting yourself out there is a real problem!
This can manifest in not being able to find a clear niche (this is me!), writer’s block, spending more and more time in learning without actually doing, the list goes on and on!
It’s common and normal to feel this way.
When starting your own online business, you must create something from nothing. You start a website and then build out that website with your own writing, videos, or maybe a podcast.
You don’t know if people will be interested in what you have to say. This can be super nerve wracking.
When you put your creativity out there in the world, it feels like putting a part of yourself on display to be judged and evaluated by others. You worry people might think you’re wasting your time or that what you’re doing is silly. People may not appreciate your work and they may choose not to like you.
No wonder there is such a fear!
You worry what you have to offer isn’t good enough, that no one will read it anyway, or that someone will judge you and see your flaws. Many creative people have serious impostor syndrome (<—book) and are convinced that at some point someone will figure out they don’t really know what they are doing.
You might fear that once you write the post or create the product you will have no other ideas. Sometimes the thought of having to write post after post for years to come can act as a barrier to success. What if you pick the wrong niche?
It’s overwhelming to consider that you will have to come up with all that content!
You have too many ideas and can’t figure out where to even start! Who would have thought this would lead to being frozen with fear? Well, when you have so many ideas and people keep telling you you need a specific niche, it can freeze you right in place. (See this post by Paul Scrivens which discusses how to manage this fear quite well).
Maybe you fear that you just don’t know enough. Either you wonder why anyone would listen to you (remember impostor syndrome <—book) or you are stuck not knowing what to do next! It all feels so overwhelming that you just do nothing.
How in the world will you learn everything you need to learn just to get started? Once you get past the technical stuff, how in the world will you even get people to read what you wrote?
A Recipe For Procrastination
Perfectionism, fear, and overwhelm are a great combination in the recipe for procrastination. When you are scared that your creative work will not be good enough it feels much safer to just not do it. You might either avoid it altogether or focus on the how tos, hoping to know exactly what to do before you start doing it.
I’m sure you can come up with a ton of excuses for why you are not ready yet. Sometimes you’re not even aware that it is actually your fear holding you back.
Ask yourself these questions:
What if you put the thing out there and it wasn’t perfect? What if someone says they hate it? Will you survive? What is the worst that will happen if these things are true, that it isn’t perfect and someone hates it. Or maybe you do all this work and no one even sees it. What then?
(In her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert discusses all of these fears and how to manage them as a creative person).
The Problem With Procrastination and Avoidance
What if you don’t put your stuff out there?
When you avoid something because of fear it only makes the fear worse!
The reason is that your body feels fear in a certain way and when you make the choice not to pursue what you’re afraid of, you feel a sense of relief.
The relief you feel reinforces the avoidance for a few reasons. First, if you avoided and the fear went away, your body now feels that the thing you feared was in fact really scary since avoidance worked. Also, relief feels good.
When you avoid things you’re afraid of doing, you reward yourself for not doing them!
Yes, even if you are also beating yourself up at the same time.
Where’s The Danger?
Let’s say you put it out on social media and the haters come out.
You receive a negative comment. Chances are that negative comment comes from someone you don’t even know.
Do they really matter?
How many times have you stopped yourself from doing something because you were scared that “they” won’t approve. If you market your posts, people might judge you…people you’ve never met.
Here’s the thing…those people on Facebook who you’re scared to put things in front of either aren’t doing the thing at all or they too are frightened that they will be judged in some way.
We’ve all seen the internet trolls. They will come. There’s no doubt you will experience them at some point. People who are judgmental are scared they are being judged.
Do you really want to let some troll hold you back?
I think not.
Don’t let your fear of what someone who you don’t even know…who doesn’t affect your life in any way….stop you from going forward with your goals.
Another big problem is that people let perfectionism get in the way.
They don’t put their stuff out there until it is absolutely perfect. Is anything really ever perfect, even when you are an “expert?” Nope. There is always room for improvement.
Perfectionism is just another way of giving into fear of putting yourself out there. You will always have an excuse not to move forward if you give in to perfectionism.
Remember that if you wait and wait until you have the perfect thing or the perfect idea you will never be done. Your creative work will never be published. You will stay stuck. You will continue to go around in circles making excuses.
That sounds terrible.
If some miracle happened and your product came out perfect…guess what? There would still be haters. Never underestimate the power of jealousy.
Not only that, but one thing that may surprise you is that those who do hit it out of the park get very fearful that their next thing might not be as good. Watch this amazing talk by Liz Gilbert:
I just love her and everything she has to say. I highly recommend you go buy her book here on Amazon.
What If You Just Went For It?
What if you felt the fear and just did it anyway?
It would be done.
It might even be awful, but you know what? You can fix it.
On the other hand, it might be great!
Of course, you might think something is awful and it’s actually great.
You are your harshest critic. If you finish something and think it is awful, take a moment to evaluate before giving up on it. It might just be fear coming out again.
It’s funny when you think about it because all that worry about what others think and you are the one who is your worst critic. You are the one who’s being mean and judgmental and resisting putting your stuff out there. Your negative voice is the one stopping you.
So What If It Really Is Terrible?
If it’s a stinker, you can go back and revise after publishing. In fact, it is strongly recommended that you do go back and edit your work over time.
Hopefully your content will be evergreen, helping people for years to come. Things may become out-of-date or you may learn more about your target market and what their needs are. You can always go back and revise and update
You might get feedback and decide to fix your stuff based on that feedback.
You might decide to un-publish some of your material because it isn’t fitting with your brand. Does that mean you shouldn’t have done it?
I’ve deleted many many posts from this blog and am in the middle of pivoting into an entirely new direction.
It isn’t about failure, it’s about growth.Finish your work and release it as is-if only so you can go on and make other things - Liz Gilbert
There were times when I wanted to just say forget about it and either start over with an entirely new blog or give up blogging altogether. It is hard to un-publish your work or to redo things that you put sweat into. The fear of blogging comes right back up.
You Know What Guarantees Failure?
When you continue to do nothing, frozen in fear…you can’t move forward!
What Can You Do To Move Forward?
First, just start. Just put stuff out there.
Clarity comes with action. You won’t know what works until you start doing it.
Remind yourself repeatedly that you can improve over time and you don’t have to be perfect right out of the gate. You just have to get things out there. The more you write and practice, the better you get.
Actually when you think about it, it’s what makes this all fun. You learn as you go.
Your business will change and grow and develop as you do. You’ll learn so much about yourself as you go through this process.
Your writing will improve, your marketing will improve. You’ll learn a lot.If you let the fear get in the way, you will never accomplish what you're hoping to accomplish
Think Of Your Business As an Experiment
When you do a scientific experiment, you develop a hypothesis and you test it.
When just starting out in your business, you take a guess in a sense. You have an idea of what you want to do in your business and you start putting things out there. You market it, you attract some readers, then you get to learn from those readers.
As you learn what your readers want, you change your business to help them.
All businesses are about solving problems for others and once your readers start telling you what problems they need solved, it becomes much easier.
Sometimes, you start down a path and you run into a big wall and learn that you’re going the wrong direction…
Then you pivot.
Different hypothesis, different experience…
What Is Your Idea and Where are You In Your Business?
I’d love to hear from you. What business idea do you have and what fears do you have that are holding you back?
Marlena is the blogger behind apenandapurpose.com, where she writes about using journaling for self improvement and reaching goals in life and business. Using her experience as a Licensed Psychologist with a Master’s in Business, she teaches people how to break through negative thoughts and fear to do what matters. For more about me read my about page.