Have you ever wanted to share something with the world, but you’ve hesitated? You ask yourself, ”can I really do this? Will people like what I produce?”
I can relate.
Putting yourself out there is daunting – the Internet can be a scary place. If anyone had told me a year ago that I’d be running my own website, www.abiola.me and sharing my thoughts on life and faith, I would have laughed in their face. Me? Faith? My experiences? It didn’t sound very glamorous and we all know it can be a touchy subject. After months of umm’ing and ahh’ing, I decided to take the plunge.
Since then, I’ve found that the world of writing isn’t so big and scary after all. In fact, there’s a lot of good that can come from joining the conversation. Now I’m going to share 6 steps to help you to launch your blog with all the Naomi Campbell-level confidence you can muster.
Step 1: Believe in your product and it’s purpose
First of all, your product (or in the blogger’s case, content) should be something you’re passionate about and you think other people will enjoy. I didn’t start Abiola.me just cause I ‘wanted to have a blog’, that’s not enough to sustain you when the novelty wears off. From chatting to friends and strangers alike, I could sense that we were all looking for something ‘more’ in our lives, that missing piece.
Personally, I had found something that had a huge impact on me, and I had a strong feeling that other people might find it useful too. In true Olivia Pope style, I decided to trust my gut. A strong belief in your product will eventually outweigh your self-doubt or fear of what people might say.
Step 2: Your online voice is unique, believe in it, develop it
Next, think about your tone of voice. This is one of the most important things as it helps people to buy into and believe in what you’re offering. I decided that I wanted my blog to be approachable and relatable, kind of like speaking to a wise, trusted friend. Each time I publish a blog post, I continue to ask myself, do I sound like that friend? Asking yourself these questions regularly will help bring your content to life.
But I can’t write as well as some of the other people out there… I hear you say. Listen, no one becomes good at something without practice – don’t ever let that put you off. We all have to start somewhere, as long as you’ve got your spelling and grammar down, you’re good to go. If you need help, send a draft post to a friend for feedback – that’s what I did at the start and it worked like a dream. The key is to share it with people who are supportive but also comfortable with giving constructive criticism.
Remember that this entire experience is a learning opportunity, and waiting until you’re ‘perfect’ is unrealistic (even the Chimamanda Adichie’s of this world have still got stuff to work on! We all do).
Step 3: Take the plunge, spread the word
The next thing to do is to tell people! It’s really that simple. When I first started my blog, I told no one except 4 or 5 close friends. Even worse, when I added new posts I didn’t tell anyone at all because I was too shy. This is where belief in your product and yourself becomes super helpful: I knew what I was creating was useful and I was putting in too much effort for it not to be shared. So I decided to finally put on my big girl pants and spread the word, what was the worst that could happen?
Sharing wasn’t easy – the very first day I prepared my social media promo posts, I was nervous. I knew deep down that I would never feel 100% ready, I’d always find another excuse, so I just did it. Sometimes, you’ve just got to close your eyes and go for it. It’s like jumping into a pool, you’re hesitant at first but the adrenaline pushes you to do it anyway, and once you’re in you realise that it’s actually pretty fun! It also gets easier the second time, then the third time, and suddenly you’re 6 months down the line telling everyone about it.
The best thing about sharing is that it’s infectious. If people like your product they will share it their friends without you even asking. I have had colleagues, old university mates and acquaintances tell me how much they enjoy reading my work. But it’s up to you to get the wheels turning; you are your first and biggest cheerleader, so never be afraid to lead the pack.
Step 4: Be sponge, soak it all up
Congrats, you’ve made it to Step 4 in one piece – not so bad is it?
Next, absorb lessons from everyone (and everything) around you; articles, blogs, other people, celebrities – whatever. Inspiration comes from the most random places. So many things inspire the way I write, the images I use or my future plans. Also, never underestimate the power of your own story, even though learning from your peers and the gawds is important, don’t forget to get busy living.
Be open to discussion, collaboration and feedback – there’s nothing like bouncing ideas around with people you respect, whether that’s friends, family, mentors, your readers or your peers in the writing game. What you choose to do with the feedback is totally your choice, but always be open to listening.
Step 5: Your non-writing experience is relevant too
Ever had a job or been in school, university or college? These experiences have helped you to develop the prioritisation and organisational skills you need to keep your blog alive. Developing content takes commitment, dedication and sometimes saying no to brunch (#tears) or staying awake for an extra hour.
Being able to keep yourself accountable and balance all your responsibilities will be the difference between a one-hit-wonder and something more substantial. Luckily for us, we live in a world of automation, so you can use tools like Buffer, HootSuite and Latergramme to help you get organised. So while you’re sleepin’ you’re also tweetin’ – you overachiever, you.
Step 6: Be patient, be authentic and expect the best
Stick to your blogging hustle ladies, you might have some kinks to work out at first, but stick to it. Continue to tell people, continue to improve and most of all continue to produce that good content.
Some days might be easier than others, some blog posts may be more or less popular than you expected but keep at it, it’s so worth it. You’ve got something unique to offer, so don’t keep it under wraps! It’s amazing what happens when you’re willing to put yourself out there, even just a little bit.