6 steps to building the confidence you need to bring your blog to the masses

Abiola Babarinde

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Good luck!

Why smart girls become risk averse women

More attention is being drawn to the obstacles that female entrepreneurs and career women around the world face when looking to reach the next level of professional success.

From studies revealing that women are less likely to receive venture capitalist funding to research confirming that women have to work harder to be considered at par with their male colleagues, it is clear that women face a unique set of challenges in the workforce.

Beyond opportunity and wage inequality, there are gaps in the way young girls are raised that can create a mindset which can hinder the future success of these women.

Women are their own strongest critics

It turns out that most women judge their abilities and intellect much more critically than men do. In one study, fifth grade students with high IQs were given challenging tasks.

The girls were more likely to give up on challenging tasks while the boys worked harder to figure out the solution. Interestingly, the higher the girl’s IQ, the more likely she was to throw in the towel and feel helpless in face of the challenging task.

Gymnast HappyIt should be noted that the girls in the fifth grade, as observed in this study, typically outperform boys in math and science.

So why do otherwise smart girls doubt themselves when it comes to unfamiliar and challenging tasks? What does it have to do with the confidence professional women have in themselves?

Praise and self-confidence in women

Social psychologist Dr. Halvorson’s explanation of this study in a Psychology Today post, provides  great insight on why this happens:

Girls, who develop self-control earlier and are better able to follow instructions, are often praised for their “goodness.” When we do well in school, we are told that we are “so smart,” “so clever, ” or “such a good student.” This kind of praise implies that traits like smartness, cleverness and goodness are qualities you either have or you don’t.

Boys, on the other hand, are a handful. Just trying to get boys to sit still and pay attention is a real challenge for any parent or teacher. As a result, boys are given a lot more feedback that emphasizes effort (e.g., “If you would just pay attention you could learn this,” “If you would just try a little harder you could get it right.”) The net result: When learning something new is truly difficult, girls take it as sign that they aren’t “good” and “smart,” and boys take it as a sign to pay attention and try harder”

Research at Stanford confirms this association: smart young girls are likely to unconsciously retain this perception that ability is a rigid characteristic that cannot be changed. They eventually grow up to be adults that judge themselves harshly and are less likely to take risks or challenges outside their area of expertise.

What does this mean for you?

If you have been mulling about launching a new blog, tech start up, ecommerce store, website or any other venture for a while, and your main concern is your lack of expertise in the field, remember this: the ability to perform a task is very flexible.

Just go for it! Research shows that the key to mastering a skill or area you are unfamiliar with is to be persistent and continue practicing.
Fifth Harmony

Raising a girl child and wondering how you can help her develop a “growth mindset” that sees challenging tasks as an opportunity as opposed to a problem? It’s fairly simple.

Encourage your children of both sexes (especially the girls) by praising their progress and achievements in relation to their hard work. Instead of praising them for work well done by saying, “You are so smart,” recognize them by saying, “You must have worked hard to get this done!”

It’s a message that’s not just great for kids but for budding entrepreneurs too. Nothing great happens overnight; keep building.