Anyone who can sell their services or products in daily life can attract even more of the right kind of clients by marketing themselves online. But they often don’t because putting thoughts, ideas and even personal quirks online can be very unnerving.
I see you out there, with so much potential as you develop your websites with all the bells and whistles, only to sit there to the sound of crickets. Maybe you write one blog post and quit. Or perhaps my team builds your complex sales funnel but you don’t finish your ebook opt-in offer, so you don’t capture the leads you would definitely be getting (you know who you are!). Goodbye potential customers! I see other business owners write one blog post and never another.
I hate when people give up before they get the rewards of blogging, but it’s also very understandable. Blogging is so much easier said than done. I’ve been there.
I came to blogging from work as a clinical psychologist used to listening to others, so it took me a long time to write about myself. When I first started, my New Tricks blog was mostly little tutorials (recommending plugins, setting Twitter and other such topics). Nothing wrong with those topics, but nothing special either. Anyone could and was writing those posts. Writing safe and boring content is easy but it is a waste of time since it is forgettable.
For your blog to be successful, you have to stand out in your own way.
I asked myself: What could I say that was original? What differentiated me from the competition? The answer was my unique experience, and these little tutorials weren’t capturing my special sauce. And I had to get over my fear of putting myself out there.
Why We Tend to Hide
In general, especially in business and our professions, we are conditioned to hide ourselves and our thoughts unless we know we will be accepted. Even if we can be ourselves one-on-one in person, there is something decidedly riskier when you have to put your thoughts down in black and white. It’s more of a commitment. Communicating in words on the Internet seems so permanent. What if you change our mind, step on someone’s toes or feel terrible because someone didn’t agree with you? Those worries are the lions, tigers and bears along our Yellow Brick Road.
So it’s natural to wonder whether we have anything to say that is worth saying, or that has not been said before. My post on competence last week talked about the tendency of people who are accomplished in an area to begin to take for granted their knowledge and ability, and assume other people know more than they really do. These false assumptions shut us down from pushing forward on our own Yellow Brick Road to web marketing success.
Responding to Your Fears
Authenticity is a big buzzword for a reason. If you want people to get something from your blog, you have to be willing to say something real and not just play it safe. The posts that get the most attention are the ones where you stir up feelings. Sad, mad, glad—you want to move people.
Avoid mimicking the saucy, irreverent voice of some leading blogger; that can come across “off” in a way that is not attractive. In fact, you don’t have to be the glad-handing sales type online. Sometimes people who are introverted even have an easier time showing up online. Use your own voice to make your readers think, and always tell them the truth.
What do people want to know about you and your businesses? Who is out there? What do they want and need to hear from me? What questions do they have that you can answer? What can you tell people that they need to hear in a way that cuts to the chase?
Chip away at your fears, and you will grow your readership. Beware however that you won’t please everyone all of the time. You might write something controversial and get some blowback from it. So just be aware that it is okay, and be prepared by finding a small support group of other bloggers who know the drill. Practicing the habit of self-soothing self-talk comes in handy for those times you get shit, deserved or not, for something you wrote. You need to be able to talk yourself off the ledge, take any needed action, and keep going.
Showing up and doing the work until it pays off is hard. Revealing yourself is difficult. After writing research papers and case studies in my former career, blogging from my own point of view and experience was really stepping out there. At first I had to ask my staff to read my posts and make sure I wasn’t being narcissistic!
Figuring this out takes courage and practice. It takes time to see results and you have to look for small wins. Over time, it becomes easier especially when you are realistic and acknowledge your small but growing results.
Take the Leap
As I said in the beginning, if you can charm people into working with you in real life, no matter who you are or what interactions are involved, you essentially already have the skills that will catch the eye and ear of your ideal clients online. When these people stumble across your website and read a post you have written, they will feel glad they found you and your information, and they know that they are in the right place.
It a privilege for me to work with people who are ready to step out of their comfort zones and take the steps to grow their businesses online. I love to hear about your trials and their successes.
Why not give it a go? Get on a schedule and commit to publishing one post a week. Send it out to people through email and social media. Track your traffic. Pay attention to the feedback.
I dare you to do this for three months and see how the lions, tigers and bears of your imagination shrink and retreat. As you fearlessly embrace blogging with your unique point of view, let me know what happens!