Strap in folks, it’s going to be a long ride (but hopefully you’ll come out of it ready to seize the day while listening to Eye of the Tiger).
Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of emails and DM’s from people asking me how I got started in my blogging career. And, funnily enough, one of the reasons I got into this gig is because I felt like I had the ability to help people; believe it or not, it’s not only because I loved food. I guess I never really admitted that until right now. Pause for reaction.
Obviously I love food and that was the catalyst as well as creative force for which I built my content around, but my favorite moments in blogging and Instagramming come from the connections I’ve made and the people/businesses I’ve helped along the way.
Perhaps it was the physical trauma I endured at an early age, but I felt like…if I can get through that and come out of it not being a totally heinous person with a chip on my shoulder, I can do anything. And that’s what I’m here to tell you. YOU CAN DO THIS. If I can, you can.
Put yourself in my shoes for a second:
I was 17 and I was a dancer. I got hit by a car and almost lost my leg from the knee down. I was told I would never walk again, never dance again, and walk with a limp my whole life, possibly with a cane. I could have let all of those words reverberate through my brain and into my body, making me mentally and physically incapable of doing “the impossible”, but I didn’t. I took them for what they were: words. I chose not to let them get to me. And guess what? With a lot of hard work and dedication, I walked in a few months, I danced again, and I basically fully recovered (with the exception of some limitations which I’m now feeling at the ripe age of 36). But as an 18/19 year old? Fuck that. I was stronger than most people who had two great working legs. I had abs for cryin’ out loud.
I know that has nothing to do with legs and knees I just wanted a reason to point out that I had abs once. You can read more about the full story here, if you’d like. Most people find it amusing, inspiring, and motivating. All the things I hope to be every single day.
Anyway. I guess you can say I applied the same rule to blogging, and that will be my very first piece of advice to you: don’t let negative words get to you, and that includes the ones coming from yourself. Negative self talk can be just as damaging (if not worse).
The truth is, I never really had a big fear of “blogging” in the first place, but I did always have a fear of being me. And if you want to blog, you have to be you. That’s the whole point. I struggled with self esteem issues and lack of confidence growing up, so believe me, I get where you’re coming from. But again, what pushed me forward was that I felt like I had a story to tell, and blogging, I discovered, was a very cathartic process for me. It still is. That’s why I did it and that’s why I do it.
It started for me. No one else.
When I first started my blog, granted it was many years ago and a very different time back then (i.e. not a lot of food blogs existed), but I just really wanted a place to write my thoughts, share my love of food, and hopefully make people laugh. That was really it. It was more of an online journal and a hobby, and I never expected to grow a following or create a career out of it. I was just putting it out there into the universe and things started to pop up and opportunities came to me. I believe that’s what happens when we are aligned with our true selves; if you’re true to yourself, your content will show that.
In the beginning, your fears probably look something like this:
- What if I sound stupid?
- What if people don’t like me?
- Why would people want to follow me when there are so many others out there doing the same thing?
- What if I don’t have the time?
- What if I don’t have enough ideas to sustain it?
There’s probably a bunch of other fears you’re holding onto, but I think (speaking from experience), those are the main ones. So let’s break it down a bit.
5 Fears of Starting a Blog and How to Overcome Them
- What if I sound stupid? Answer: who cares?? I know that’s a very blunt way of putting it and you’re probably thinking “I care!” and I get that. But remember, you have to be you. The whole point of a blog is to be able to speak freely about what you want. It’s uncensored. If you aren’t a great writer, there are plenty of resources out there now to help you be a better writer (like grammarly). Next, think about WHY you want to do this, and work backwards. Always start with WHY. That way you know you’re aligned with your true self/purpose and can create content around it. If the WHY is “I want free stuff”, then I’m sorry, you’re in this for the wrong reasons. Just stop now. People can spot a fraud a mile away, so make sure you’re in it for yourself and to bring something unique (and hopefully helpful) to others.
- What if people don’t like me? Answer: you have to accept the fact that some people won’t! This is probably the most common fear, because most people want to be liked by everyone. But I’m here to tell you that if you want to be in this business, you have to understand that you cannot please everyone. REPEAT: YOU CANNOT PLEASE EVERYONE. I know I am not everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve been on casting auditions for reality TV/cooking shows and people told me I am “too dark, too dry, and too sarcastic”. I don’t appeal to a lot of people who don’t get my humor, but that’s ok!! I’m grateful for the people who DO like me and my content, and I am speaking to them, not the haters.
- Why would people want to follow me when there are so many others out there doing the same thing? Answer: DON’T play the comparing game (I do it too sometimes, but it’s a real easy way to get depressed, trust me). You are unique and will have something different to offer than someone else. Even with all the content out there, you are you and have something to offer too. DON’T give in to the fear. What gives THEM more of a right to create than YOU? Nothing! They are doing it because they feel they have something to say and something to offer, and they’re not letting fear stop them. You CAN do it too, you just have to BELIEVE in yourself and your right to create. If you constantly think about all the reasons why you “can’t” or “shouldn’t”, you’ll never do it. Don’t think about the reasons “why not”, just think about the reasons “why”. And in terms of following, I will admit that it’s harder these days to grow, but if you’re consistent in your creations (blog posts, instagram, etc), you will start to see a following. It may be small at first, but it takes time. You can’t go into this expecting a huge following overnight. To give you some perspective, I started my blog in 2008!! That’s 12 years ago, and I only started doing this full time in 2015. If you TRULY love it, you will attract people who love it too. That’s just the way the world works. We attract people who believe what we believe. Think of your friend circle – you attract each other because you’re similar and have things in common. The internet following works the same exact way.
- What if I don’t have the time? Answer: you will make the time if you truly love it. It won’t feel like work, and you won’t have to “struggle” to create something, it will flow out of you naturally. And if your fear is strong enough to prevent you from doing it, try this: lay out a week’s worth of posts or keep a daily journal of what you want to share. Just keep it to yourself for a bit, read one post each day and see how it feels to you. Did it make you smile? Laugh? If you feel good about it, and you realize that you’re looking forward to that part of your day (where you create something), start posting! That way, you know you’re aligned with your true feelings about it, and you’re following your gut. That’s always the best place to start.
- What if I don’t have enough ideas to sustain it? Answer: we all fall into creative ruts sometimes, it’s normal and it will happen. First thing you should do is accept that, but in the beginning, you should have PLENTY to talk about! In the beginning when I started my blog, I wrote about anything that inspired me, even if it felt silly. One time I ranted about my irrational hatred for mashmallow Peeps. The Easter treat. Stupid? Maybe. Entertaining? I thought so. Then, after a few months of blogging things like this along with restaurant reviews, I started reaching out to PR companies and asking simply to be added to their distribution lists (email lists). This way, I was on their radar, and would start getting press releases about new restaurants opening, new menus, etc. and boom! New content ideas. Eventually, I was getting invites to events, and I networked like crazy. Networking is a great way to form connections and access new avenues for content. Obviously now is a tough time in the age of Corona to be physically networking, but social media is there for you – use it to your advantage.
Hope that helps you a bit in your journey towards creating something, whether it’s a blog, an Instagram, or something that I don’t fully understand, like TikTok.
You can do this, I promise you that.