Dear the Online Business/Blogging World. It's time we addressed the bullshit.
If you are a creative, a blogger, a business owner or a one person band and you're feeling overwhelmed, you're going to want to read this! I am pissed off.
Blogging and generally being online started as a way of expressing ourselves. Limited customisation options, and it was all about the writing and actually connecting to other people and forming communities. Then it became that + having a pretty blog. Then social media got involved. And then multi-purposing our content for things like Periscope. Then webinars. Then…
Am I the only person who thinks this is a bit ridiculous?
Don't get me wrong, I'm a multipassionate person, and I like the variety, but seriously??
What started off as a need to tell stories, find common ground and express yourself has ended up as this completely saturated marketing ploy where if you struggle you're told to just outsource, or if you don't do ALL THE THINGS, you're told you'll never get anywhere.
And it's pretty fucking impossible to keep up with.
I'm actually sad about all the people who have valuable experiences and stories to share who end up giving up pretty quickly because of the ridiculous amount of things they feel they're expected to do.
Shit, I know I’ve felt like giving up before.
And it's really fucking hard to not cave into the pressure.
Especially when you have noise from EVERYWHERE telling you what to do to grow your audience, how to increase your traffic, how to get more exposure, how to grow your email list.
And when you raise your hand and admit you're overwhelmed (which I don't think enough of us do), we're met with the same answer. Outsource. Or we’re told we haven’t implemented one of ‘the strategies’ properly. Or some other bullshit.
Not everybody can afford to outsource. And not everyone wants to. While it's great that tools exist for Bootstrappers to DIY everything themselves, I wonder how helpful it actually is, or if it's actually just piling more things for us to do that takes us a way from the work that really matters.
And not all of us want to use the exact same marketing ploy or create identical products with slightly different wording.
Blogging and being a creative has gone from sharing your experiences, your stories and your life to this three person full time job.
If you follow the advice of popular bloggers, people who have a business which is all about making money online, and people who blog about blogging, then there's this enormous expectation to do ALL. THE. FUCKING. THINGS.
And I worry about the online community of bloggers and writers as a whole. If we're spending minimal time writing, a massive amount of time promoting, scheduling, creating social media images and the rest of it, we don't have much time to look up and notice what other people are doing. And that doesn't make for a healthy community. That makes for a pretty fucking narcissistic one.
We spend so much time trying to keep up with the gazillion tasks we've already got to do, that most of the things we end up consuming are sales emails in our inbox.
And how on earth can we be inspired in this environment?
While we’re running around like a blue assed fly feeling like the Worst Creative Business/Blog Owner Ever, we’re forgetting that most of the businesses trying to have the same impact that we want have TEAMS. Remember that forgotten word? In very few other industries do you have one person who is responsible for ALL of the strategy, writing, marketing, graphic design, social media management, administration, book keeping, and goodness knows how many other things. Many other industries find the idea of one person being able to do all of this laughable.
(And no, this is not a call for outsourcing, I’m just laying on the table just how much we’re expecting ourselves to do)
Yet without even properly realising it, we take all of this on as if it's completely normal and THEN feel bad when we don't get it all done.
We try to be everywhere all the time and in some industries, some of the ways we’re convinced to try and get clients, get an audience etc would be seen as outright predatory. We’re almost taught to forget that our audience and our clients are real life people with real life passions and problems, and not just a number problem to solve on Twitter or email lists. And as creatives, when everything becomes ALL about the numbers and the analytics, then shit starts to become very boring, very quickly.
And we’re convinced that we have to be on Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, Facebook, Facebook groups, Snapchat, Pinterest, and - countless others I've not heard - of all the time. You really don’t. What you do have to do is live your life as well. And living your life doesn't have to look like being on your laptop until your eyes feel funny, moving onto Netflix for a quick break, maybe a nap and back to your laptop. And yes, I've been there more times than I'd like to admit.
The people you're probably reading who are telling you all about what you NEED to be doing? Chances are, a lot of them have staff. A lot of them outsource. A lot of them aren't staying up until their eyes physically feel like they can't take it anymore watching yet another webinar or signing up for another free checklist. No, they actually get sleep (remember what that is?). And make actual money. And yes they might have been in your position once, but I don't think the expectations were so high when they started out. In fact I think they've been instrumental in helping raise these impossible expectations. It’s kind of convenient, isn’t it?
Most of this bullshit is about making money. Not about helping people, or being really honest or sharing your story to make people feel less alone. Fuck, it felt like that went a LONG time ago. The people who believe that (like me) are called endearing or naive and told to have a better business brain. Values seem to have gone out of the window a long time ago. I mean, for fuck's sake, don't write about your experiences or your life, please, flat lay all the stationary on your desk instead.
And let’s face it, a lot of this feels like Mean Girls 2.0.
What I'm really trying to say is that the blogging/online business world needs to chill the fuck out.
If you are a one person business/blogger/creative entrepreneur, whatever you like to call yourself, you have to stop somewhere.
You are one person - a pretty amazing person at that - and you have to have a life as well.
No one is going to be inspired or moved to action with whatever you put out there if you're too fucking tired to think, or if your heart isn't in it. And no one’s going to care what you do if you treat them as another number or a problem to solve instead of someone who you genuinely want to help.
And frankly, your audience wouldn't want you pushing yourself to exhaustion creating content for them. And if they wouldn't care either way, perhaps you're doing it for the wrong people.
Why did you start the work you were doing? What was your reason?
Go back to the beginning and examine how you can achieve your mission while thriving at the same time.
Because I'm guessing it didn't involve sitting through hours of trainings and webinars and fuck knows what other things we've been told we MUST have or do. (Let me ask you this - when was the last time you actually implemented any of that stuff instead of going straight onto the next training?)
If you're starting out and you're feeling overwhelmed, I don't blame you. Because it's a space full of people trying to get you to pay your fee for the London marathon before you can walk. And a space full of so many huge and ridiculous expectations that you’ve got people panicking because they published their first blog post twelve days ago and haven’t made five figures yet. (I mean, please). That does not make you a failure, people.
And if you started out a while ago and still feel overwhelmed - hi.
If you’re feeling way too overwhelmed and like packing it in, create some space for yourself. Turn down the noise and filter your social media feeds so you’re not seeing all of these things you feel like you should be doing all the time. Unsubscribe to the millions of sales emails and concentrate on the people that provide you genuine value because they want to, instead of click baiting and guilting you into buying their product. Find the people in your niche that align with your values and stick with them. Make connections, struggle together. Promote your stuff in a way that feels good to you and doesn’t make you feel like a shitty person. Find a way to make it totally you and defend that with everything you have.
It’s a huge online world out there, and a whole lot of it feels like it’s designed to make you feel stupid, designed to make you feel like you have to be doing SO much more than you already are, and if you’re looking for confirmation that you should be doing more, then you’re always going to find it. So much of this shit is designed to make you do anything and everything for you to part with your hard earned cash.
So instead of giving time to the people who don’t really care about anything other than what’s in your wallet or filling their own purpose, give to yourself instead.
Please, for the love of all things, start creating.
Get off Facebook, stop adding keywords to your blog posts for a second and please start creating. Start building the things that only you can build. Get stuck in the flow and let the hours pass like seconds because you’re so absorbed. Go to bed with a full heart, excied to get going again, instead of feeling inflated and like you didn’t achieve much that mattered.
Try not to get bogged down in the little things. Because a lot of this shit we beat ourselves up is exactly that.
I can guarantee that when you look back on your life, you would have preferred to have had a full life instead of a full buffer feed.
You my friend, have so much to give the world. You don’t need all this brain clutter. At some point we started trusting google and anyone who called themselves an expert more than ourselves, and that is some scary shit right there. You have all the answers you need inside you to make the work that matters in the world. And in the areas you feel like you could use more input and knowledge, pay attention to the people whose values align with yours and genuinely want to help you.
Make friends online instead of frenemies, stop comparing yourself to everyone else you come across and instead when you find something you really value - let that person know. That person’s website you keep clicking back to and it makes you feel bad? Stop.
And instead of focusing on follower numbers and engagement stats, focus on each individual person who gives a shit about what you do. When someone takes time to read what you write, to give feedback, to look at your work and gets inspired from something you did? That’s where the magic lies, and how fucking amazing is that you did that? That's a huge honour. You have the power to inspire, to empower and make someone’s day, hell - even change their life. Shouldn’t that really be the focus?
You have epic shit to put into the world and it’s time to start creating it, in the way only you can.
Have fun, get creative, and be intentionally and unapologetically you.
The world needs YOU. And it’s waiting.
I know I'm not alone in how I feel - I'd love to hear your experiences and your thoughts and how you're navigating the online world. Let's start a conversation in the comments!