Maybe you’ve been asking yourself whether you should start a blog.
You’re obsessed with reading blogs and follow your favourite bloggers non-stop – you refer to them by their first name and feel like they’re your friends (and you’re positive that if you actually met in person, they would be).
And these bloggers are all normal people, people like you. They didn’t have to wait for someone to tell them they could start a blog – they just started one. So it gets you thinking, maybe you should start one too…
And then, almost as soon as you’ve decided you’re going to start a blog, the self-doubt kicks in. And it is relentless.
That excitement you had when you first had the idea to start a blog? That quickly becomes embarrassing. How could you have actually thought that anyone would care what you have to say? And you’re not even that good at writing. And what are you even going to talk about?!
I’ve read a lot of posts about blogging, and very few (if any) talk about the self-doubt that comes up when you decide that you’re going to put yourself out there and start a blog.
Because let’s be real – blogging can (and will) bring up a lot of self-doubt.
And usually we don’t even realise that it’s happening, it just comes up in the form of excuses – we don’t have time, we don’t know how, we don’t know anyone else who does it. And then sometimes, it really feels like self-doubt – we question whether anyone would care or be interested, whether we’re too boring, whether we’re good enough, whether we can stick with it.
So in this post (and it’s gonna be a long one) I’m going to talk about all the different excuses you’ll probably find yourself making about blogging and all of the different ways that self-doubt can manifest itself.
Let’s get started:
1. I don’t know how to start a blog
I think there are two reasons we use the excuse that we ‘don’t know how to get started’:
1. We’re completely overwhelmed by the number of decisions we have to make (and feel like we might screw it all up); or
2. We don’t think we’re ‘good enough’ to have a blog (we feel like we have nothing new to say, we’re not good enough at writing, no one will read it and, if they do, that they will laugh at us, we can’t compete with the other blogs out there – and plenty more).
Since I’ll be talking about self-doubt a lot in the rest of the post (it’s something I’ve really struggled with/still struggle wit) I’m going to address the whole decision overwhelm issue here.
We all know there are literally thousands of blog posts on the Internet that tell you exactly how to start a blog (and to be honest, it really isn’t that hard) and yet a lot of people still say they don’t know how to get started.
As I said before, I think one of the reasons people say they ‘don’t know how to get started’ is because they’re so overwhelmed by the number of decisions they have to make to get started.
You have to decide which blogging platform to use (I use WordPress), what to call your blog (it took me a long time to come up with Smart Twenties, and I still don’t love it), what you want it to look like (pretty, with a lot of white space), who to target (people like me), what to write about (things I’m interested in), what to say on your ‘about me’ page, which social media platforms to get on and the list goes on.
There is so much information out there about which choices to make and so much of it is conflicting – for every blogger telling you to use WordPress there’s one telling you why you should get on Squarespace instead. For every expert telling you that twitter is the best thing you could do for your blog, there’s another telling you it’s a complete waste of time.
It’s so easy to feel like we might make the wrong decision and screw everything up.
The good news is that there really isn’t a way for you to mess things up too badly. Firstly, barely anyone will read your blog for a least a few months (more on this later – but just telling you now this isn’t a bad thing) so it’s easy to make a lot of changes without anyone noticing. And, not only will no one notice, but things are so easy to change on your blog (it’s not even that hard to change the name of your blog). Nothing is permanent.
Wanting everything to be perfect at the outset can really be pretty damn crippling. But I found that once I decided to start thinking of it as more of a ‘work in progress’ than something that’s final, it was easier to take those first few steps and actually get started.
So if you’ve been using this excuse, the solution is to just start making decisions.
You don’t need to do any more research – seriously, just make decisions. Decide to give it a real shot, decide what platform to use, decide on your niche, decide on a name. It doesn’t matter what decisions you make, just decide.
2. I don’t have anything new to say (I’m too boring)
This is definitely the self-doubt talking. And I have this doubt all the time.
For any topic I want to talk about, I feel like I can easily find at least 20 bloggers who are talking about exactly the same thing and have something way more interesting or helpful to say about it.
When I first started my blog, I didn’t say anything new. And if you look at my first posts you’ll see solid proof of that – I would just post a link to a video or article that I liked and write two or three sentences about why I liked it. I had so much doubt about whether I had anything new to say that I just didn’t say anything new.
But I kept at it. And over time, instead of writing two or three sentences I would write a paragraph. Which then became two paragraphs. And then I finally felt like I could write a whole post without having to centre it around something someone else had said.
This doubt about not having anything new to say is especially hard to deal with when you’re just starting your blog.
When no one’s reading your blog (more on this soon) you have no proof that anyone is interested in what you’re saying. Plus it feels like there are already hundreds of bloggers that are way better than you who are talking about the same thing. But almost all of these bloggers felt exactly the same way when they started. They felt like they had nothing new to say. They felt like their life was too boring and too normal. But they started anyway, and they discovered they did have something important to say.
The point is – you have something important to say too and almost everyone who starts a blog experiences doubt about this.
If, at the moment, you have no idea what to say then just start by sharing things you love (the ‘links I love’ style of post is great for this). Write about the things you’d talk to your friends about. You will figure out that you have something important to say that no one else is saying.
3. No one will read it
Since this post is about being honest, I’m going to be honest about this too – no one will read your blog when you first start it.
For months and months I literally had single digit page views on my blog (and that was on a good day). It felt like I was talking to a brick wall, and I practically was.
I’ll be honest, talking to a wall for a few months can be really disheartening. And it’s in these first few months of blogging that so many talented people give up. But once you realise that every new blog has no readers for the first few months, it’s a lot easier to push through and I think there are actually quite a few things that are good about it:
Firstly, I think that if you want to have a blog then you need to be blogging for you.It’s a lot harder to stick with something when there’s no reward (yet). But if you can make it through those first few lonely months then it’s probably a pretty good sign you’re blogging for the right reasons (not just the promised glamour that comes with it).
Secondly (and I’m sorry to say this) but your first blog posts are probably not going to be amazing. It takes a while to find your voice and to figure out what you want to talk about. When I started my blog I had no idea what I should sound like in my posts and the result was that I really just didn’t sound like myself at all – I was saying what I think I should say, not what I’d actually say.
You can use those first few months of solitude to your advantage and play around with the way you write (my trick is to pretend I’m writing an email to a friend – that way I actually say things I’d say in real life and keep an informal, friendly kind of tone).
And thirdly, you can really play around with how your blog looks, how often you post, what kind of topics you talk about and all of that.You can definitely play around with these things at any stage of your blogging journey but right at the outset is an especially great time to do it because you won’t feel limited by what you’ve done in your past.
The fact that no one is going to read your blog for at least a few months can be a good thing or a bad thing – the choice is yours.
It can be an opportunity to develop your voice and your blog and to really play around and experiment with things, or it can be so disheartening that you’ll just give up. And the choice is yours. If you started a blog and then stopped in the first few months, give it another go – it seriously doesn’t matter that you haven’t posted anything in ages!
4. People will laugh at me
I seriously still struggle with this so much that I’m not even sure I can really write anything helpful about it – I just try not to think about what other people will think and am working really hard on learning how to give other’s permission not to like me.
But I will say, as I’ve told more and more of my friends about this blog I’ve been so surprised by the fact that their reactions were nothing like what I’d imagined and feared they would be.
Before I told anyone (which took me about a year), I thought it was so embarrassing and that my friends would be embarrassed to hang out with me. I thought people would think I’m a loser for thinking that I have something important to say. But instead, my friends have been so positive about it and quite a few have said that they want to start their own blogs too.
I know there will be some people who think it’s stupid or don’t like me – I’m not for everyone. But I know there are some people who love the blog and who do like me, and by not sharing who I really am then I’m depriving myself of the chance to connect with the people I really have a lot in common with.
5. I won’t have time to blog
This excuse always seems to get me. I’m apparently ‘too busy to blog’, but not too busy to be up-to-date on all my favourite TV shows and spend scrolling through my insta feed and watching Youtube videos.
Sure, I’m busy. But whenever I think I don’t have time to blog, it’s actually just me procrastinating because I don’t know what to write about (or I don’t think anyone will care about what I have to say).
6. I don’t know anyone else who does it
Don’t let the fact that you don’t know any bloggers stop you from starting a blog yourself – I didn’t know anyone else with a blog when I started. And while it would have been amazing to know someone (because a lot of questions come up when you start a blog) I didn’t need to – blogging is an incredible way to meet new people.
It is seriously so easy to meet people that love the same things you love through blogging.
And in the mean time, podcasts are an excellent way to ‘surround’ yourself with other bloggers. You can listen to my podcast here.
7. There are already too many blogs out there
There are a lot of people who will tell you that if you haven’t already started to blog by now then you’ve missed the boat – but I don’t think that’s true at all.
If anything, the rising popularity of blogs just goes to show how powerful they are and why you should start one.
And while it may feel like you’ll never ‘catch up’ to the big bloggers, the truth is that you don’t need to – there are some things you can offer your readers that big bloggers can’t( like a more personal connection between you and your readers).
I really believe that it’s never too late to start something. And blogging is an amazing self-development tool (because you have to learn to deal with all the self-doubt that comes up) so even if no one ever reads your blog, there is still so much you can learn from blogging.
Do you want to start a blog? Let me know!
If you want to start a blog (but still haven’t taken the steps to start it), I’d love to hear why you think that might be and whether you can relate to any of the self-doubt and excuses I’ve talked about in this post!
And if you’re already a blogger – did you experience any of this when you started?
Let me know in the comments below!
Perfect Blogger is my online course that will teach you how to build a successful blog.
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I created Perfect Blogger because I understand your pain.
I know what it’s like to believe in your potential and doubt yourself at the same time… I started blogging in 2013 but my fears kept me stuck and frustrated for the first 2.5 years. But that didn’t mean success was off the table!
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The next steps are simple – decide to give blogging a real shot, follow the Perfect Blogger plan and build a successful blog. I’ll be there to guide you every step of the way.
Hi Sam. Thank you for this post. You have perfectly described all of the reasons why I have not started a blog myself. I actually set up a blog a few months ago and made my first post, but took it down after less than 24 hours. I felt like I had shared too much about myself, I felt vulnerable, and I was embarrassed for anyone to read it. And I definitely fall into the perfectionist category, so if I can’t do something well, I would rather not do it at all. One thought that I had while reading this post is that if the worst that can happen is that no one will read your blog, then you have already experienced the worst from the outset – which means that things can only improve. You have motivated me to have another go.
I’m so happy to hear that! After I bought the domain for Smart Twenties (in August 2013) it took me 4 months to post something because I had so much self-doubt about it. And then for ages, whenever I would post something I would delete it within 24 hours because I was so critical of it. It really is amazing how much self-doubt blogging and putting yourself out there can bring up!
I totally agree with what you say about vulnerability – I feel vulnerable every time I hit publish, every time I share a post on social media and every time I mention my blog to someone I know. And you’re totally right about the worst case scenario – by not publishing anything we’re already in the worst case (and fail by default).
I’m so happy to hear this has motivated you to give it another try. A lot of self-doubt will still come up when you start it again but at least when you know it’s completely 100% normal it’s easier to push through it and just keep going. It does get better 🙂 All the best!
I love this post!! There are so many “how to start” posts but this one is so unique! You hit literally every single drawback right on the head. I totally agree with what you said about the fear that people will laugh. To be honest, I still don’t talk about my blog to my friends (and if we do, I have to jokingly call it “the blerg” haha) but realised that when I share posts on my own personal facebook, they get a third more views and people have told me they are really impressed when they read it. I’m so glad I started blogging and can’t wait to see where it’ll go. A++++ post <3
Aww thanks so much Pia! I’m so glad you can relate to what I went through/have gone through as a blogger (I even feel weird referring to myself as a ‘blogger’ haha). I still have the fear that people will laugh at me and it’s probably my biggest struggle out of all of this, but I think it’s definitely worth pushing through it. Plus blogging teaches you so much about yourself – I had no idea I cared so much about what other people thought until I started putting myself out there!
Hi Sam! I feel related to so many of the things you say on this post. From the “obsession” with our favorite bloggers to self-doubt. I started my blog 16 months ago and it’s still really small but I love it so much! Blogging it’s become a passion and I hope I feel like this for a long long time. I started it as a creative outlet and as a way to practise my photography skills. It also took me a while to tell friends and family about it, to my surprise they’ve been incredibly supportive! However, there are days when I think that maybe it’s stupid to blog since there are enough great bloggers out there and I’m never going to be as good as them. That’s when I try to stay as positive as I can and think that I’m doing this for myself and that I’m not a quitter.
Anyway, thanks for this post, Sam 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing 🙂 It’s funny how we all imagine the worst case scenario when it comes to telling our friends and family about our blogs! Whenever I am looking at someone else’s blog I always find myself thinking that that blogger must have found it so easy to tell their friends/family because they have an amazing blog and more times than one I’ve found out that they too have really struggled with it. I think it’s great that people have started to talk about it more, because when you look from the outside in it looks like there’s no struggle at all!
Love your blog btw Christina!
Hey Sam! Thanks for sharing this post 🙂 This describes how I felt when I first started blogging and I how I feel now at times. I struggle with feeling like have to be perfect and I tell myself this post is not good enough. I just have to tell myself to go for it and don’t be afraid to publish my post.
I’m so excited for the upcoming weeks post in this series! I really enjoy your posts so much. You are so inspirational Sam! I just started listening to The Lively Show a few months ago! I really like the show. I have been enjoying a few podcasts this year and I need to talk about it on my blog. Sometimes I feel like I have TONS of information to share and I don’t know where to start. Next month my blog will be 2 years old. Where did the time go?
Thanks so much for your lovely comment! I can definitely relate – I always want to wait until a post is perfect before I publish it, but that lead to months of not publishing anything haha so I’m really working on publishing when it’s good enough and sticking to my blogging schedule but it’s still a struggle!
You should definitely talk about the podcasts you love on your blog! I am so obsessed with podcasts haha they’re one of my favourite things! And I LOVE the lively show – it’s amazing.
Thanks again for your comment!
Recently I incorporated some research about blogging into my grad program and was guilted into blogging more frequently. I do like sharing with people, but I have started to notice that it helps me practice communicating my ideas more clearly. Love the post!
I definitely agree about helping with communication! I feel like my writing skills and my ability to get my point across has improved so much through blogging! I still have a lot of room for improvement but I’ve really noticed a big difference from when I started blogging to now – blogging is amazing for so many reasons!
This is the “How to start blogging” post I’ve been looking for. I’ve been toying with the idea, but every article is “1. Make wordpress account. 2. Figure out your awesome name! 3. ??? 4. Success!”
Thank you, so much, for giving me something serious to think about.
Thanks so much for your comment – I’m so glad you found this post helpful! Part of the reason I wrote it is because I found exactly the same thing, everyone talks about the ‘maths’ and technical side of literally how to start a blog but no one talks about dealing with all of the resistance that comes up when we decide to pit ourselves out there!
I’d love to know if you do start a blog 🙂
These are all really great tips 😀 I debated for a long time wether or not to start a blog because I was scared that someone I knew would find it or that nobody would like it. I then just resulted to pushing it aside and continue on with life. Then I came back to it again this year I was just like you know what I want to do this so I’m going to do it! And so I did and seriously the blogging community is so nice and welcoming 🙂 I’ve met so many wonderful people just through blogging.
I’m so happy to hear that Crystal! I think it’s totally normal to have that resistance and amazing that you came back to it anyway! I find that even though I’ve had some breaks from blogging I always miss it and it’s always something I keep coming back to – it’s interesting to think where my blog might be today if I didn’t struggle with so much resistance, but the resistance is part of the journey.
Thank you 🙂 You are so right! It’s crazy to think about how if all those little things didn’t happen your life would be so different from the way it is now. I’m glad you decided to blog as well. I love going and your blog and reading what you have to say. I think you’re a very talented writer 😉
Thanks so much Crystal! That really means a lot 🙂
This is such a great post! I’ve had a beauty blog off and on for several years but the self doubt never stops. I figure if I still love reading them so much, then why not keep trying myself? Glad we’re still chugging along!
Thanks for sharing this heartfelt post!
Check out my blog if ya get bored 😉
Thanks so much for your comment! I totally agree that the doubt never goes away haha we just learn how to push through it and keep going anyway! The self-doubt has made me want to give up SO many times but I’m not going to let the doubt win.
This is wonderful!! Love it. And thank you for sharing The Lively Show and Brooke’s episode, too. : )
Thanks so much for your comment! I absolutely LOVE listening to your podcast and was so excited a few weeks ago when I listened to your interview with Brooke – it was amazing!
This is totally perfect! I oftentimes struggle with having my own blog, and particularly who my audience is and how often I should update it. I mean, it’s just a small blog component of my larger, rather un-interactive online portfolio — how much can I really say about my passion for writing, and who’s going to care about it that much?
But I find that as I write for myself, there are others will appreciate what I’m saying. And just as I love reading the blogs of others, in various styles and topics, so too with others enjoy reading mine. Just keep on keepin’ on and all will be fine. 🙂
Jessica // http://www.jessicarmyers.com
You’ve made such an amazing point – even though it feels like no one will care what we write about, there are people that are interested (even if it doesn’t feel like it). I’ve considered changing what I write about so that it’s more similar to what ‘successful’ bloggers are sharing but that’s not going to serve me in the long run and there are people who are interested in the things I genuinely love writing about!
Such a great comment 🙂 thank you!
Great post, You nailed all the feeling bloggers go though. You have to be brave and put yourself out there. It’s worth it.
Thanks so much for your comment! I’m glad you can relate to what I went through 🙂 it’s definitely worth the struggle!
Hey Sam! Great post and thanks for all of your smart thinking. I recently listened to a podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert on my road trip. Touching on your point about having no readers – she talks about trusting your instincts to write about what you love and what feels good to your soul. Even if it is not skyrocketing to success immediately – to always go back to your “home” because it will inevitably flourish. It keeps me grounded and serves as a reminder to write what I am passionate about.
Thanks so much for your comment! I need to listen to that Elizabeth Gilbert podcast – where can I find it?!
I think trusting your instinct about what to write about is really important – if you write about what you love, people will find it (it may just take a little while).
This post encouraged me to start blogging again so thank you for convincing me to continue!
That makes me so happy to hear that 🙂 your blog looks great! I’m in London atm for a holiday so I’ll definitely be reading your blog!
This was a great push. Thanks for posting, glad to know there are other humans like me out there!
Thanks so much for your comment Christina, I’m glad you found it helpful!
I have started a blog and like you, probably experience one of these a week. My blog is about two months old and I’m busting my butt to get it off the ground. I have lots to say with no one reading. Now I have done the social media bit and trying to market myself as much as possible. Still…single digit views. I refuse to give up because I am blogging for myself but it’s nice to know someone has a modicum of interest. This is a huge help though. It’s strangely comforting to know you aren’t the only one going through the struggle.
http://www.hardlyfocused.com -let’s make libraries of ourselves
Hey Tiffany 🙂
Thanks so much for your comment! Lots to say with no one reading is exactly how everyone starts but it can definitely be disheartening. One of the reasons that it does take time to build up readers is because no matter how good a blog post is, they probably won’t follow along until there are quite a few posts to read. But in hindsight I’m glad that no one was reading for the first 6 months, it’s a great time to find your voice, figure out what you want to write about and see if you do actually like the blogging process (because it is hard to keep going when no one is reading, so if you can make it through that I’m pretty sure you like it enough).
Thanks for this post! So many things make sense now… I’m a fairly new blogger myself and wish I had read this before starting. Super helpful. It’s awesome that you share your own experience like this!
Thanks so much for your comment I’m really happy you found it helpful!
Hi, Sam! Just wanted to let you know how much I love your blog and enjoy reading every post. They’ve been really helpful on different ways, so keep up the great work! What App or program do you use for your collages?
Marielisa – http://www.primpandwear.com
Thanks so much for saying that, I really appreciate it! I used the Canva app to create the collage (I did that one on my computer but the iPad app is also really easy to use too, which is what I’ll be using while I’m travelling).
Hi Sam! This post is exactly what I needed to read today 😀 I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for almost a year. In high school I had a Tumblr with several thousand followers…. Then of course I went to college and that’s when much of my anxiety and self doubt began developing. And so I deleted my Tumblr.
I’d love to read more about your thoughts of starting a blog… such as choosing a niche, picking a name, and platform.
Thanks so much for sharing, the self-doubt and anxiety can really be quite crippling!
I’ve actually written a blog post about exactly how I started my blog that’s going out to my email subscribers this weekend (I won’t be posting it here on the blog). If you’re not already an email subscriber then make sure you sign up so you can read my answers to choosing a niche and a name and platform plus how I got into it and whether I make money from my blog and some other stuff. After reading that if you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi Sam, I’m going back through your old posts and just found this one. It’s super helpful and inspiring. I’ve just started my one and this is really encouraging 🙂 Thanks for posting.
#3 in addition…Oh No what if someone (I know)IS actually reading this
#4 Guilty … all are great points
One of my closest friends just pointed out to me that i have not blogged in years. I am so glad I found your blog. While I am no longer in my twenties, I thought i’d challenge myself to reading your pin (the one about Oprah and advise for 20somethings) to see if a. i’ve accomplished anything on the list, and b. to see if the advice still applies to me in my 30’s. Since browsing that post, I was led to 3 of your downloads, a few other posts, and have committed to reading this post in it’s entirety. What’s even more comical is rather than posting this comment, these (self doubting thoughts you speak of) came up and had me consider sending an email to you instead. What is also great about the post, which i will go back to and take you up on the reading an listening materials, are the sharing of blogs in the comments. I love the look of your blog – the images the typefaces… so continue to inspire us…thank you…
I loved this post so much! I’ve been thinking of starting a blog for a while now, I’ve been through a rough time in my life, and I believe writing will help me, not necessarily of what has happened but just in general! I believe it will help become a better version of myself, I enjoyed writing a lot when I was in high school and I just stopped. I do still have fear that what if people make joke out of me when I start blog, what if its a fail? Im not even sure what I want to blog about, I think I’m going to start by keeping it general, for example: write about topics which are important to me ,some humorous ones, or even have like fashion/make up blog ( which is the main reason people have told me start) but I guess Im believe I’m not good enough to be a fashion or makeup blogger. I’m just so confused, is this the right thing to do? I start writing and then I get scared to post it! Any suggestions? Should I just go for i t?
-Dania, the confused soul
Thanks for this Sam! I live in Italy and write Finestrella (means ‘little window!’) and its a peep into life in Italy. Your blog is beautiful and genuine. If you fancy an online ‘visit’ to Italy pop to my site. Have a lovely day! Edie x
Thank you for the advice! I really needed to hear/read that! 🙂 I had a blog in 2015 (mostly), but I deleted it… I am planning to reopen mine really soon! xx
I find this to be quite an interesting post. I suffer a lot from anxiety so ultimately it’s my biggest issue. I put a hold on my YouTube channel and I’ve been procrastinating starting my branding for my graphic design business for when I finish university because I went so badly first year that I feel like I can’t do anything right. I want to be able to blog/vlog/YouTube but just find it literally impossible to get past my self doubt.
I really like this post. I wanted to start a blog before and I was thinking about starting. Any advice? I have so many interests so what would I write about?
My computer screen is open to a sales page for a web host and I literally just need to hit “pay now” to begin my own blog.
I felt like I had done so much research and was totally ready to go, but then the momentum slowed as my self doubt crept in. Today I decided to pull the trigger and just dive in…yet I haven’t actually pulled the trigger because I needed to Google search “fears of starting a blog” first, which lead me to you. 🙂
This post was definitely what I needed to set me back on track!
What I love about reading your posts is the honesty it brings. And for that I will always come back to read your posts. I can totally relate to everything mentioned having just started my blog almost 2yrs ago.. Your honesty and vulnerability is an inspiration on its own. xxx
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