I recently made a conscious decision to form a new habit: to connect with more people both online and offline. I’ve always known that connections, social media and content production were important to my success. But, like many, I’ve always struggled with these things.
As is typical in many stories you read about when someone begins down the path of content development and social media interactions, I held/hold onto fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what people will think. Fear of my own success. Fear of looking like an idiot – or worse, not even being noticed.
I know in my mind that these fears are misplaced. I know in my mind that I should be focusing on the fact that everyone (that reads it) seems to like my writing. I should be focusing on the fact that I want my writing to drive my future success. This is a challenge. I suspect this challenge is one that even the big-name writers deal with on a regular basis. Granted, they’ve obviously gained a better grasp on the appropriate “things” that help move past these fears more readily than most, including myself.
If you follow the marketing and social media space in any capacity, you’re being reminded daily that those that produce content regularly are more likely to achieve success. Somewhat of an afterthought is the point about ensuring the content is of any kind of quality, but that’s a topic for another post.
The Harsh Truth of Reality
“Use Google Alerts: Who’s talking about you? No one? Then do things to be talked about.”
My wife loves me. My son loves me. My mom loves me. My dad even loves me – though we only acknowledge it through man/bro-hugs. It took a simple Twitter application for me to realize I’m not as special as I used to think I was. Sure, I have pretty high self-esteem, but I’ve realized, I think, a more realistic awareness of my current place in the world.
I logged into Justunfollow.com tonight – really out of curiosity – and realized a harsh truth: I’m nowhere near the level of the likes of @chrisbrogan, @lisabarone, @petershankman, @heidicohen, @sugarrae, @stevegarfield, or @ramit (and those are just the ones I could think of right off the top of my head). I’ve followed each of these people, admittedly off-and-on, for several years now.
The harsh truth: I wasn’t important enough for these people to follow me back. Or they only follow people they know, which is also upsetting in it’s own way, since it makes me realize I don’t make opportunities to meet these people in person a priority. Justunfollow.com, like Data from Star Trek TNG, enlightened me of the news in a non-emotional, factual way. I could actually see him in my mind, with his robotic head-tilt, and heard him say, “I am curious. Why do you care so much about whether these people follow you or not?”
When I stop and think about it, I’m faced with the harsh truth of the matter: I’ve done nothing deserving of being noticed – not online anyway, not yet. Sure, I’ve written a bundle of blog posts. A few have even gotten me some search traffic. But nothing that makes me (or anyone else, for that matter) say, “Wow, this is awesome!”
It really is simple, good advice. Though following it is not necessarily easy. I personally believe, when I self-diagnose, that I get in my own way, like so many others.
Here’s the thing: I completely agree with Alan’s advice. It is actually pretty common advice, just said in different ways by different people. The problem, at least for me, is figuring out what to do that will be worthy of being talked about. I don’t want to be an echo, constantly regurgitating and essentially copying the aforementioned “stars” of the online marketing and social media space. And I don’t want to produce crap that no one really cares about.
This is where I usually get stuck. I open a place to write, go into full-screen mode, and stare at a blinking cursor on a blank screen, unable to force my figures to just type. I’ve noticed something, though, and that is the fact that the people that make it big in this space are the ones that are constantly putting themselves out there.
Sure, I don’t read every post that any of the people I mentioned above post. As a matter of fact, I’m probably not even close to being their favorite fan, I don’t obsess over their every word. I do, however, gain tremendous value from them all, and so I continue to “check in” and see what they’re up to. It was when I realized this about my own actions that I realized my fears and petty disappointment about not being followed back by some of my favorites in this space were misguided.
The exciting thing here is that when we realize we aren’t ever going to be everything to everyone, all the time, it becomes easier to just be ourselves and be passionate about the stuff we want to be passionate about. It allows us to produce, and ship, and get to that level.