What if I fail?
What if I can’t get through the struggles of blogging?
These thoughts have probably crossed your mind at one point or another.
And, when it does, you experience that horrific feeling of fear deep inside.
You know your putting in the work, learning as much as you can and writing great articles.
But what if things don’t work out?
Well, I’ll tell you a secret.
Every blogger, heck, every entrepreneur has had that feeling during sometime in their career.
Fear of failure!
The good news is, a lot of it is in your head. More importantly, fear is what I would call an “early warning” emotion.
It’s main purpose is to serve as an “early warning device” of some impending danger.
… or, to make you aware that something is important or of value to you.
Beyond that, it doesn’t really help you.
In fact, in most cases, it makes you hesitate, affects your decision making and even paralyzes you from taking the proper course of action.
In this article, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about fear of failure in blogging.
- You’ll know why most blogs fail, and how to make yours succeed
- More importantly, you’ll understand why you need to fail in blogging in order to succeed as a blogger
- Finally, how to overcome your fear of blogging failure
So, let’s get to it.
The sad truth about blogging is that most blogs fail.
I’m not saying that to discourage you from starting a blog.
In fact, I’d like you to do the opposite…
… simply because I’ve seen what blogging can do.
And, I know if you do things right, you’ll be able to achieve financial independence and live your life the way you want to.
That said, it’s always a good idea to understand why some things don’t work out. It helps you avoid making the same mistakes that led to those failures.
In this case, it’s a failed blog.
Simply put, the are many reasons why most blogs fail, whether it’s never getting enough traffic, earning enough money or building a large enough audience.
Here are some of the most common reasons blogs fail:
- People start their blogs as a hobby. When you do this, you don’t treat it as seriously as you would a business. That’s not to say it won’t work. But at some point, your mindset has to evolve from it being a hobby into a business.
- Focusing too much on writing content and not promoting. When starting out, most bloggers are told that writing amazing content is where it’s at. Unfortunately, that only works for a rare gifted few. For the rest of us, we need to do a lot more promoting than we do writing to make our blogs successful.
- Your blog is just like everyone else’s. You need to figure out what makes your blog unique. More importantly, why should readers visit your blog when there are thousands of similar ones on the web? The question to ask yourself here is, “What makes you and your blog stand out from everyone else?” Often times, the answer revolves around YOU — your experiences, perspective on things and what you know.
- You expect to see results immediately. For me, this lack of patience is the number one thing that dooms most bloggers. It takes time to gain traction, much less succeed with blogging. Just think about it, most businesses take 3 years or so just to break even, why should blogging be any different?
- They focus on themselves not what their audience wants. This is the holy grail of blogging. Understanding this puts you many steps ahead of other bloggers. To put it bluntly, YOUR BLOG IS THERE FOR YOUR READERS, NOT YOU.
- Focusing on money over providing value. Again, it’s not about you, it’s all about your audience. Your blog’s main goal is to give value to your audience. When you do this, the money will follow.
- Not knowing who their audience is. Before you can serve your audience, you need to identify them first. Then, find out where they are. Only then can you find a way to get them to read your blog.
For me, these are the most important things you should learn from other bloggers’ failures.
If you look at them, they pretty much fall under one of two categories.
- The WHAT? That is, knowing what to do and what not to do makes all the difference in the world.
- The HOW? When you know what to do, the next part is execution, or knowing how you’re going to do it.
Figuring out these two things increases your odds of becoming a successful blogger.
You Only Truly Fail When You Quit
Always remember, you only fail when you quit.
Like many things, blogging success doesn’t come quickly nor easily.
It takes months and months of hard work just to get to $1,000 a month consistently.
Just as importantly, your blog’s growth doesn’t come in a linear fashion.
You’ll see ups and downs, some bigger than others.
But, if you do things right, and keep sticking to it, one day, you’ll see a big jump in progress and voila!
Everything just suddenly falls into place.
Here’s an amazing example of what consistently showing up can do.
If you’ve read about blogging, you’ve probably heard about Rand Fishkin of Moz. Well, this story is not about him.
Instead, it’s about his wife Geraldine DeRuiter and her blog Everywhereist.
Before I go any further, I’d like to say that this story is courtesy of Belle Beth Cooper over at Ghost.org. So, the information and illustrations are taken from her article.
Anyway, going back to the story…
For two years Everywhereist didn’t get much traction. But, Geraldine kept on blogging.
Unfortunately, most bloggers would have already thrown in the towel by then.
The good news is, she didn’t.
Because soon after, BAM!
Things just clicked. And, all the work she put in before finally paid off.
Interestingly, this is what many people call “an overnight success”.
But, this is the reality of many businesses.
You become an “overnight success” or a “sensation” just when people notice you and your work.
What they don’t see is the months and years of work that went into that “one day” where evertything suddenly fell into place.
Soon after that traffic jump, Everywhereist reached over 100,000+ visits a month and does so consistently.
JUST IMAGINE IF SHE QUIT 6 MONTHS, 1 YEAR OR 2 YEARS INTO BLOGGING.
She would have COMPLETELY MISSED OUT on the fruits of her hard work.
Don’t do that.
Instead, be like Geraldine DeRuiter.
Show up and trust the process.
Why Time is A Blogger’s Best Friend or Worst Enemy
The reason I brought up the story of Everywhereist is that TIME is a huge factor for bloggers.
This is especially true for beginner bloggers.
The reason time plays a very BIG PART in determining success and failure of newbie bloggers is that we’re now in the age of instant gratification.
Maybe it’s the internet’s fault?
With it, we have the ability to get anything we need within a few seconds.
Then again, maybe it’s all the hype that comes with blogging.
You’ve probably seen them…
I’m talking about articles discussing things like “How I Made $100,000 In 8 Months” or “How We Became Full-Time Bloggers During Our First Year of Blogging”.
As a result, new bloggers expect to reap the benefits of blogging soon after launching their blog.
I’m not saying it isn’t possible, because it definitely is.
But, going into blogging with that kind of mindset only sets you up for disappointment.
- Because it makes you think blogging is easy. It isn’t.
- You’re focusing on money.
- How you work and your decision making will revolve around making money, not providing value for your readers.
More importantly, you expect to make money. In this case, lots of it.
That kind of entitlement is dangerous in blogging or anything else in life.
Because when your expectations aren’t met within the time period you’ve set in your mind, YOU QUIT.
This is why many blogs shut down or are not updated anymore.
Often, this happens after a year or two of blogging without earning enough money.
On the flip side, time is also a blogger’s best friend.
This is what happened with Everywhereist.
For the blogger who decides to stick around and puts in the work day in and day out, success is more about when it will happen rather than will it ever happen.
This is the reason why if you look at the most successful blogs on the internet, many of them are over 4 years old.
… the biggest ones have passed their 7th and 8th birthdays at least.
Bottom line, MAKE TIME WORK FOR YOU NOT AGAINST YOU.
How to Conquer Your Fear of Failing
So how do you overcome your fear of failing?
Before going into the actual tips, I’d like to share something interesting I learned about how our brains react to winning and losing.
This tidbit of knowledge was quite surprising to me.
But, it definitely made a lot of sense when looking back at how I reacted from successes and failures in my life.
This is How Your Brain Reacts to Success and Failure
Humor me for a moment here and go back to one time in your life when you were a “winner”.
This successful time could be when you got into the college of your choice, your team won the game or championship, you got first prize in a competition, you finally achieved something you’ve been working hard for or your business succeeded.
When this happened, you felt like the “King/Queen of the World”.
In contrast, go back in time and remember a moment when you failed or lost…
… remember feeling sorry for yourself or believing you were a “loser”.
Well apparently, it’s our brain’s fault that we feel like this.
In each of the cases, your brain goes into overdrive making you react towards succeeding or failing.
The Winner Effect
Biologists have a term they refer to as the “Winner Effect”. That is, when animals or humans experience success, they feel better about themselves.
That’s because your brain releases dopamine and testosterone (Yes, women have a small amount of testosterone too).
As a result, the winners become more confident, train harder and work harder.
Does this remind you of yourself?
This turns into a cycle which makes winners win even more.
The motivation brought about by wining and the subsequent brain chemicals actually make them work harder such that they achieve more success.
This is why you feel more motivated every time you experience a “victory”.
The Loser Effect
In contrast, there’s also the “Loser Effect”.
Unfortunately, this does the opposite of what the Winner Effect does.
Losing can make you lose even more.
This contradicts what philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche tells us about “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”.
Research on monkeys showed that those who made mistakes still performed worse than monkeys that didn’t make mistakes, even after they’ve mastered certain tasks.
The same goes for humans.
In part, it’s because losing, making mistakes or failing, affect your confidence, concentration and even puts doubt into your head. This is why you sometimes hesitate after making mistakes or start to overthink things.
The worse thing that can happen when you keep failing is that your brain gives up.
In short, you’ve been “broken”.
As a result, you’ll likely shy away from doing that thing.
The good news is that you can overcome your brain’s primal instincts. This prevents you from spiraling down into feeling you’re a failure or believing that you’re not good enough.
It’s also the reason why some people aren’t fazed by failures.
Take for example Elon Musk who’s blown up more rockets than any of us. Yet, he’s still spending hundreds of millions building and launching them.
It’s this ability to overcome failure that makes Elon Musk wildly successful.
Things You Can Do to Overcome Fear of Failure
So, what can you do to get past this fear of failure or failure itself?
- Don’t dwell on failure, dwell on why it failed. Dwelling on failure just makes you feel bad about yourself. But, dwelling on the reason WHY SOMETHING FAILED lets you figure out the root cause or why things went wrong.
- Don’t feel sorry for yourself or beat yourself up for it. Doing this leads to self-pity and loss of confidence. So, the next time an opportunity comes up, you’ll hesitate or shy away from it.
- Know the Facts; Figure out why things didn’t work out. This is part of the learning process. It’s the only way to learn from your mistakes. More importantly, knowing why things didn’t work out makes you aware of what you shouldn’t do again.
- Be prepared. Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail“. The reason is preparation allows you to know what to expect and, in some cases, have contingency plans for those situations. It also lets you come in with a strategy of execution.
- Have a growth mindset. This term was coined by psychologist Carol Dweck. Growth mindset refers to the belief that you can get better, learn and achieve things through dedication and hard work. In contrast, a fixed mindset is where you believe your skills and abilities are limited by the talent you were given.
- Redefine what failure means. Instead of seeing it as a failure, view it a learning experience or a step towards becoming better at what you do.
Failing Is Part of Learning / Success
Since we’re on the topic of redefining what failure means, one important aspect of making mistakes or failing is learning from them.
Let’s face it, making mistakes and failures are inevitable.
But I know from experience that we learn faster from our mistakes than we do from our successes.
Just as importantly, we tend to remember our mistakes (and regrets) more than we do our victories.
So How Do You Apply This To Blogging?
Accept that making mistakes and failing is part of the blogging journey.
But know that you grow as a blogger by doing, making mistakes, getting feedback and finding a better way of doing things.
One of the best ways I’ve found to apply this to blogging is to drop the “perfectionist” mentality and adopt a variation of the prototyping methodology.
Let me explain.
When I started blogging, I tried to make things ‘perfect’.
Well, maybe not perfect but create things as good as they can be before releasing them. This was true for publishing content, creating images and all the other things.
Similarly, I took a few weeks to read everything I could to learn about blogging. I thought, “if I read everything the gurus taught and follow them step by step, then I’ve got it made.”
Unfortunately, both didn’t work out quite as planned.
Here are a few reasons why they didn’t work.
- Just because I saw things one way, it didn’t mean my audience saw it the same way as well.
- The gurus give you an overview. More importantly, doing the same steps can yield different results because of how you implement them, who your readers are and what niche you’re in among other things.
- Just like many strategies, if one method is used by many people, its effectiveness gets diminished.
The problem was, spending all that time and effort only to learn that they didn’t work was discouraging.
Plus, I ended back where I started…
Please don’t do this.
Looking back, it would have been far more productive to have just jumped in and get started. More importantly, be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them.
So, instead of trying to be perfect and overly prepared, do this to get better results.
Plan, Build, Test, Learn, Improve and Repeat
The emphasis here is in the TEST, LEARN, IMPROVE AND REPEAT portions.
By that, I mean, focus less on whether what you built was successful or not.
Instead, focus on what works and what didn’t.
A good way to see it is going back to elementary or high school chemistry class.
Remember when your teachers made you perform experiments?
You never cared what results the experiments yielded, whether the litmus paper turned blue or red.
All you cared about was taking down the results.
It’s the same with blogging…
Along the way, you’ll quickly realize what works and what doesn’t.
… then, focus on the results.
That is, keep doing the things that work, and discard those that don’t.
The most important aspect of this process is that it keeps your mind off the failure. The reason being that you aren’t focused on being right or wrong.
Instead, your focus is finding what works and what doesn’t.
Then, applying and/or improving what works all the while avoiding doing the wrong things over and over again.
What Would You Attempt to Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?
Now, let’s explore the other side of the coin. That is, what if you can’t fail at anything?
That would be great, wouldn’t it?
But if you think about it a little more, that feeling may be true for the first 6 months or even a year. After that, life or any task for that matter becomes less of a challenge.
While the concept may sound great, it really isn’t.
When something becomes too easy to reach or obtain, it also LOSES ITS VALUE.
That means you won’t cherish it, or even give it much thought after a day or so.
Why is this bad?
After a while, YOU JUST WOULDN’T DO ANYTHING, simply because nothing is worth attempting anymore.
As a result, you won’t even try.
Sadly, as we all know, if you don’t put any effort into something, you’ll never get better at it.
Thus, while failure is something none of us likes to experience, it’s also a reminder of what’s important or valuable to us. That’s the reason failing in a video game or something you don’t really care much about doesn’t sting.
In contrast, losing something valuable or something you worked hard for, really gets to you.
What Can You Do to Increase Your Odds of Success in Blogging?
Now, it’s time to act.
You have a better understanding of why blogs fail and what tricks your mind plays on you when you don’t succeed.
So the question comes down to what things can you do to succeed as a blogger.
Figure Out What’s the Root of Your Failure
If something isn’t working, take a step back and analyze things. Often the root cause of the problem falls under one of three categories.
- Psychological Problem: Do you have a mindset problem?
- Action Problem: Not being able to take action or get things done.
- Execution Problem: Do you know what to do and how to do it?
Here are a few examples of each:
Knowing whether you have a mindset, action or execution problem allows you to focus on what’s holding you back.
Once you know this, treat it like all your other weaknesses.
That is, spend more time learning about that aspect and train more on it.
This will allow you to turn your weaknesses into strengths.
If you’re having a hard time pinpointing the root cause, try figuring which tasks you hate doing most or fear doing when it comes to blogging.
More often than not, the task we’re most afraid of or avoid most are the ones we’re bad at.
Unfortunately, they’re often also the most important ones we need to learn to overcome obstacles in our lives.
Learn From People Who’ve Already Done What You Want to Achieve
One of the fastest ways to grow your blog is by listening, learning and following those who are successful.
Why reinvent the wheel?
Instead, find and follow those who have already done it. This gives you a leg up on your competition. It also saves you time and frustration.
That said there are two approaches when it comes to this learning method.
- The Paid Way: This involves taking courses. While they’ll cost you more now, the investment is well worth it. You do need to choose the right courses and instructors. When you do so, it cuts down the time you’ll spend learning and experimenting. This is something I had to learn the hard way when I avoided buying courses simply because I was trying to save extra cash when I started blogging.
- The Free Way: If you don’t like paying for courses or are still in the process of saving for them, you can do this. The free way involves finding a few very good bloggers to follow. Then, methodically go through their posts. It takes a bit more time to research, compile and organize the articles, podcasts, and videos, but it can be done. However, don’t expect the experts to reveal all their secrets in their FREE posts.
Choose A Niche That Suits You
Because you’re going to be investing a lot of time and effort into your blog, it’s important to choose a niche that you like. This helps you stay motivated even when things take a while to work out.
In contrast, it’s very hard to keep writing about a topic you have no interest in.
That said, when it comes to choosing your blog’s niche, here are three things to remember.
Choose a niche that:
- You like or enjoy
- You know about or are interested in learning about
- That has profit potential
If you’d like to learn more about how to go about it, I go into things in-depth in my article on how to choose a niche for your blog.
Clearly Define Your Goals
Why are you starting a blog?
- Is it to make extra money?
- Do you plan on making it your main source of income?
- Is it meant to be a hobby?
- Are you trying to build an audience for a company, product or service you already have?
- Is it a way for you to get to know other people?
- Is blogging a way of expressing your creative side?
Once you answer this question, it’s much easier to set goals for yourself.
It’s also a good idea to set short-term and long-term goals. Here are a few you may want to try:
- One month goals
- 6-month goals
- 1-year goals
- 3-year goals
- 5-year goals
Get to Know Your Audience Intimately and What Their Needs Are
Once you’ve chosen a niche and defined your blogging goals, your focus now shifts to getting to know your audience.
This means knowing:
- Who they are?
- What they like and don’t like?
- What they’re interested in?
- What are their problems?
- What are their desires?
- Where do they hang out?
- What kind of content do they like?
- And a whole lot of other things.
Knowing as much as possible about them lets you serve them the best way you can.
Set Up Your Blog Properly
Your blog’s back-end or tech side is probably your least favorite part.
But, it’s important to make sure that it’s set up correctly.
Like a car, it’s your blog’s engine that allows you and your readers to access your blog.
More importantly, it’s the foundation that allows your website to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to anyone in the world.
To do that, you’ll want to ensure that you set 2 things up properly. These are your:
- Web hosting service
A web hosting service allows your blog to be seen by anyone who has access to the internet.
More importantly, it’s functions and features ensure that your blog doesn’t suffer “down-time”.
This way, your blog is always available.
… And visitors won’t see the dreaded “This site can’t be reached” page in their browser.
It also makes sure that your blog doesn’t take 10, 20 or more seconds to load. No one likes waiting, right?
That’s why I recommend BlueHost for anyone starting a blog.
It’s reliable, fast and affordable.
Plus, setting up your entire blog from start to finish takes just 10-15 minutes.
Each step only requiring a click of a button or entering some basic information.
You also get a free domain, 24/7 customer support and start at a discounted rate of $2.95 per month.
- Your web host (BlueHost) provides the disk space to save your website’s files and networking capabilities for your blog.
- WordPress is a software installed in your web hosting account to allow you to design your blog as well as edit and publish articles on it… all without having to write a single piece of code or HTML.
- Web hosting (BlueHost) = your laptop and internet connection
- WordPress = your laptop’s operating system. That’s Windows or macOS depending on which you use.
Make Sure the Packaging Looks Good
Like it or not, how your blog looks plays a big part in whether people read it or not.
Think about it for a second.
What did you do the last time you came upon an ugly looking website? Or, one that looked like its design belonged in the 1990s?
More likely than not, you pressed your browser’s back button, right?
Now think about the time you came across a beautifully designed looking blog?
In all probability, you stopped there, looked around a little and maybe even read a few articles.
So, in addition to writing good content, make sure that your blog looks the part as well.
To do so:
- Choose a good WordPress Theme
- Create a clean, simple, appealing design
- Install some useful plugins
- Choose your branding wisely. This includes your logo, brand colors, fonts, and sizes.
Focus on Quality Not Quantity, and Be Consistent
Unique, high-quality content is what will separate you from every other blogger out there.
So, take the time to create well-researched, useful and actionable articles for your readers.
Don’t forget to write consistently and stay within your niche’s topics as well. This lets your readers know what to expect.
After all, they take the time to visit your blog for a specific reason. Don’t give them something else that they aren’t interested in.
Promote, Promote, Promote
From the outside looking in, blogging seems content-centric. That is, everything is about writing articles.
But, one thing I quickly realized when I started was that it’s the complete opposite.
You actually want to do more marketing more than writing.
In fact, you want to do it many times more.
The better you are at promoting your blog, the more successful it becomes.
Just think about it.
If you own a store and nobody knows about it. You can sell the best products in the world but won’t get any customers until someone learns about your store.
This can be via advertisements, word of mouth or people seeing the neon lights you set up above the roof of your store.
The same is true with blogging.
You can have the greatest content in the world. But, nobody will get to see or hear about it until it gets some traction. With a few hundred million blogs and websites around, that’s not going to happen on its own.
You’re going to have to get your blog out there.
- Optimize your blog and posts for search engines like Google
- Be active on social media
- Network with fellow bloggers and influencers
- Build your email list
- Try doing promotions and paid advertising
Build an Engaged Email List
Building your email list is a lot of work.
It takes time, can get costly and it isn’t easy.
But, it’s also the most valuable source of traffic you have.
… that is, provided you have an engaged email list.
An engaged email list lets you sell products to those who know, trust and like you. That makes the process so much easier when it comes to making money.
Focus on Providing Value Above All Else
Value is the one reason why your readers come to visit your site.
They’re there because they believe that what you’re offering, be it your content, podcast, courses, products or videos, is valuable.
As such, never forget your number one job: Provide Value to Your Audience.
- It’s the value you offer that makes your blog grow.
- It’s what will make you an authority.
- It’s what will make you an influencer.
If you’re not sure what to write about, ask your audience. They’ll be happy to tell you.
Keep Experimenting and Don’t Be Afraid of Making Mistakes
Use the Plan, Build, Test, Learn, Improve and Repeat cycle to keep experimenting.
While learning from the pros and taking their courses help a lot, your results will vary from theirs. That’s because there are so many different factors involved in blogging.
- Your audience
- The niche you’re in
- Your tone and how you connect with your audience
- How you write and what you write
- Your experiences
- Topics you cover
- And many more.
This means your readers’ reaction to the tactics will vary a lot as well.
Make no mistake the things that the pros teach in courses are very valuable. And, they’ll give you a big head start.
But, you’ll need to adapt all their strategies to fit you, your audience, your topic, and your style.
When you do that, you’ll see the results come in fairly quickly.
Never Give Up!
Last but not least, don’t give up!
Keep working on your blog and one day things will pay off as it did for Everywhereist.
At best, fear of failure makes you hesitate.
… at worst, it can paralyze you and affect your decision making.
Neither of which is good for an entrepreneur.
Unfortunately, that fear never goes away.
It rears its ugly head every time you do something new, important or challenging.
So you’ll have to deal with it at one point or another.
By using the knowledge you learned in this article, you know what you’re up against.
You know why most bloggers fail…
You know how your brain reacts to success and failure…
You know how to overcome your fear of failure…
Most importantly, you understand how to increase your odds of success in blogging.
What are your biggest fears in blogging?