When you are first starting on the internet, there are many things that can trip you up. Most of the time it is knowledge on what to do next. Or maybe it is writer’s block and you can’t seem to create content. But what if it is something more? Something that doesn’t have an easy fix or a learning curve.
What held me back in my blogging journey was harder than ever to get through. It may sound silly, but I had a deep fear of putting myself out there on the internet.
Growing up in the 90’s
You see, I grew up in the 90’s. The internet had just reached homes when I was in middle school. My mom didn’t trust the internet and had us follow some simple rules.
- Don’t use your real name
- Don’t use anything that can be tied to you (birthday numbers, age, house number, etc…)
- Don’t put your location
Back when I was a kid, these seemed like reasonable requests. I created a screen name that had nothing to do with myself and it stuck up until college.
Now that I’m older, my kid screen name is well…a little naive.
It’s not something I would want to use for business or other online endeavors. So I had to create a new online identity.
The Reality of Branding Myself
The internet seems to have changed so much from the 90’s. I remember blogging on LiveJournal, creating my page on MySpace, and making webpages on Angelfire. It was all just for fun back then without a real driven purpose.
Today it is different. First, I’m already known on some social media as my real name. If people wanted to find out about me I’m sure they could just Google me. For every social media account, I try to keep a similar handle.
THE BEAUTY OF THE INTERNET IS YOU CAN BE ONE PERSON AND YOU CAN BE A HUNDRED PEOPLE.
More and more people are using their real name, a stage name, or a business name to brand themselves online.
Branding yourself online is a combination of your values and what you support. It is what you are known for in the online community.
In order to gain trust in the online community, you have to tell people about yourself, about your life, and your general location if relevant. If you don’t feel like a real person, then it is hard to gain the trust of others in online communities. I realized that I was afraid of putting myself out there and telling others about my life.
It’s my life, it’s private to me. But how can I compete with others who are putting themselves out there?
I have considered several options:
- Create a business brand instead of a personal brand
- Making a new identity, a stage name if you will
A Place to Network
Small fears sprout up in my mind. Will people take me seriously? What makes me stand out as unique? Why do people want to hear from me?
I realized I need to stop being afraid of what I don’t know. I don’t know if people will like me, follow me, want to read my posts. The fear has paralyzed me from taking action. I know I can’t be the only one with this fear either. Anyone who is older than 28 today is most likely not that keen on putting their information online, nor do they feel good about creating a completely new identity.
We see the internet as this big environment of learning new things and catching up with friends. I never saw it as a place to meet new people because that was always discouraged.
Now the ability to network is not only engrained in our children from a young age, but it is also an essential part of survival in today’s digital world.
We are all online to learn, to network, to tell the world about our businesses and professions, to tell others how we make an impact in the world and why they should support you. Talking to others online is a necessary evil and no matter how scary, we must evolve.
NETWORKING WITH OTHERS IS WHAT THE INTERNET WAS BUILT FOR.
Vulnerable vs. Being Authentic
Is it still possible to be vulnerable on the internet and get taken advantage of?
The short answer is yes.
You still have to watch out and never post demeaning photos of yourself or others, post your exact address or phone number, or meet people outside the internet alone. That makes you vulnerable.
Instead, it is time we opt for being authentic.
Being authentic today is showing up online, with all your morals, values, hobbies, reality, and personality in full view. Your authentic online presence makes up your inner self and it gives people just the right amount of information about who you are to support you and follow you.
Generation Y Advantage
In a way, I feel like my generation has an advantage. We are growing up with the advantage that we could really create an online presence. We could promote ourselves, we could get internet famous with one funny video. We could have our 15 minutes of fame on the internet, or we could stay in the limelight.
From an introvert to another introvert, why would I want all eyes on me?
When you get traffic, people visiting your site or speaking with you, you have more of a chance of people liking you. They in turn follow you or give you their email address so you can update them on your life. These people support you. You can market to these people and perhaps develop an income online.
I see now more people that make claims of internet success and profit. Many people live off the internet and make great incomes blogging or creating webpages or doing internet marketing. Many people have a personal brand and they are not afraid to promote it.
These people are making part time or full time incomes online, just for putting themselves out there.
Today it is easier than ever to become an influencer and turn others on to things that you love or use daily. And if your audience is full of loyal supporters, you will get people paying for things you promote.
It benefits you to put yourself out there a little and tell others what has helped you, what you like and use, and most importantly, what can help them.
WHEN YOU START HELPING OTHERS, THAT’S WHEN YOUR SUPPORTERS GROW AND START HELPING YOU.
Since Generation Y or Millennials are getting increasingly familiar with digital technologies, it is becoming more common to see entrepreneurs out of this generation. Yet the Generation Z’s are catching up. They have a comfort with technology that we will never have. The majority of their socializing is on social media instead of interacting with people in person.
It’s really quite interesting.
It seems like what the internet did was make knowledge a lot more accessible. Of course, no one is going to know everything, but everyone knows something. The internet has now become a tool to share your expertise. It is literally built from the information that people know or perceive. It is also built on the reactions of other people and they keep the conversation evolving.
Don’t be ashamed of what you have to share. It doesn’t have to be in a Top Ten Ways list or a How to post, your knowledge can be shared however you would like it to be.
When you show what you know and your expertise, you automatically create your brand. You create something that you stand for and that is important to you. There are millions of people on the internet and no one is going to get stuck on your 15 minutes of fame. We can all help each other get there and keep the conversation going.
What I Stand For
This post would not be complete without a realization on what I discovered about myself. It is only natural that when I talk about sharing your views and branding, that I share what I have learned about myself and what I have to share.
This is me being transparent.
I remember back to my days of LiveJournal and the random blogging I did on my frustrations with classmates or the crush I had on a boy. I had always been an advocate of telling it like it is. That is one value I will not stray from. I will always try to be honest and upfront.
As well, I will always strive to make my audience think. I will give them a different view, something that they maybe haven’t thought of.
Lastly, I hope to share what I know. I’ve been blogging for some time now and I would love to share what I have learned about blogging and how to get started blogging. Your blog should have it’s own unique personality and should give your audience your expertise on a topic.
THE MORE YOU LEARN, THE MORE EXPERTISE YOU POSSESS.
Here are some take-aways that I will impart on you before I finish…
- Keep learning and growing.
- Don’t be afraid to share what you know.
- Get involved in the community.
- Help others and they will help you.
- Give yourself a brand name and stick to your values.
You don’t have to post what you have for breakfast everyday, but if you can find your thing, your niche, your section of the internet, with the people that also enjoy that thing, you are well set up for success in the internet world.
If you have the same fears that I had putting myself out there on the internet, then that’s okay. You don’t have to tell people your life story. Peel off a small layer of yourself, help others with what you can, and keep the conversation going.
I’d love to know what you think, keep the conversation going by commenting below.