Holding Back Online? 5 Ways to
Share Your Story with Confidence

image of rock climber

This blogging and social media thing is easy, right?

Set yourself up with a free blog, have something you want to post about and off you go. Tweet about it, hook into Facebook and you’re flying. As easy as baking candy.

Whether you’re blogging about your career, your relationships or your candy-baking business, what most bloggers come up against sooner or later is how much “them” they put into their blog and their social media presence, and what they choose to hold back.

As Dan Schawbel mentions in his Generation Y personal branding book Me 2.0:

Personal branding is about unearthing what is true and unique about you and letting everyone know about it.

Trouble is, for a lot of people the ramifications of that statement are scarier than a sinister clown clutching a bag full of spiders.

In my own work with Gen Y, I’ve seen that the critical piece that’s missing from all the advice on social media and career branding is the inner game work that’s needed to throw yourself and your personal brand online.

It takes confidence and guts to ask the big questions of yourself, and even more confidence to put your experience and life out there for the whole world to see.

It’s easy to start second guessing yourself — wondering who you really are and doubting your ability to bring it all together and write about it.

Here are five ways to build your confidence as a blogger, so you can confidently share yourself and your personal brand with the world.

1. Use your fear

It’s supposed to be scary. Don’t think for a second that those other people (the ones you think are doing it better or easier than you) never feel fear. Where there’s a new experience, a learning curve, a risk, or a challenge, there’s fear.

That fear isn’t there to derail you. It’s not there to stop you. It’s there to let you know that you’ll have to stretch a little bit.

It’s there to say, “Hang on to your hats and keys, we’re about to get going.”

So knowing that fear is part of the deal, the real question is — are you excited enough about your subject, your brand, and your ideas to go ahead with both the fear and excitement as allies?

2. Use your story

One of the very best assets you have is your own story.

Any branding, blog, article or social media effort becomes masterful, congruent and distinctive when you leverage your own story and your own experience.

That’s what makes you unique. Forget about “fitting in.” Use your story to talk about what matters to you, in the ways that make sense to you.

3. Use your voice

Don’t alter your voice to fit in with what you think people expect of you, and certainly don’t change your style in an effort to make yourself popular or appear to be an expert.

By all means think about your audience, but don’t fall into the trap of trying to please them all — you can’t write for every single one of them.

Instead, imagine there’s someone who’s a good friend of yours, someone who you trust and who fits neatly into the audience you’re reaching. Picture yourself talking with them one-on-one, and then write in that simple, genuine voice.

4. Use your instincts

Logic and reason can be powerful allies when going through a branding process, providing a structure to help you navigate through. But those very things can easily persuade you to follow a path that’s not one you particularly want to follow.

Trust yourself enough to use your instincts. Check in with what your gut is telling you about what you’re working on and what you’re writing.

Logic and reason are tools to help figure out some of the questions you have, but depending entirely on them is selling yourself short.

You have far more capability than you give yourself credit for, and that instinct of yours will always be there with insights that are worth their weight in gold.

You just have to trust yourself enough to listen.

5. Use your vulnerability

Your audience isn’t looking to connect with a tanned, toothy expert with a plastic veneer. While blog readers might look for authority on a given subject, it’s often just as important that they find someone they like — someone they can relate to and connect with.

Talk about your successes, but also talk about your screw-ups, your flaws, and your fears. Your vulnerability makes you human. Learn to trust it and there’s nothing that can hold you back.

About the Author: As a leading confidence coach with clients right around the world, Steve Errey has a reputation for talking sense and getting results. Get more from him at The Confidence Guy.

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Comments

  1. To sum up all the points ‘Honesty is the best policy’ When going even an inch away from honesty there are good chances that someday you will be noticed for this fake personna , criticized and un-followed. As we all know it takes ages to make a brand and just a couple of seconds to lose ones brand value. Good going.

  2. Well said, Steve. I’ve rarely been concerned about being candid about myself in interviews for precisely this reason (take the one I did on your blog, for example). I think revealing a few flaws only makes us that more human, and perhaps more importantly, stronger people for being able to admit we’re not perfect.

    Well written. Great message. Kudos.

  3. In my work with clients (and myself), I’ve found it delightfully effective to just invite people to shift their focus entirely away from how they’re coming across to totally letting creativity, enthusiasm, and joy flow.

    A helpful hint to get in the flow and let “what-if” scenarios go: just give yourself permission to absolutely fail with this article, this project, this relationships, life, the universe and everything else forever . . . .

    Once the pressure to conform to distorted cultural values is off, being authentic, genuine, sharing, serving, and flowing happens on it’s own. ;)

  4. Steve,
    With so many voices talking about what they did to make money, it is easy to try to copy and to try to do exactly what they do. The problem is that isn’t real.

    Like you pointed out, being yourself is how you brand your blog. It is a little scary at first to just let every in on who you are and how you think. This is a great reminder that being yourself is what will make you successful!

    I’ll be checking your blog too!

  5. Thanks, Steve, this was timely for me and very helpful. I just launched a blog a couple weeks ago and feel like I’m going through an identity crisis. I feel like I should be establishing a “niche” or a specific subject matter for the blog. I consider myself to be a well-rounded individual with a lot of passions and interests and I’ve been concerned about focusing my thoughts so that I have a blog that is targetted and “findable” to a specific group of people. I find myself in this stalemate with no real content because I don’t want to be squeezed into a box that I think needs to exist to be a successful blogger. I want my thoughts to flow freely but have been lacking the confidence that a blog that’s “all over the place” and not narrowly focused couldn’t really draw much attention.

  6. Right on, Steve.

    Few people on the ‘net are willing to share their fears and weaknesses. In the end, those few seem to be the most successful. They give us the sense that we know the real them, not some boring whitewashed persona.

  7. This is very interesting because I have actually been running my blog anonymously. The more I have been thinking about it, the more difficult and unnatural I find it to hide myself. Also, I am now seeing that my personal life experience is too much to hide, and would give great context to the rest of my blog posts. I have pretty much decided to work in my own story when it feels right.

  8. This is a great article. I am a ‘shoot from the hip’ tell it like it is internet marketer, and my personality defines my success in my job often times.

    Sometimes I have to be blunt with my clients and tell them things they maybe don’t want to hear, but are in their best interests. I carry that (my) personality through to my blog – because it’s who I am.

    If am to sell myself, then I need to BE myself.

    My favorite quote for this week: “Find out who you are. Do it on purpose” ~ Dolly Parton

    Good stuff. Thanks! :)

  9. I would value your feedback on my recent post, is this too much sharing about me and not the problems I solve?

    You can read it here.

    my desire, passion is to serve those who read my content

    thank you for your thought leadership as I apply what you share

    Mark Allen Roberts

  10. This post gave me a dose of validation, just when I needed it.

    I think that a little vulnerability makes a blogger almost irresistible. It’s that, “Oh. I have problems with that sometimes, too” feeling readers will get when you open up, reveal a flaw. I tend to use self-deprecating humor because if I turn it on myself, people can sometimes see something in themselves, but I’m not really making fun of them.

    I love all the points you made, but especially #4. It’s hard to trust my gut, but when I do, I usually end up saying the right things.

    Thank you for this excellent post.

  11. Writing from the heart and then sharing it feels like shooting in the dark sometimes. But there is simply no other way to be. “If you’re not gonna be yourself, then who are you gonna be?…Everyone else is already taken.”

    The more we can be ourselves, the more persmission it gives to others to come forward and be themselves. Real meeting real. Truth meeting truth. And that is really living.

    Thanks for reminding me to take courage!

  12. This is so true, but it is also so hard to do. Once you find that true voice though it’s great. And you will find your audience in cyberspace, that relate to you as you are. It’s getting over the fear of what some readers will think. I’ll tell ya what they will think. They may not like it and will go elsewhere, but then you will gain others because of your style.

  13. This is a great post and SO true. Get past your fears and start sharing your story. Be yourself online and everything will take care of itself. Thanks for the post.

  14. I LOVE this statement: “Instead, imagine there’s someone who’s a good friend of yours, someone who you trust and who fits neatly into the audience you’re reaching. Picture yourself talking with them one-on-one, and then write in that simple, genuine voice.” As a new blogger who has been writing journalistic-style press releases for longer than I want to admit, I struggle with cutting loose with my own voice. Your post really helps. Thanks!

  15. Great post! Authenticity and trust are the only things that sell these days and that is impossible if you’re holding back. We are all being required to step into our truth!

  16. Nicely stated.

    I tend to think of myself and behave like an introvert — quiet & reserved. But, I’ll have to admit that after a few weeks of watching Twitter (and others) I found so many more like-minded professionals. Solopreneur, working from home, somewhat isolated … mostly seeking conversation to break up the day. Now, more than a year later it has become much bigger and more rewarding.

    Decide why you’re participating and be authentic!

  17. I like the key insight that in order to be brave, you really just need to go ahead and be afraid & vulnerable. Once we make our shameful confessions there, they turn out not to be quite so scary as we’d built them up. That’s my experience, anyway.

  18. Its very hard to step out of your comfort zone. We all have that inner crittic who is reading what we are writing and telling us that ‘no one is really interested’ in our unique story. The inner critic could be the kid in the school yard playground who mocked us at our most vulnerable. Even if we didn’t stand up to him then, we can now by being ourselves, warts and all, and delievering real value to people by being truly ourselves. Thanks for this article and rousing some much needed courage in my heart.

  19. finding the right niche to market comes with time. I have been doing affiliate marketing for awhile now, and I have found that my most talented areas are within the blogging realm i.e creating content, and putting up several websites and maintaining them. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have a female helping you out along the way ;).

  20. Thanks for this post Steve. It comes at a time where I keep writing and deleting my blogs – never publishing them. I have been finding it hard to write as me. Fear plays such a large role: is it good enough? will people find it useful?

    I guess the point is that if you never post, you’ll never get comfortable with your own voice.

  21. As Dr Phil says, “Get real!” It works for me and my readers have left comments/sent emails saying they appreciate the genuineness.

    It does help though, to understand where your boundaries are. That way you can still push the boundaries without publishing something you later regret.

  22. I read all the way to the “scary clown clutching a bag full of spiders”…I just came out from under my desk.

    I get what you are saying just to traumatized to comment…

  23. Great article – it’s easy to forget to put a bit of yourself into each post and fear is a driving factor.

  24. Ok, here’s a question for you. There’s been something bothering me that I’m dying to write about (actually I already did, but didn’t post it). I’m having some hesitation because it’s critical of someone well known and respected by some in the social media world. I keep saying, nah, don’t do it, but this is an issue that’s really bugging me and I have seen hints of it in other blogs, but no one is coming right out with it. Should I throw caution to the wind and speak my mind or be guarded and bite my tongue?

  25. This post is super timely for myself and especially with point 1. Admittedly, I do have fears of this space and the industry and where I fit into the chaos. I write with passion and connect the same way in this social space, but realizing that I have to be able to utilize my fear and excitement is something I’ll be striving for more from now on.

    Thanks for the great piece.

  26. Right on. An excellent read. Terrific, informative article – a must read for all bloggers.

  27. Super post. Dug it the most.
    Hate to leave. Nice one, Steve! :)

  28. When I finally started blogging about things that I knew a lot about, that’s when the depth began to flow out of me.

    The thing that irritates me the most about Twitter and even FB is how shallow everything is.

  29. I think sharing even the truth on a post about this fear that holds you back like a metal chain could become one most effective post. Basically, as been shared, honesty is one key for going over your fear.

    Tell everyone you are afraid, how it affects you. That post will certainly become on very endearing one that makes people feel connected to you.

  30. Your point about using vulnerability is excellent. I agree that you don’t need to come off as smooth talking. You want to show slight imperfections, and as you say, be someone your readers can connect with.

  31. Love this. Thanks.

  32. I feel I have to hold back due to my full time day job.
    I don’t want to and I am increasinly more transparent. I am not holding back my battles with depression and anxiety though any longer. I deal with it, it’s very hard especially as I try and change my life for the better. I run into so many walls and it seems like the walls keep getting higher.

    But i guess this may be showing my vulnerability, and imperfections as you mentioned. I hope one day someone can see that I did it, and if I could do it while battling depression than anyone can do it.

  33. Great article. I have been doing all of you outline above and have been very successful in doing so. People truly appreciate a personal voice that they can relate to. Cheers.

  34. One question: That clown with the bag full of spiders. Did that come from a personal experience?

    Enjoyed this post. I have a hard time finding the balance between trying to sound authoritative without also sounding arrogant. You do it well.

  35. I recently started writing in my “own voice” and now I actually enjoy, instead of dread, content building.

  36. Steve, Thanks for this terrific reminder. I stopped writing on my first blog. Although I write content at least three days per week for Square Martini Media, I stopped writing on Six Figure Moms Club. The editorial calendar there used to be 3x per week and I loved writing for its audience.

    It’s been easy to say that’s been due to time constraints and partially that’s true. However, reading your article has reinforced that fear and confusion is getting in the way of writing there. Your article can be so helpful to my readers as well as me. I appreciate this eye opener and shove in the right direction! Great content and Thank You!

    Copyblogger….not only tips for great writing but therapy too and all for free ;-)

  37. @Momblebee, my two cents, if it’s respectful disagreement, go for it. If it seems like it might just be venting, maybe better to let it go unposted.

    In similar circumstances, if I don’t have a core of respect for the person, I don’t post it. For me that becomes bashing instead of respectful conversation, and it may be that I just plain don’t get what the person is doing. That’s my approach, anyway.

  38. @Sonia Simone – thanks for your input on this, although I’m still a bit on the fence on what to do. I wouldn’t classify it as venting, but it’s a more about an attitude issue, namely incredible arrogance. (and I have specific examples). I guess if that’s how this person operates, a post from me won’t change a thing, but it might make me feel better ; )

  39. @Chanda: Great point – with Twitter it’s even easier to undo years of branding effort.

    @James: Buddy, don’t go changing. We should figure out if we can work together one of these days…

    Nik: Nice idea, and it’s a frame of mind sometimes called hootlessness. You can still care deeply about the things that matter to you, but you don’t have to grasp hold of them tightly. It’s knowing what matter but letting go of the outcomes and expectations around it.

    @Blake: Agreed – the whole ‘How to make money online’ thing is getting really tired now because the messages are all the same. Thanks for checking out the blog, hope you sign up to the feed ;P

    @Jason: I think it is important for you to have some kind of positioning or segmentation that sets your blog apart, and that process does force you to ask some tricky questions. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you don’t need all the answers in one go. Try things out, see which posts you enjoyed writing and slowly figure out what matters to you. I write about confidence on my blog, but I covered that in terms of career, relationships, sex, money, family, dating, job hunting, etc. A niche doesn’t limit you – it give syou wings.

    @Kenji: That’s it – getting behind the curtain and seeing what really goes on.

    @Scientific: Sounds like you’ve made an important decision, and there’s an excitement in your comment that tells me you’re onto something good!

    @Wendy: Exactly – if people are buying YOU they need experience YOU.

    @Mark: I not going to critique your post because I’m not a copywriter, but telling stories from personal experience is a very powerful writing tool, but in my opinion it gets too much if it’s in every post. Look at people who’s writing you admire and see how they balance it out.

    @Judy: I hear ya, that moment of connection is so important, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a great way of connecting. Good to meet you :D

    @Dreama: Spoken like someone who live it.

    @Shelly: I never said it was easy :P

    @Knup: Spot on, thanks.

    @Katlin: You’re very welcome, let me know how it goes.

    @Tisha: Funny how many people try to be authentic by putting on a voice or tone in an effort to be authentic…

    @Joann: You can be an introvert and still have an authentic voice and be vulnerable. It might sometimes be more challenging, but they’re most certainly compatible.

    @Sonia: Hey Sonia, I love that. Being vulnerable = being brave.

    @Jimmy: It’s tough to deal with that inner critic whether real or imagined, but it’s always possible. Head over to the blog where I’ve got a heap of tips on handling your inner critic.

    @Insider: Ah, the woman behind the man huh?!

    @Kristine: You got it. How about writing a post you want to write and then saying, “It just doesn’t matter if people don’t read it, like it or pay attention.”

    @Sami: Hey Sam, I love Dr Phil and as a reader of your blog you have this nailed.

    @Stan: I know, that image freaks me out every time I think of it. Thanks for making me read that again.

    @Timothy: Thanks!

    @Momblebee: I think if it’s your opinion and you feel strongly enough, go for it. Just remember there’s a difference between venting your spleen and offering a reasoned, different perspective about something that matters to you.

    @Sonny: You’re very welcome, and keep on going.

    @Joanne: Thanks m’dear!

    @Paul: Awesome, thanks for digging. Come back soon.

    @Jordy: Me too. Sometimes I find myself looking at my Tweetdeck thinking, “Must tweet something, must tweet something”. Then I realise I don’t have to add to the pointless stuff out there and wait until there’s something I want to Tweet about.

    @Elmot: I’ve had this very experience on a recent post of mine on my blog, and I have very little in my life that I wouldn’t share with my readers now.

    @Jenny: Smooth talking is for car salesmen in sports coats. I even start sentences with ‘and’.

    @Mary: You’re very welcome.

    @Scott: Depression and anxiety are tough parts of life to deal with, and I’ve had direct experience of that too. I think a big part of it is being willing to explore all parts of your experience with honesty and grace, and you seem like you’re doing just that. I wish you all the best Scott.

    @Nick: Good to hear it’s working for you!

    @Cheryl: You went and mentioned that again, I’ve only just put it out of my mind from Stan’s comment.

    @Bobby: That’s it – keep on rolling and enjoying it. Great to hear.

    @Angie: Great to be of help to you. Time constraints can be a real and valid barrier to writing, that’s why I write 1 post per week these days versus 2 or 3. The point is that you’ve gotta do what works for you, in best way you can to get your best work.

    @Sonia: Exactly, I should have read your comment before offering mine further up the page. Thanks Sonia.

    @Momblebee: In your situation I’d ask myself “What is it specifically that angers me about this? What is it that hurts me?” Your honest answers to those questions might give you insights as to why this stands out for you, and might help you right a powerful post about it. Let us knwo what you do.

  40. @ Steve – Anytime, man.

  41. @Steve Errey and @Sonia – thanks to both of you for helping me figure this one out. It keeps knocking at my brain and I suspect it won’t go away until I post about it…If I do, I’ll come back here and give you the link and you guys can let me know if you think I’m out of line!

  42. Fear causes us to run or to stand in a puddle of paroxysms. Fear warns us to take flight and get shelter. Sometimes, being afraid means we’re doing something our heart doesn’t desire.

    When words frame stories that flow from personality, the rigors of writing can make you giggle. Of course, there’s work to do, stories to tell, confidence to build, and courage to develop.

    Sometimes, I tire of talking about the process. If your heart and mind say, “Write”, then do it.

  43. Telling stories is really what will connect you and your readers. It allows them to see a more human side of you. Seeing fears, faults, weaknesses, how you solve problems, those are all things your audience loves to read because they go through similar things. I recently read “Made to Stick” and it is also an excellent resource in learning to tell your stories.

  44. Great thoughts as always.
    It’s not easy to live a transparent life by ‘putting yourself out there’ on the web. However, if you aren’t authentic readers can tell in a heart beat and you’ve lost all momentum anyway.

  45. Quick question about using your story: Are there guidelines for blogging a story that may have two sides? In other words, I have a whopper of a story that will serve as inspiration for an insightful, relevant blog … but I know for a fact that the other “character” in my story would have his own version. Certainly don’t want to run into legal issues here. Any advice?

  46. @Steve Errey and @Sonia Simone …Ok, I did it and hit publish. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/3Hs0Bc
    Please take a look and let me know what you think. Thanks again for the guidance.

  47. Well said and timely as I’m blogging about quitting my job and traveling the world. You gotta be different to get different results.