When I launched my blog and my best friend expressed skepticism, I learned how being doubted can bring one strength.
Since the second grade, when a local poet came to my school and talked about writing, I fell in love with the mystery of the written word. I wanted to create beauty, excitement and adventures. I committed on that day: I would grow up to be a successful writer.
Fast forward to today and I want to kick my second grade self in the rear end. Why? I went about my dream the wrong way. How? I pursued my dream in a passive fashion. Rather than starting writing that day. I decided to study how to be a writer. I focused on consuming the written word when the strength I needed to develop was the ability to create good writing.
The result, I am approaching my 35th birthday without accomplishing anything as a writer. I decided to fix that by beginning this blog.
I secured a clever domain that fit both my personality and message. I choose a theme and customized it so it suited my aesthetics. Then I wrote my first blog post and published it for the whole world to see. I sat anxious waiting to hear feedback from some of my most trusted friends and family members, seeking external validation. I wanted someone to tell me I had accomplished something.
After publishing my first post I got an email from my best friend. Instead of offering congratulations or support, he asked a simple question. “What is your blog about?”.
I asked if he had read my “About” page where I felt I had outlined my objectives for the blog in clear terms. He had. This perplexed me as I modeled a concise description of what my blog’s focus would be after reviewing the “About” pages from some of the most successful blogs I follow by Jeff Goins, Michael Hyatt and Shawn Blanc.
As I dealt with my confusion and thought of a response my friend emailed me again. He stated that the writing on my site differed from other blogs. Rather than being short and simple posts, my writing read more like a story.
I had to laugh. My blog is titled Skull Narrative. The entire intent of my blog is to explore narratives or stories that rattle inside of our brain.
What my friend concluded to be a failure, ended up being validation that I had achieved my intent. I want my blog posts to read as stories. He confirmed my first post did just that. Success!
Still, my friend felt I had missed the mark. I thanked him for his feedback and told him I had accomplished what I had set out to do. A few hours went by and I got another email.
My friend offered additional feedback on how I could update my blog so it could fit the mold of others he’d seen (ones I had recommended for him to follow earlier that week). I’d be lying if I said this didn’t upset me. I was excited about the launch of my blog, and after mere hours my friend felt obligated to give me tips for a complete overhaul.
I couldn’t help but feel like my friend had missed the point. Then it hit me! In developing the concept of my blog I explored developing a niche. I built my niche around a perceived void in the blogosphere. While there were many blogs I enjoyed, I couldn’t think of one that featured long-form posts that delved into a topic beyond the surface. They felt like snippets or brief introductions for layman. I wanted something with more depth. I figured if I wanted more, others would too.
I built my blog around my strength, writing interesting narratives. I realized my friend not only held no interest in the topics I would be covering in my blog, but he was also a person that didn’t enjoy reading. He almost never read the books I recommended to him over the years, and the ones he did try out he never completed. In short, he was not my blog’s target audience.
In earnest, he offered feedback to make my blog more suitable to his tastes and preferences. But the reality of the matter is that my blog isn’t written for him. It’s written for people more like me, people that enjoy long-form narratives on topics of self-help, success, leadership, etc.
I learned a lot from this encounter. One of the lessons I took away was the fact that doubt from others can rekindle our passion for a project. When my friend questioned my blog, in good nature I might note, it struck a nerve. I became more anchored in my efforts, and more secure in my beliefs. I was writing for a purpose my friend just didn’t understand what my purpose was.
I want to point out the need to not be dismissive. I was open to my friend’s feedback but when it became clear he was missing the point and was making suggestions that would kill the entire reason why I started the blog in the first place I needed to tune him out.
Another thing I learned was that having people doubt your work can be used as an opportunity to refine it. I’m grateful my buddy spoke so honestly about my blog, it forced me to further define its intent. As a result, I have more belief in my blog along with a clearer understanding of how I intend to use my platform. My blog is stronger due to his input.
So how can we deal with doubters as we move forward with our creative projects? I’d recommend the following steps:
- Thank them for their feedback. – Your idea has struck a chord. A great stepping stone toward capturing an audience is to generate engagement. When doubters voice their concerns about your project they are engaged, and they are only representing one side of the spectrum. The law of polarity will tell us on the other side of the scale will be an audience that believes in your content.
- Search for the opportunity. – We all want to grow our audience. Current doubters can become potential converts. In my encounter with my friend I realized that while my intent of providing posts with long-form narratives was my focus, I could balance my blog by offering shorter posts as well. It even gave me the idea I could write a quick distillation of an idea covering the basic tenets, while coming back to revisiting them in detail in a later post. By hearing doubters out we may generate ideas that will make us more productive while building a larger audience.
- Serve Your Niche. – Your responsibility is to your audience. When you’re first starting out this may be just yourself. If you’ve been at it for a while this may mean thousands of followers. You can take the comments of doubters into consideration, but you have to remain true to your intent and vision. The reality is you will not be able to please everyone. Focus on your core audience and strengths and they will reward you for meeting their needs.
The Strength to Continue…
When you experience doubt from the outside use it as an opportunity to develop the strength to persevere. As you progress toward your dream people will say you are wasting your time, they will doubt your ability to succeed but stay focused on your goals and you will be successful.