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Note from Lisa: I’m so excited to share this guest post with you today! Morgan has some great tips about how to overcome impostor syndrome. If you’re struggling with feeling like you’re not good enough, you need to give this one a read!
Take it away Morgan…
If you have ever wanted to start a business, you’ve been there.
You have a great business or blog idea, something that you would love to share with the world.
You’re so excited to get started writing blog posts or pitching to clients, but then suddenly you feel like you’re not good enough.
Maybe your pitch got turned down or ignored. Maybe you can’t get any more clients or no one is reading your blog.
Maybe your idea is still just that, an idea.
What is keeping you from moving forward?
Do you not feel like you don’t know enough about your niche?
Is there someone else out there who knows more about your niche than you do or who can write more eloquently about it?
Do you feel like no one is ever going to hire you because your writing is no good?
(Hint: If they think that, they’re wrong)
If any of the above thoughts mirror your feelings about starting your business, you probably have impostor syndrome.
What is Impostor Syndrome?
While the term “impostor syndrome” is not exclusive to the freelancing and blogging worlds, it is most certainly quite prevalent in them.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines impostor syndrome as:
“a psychological condition that is characterized by persistent doubt concerning one’s abilities or accomplishments accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of one’s ongoing success” (Emphasis mine)
See, even the definition says that this syndrome exists even when there is plenty of evidence that you know what you’re doing!
When you have impostor syndrome, you feel held back from even the things you really want to do because you don’t think you’re good enough.
Symptoms of Impostor Syndrome When Starting a Business
Still not sure if you have impostor syndrome? Here are some ways it shows up when you’re starting (or building) your blog or freelance business.
1. Never Getting Started
You can have all the great business ideas in the world, but you’ll never accomplish them if you only dream about them and never actually get started.
If you want to wait until you think you’re fully ready to start moving toward your dreams, you’ll be waiting awhile.
Even when you think you’re ready, you still won’t be. So you might as well just get started and learn along the way.
When starting a business of any kind, we want it to succeed.
In our heads, we have this theory that if we don’t succeed the first time in our business, we’ve failed.
We want to make everything perfect, whether it’s our own writing or a client project. The problem is that no matter how much extra time we spend trying to make it perfect, we’ll never reach perfection.
3. Second Guessing Yourself
So, you’ve gotten started and clicked “Publish” on your first blog post. Or you’ve sent off some cold pitch emails to potential clients.
Just like with perfectionism, we start to doubt ourselves, thinking there’s something wrong with our work.
We immediately start berating ourselves, thinking “Well of course no one is interested in my work. It’s no good.”
This kind of thinking is what causes posts to be taken down before they’ve reached the person they’re meant to help.
Someone needs your service or to hear what you have to say, but it might not happen immediately. It will take work and persistence to gain readers and clients, but not having immediate success doesn’t mean you’re a failure.
Keep going. The readers will come, and so will your confidence and experience.
If you’re not sure how to move past what’s holding you back, here are some steps to get you moving in the right direction.
5 Steps to Overcome Impostor Syndrome
Are you ready to overcome impostor syndrome once and for all? Here are five specific steps you can take.
1. Start Small
Just like a snowball that turns into an avalanche, taking the first step can lead to bigger things. It can also be the hardest step to take.
Whether it’s a single task or an entire project, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially if it’s something you’ve never done before.
All it takes is a small amount of courage and a willingness to get started. Next thing you know, you’ll wonder why you were so scared to start in the first place.
Start with one thing.
- Publish one blog post, even if it’s 500 words long and only has one pin/image
- Send one email pitching your services to a potential client
- Submit one guest post submission to help you grow your portfolio
By giving yourself only one thing to do, you won’t be overwhelmed with too much work staring you in the face.
Once you’ve completed that task, congratulations! If you have time, move on the next task. If that’s the end of your “work hours” for today, you’ve still made progress!
2. Keep Moving Forward
Now that you’ve taken the first step, think about the steps ahead of you if you haven’t already. What are your goals for your business?
- Write those down.
- Next divide them by type (content or product creation, business, social media, etc.).
- For each goal or project, break it down into the individual steps. These will be much easier to accomplish and they’ll still help you feel productive even if you don’t have very long stretches to use for building your business.
Pick one small step to start today. Tomorrow, pick another step. If you have time, take another step.
No matter if you take one small step toward one goal done each day, you miss some days, or you accomplish 10 tasks in a single day, you’ll still keep moving toward your goals.
3. Tell or Do What You Know
Yes, there will be people out there who know more about your topic than you do.
Don’t let that stop you.
There are also people who know less than you do (or who know different things about it) and who want to learn from you.
If you don’t know what you want to blog about or turn into a business, here are some steps to finding out:
- Make a list of what you like doing or talking about
- Use that list to come up with some potential posts. Try to think of topics you’d click on if you saw them on Pinterest and didn’t know much about them.
- Or, make a list of ways you can help people by providing a service related to your interests
- Start with one post or email
- Then do another
Chances are, someone will find one of your posts and ask, “Okay, but how can I do X?” If you know the answer to their question, that’s your next post idea.
Or someone will see that you’re offering a service in an area they’d like to outsource some work in.
Providing a service to someone doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t do it themselves or that you’re better at it. It just means they value the help you provide them enough to pay you instead of doing it themselves.
You don’t have to know a lot about your topic or even know more than most of your readers.
By writing about or doing what you know, you’ll end up attracting people who need what you have to offer
4. Realize You Don’t Need to be an Expert
Writing what you know doesn’t mean that you can’t write about things that are new to you, either.
For example, if you’re learning a new skill, you can keep people up to date on how your project is going, tell how to solve problems you’ve personally come up against, or provide a list of resources you found in your research.
You don’t need to be an expert on your topic(s). You just need to be willing to put what information you do know into an accessible format that people can learn from.
If you are providing a service that is new to you, you can often find clients who have smaller budgets for projects. Then, once you have more experience under your belt, you can raise your rates or find higher-paying clients.
5. Don’t Worry about Being Perfect
No matter how many times you proofread your work, it’s probably going to have a typo.
You might think it’s the end of the world if you make a mistake on a blog post or a client project, but your reader or client most likely won’t.
Chances are, by the time they finish reading and move on, they’ll forget that you used the wrong “there” or “too”.
Even if you need to work through some corrections on a client project or update your blog post, it’s all part of the process.
Making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re failing at your blog or business. In fact, it means the opposite. It means you’re working toward your goals despite not always doing everything correctly.
How Overcoming Impostor Syndrome Helps You Accomplish Your Dreams
Whenever you feel like you’re not good enough, I want you to remember the dreams behind your goals.
If you’ve already started your blog or business, think about why.
If you haven’t started yet, why do you want to start?
- Do you want to help stay-at-home moms find more time in their days so they can do what they love?
- Do you want to help small business owners with their social media posts so they can keep on running their businesses?
- Do you want to bring in some income to help support your family?
Write this down somewhere where you’ll see it, whether that’s in your planner, on a sticky note stuck to your computer, or on an index card above your kitchen sink.
Whenever you doubt yourself, read what you wrote.
When you’re focusing on helping others and providing value to them, you won’t have time to focus on what you did wrong or could have done better.
By getting started on your blog or business, you’ll be able to gain momentum and experience.
Once you’ve moved past impostor syndrome with its symptoms of self-doubt and perfectionism, you will be able to more fully work toward your goals and dreams in your blog, business, or life.
Note from Lisa: Thanks Morgan, great advice!
Are you teady to get started as a freelancer? Here’s the course that got me started – and now I earn enough to support my family of 11!