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13 Ways to Move Forward When Self-Doubt Sabotages Your Business Progress

Henrietta pushing elephantThe internet is full of testosterone.

People with big lists. And large social media followings.

As a beginner this can feel huuuuugely intimidating.

You may feel there’s nothing to add to this crazy non-stop world of tweets, likes, and pixels.

Why would people listen to you?

That’s certainly what I wondered when I started Enchanting Marketing.

I wasn’t sure what to write about. I wasn’t sure what people would want to read. I didn’t really know how I could make a living online. I doubted my ability to build an audience, and even to have meaningful conversations.

So how can you cope when self-doubt creeps up, threatening to derail your business-building efforts?

Imagine you’re an Olympic athlete

You’re about to run the biggest race of your life.

You’ve trained innumerable hours. You have the right shoes. The right shirt. Your lucky underpants.

You know the track. You know how to run your race, and you know where the finish line is.

Have you noticed how often sports analogies are used to explain how to run your business?

There’s a huge problem.

When you start running your own business, you’re unprepared for what’s coming. You don’t know the track. You haven’t completed the proper training. You might not even know what the finish line looks like. Let alone understanding how you get there.

You can’t know how people will react to your ideas, your services, your products. So you just have to start. Without the type of training an athlete undertakes. Without perfect knowledge of your track.

During the last two years, I’ve felt crippled by fear from time to time. I could do nothing but aimlessly click around the web, sometimes for a whole day or even days. Not noticing anything, and unable to make a move. Scared that my efforts would be wasted, and I would be a failure. Nervous of being ridiculed.

Some people told me to think about the worst that could happen. This may help if you’re scared of financial problems, because you can plan for those. You can save money, cut costs, or consider to find a job or go back into freelancing when a product launch fails.

But what do you do when your fears are irrational? When you’re scared of not fitting in? Or of failure? When the worst that can happen is that your confidence is crushed?

Below follow the 13 ways I’ve learned to cope with my fears.

How to overcome self-doubt

  1. Move forward in small steps. Go fast enough to stretch yourself, but don’t go so fast you collapse under the weight of self-doubt. Rather than write your first book, write a blog post about your book topic first. Then write a series of posts, and only then write a book.

  2. Get feedback from people you trust. I had beta-readers for my two books–people who fitted my ideal reader profile. Their feedback helped improve the books; and, even more importantly, my beta-readers boosted my confidence by confirming I was on the right track.

  3. Accept that self-doubt is normal–it’s a sign you’re learning and developing. Fighting self-doubt leaves me more frustrated, so I’m learning to accept it. I remind myself I’m only fearful because I’m learning new things.

  4. Sleep enough. Everything is harder when you’re tired. Seriously. I often forget to listen to my body. And when I’ve worn myself down, self-doubt strikes without mercy.

  5. Start a trial for a lower price, or give something away for free. When I thought my business blogging course would suck, I invited three people to test the program for me. I didn’t ask for money, only for a commitment to go through the program and provide feedback.

  6. Celebrate your successes. Don’t get bogged down by everything you still have to do. Write down a list of things you’ve achieved and what you’ve learned.

    Especially when you’re setting up a new business, you go through a huge learning curve–from quoting for projects to bookkeeping, from learning WordPress to mastering Twitter. Your newly acquired knowledge and skills are precious. Celebrate. Be proud.

  7. Be careful with setting goals. Big goals like reaching 1,000 subscribers can be disheartening, especially when you’re only at 57.

    Rather than get frustrated by your lack of progress, focus on the tasks you can do to achieve your goals, like writing at least one guest post a month. Things will become easier over time when you consistently focus on a limited number of tasks.

  8. Separate your must-do’s from your nice-to-do’s. Whether you’re launching a book or a product, it’s impossible to organize the perfect launch when you’re on your own. I’m more comfortable when I focus on a really small number of must-do’s, so I can do them well.

  9. Find ways to hold yourself accountable. If I hadn’t told you I’d be posting a new blog post every Tuesday, I wouldn’t publish weekly. No way.

    Whenever I create a deadline for myself, I fail. But when I agree a deadline with someone else, I stick to it. So I find ways to commit to deadlines. For instance, when an editor of a blog doesn’t ask for a deadline for my guest post, I’ll still email him to let him know when I will submit my post.

  10. Walk. Cycle. Swim. Staring at your computer monitor can be soul-destroying–especially when you get stuck in a rut. I’ve found swimming, cycling, or walking are ideal activities to feel good, gain confidence, and stimulate creativity.

  11. Find mentors and make friends. I’ve been a member of Copyblogger’s Authority forum for a few years and I’ve received a lot of help and advice in my early days. I also have regular calls and email with a few friends to bounce off ideas and keep each other accountable. The right relationships fuel your confidence and your creativity. You can’t do it all on your own.

  12. Build your audience first. Ask for their input and engage in conversations. When you listen well, your audience will tell you what to write about, what services to offer, and what courses to develop. When you get to know your audience, you can be more confident about how they’ll receive your ideas.

  13. Get started. Anywhere. The perfect blueprint doesn’t exist, so stop looking for it. When you keep analyzing what’s the best way forward, insecurity increases. But when you take action, your confidence grows.

The truth about building your business online

Don’t think a self-doubt fairy can take your fears away.

You simply have to learn to live with it. Because each time you experiment and learn, self-doubt will be there with you.

Set your own rules.

Move at your pace.

Reflect on what’s preventing you to move forward, and find ways to deal with it. Step by step.

Above all, remind yourself of why fear and self-doubt seep in.

When you push yourself outside your comfort zone, you learn new things. It’s exciting. Fulfilling. Hugely rewarding.

Go for it.

Related content

Found this post useful? Please say thank you to Kitty, who asked me to write about my fears, and to Alison, who encouraged me to write it.

Comments

  1. Going for days without even daring to decide which button to click 😉
    Ha!
    For me, it is always so hard to decide what amount of time spent online is still useful.. which part is fun, which part is procrastination, which part is necessary? It’s all so blurred.. This hads been my biggest problem and it still is.

    • Henneke says:

      Yes, that’s difficult, too. I often feel that 80% of my time on social media is wasted. But that’s probably untrue.

      And a similar problem for me is to understand whether I’m simply tired and need to rest, whether I’m too fearful and need to push forward, or whether I need to let things sink in before deciding on the next step. I’m getting better at listening to myself, but it’s hard.

      • Yep, it’s all pretty hard! I am sure we are quick at filtering out what is useful and what isn’t. And yet. The overwhelm factor kicks in prety fast. One of the things I find not useful is reading up on traffic tricks.

        • Henneke says:

          Traffic tricks are often foolish. We’re not looking to increase traffic, we’re looking to start real conversations and real engagement.

          When overwhelm kicks in, I often stop reading blog posts and quit following social media for a couple of days.

          That usually brings my sanity back.

  2. Thank you Henneke for this fabulous post! Love #7, “Be careful with setting goals”, because you are only in control of what YOU do, not necessarily the outcome of what you do (as you mentioned, you can write guest posts, you cannot control the number of subscribers you will get as a result). For me, what I need to start implementing is #9, “Find ways to hold yourself accountable”. Thanks again!

    • Henneke says:

      I love the way you explain that, Leesa – you can control what you do, but not necessarily the outcome. I can get down when I’ve slaved over a guest post, only to find a trickle of new subscribers. I try to reassure myself that my efforts will pay off over time, and I can only keep learning and keep writing. And I’ll know that on another day I’ll be lucky with an unexpected success.

      For me #9 is super-important. Without finding ways to keep myself accountable, I wouldn’t get anything done; I’d just keep fussing over commas and colons 🙂

  3. Henneke, thanks again for your words of wisdom. I read everything you send since I joined your mailing list, always insightful, always just what I need when I need it. As an aspiring copywriter, just starting my business after years of frustration working for others, I’m VERY fearful, but I’m also taking at least one step every day to keep moving towards an undefined finish line. Another great post!

    • Henneke says:

      You’re taking the right approach, Liz. One step a day will turn into an amazing journey.

      Let me know if you have any specific questions about your copywriting business? Feel free to email if I can help.

  4. Many thanks for this awesome post Henneke! I’ve been following your blog and found your posts very useful and inspiring for newbie bloggers like me.

    Please keep inspiring your followers!

    Janerma

  5. You have a way, Henneke, of destroying all my well-though-out excuses, I use to make myself believe I’m doing okay, when really I’m doing nothing.
    And then you help me realize: sometimes, in cases of overwhelm, doing nothing is just the ticket! Ha.
    So for yesterday, I’m not guilty and I thank you for that.
    And for today? NO EXCUSES! 🙂
    Thanks so much.
    Katharine recently posted…Ever Had to Get Your Own Back?My Profile

    • Henneke says:

      I think we all have to find our own balance and our own pace. It’s impossible to be productive all the time. I get a little tired of reading the latest productivity hacks.

      Sometimes we can’t move on because something is simmering in the back of our mind. We’re not sure you of what to do, or we know there’s something wrong with the plan we have, but we don’t know what.

      Perhaps on the days we aimlessly click around or stare out of the window, we allow our minds to relax and come up with the right idea.

      Thank you so much for stopping by again, Katharine.

  6. I just left my job of 10 years last week to persue my online business full time. Prior to this it seemed that ideas were flowing and I couldn’t find enough time to get them all on paper. Now a week off of work and I feel the “it’s not going to be good enough”, “what if I fail”, “I shouldn’t have quit my job” fears creeping in.

    I have been absorbing/studying your books and your writing style (especially your opening paragraphs) for the past week. You do exactly what you tell your readers to do in your books, and I see how you and John Morrow have that similar a “problem solving” flow of text and I absoultely love it.

    I am realizing, after studying you two, that there is a formula for flow and style that I have been missing. I have gone back and reworked some of my older posts to incooporate your technques and it is making a big difference. Thank you!!!

    I love your email list, I love this post and you and John are my secret mentors 🙂 What is strange is that when it seems like I have got it down I go back to my old ways, it is like learning to play tennis all over again and picking up a new swing. I read what you say, I incorporate it and then once I go out on the court, if it is not fresh in my mind, my swing falls apart. Your emails are like the coach I never had.

    Have great day and thanks again for all your help!

    = Stephen
    Stephen recently posted…Physician Assistant School and Program Directory eBookMy Profile

    • Henneke says:

      Hi Stephen – I’m honored to be your secret mentor. 🙂

      Congratulations on leaving your job! I know that’s such a scary but also exciting time.

      I’m glad to hear you find my blog post formula and writing techniques useful. Be kind to yourself – learning to write take a lot of time.

      My first drafts often still suck. It may help to create your own checklist.

      Have you created a swipe file with your favorite headlines, openings, and final paragraphs? I found this hugely beneficial when I started writing. I would read through a series of my favorite openings before writing my own. This way I was slowly internalizing the right way to compose opening paragraphs. Of course, a swipe file should only inspire your writing, and never be used to copy word for word.

      Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you on your journey?

      • The swipe file is one of the best ideas I have come across. I am having trouble figuring out how to implement it though. Maybe I will spend the evening after the kids are in bed and go through you and John’s posts focusing just on openings.

        Do you think it is best to just make a list of all the openings or do you sub-categorize them into different types of openings for different situations?

        I just finished going down your list of popular blog posts in order looking at your first sentence. Here is what I found:

        1. The internet is full of testosterone.
        2. It’s a common mistake.
        3. I have a confession to make
        4. What makes your blog popular?
        5. You love what you’re doing, don’t you?
        6. You know your writing needs to stand out.
        7. Let me guess…
        8. Let’s face it.
        9. Ever assembled a flat-pack bookcase?

        Very interesting indeed. I am beginning to see what I am missing!

        – Stephen
        Stephen recently posted…How Much Does it Cost to Fly Around the World With Kids?My Profile

        • Henneke says:

          I keep my swipe file in Evernote and have a separate folder for e.g. opening paragraphs (you don’t need to use folders, you can also simply tag the opening paragraphs as “opening paragraphs”).

          I swipe each opening paragraph so I can read a series one after the other. Evernote automatically saves a link, too, in case I want to check out the full post, but that rarely happens.

          You’re on the right track. When you analyze what other bloggers do and learn to understand what works and doesn’t work, you can apply the same techniques to your own writing.

          Do those first sentences make you want to read on?

          • Yes, your first sentences speak to the “me” in me! and of course I never noticed until today in this comment thread that you both use one short sentence.

            It was when I read you and then John on Copyblogger and also on his site boostblogtraffic that I could see how the “pros” did it. Here are the tops posts from his site (not all are by John)

            1. Can I tell you my worst nightmare?
            2. You know everyone thinks we’re fools, right?
            3. Ever notice how some blogs seem to arrive out of nowhere?
            4. A troubling thought, isn’t it?
            5. Let me guess.
            6. Can I be painfully honest with you for a moment?
            7. You know you’re in a war, right?
            8. Happens to the best of us, you know.

            And last but not least:
            9. Ever noticed how some writers have an uncanny ability to toy with your emotions?

            Yes, I do notice this… Beautiful indeed!

            – Stephen

  7. Thanks for sharing these tips Henneke. Self-doubt is amazingly something that plagues so many of us, and it really is helpful to have some go-to tried and true tools to help pull us out of a downward spiral to nowhere – and get us back on track to doing good work.

    I wonder sometimes – if the self-doubt or fear is sometimes a sign that we’re on the right track? Part of the resistance maybe that serves to prevent us from doing good stuff.

    At any rate, not giving in to it and letting it control us is essential.

    • Henneke says:

      I always thought I was the only one, the crazy one struggling with self-doubt. All role models seem to be go-getters brimming with self-confidence.

      I think you’re right – self-doubt or fear is often a sign you’re doing something that’s important to you. You invest a lot of energy into whatever it is you’re doing, and you want it to be right.

      And it’s absolutely true, we can’t let it control ourselves. Sometimes we can give in a little, and then we push forward again, tiny step by tiny step.

      Good to see you again, Sonia 🙂

  8. Thanks for this sound advice. I think just making a start, and taking small incremental steps is so important. And celebrate those little achievements every step of the way 🙂

    • Henneke says:

      Yep, you got it.

      Sometimes I wonder whether it even matters where I start, just getting started seems the main thing.

      Thank you for stopping by, Sarah

  9. Great article; can’t tell you how many times self-doubt has held me back in writing/blogging.
    Thank you.

    Val
    Val recently posted…Tips For Sewing With KnitsMy Profile

    • Henneke says:

      Same here, Val.

      And the silly thing is that while I get better at dealing with self-doubt, the self-doubt itself never becomes less. Because I simply set the bar higher, wanting to do better than last time.

      Having a post do well initially feels great, but soon after fear hits back because I’m afraid I can’t keep the standard up. Success only breeds more self-doubt. Crazy, eh? 🙂

  10. Hi Henneke,

    Great tips, as usual! Numbers 7 and 11 are the ones I agree with wholeheartedly.

    “Be careful with setting goals.” We humans are always shooting for the moon aren’t we? We want to run a marathon even though we can’t make it across the street without being winded.

    Starting with realistic goals is definitely the way to go.

    “Find mentors and make friends” is a big one. No man is an island, as the expression goes. You need to find mentors or accountability partners. If you go at it alone, OF COURSE you’re going to feel overwhelmed at times!

    I’ll come back to this post whenever the next bout of self-doubt creeps in!
    Kevin Duncan recently posted…What Weird Al Yankovic can teach us about bloggingMy Profile

    • Henneke says:

      Yes, that’s so true. If you go it alone, of course you’ll feel overwhelmed.

      I’ve found that I had to build an new, additional circle of friends when I left my corporate job, as my “old” friends didn’t always understand what I’m doing. It’s important to be in touch with a few like-minded people, who understand what you’re going through.

      And it’s also important to know that sometimes you just have to ask for help. 🙂

      Thank you for stopping by, Kevin.

  11. You are always inspiring and somehow just in time.

    Along with #4, if I may suggest, “Eat something healthy.”
    It seems like bad habits such as eating comfort food creep in when we’re short on confidence. Rather than falling into that trap, give yourself an energy boost – and some positive reinforcement – by taking care of your body.

    • Henneke says:

      Yes, that’s absolutely true. And it’s easy to get into a downward spiral, when you don’t take care of yourself. You start feeling as if the whole world works against you. But it’s only in your mind.

      Thank you for adding your thoughts, Jim.

  12. Thanks Henneke. Really enjoyed reading this today. It is so easy to think we’re the only one who gets scared and has self doubt. Very inspiring post. Thank you.
    Lisa recently posted…The Weird Story of my Year of Silence and Finding Inner Peace (Plus a Lazy Person’s Guide to Meditation)My Profile

    • Henneke says:

      You’re most welcome, Lisa.

      I’m getting a sneaky feeling that many more of us get scared and suffer from self-doubt – more than I had thought. We just don’t know it from each other, as we try to maintain a “professional” image on our blogs.

      Good to see you again.

  13. I think it was Helen Steiner Rice who said, “Face your fears and acknowledge them, but don’t let them control you.” Your post bears much the same message, but adapted for us IMers in an uplifting way.

    My friend this week announced that she had created a website. I astounded myself with the manner in which I could give her advice about prospect retention (opt-ins), domain name and how she should focus on customer benefits instead of putting herself forward, etc. So, some of the stuff the gurus have thrown at me over the years have stuck! I should really accept that I have a store of knowledge that many might envy.

    And yet I myself have not even started building a list. I’m just too scared of putting myself out there. Your sage words of advice and the wonderful comments above make me feel less alone.

    Thanks, Henneke
    (And, of course, Kitty and Alison.)

    • Henneke says:

      I so much recognize what you say. The grass is always greener at the other side, isn’t it?

      We focus on what others know and what we don’t know. We underestimate our own knowledge. We underestimate how much value we have to contribute.

      Beautiful quote from Helen Steiner Rice, too.

      Thank you for adding your thoughts, Les. I appreciate it.

    • Thank you so much for writing this post! It is so valuable for me to hear that other people struggle with this too. Especially people who write so brilliantly!

      I am starting to believe that the way for us all to keep moving forward is to have the courage to acknowledge our fears and doubts and reach our to others for a bit of a reality check! I know that has been key for me. When I doubt myself (which happens so often), if I have shared the idea with someone else, at least there is someone else to hold onto the value of the idea when I can’t.

      Les, I so relate to what you say!

      I am reading a book at the moment about imposter syndrome (not sure what the rules are for sharing book links online), but finding it really useful. It seems that chronic feelings of self doubt can affect up to 70% of people! That’s huge! That is a whole lot of people holding back on a whole lot of great ideas! Imagine where the world would be if we could help each other overcome these internal barriers and bring our ideas to life.

      Thank you for helping me (and the rest of us) to keep moving forward. I agree with Stephen, you’re the coach I never had!

      • Sorry, that was supposed to be a new comment rather than a reply!

      • It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new comment or a reply – I appreciate you’re stopping by to add your valuable thoughts, Alison 🙂

        I love your point about sharing your idea with someone so that they can remind you of the value of it. My problem is often that I have too many ideas, and while one or two seem good, I get quickly distracted by new ideas and then the good ideas start to look rubbish.

        I’d love to know more about the book on imposter syndrome. I often feel like a fraud – I had initially included some comments about this in this post, but it was becoming a little unwieldy.

        And yes, I agree, it’s such a shame that many people are holding back on sharing their ideas. We could all feel happier and more fulfilled, and the world would be a better place, if we could all cope with our self-doubt.

  14. So freakin’ timely. Just had a (sort of) rough conversation with a prospective client last night: can’t … turn … mind … off.

    #3 and #4 were great. Sleep? Who knew?

    And (of course) the closer was stellar: “When you push yourself outside your comfort zone, you learn new things. It’s exciting. Fulfilling. Hugely rewarding.”

    Over the last couple of months, I start submitting work to place like Copyblogger and MarketingProfs. So far, so good.

    But every time I finally hit “Send” I try to tell myself: “Alright, let’s get rejected!” Not in a negative way, but exactly in that pushing-myself-outside-my-comfort-zone sense.

    The only answer I get from a question I don’t ask is “No.”

    Thanks!
    Aaron Orendorff recently posted…The 3 Unbreakable Laws of Breakthrough CopywritingMy Profile

    • Henneke says:

      The rejection will come at some stage. And you know what? It doesn’t really matter.

      One of my blog posts was rejected by MarketingProfs, and I simply submitted it somewhere else. They loved it.

      It’s just the same with Amazon reviews – a one-star review will come at some stage, but it matters a lot less than I thought (than I feared!). It’s part of the game. And as long as enough people support us, we’re fine. We don’t need to please everyone.

      Keep going, Aaron! Thank you for stopping by.

  15. Henneke, a friend of mine used to ask, “why not doubt your doubts?”

  16. #1 and #7 are what keep me going! Thanks for this honest, open post, Henneke.

    • #1 has certainly helped me survive my online journey. It’s been my most important lesson so far.

      #7 is sometimes still a struggle. I do get distracted by big goals and numbers sometimes.

      Thank you for stopping by, Bree. I really appreciate it – especially for a scary-to-publish post like this.

  17. Thank you for writing this article Henneke. Self doubt is a constant companion for me. When I try to raise prices, or when I decide to stop working on non-profitable activities.

    Self doubt accompanies every blog article that I publish on my blog. Like you said we just got to learn to live with it. It gonna be there all the time, I should not it stop me from making the right decision.
    Sundar recently posted…When is a Video Tutorial better than a Text based TutorialMy Profile

    • I like how you’re using the word companion – it’s a good term.

      As you say, we can’t get rid of self-doubt, so we need to let it accompany us on your journey. It’s a sign that something is important to us, so we can slowly but surely push forward.

      Thank you for stopping by, Sundar. I appreciate it. It’s good to know that many others are facing the same struggles as I do. That’s comforting.

  18. Well Henneke if you had any self doubts about this post you can certainly put them to rest based on the number and depth of comments. Clearly you know how to connect with your audience.
    And I have a topic I’d like to read about: how to portray authority when your business/blog is new. I’m working on a sales page for my new business and I’m having trouble with what to say to convince people they should trust me and what I am telling them.
    Carole recently posted…Comment on Vintage Rocker by DianneMy Profile

    • Yes, you’re right – I felt really nervous about publishing this post, but it does seem to resonate with quite a few people 🙂

      Authority is a great suggestion for another post. As a quick suggestion, especially for a sales page, it’s good to borrow authority from others – let them speak for you. I know you already have a few “featured in” logos. This is really helpful. Can you also include some quotes from these magazines or from customers? You also have to be honest – you quickly lose your authority when your content becomes hypey, claiming your products are the best, most wonderful etc. Sometimes you may even want to say when people shouldn’t buy your products.

      For a blog, it’s often a matter of showing you know what you’re talking about – you can do this by sharing in-depth knowledge and giving specific examples.

      I hope this helps?

      I’ve added this topic to my list. Thank you 🙂

  19. Henneke, because the internet is full of testosterone, your style is all the more charming. Thanks for sharing these thoughts and opening yourself up so everyone can see they’re not the only ones who feel this way. Even people with many years of experience share these feelings. They’re just better at hiding it.

    • Thank you, Jon. I really appreciate your kind words. Publishing this post made me feel quite vulnerable, but I’m hoping that it helps a few people feel more comfortable to take action, even when they’re full of doubts.

  20. I was raised to plough through, ready or not. Go to school and then when I was old enough to work unless my temperature was 101+. So the past two years of being sidelined due to an accident has been mortifying…but also a terrific learning experience. I’ve been facing down doubts and demons that I was too busy to acknowledge all those decades of wearing the superwoman cape of a single mom. A dramatic transition for me, to be sure. One of the stickier issues I’m wrestling with at the moment is “when is it safe to venture forth again?” I keep getting smacked down with the next revelation of my condition. I want to reboot my online presence, but I’m a bit gun shy at the same time. Before I even get set up, I get queries from customers, and I’m not sure I’m ready to take on that responsibility just yet. I love the camaraderie of Copyblogger Authority, like you. I love the fact that I can network and create a name for myself. But at the same time, I don’t want to look like an ultimate flake because I can’t deliver just yet. Or alternatively, I am not keen on launching into a lengthy explanation of my condition. So doubts? Yes, I’ve got a few! But contact with the extended Copyblogger family always makes me feel lighter. And, Henneke, you are one of my favorite tonics in that regard. Cheers!

    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Lori.

      You may find that the longer you wait with rebooting your online presence, the more difficult it may get. You don’t need to reboot completely. You might even want to avoid them term (the idea of rebooting completely would scare me!). Try to take small steps forward. Each step you take will give you confidence. An illness can be debilitating, but you might be able to find some pockets of energy to get something done. See it as small trials.

  21. Wonderful and really useful post Henneke and they always arrive at exactly the right moment.
    I’m with Sundar and Lisa all the way. I’m overflowing with self-doubt every time I approach the Send button. Then I get a fantastic buzz when someone actually likes what I’ve written and it only takes one person to do that. What a rollercoaster ride this is. However, I love the comment from Curtis “why not doubt your doubts”.

    I think my solution has to be to develop some writing contacts and create a circle of support – a problem shared is always a problem halved and it’s such a relief to realise you’re not the only one full of self-doubts.

    • You’re definitely not alone, Lauren. As you can see from the comments, quite a few of us struggle with self-doubt. A circle of support sounds like an excellent idea.

      What I’ve found is that it’s important to connect with peers who understand what I’m trying to achieve online.

  22. Mike Wilke says:

    Sorry I am so late with my comment. Still playing catch-up.

    Another wonderful post.
    Thank you for #1 (small steps). It never occurred to me cut myself a little slack when the going gets tough. This will be helpful.

    Also, #7 (goals) was another one seemed directed straight at me. Yes, I need to be careful with goals because they can amount a self-imposed set-up to FAIL.

    BTW, say hi to Henrietta. I think she is hot!

    • Comments are always welcome, no matter what time.

      I find goals extremely tricky, because as soon as I fail to meet a goal, I feel miserable and my productivity slips because I have to fight against that self-doubt. Much better to try to enjoy the journey of moving ahead – even if it’s tiny step by tiny step.

      Henrietta says hi to you 🙂

  23. Hello Henneke,

    Hope summer is going well! I am catching up with your latest articles, loved this one. I agree with everything, especially “Celebrate your successes.” and “Sleep enough.” sometimes it’s hard to believe we have a body with necessities, isn’t it? Off to your next post 😉
    Virginia Duran recently posted…50+ Architectural Reasons to Visit Every Province in Spain (2/2)My Profile

    • We’ve had a few stormy days, but the sun is shining again today 🙂

      Yes, I’m not sure why it can feel so hard to take care of myself, while I’m perfectly capable of taking care of others. Get enough sleep is so important to productivity and overall wellbeing.

      Always good to see you, Virginia. Hope Spain is treating you well.

  24. As ever, a brilliant and totally spot-on post from Henneke! I’ve just launched my site and am inches away from launching a huge Affiliate Marketing Product… and this post has just given me a great boost – to be reminded of some simple but absolutely relevant truths and to keep my focus where it needs to be. Well done Henneke. Keep ’em coming!
    Maria McMahon

    • Good luck with launching your site, Maria. Sounds like lots of exciting things are happening.

      Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

  25. Victoria Love says:

    Henneke! Thank you for paying it forward. I’m so glad that I found your site. Your work is more than genius and inspirational. What else can I say? I’m a new fan.

    Your posts have given me something to hold on to while venturing into what is for me, uncharted territory.

    • Nice to meet, Victoria. 🙂

      Good luck with navigating through uncharted territory. Let me know if you have any specific questions?

  26. Thanks for this helpful post, Henneke!

    Many of these things I’m doing, but most days I still wonder why. I’ve been working at this “passive income” thing for a while now. It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked, and I’m barely clearing anything! I wonder how others are doing well, and what I’m missing.
    Louise Myers recently posted…Instagram for Business: Is It Right for Your Biz?My Profile

    • I know the stories of people building passive incomes, but I personally don’t know anyone relying completely on passive income. Most people making money online make a considerable portion of their income from coaching, other services, or membership sites. As I don’t do any affiliate marketing or advertising, my only passive income comes from my Kindle books (about $800 per month for both books combined). But this income is partly generated by Amazon and partly by my own marketing.

      There’s a lot of bragging on the web, so it’s easy to feel we’re limping behind, but that’s not necessarily true.

      Thank you for stopping by, Louise. Feel free to email me if you’d like to exchange experiences.

  27. Hi Henneke,

    Your blog just came to save me. Reading through your tips and people’s comments I am just confirmed: I am right in the middle of the puddle. Dwelling from page to page trying to find my approach. Too much stuff, too confusing. Too much distraction from all sides. So many people seem to have an opinion on how I should do this or that. After 13 years of employment, I recently founded an independent digital marketing consultancy as a self employed consultant and design freelancer. The first 6 months of setting up the basics and having first customer experiences were exiting and now…

    The main issue is smart self-marketing without coming across pushy or desperate or all too wise to get more customers. And this from me, a marketer by profession. I think I am good at helping customers with a concrete issue. I am just not a communication specialist or copy writer. I am thinking in structures, like strategies and design patterns. But I struggle to share useful approaches with more people at once (to make it work financially). I find it hard to find he right words to write to people about what I can do for them. All advice that I found so far focussed on highly frequent and automated techniques of content submission to build your list. None of it has appealed me, as none of it feels like me.

    Your tips are fab (I also downloaded your eBook 21 Tips to TurboCharge…with the enchanted writing tips) to pull myself out of the self-doubt corner and instinctively, I am applying a few of your little helpers, i.e. #4, 6 and 10. I think my main issue is to hold on to good thoughts and make them work for me or leverage an outside audience or friends to verify them.

    I guess #2, 11 and 12 are the ones I struggle most with, as self-doubts often struck the moment I want to go out (of my comfort zone) with an idea and most of my friends are in the corporate world or too busy with their lives, their kids, family and so on…

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Andrea

    • Hi Andrea

      Going from marketing someone else’s business to marketing your own services is a huge difference. I found the learning curve also steep. I feel it’s really important to stay true to yourself and force yourself to employ tactics you don’t like. I built business exclusively by blogging, guest blogging, and email marketing. No dirty tricks. No hard pitches.

      When sharing your ideas and tips in writing, try not to think about a lot of people. Words flow easier when you imagine yourself writing for one person only.

      Consider joining a forum with like-minded people who are doing similar stuff. This has made a huge difference for me. It can be lonely doing your own thing without any colleagues.

      Thank you for stopping by, Andrea. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help?

      • Dirty tricks?
        Thanks for calling it out, Henneke. “Hard pitches” are little more than annoying, to me, and it is refreshing to relate to someone willing to show a different way. Thanks!
        Katharine recently posted…Smarter than a Worm? Let’s See…My Profile

        • We don’t need to do hard pitches, but we can simply explain our offer in the same friendly voice we use in blog posts. Having said that, nudging people to make up their mind by having limited-period offers or limited availability does help. But I don’t think that’s unethical or pushy.

  28. Thank you for this post. I am a very new blogger and I need all the encouragement and direction I can get. I also have the tendency to get discouraged easily, so I really like your advice about being proud of all that you have learned. I have learned SO much in the last 2 months! I need to remember that when I start to get down on myself.
    Miranda recently posted…Showers of PrayersMy Profile

    • When I started to blog, I found the learning curve almost impossible steep. And all this learning sucked a lot of energy out of me.

      You should definitely be proud of yourself!

  29. Annamarie says:

    Hi Henneke,
    You made my day, I am like a Yoyo up and down into the hole of thinking, I simply cannot do it,
    Then popping up again and having trouble finding equilibrium. Why is it such a big deal?
    The view is still as great as ever, the sun is shining and my client ( dog ) has turned into wonderful company and I want to kick my butt about feeling this way.
    You are great, thank you so much for this post.
    Love Annamarie

    • Hi Annamarie, I so know the feeling. Creative work is scary and it’s normal to feel that way. You’re not alone!

  30. Thanks so much for pulling this post to the front, from so long ago, Henneke! As I read it, I marveled at having missed such a good post. Then I saw I’ve commented on it, the first time around. Yikes! I guess retaining it was not my strong skill that day?
    And it is still such good and needed advice!
    One thing I have said often, “I can market ANYONE. Except myself.” I have clients for whom I’ve multiplied their readership 100 times over. Wish I could say that for me. Marketing myself makes me feel like a tiny, fragile bird, clinging to a high wire on a very windy day…
    But I can see you hanging on, in spite of it all, and it gives me courage. Thanks.
    Katharine recently posted…Smarter than a worm? Hmmm?My Profile

    • I think that’s normal. We read so much day in day out, that we can’t remember everything. When we can apply a tip straightaway, then we might do it, but otherwise most content we read ends up on the scrapyard.

      How can you turn yourself into your favorite client? How can you do the same thing for yourself that you do for your other clients?

  31. Self doubt is common because we fear the unknown. But don’t let fear hinder the notion of moving forward to what’s been longed dream and aspired. As always proceed with caution.

  32. Hi,
    I stumbled upon your page just 3-4 days ago as i was searching for tips on better blogging. (which i haven’t even started yet). I find your articles very informative, easy to follow and to the point. And like you said in one your articles, your writing is indeed scrumptiously good to the point of addiction.
    Where you mentioned – “During the last two years, I’ve felt crippled by fear from time to time. I could do nothing but aimlessly click around the web, sometimes for a whole day or even days. Not noticing anything, and unable to make a move. Scared that my efforts would be wasted, and I would be a failure. Nervous of being ridiculed.” – THIS IS ME except this is me for last 6 years now (sorry for caps, but that’s how I feel – disappointed with myself). Sad, isn’t it?
    Wanted to thank you for writing this article and so many. Hopefully I will find my way, starting with last one on your list here “Get started. Anywhere. ” 🙂

    Thanks

    • Henneke says:

      Take your first baby step, and celebrate you’ve taken that first step, then decide which next step to take.

      And stop being afraid of being ridiculed. Whenever I thought “I can’t publish this article because everyone will think I’m crazy,” those were always the articles that resonated most with my readers. If you are nervous about what your friends or family will say, just don’t tell them what you’re doing.

      Let me know how you get on?

  33. Thank you so much for writing back. Will most definitely keep you posted.

  34. This is so relevant to me today. I’m in the middle of one of those days of clicking aimlessly around the web. I’m just starting a new blog, participating in a writing challenge, and figuring out how to narrow down my topic. I’m full of doubts. Thank you for some guidance here. It’s great to know I’m not alone!

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