One year into my content creation journey, and I’m still facing fears.
It’s scary knowing your work is out there for the world to see. It’s yours, and you’re responsible for its quality.
But that’s the life you and I signed up for — to live, breathe, and face our fears on a near-daily basis. Here are some that spring to mind:
- Never feeling good enough
- Negative comments (‘haters’)
- Confidence crisis
- Fear of unoriginality
- Fear of what people close to you will think
Left unchecked, these fears can derail your entire creative process. That costs valuable time and potential money.
I’ve faced all of them at some point in the past year, and I’m sure some will reappear. But I’m not trying to teach you how to make them disappear completely. That’s naive.
There are ways to overcome a content creator's fears, even if it’s for a short while. You just need to know where to look.
Never feel good enough? Chase inadequacy.
I’m in a Slack group with a bunch of incredibly talented writers. All of us have thousands of followers and articles in major publications, but each of us admitted to feeling like a fish out of water.
It was surprising to find that many other writers felt the same as I often do. But, as we reassured one another, that’s a good thing.
If you feel like your work isn’t good enough, then you’re always going to push toward a higher level.
One day you might write the best article you’ve ever written, but there will be another that smashes it out of the park.
The complete piece of content doesn’t exist. All that’s left is for you to keep pushing your abilities.
So, while some people may tell you to cut the self-doubting out, I say listen to it. Chase it. Beat it to a pulp. You’re in a battle against yourself, and there’s only one way you’re going to win.
Inadequacy may not feel good, but it’ll make you a more polished content creator.
Got your first haters? That means you’ve made it.
I don’t remember what my first hater said word for word, but he basically called my article garbage.
I was both disappointed, amused, and very close to replying. After much consideration, I decided to very sarcastically clap his response and hope he got the message.
Here’s the thing — while I was disappointed this random bloke hated my work, I soon realized the upside.
To have a stranger take the time out of their day to read, react, and passionately comment on your work shows they care. You’ve extracted emotion from your reader, which, even if it’s negative, is a sign you’re improving.
Top-quality content should make the reader feel something. It would be worse if your words bored them into amnesia as soon as they finish reading.
While it may be tempting to defend your work vehemently, do your best to laugh it off. Remember, they’ve still consumed your content.
Having a confidence crisis? Don’t worry. You’re not alone.
When I first started publishing my articles on Medium, I had no clue how vast the community is.
In my mind, writing was a lonely game — just me tapping away at my keyboard with no colleagues to confer with. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There are hundreds of publications, thousands of writers, and even more readers.
Your fellow content creators aren’t your competition, they are part of your community, and at some stage, they’ve had a crisis in confidence too.
I’m not saying your feelings are inadequate because everyone else has felt the same way at some point. Far from it. Instead, realizing that there are other creators out there you can reconcile with lifts a significant burden from your shoulders.
Sure, you can go to your family for reassurance. My nan will always praise my articles, but fellow creators can give a more accurate portrayal of my strengths and weaknesses. They can genuinely help.
Don’t be afraid to lean on the community.
Worried your work is unoriginal? Originality is overrated.
You might have read an article similar to this one before, and you might read another in the future. But you’ve never read one written by me.
Originality is rare, and while it’s refreshing to see a brand new take on something, it isn’t vital to your success. If you focus on it too much, then it may switch consumers off your work.
You see, when you chase originality, you try too hard to be clever. While it may feel good, content consumers just want something simple but helpful.
There’s a quote from Mark Twain which springs to mind:
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
There is no such thing as a new idea. Accepting that is liberating, as even if you’ve had the same idea before; you can put a new spin on it and see where your mind takes you.
Worried about what your friends and family might think? It’s easy to find out.
After I graduated from university, I noticed nearly all of my friends dived into well-paid graduate schemes and full-time jobs. I was envious. My career was going nowhere; stuck in a retail job.
When I realized content creation was the path I wanted to go down, it frightened me. I didn’t know anyone on a similar path, so I thought what I was doing was wrong.
It made me nervous to tell people. I don’t usually care what others think, but this mattered. It was a big step in my life.
After explaining it to friends and family, I quickly understood who was who. Those who supported me asked lots of questions — they were genuinely interested. Those who nitpicked the viability of my plans weren’t.
I realized something: the people who pick holes in your process are likely secretly envious you’re putting yourself out there.
Content creation is scary, and most people are too frightened to take the leap. Take a minute to appreciate what you’re doing.
Want to improve in private? You can’t.
Nicholas Cole, one of the most prolific writers on the internet, often speaks about the importance of “practicing in public.” He claims you cannot hope to get better if you don’t put your work in front of a stranger’s eyes.
Thinking back, my early articles were a complete dumpster fire. It took me weeks to get curated on Medium, and there are only about two articles I’m proud of from my first few months.
I wouldn't have realized what works and what doesn’t if I wasn’t practicing in public.
Put differently: your mum will always love your work, but strangers on the internet will respond more honestly. Chase their opinion.
Obsessed with performance? Don’t look at your stats.
When I first started writing, I checked my stats multiple times a day. I’d see an article get a few dozen views, but when it slowed down, I began questioning whether it was all worth it.
That all changed when I stopped checking them as often. Now, I do it about twice a month, although most of the time, it’s a singular check at the month’s end.
It revolutionized the way I approach content creation.
Stats should be used as indicators of what’s going well, not a basis to judge your worth. If you rely on them, it can cripple your confidence, particularly in the early stages.
Zone in on the quality of your work, not how well an article is performing. Write, edit, publish, move on. Repeat.
Content creation is often daunting, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s given me something to be proud of and many targets to work toward.
Wherever you’re at on your journey, there will be plenty of fears to overcome—some from this list, and perhaps not. The sooner you can identify them, the better.
But remember: it isn’t straightforward. In reality, your journey will be all over the place — that’s what makes it worthwhile.
As a content creator, productivity fears are real
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