12 Ways To Leave Your Lurker Status Behind In The Blogosphere

jaws4242Success Stories, Tips & Tricks13 Comments

Guest Post By Kaly Sullivan of KalySullivan.com

When I first dipped my toe into writing, blogging, and the accompanying world of Facebook groups, posting anything anywhere would send me into a downward spiral of panic.

12 Ways to Leave Your Lurker Status Behind In The Blogosphere

My inner critic would go into overdrive.

You don’t belong here. Who are you kidding?

No one cares what you have to say.

Someone’s already said that, so you better have something witty, smart, or insightful to add to the conversation.

You’re not doing this right. You’re making a fool out of yourself, and everyone, everyone, is rolling their eyes in annoyance.

I thought my worst nightmare was the blogosphere cringing at my presence: Oh, her again.

It turns out my worst nightmare is the comments section of Scary Mommy. But more on that later.

Yes, I had some hang-ups. And to top off my laundry list of insecurities, I was also illogically envious of people who effortlessly make us laugh and cry with their funny heartfelt posts and exponentially growing social media followings.

I desperately wanted to be heard, to get my voice into the conversation, but I didn’t know where to start.

I spent my time lurking around, seeing what everyone else was doing, and not contributing to conversations. I spent my time researching, looking at other people’s blogs, reading other people’s guest posts, and liking other people’s status updates.

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If blogging is a pool, I tried on 457 different swimsuits and walked around the pool 89 times, before I was even ready to test the water with my big toe.

Eventually I was able to make the leap, and have found success in having my work featured on other sites.

How did I finally dive in? Here are 12 things that helped me make the leap that I think will help you too.

1. Get vulnerable.True connection is formed in vulnerability. If you haven’t read Brené Brown, put her at the top of your reading list. When I felt bruised from the comments on my first Scary Mommy piece, I reached out in the Beyond Your Blog Facebook group for support. I was flooded with encouragement from people who had been there and from people who had empathy for my situation. I let people connect to my experience instead of holding them at arm’s length. I started to build connections.

2. Embrace the Golden Rule. Treat people how you want to be treated. If someone shares something with the world, they are inviting you to engage. Support people the way you want to be supported. Be generous with your feedback.

[bctt tweet=”‘If someone shares something with the world, they are inviting you to engage'”]

3. Learn to calm your inner critic. I haven’t had much success plugging my ears and chanting, “I can’t hear you!” but knowing what my inner critic needs has helped me figure out how to wrangle the negative voices. My inner critic is a security junkie, so when she starts to freak out, I acknowledge her and remind her, “We’re okay. We’re safe.” That seems to do the trick.

4. Be true to yourself. The “most popular” post that I had on another site, meaning that it had the most shares and the most traffic, was a snarky response post. And when it was doing really well, it didn’t feel good because it didn’t feel true to me. I felt like a sell-out fraud. It wasn’t the site’s fault or the editor’s fault. It was on me for writing something that struck a chord with the popular kids, but didn’t feel true to what I’m about. Now I make every effort to write what’s true to me, not what I think will be popular.

5. Seek out rejection. It still stings, but I’ve learned that “No,” really means “Not right now.” I have over 40 rejections in the last six months. I track them just like I track my yes’s. If you’re not asking for what you want and putting yourself out there over and over again, then you’re never going to get where you want to go.

[bctt tweet=”‘I have over 40 rejections in the last six months. I track them just like I track my yes’s'”]

6. Keep your eye on your own paper. Don’t compare yourself to other writers and bloggers. That makes it sound easy. But seriously, I only compare myself to my own goals and my own progress. Have I done what I set out to do? That is all that really matters.

7. Set goals and go for them. If you don’t know where you’re trying to go, you won’t get very far.

8. Commit to creating more than you consume. It is easy to get distracted by what everyone else is doing. Everyone has their own agenda, and you can spend all of your time helping them achieve theirs. Focusing on my work means blocking time without email, social media and anything else that sucks me down the rabbit hole of distraction.

9. Remember that you’re not alone. Even at my lowest moments, I know that I am not the only one feeling invisible, frustrated, and ready to throw in the towel. There is simply no way. Right? Right?!?!?

10. Stop planning and start doing. At some point, you have to say, “Screw it.” The piece will never be perfect. It will never be the exact right time to submit, to post, or to share. But if you are committed to getting your voice out there, you have to do it already.

RELATED: Start. Even Without A Perfect Plan

11. Don’t take yourself so freakin’ seriously. This is a tough one. I want to be taken seriously as a writer, but if I’m too serious it sucks all of the joy out of it. We have this running joke in my house, “If you’re not having fun, you’re in the wrong family.” Find what brings you joy and lifts you up and focus on those things. Stop messing around with things that suck your energy and make you feel like crap.

12. Your contribution matters. You have to learn to believe this in your very core. I had to learn to believe in the words I was choosing to share. Learn to trust that if you write something that reflects who you are in a compelling, interesting way, people will read it.

Trust me, I know it feels safe lurking around watching everyone. You might have even convinced yourself that you’re learning something. But like most things, you learn by doing not watching. It’s time to leave your lurker status behind. Get in there and show us what you’ve got.

[bctt tweet=”‘It’s time to leave your lurker status behind. Get in there and show us what you’ve got'”]
When Kaly doesn’t have her nose in a book, she wrangles and referees two elementary age boys and blogs at KalySullivan.com about her humorous efforts to lead a mindful, connected life. She’s the author of Good Move: Strategy and Advice for Your Family’s Relocation a book about the craziness of moving with kids. Her writing has been featured on sites such as Mamalode, The Mid, In The Powder Room, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Scary Mommy to name a few. You can find her on Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and Twitter.

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13 Comments on “12 Ways To Leave Your Lurker Status Behind In The Blogosphere”

  1. Kaly, your first five lines state EXACTLY what is going through my mind as I try and work up the courage to publicize my new blog and begin submitting to other sites. I want you to know I’ve printed your article and am going to carry it around in my pocket for awhile:) Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Julie – Being printed out and stashed makes every writer’s day!!! Trust me, I know exactly how you feel. I will say that with more practice and a lot of “screw it’s”, it does get easier. Start with me…tell me about your blog and I’ll go check it out.

      1. Ha! You’ve been printed out and PRESERVED (not stashed! 🙂 I’ll tweet it and pin it, too after I finish this reply:) Yes, I imagine the practice and a lot of “screw it’s” will make it easier down the road as you said. I’m finding it a tiny bit easier to say “screw it” these days now that I’m at the age where I restock on Loreal Hair Color as often as I restock on diet cokes. Kind of you to ask about the blog. I had no intention of self promoting here. But since you asked, here’s the URL. http://www.carvingsonadesk.com You’ll be exactly the 3rd person who has seen it other than my husband and Mom, and neither of them really know what a blog is. Thanks again for your great advice here.

  2. Such helpful wisdom, Kaly! What I like most of all about your list is that it conveys the emotional aspects of writing and submitting. It’s hard. It can hurt. Even when it’s a “success” (the piece gets published), it can still feel disappointing or hollow. Still: it’s worth doing. Wonderful take-away!

    1. Thanks Jocelyn — so many lessons and opportunities to hone our voices and our writing. And not all of them are easy, but as you said, still worth doing.

  3. 6, 8 & 10 are the most difficult for me!! Six is difficult–not only from a “I’m not good enough” standpoint, but also, sometimes I get frustrated or even (dare I say?) jealous when a piece that in my opinion isn’t very good writing gets picked up by a major outlet. Eight is a HUGE struggle as I get easily caught up in what’s out there and 10 is another one. I “write” in my head all day long, but never make the time to sit down and get it out. The time I have is at night when the kids are in bed and there is laundry to fold or I am simply exhausted.

    1. The comparison pit is deeeeep and wide. It is not easy. One of my favorite mantras is Get off of Facebook. I do not let myself look at any social media or email until I’ve done at least 25 minutes of writing. Even if that is just taking notes or brainstorming ideas. I take notes on my phone in Evernote and outline pieces there, because I don’t always get to sit down at my computer. Sometimes if I know I am going to have a crazy day I do this on my phone in the morning before I even get out of bed. If I leave it until the end of the day, I know that I will never ever do it because at 9:00pm my brain is mush. Night time is when I read what other people have written. The struggle is real and every day is a different set of challenges. But, I do believe that none of those things can or should keep you from getting your voice out into the world. See #12!

  4. This is such a great post! I have to say, I am mid-move reading Kaly’s book bc she reached out to me and I am SO GLAD she left her lurker status behind. I am the much better for it.

    1. Thanks Allison! You have no idea how much doubt I had when I was first reaching out to you! I was thinking, “Is she going to think this is really creepy?” But then I said, screw it! I had something to offer you that I thought you would find valuable…maybe for some people that’s basic but for me, I’m still learning.

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