Big days lead to lots of thoughts and long posts that hopefully mesh well! Welcome to my mind…
Yesterday I was part of a travel bloggers panel at a Blogger Relations Forum here in Sydney. It was my first ever experience speaking on a panel for anything…
…and I was petrified.
I knew I would be petrified when I accepted the invitation. Public speaking has never been on my list of favorite things to do, and with skyrocketing anxiety issues in my adult years, sometimes there are even moments of terror when put on the spot in small groups of people I know. People I know! Obviously this is a real problem.
But still I accepted because I knew, deep down, I could do it.
And I did. I survived yesterday’s small forum, albeit with a few stutter steps and a couple of blank expressions, and I felt triumphant in the end to have done something, yet again, that pushed my bounds and got me out there. Surviving proved to myself that I am powerful and capable of doing most anything even when my insides are quivering and my brain is trying to convince my body to RUN!
It’s OK to feel fear.
Throughout my 28 years on this earth, I’ve struggled with anxiety while trying to pursue dreams. I’ve given speeches, performed solo musical acts, dabbled with a brief public access comedy TV show, wrote and sang songs in a girl rock band and traveled solo. Each and every experience has brought fear to the table.
That’s right. I’m scared to travel solo.
Before every solo trip, I am filled with anxiety and worry. I think about what it could be like when I land, whether or not I’ll have to eat alone, whether I’ll be put in awkward situations and just how I’ll survive. To be honest, I sometimes feel like a fraud because I tell others to travel solo even when it scares the living daylights out of me… at least until I’m there… at least until I survive and feel triumphant much like I did yesterday after the forum.
I know I can do it, regardless of the fear. I just have to remind myself (the very hard part) to look past it and towards the final goal in order to continue living a life of experiences — ones where I travel solo to places like Kyrgyzstan, try my hand at archeology and speak out about travel blogging in public forums. As hard as it may be sometimes, after discovering a post yesterday by The PlanetD touching on a similar subject, I think it could be much easier in the future.
It’s OK to feel fear. In any case, it should be expected when you are doing things outside of your normal, comfortable routine, like living a life of experiences or working towards a dream.
I looked to the other bloggers on my panel yesterday (Lauren of The Life that Broke and Caz of yTravel Blog), and they were openly nervous before getting up on the stage. We were all feeling fear… because fear is normal.
I know it doesn’t sound like much of a revelation — fear is normal — until you tell it to yourself. Go ahead, do it. People feel fear because it is a normal reaction, and knowing that fear will probably always be there is acceptance.
Feeling fear with blogging.
As we were getting closer and closer to the conference, I felt the fear build up, and it wasn’t just the fear of being in a public speaking situation. It was the fear involved with being a blogger.
They kept saying, “You’re an expert in your field. You have so much experience. You’ll do great!”
And this is true. I know a hell of a lot about travel blogging as I’ve worked on countless blogs now, besides my own, since the beginning of the big blogging craze, but… did I really know my stuff? Would I have valuable insight to share with an audience of inquiring minds?
Further on, I thought about my own personal fears when blogging. Even writing this post now has me a little scared. I sometimes share information that is very personal on this blog; you sometimes wonder if it has value or if people even care. Self-doubt can be a bitch.
Or how about the fear of the future of travel blogging. Oh, yes, I have that one… the one where I question if sticking with it in the long-term will bring great rewards… or just allow for me the opportunity to continue putting food on the table without needing to work 12 hour days. Will more brands ever start to consider bloggers as real partners in their marketing campaigns?!
If you’re a serious blogger, you’ve probably had these thoughts, too, right?
Blogs are powerful.
But as I went through some of the potential questions that would be asked for the moderated panel, I started to be reassured that I myself had valuable insight and achievements worth sharing (it’s difficult sometimes to see yourself as others do).
Writing stuff down, like accomplishments and goals, does wonders!
Then, to go and hear other bloggers in the business talking about their successes and hardships just helped me see where I fall in the midst of the new and evolving industry where bloggers and brands work together; where bloggers and brands need each other — the whole point of the forum.
Bloggers are powerful, plain and simple. Our words mean something.
I had quite a few examples written down in my notes that I wasn’t able to share with the forum, but here is one case that just shows the power of blogs and bloggers:
A few years ago, I traveled to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan — a country many don’t even know exists. I took language lessons at a small school, and I blogged about it right here. I returned to Bishkek last month, and to the same school, where I encountered a number of foreign English teachers (from America, Canada and the UK) who knew about my blog. One person even told me that he read my blog when he was trying to decide to teach in Kyrgyzstan. He said it was helpful when making the decision… that it was something that let him see it was a friendly place.
My blog posts, written years ago on my site, actually helped someone decide to pick up his life and spend 6+ months teaching English in a small Central Asian country of all places.
That seems pretty damn powerful to me.
Now, I ask, what brands would not want to harness that sort of power by working with bloggers in long, meaningful relationships?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say it may be brands succumbing to the fear. It’s understandable. Brands and bloggers are a new sort of combo. It’s a new industry evolving minute by minute on the web, and no one wants to fail.
Just remember, fear will always be there for people doing something awesome. I believe in our ability to look past this fear, I believe in the power of blogging and bloggers in general, and I believe the fostering of worthwhile relationships between bloggers and brands is the way of the future (I’m not the only one: read this manifesto).
It still might take some time to fully convince brands of our worth and value enough to look past the fear, but with forums like those happening yesterday, I’m almost excited for the future.
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In the meantime, bloggers, feel free to share your own stories of how your blog or a blog you know could be considered powerful.