Real Always Works
A common problem that I’ve seen a lot of creatives and business owners ‘suffer’ from when they come to me for advice is that they’re SCARED to show up online.
This is different to not wanting to show up – if you’re not interested in being online then that’s a different story but if you’re actually interested or – even worse – have a NEED to show up (for your business/brand/whatever) then this problem is actually pretty serious because it holds you back from getting actual RESULTS.
This isn’t to say that the internet and social media are magical panaceas and that they’re going to guarantee you riches and fame (if only) but if you want to raise awareness of your creative work, business, or whatever else then the internet is an essential tool for getting ‘out there’ and connecting you with the RIGHT people.
This article is going to give you some practical steps for getting over your fear of sharing the REAL version of yourself on the internet.
It’s going to cover some of the most common obstacles people face as well as looking at some of the PRACTICAL steps you can take to start getting out there.
Before we get going, we need to make the point that the MAIN thing stopping you from getting out there in a REAL way is the imaginary JUDGEMENTS of imaginary people out there in the world.
From what I’ve seen with some of my clients, the main reason they don’t get started is because they create a phantom in their minds that projects forward into a future where they’re being mocked or ostracised by society as a whole for sharing the ‘wrong’ thing online.
This is just two things projected out into the world and stopping you from taking ACTION:
- It’s your own judgement of yourself and your unresolved feelings that you’re not good enough (so you assume others will see you in the same way).
- It’s your belief (maybe unconscious) that you can’t handle the consequences of being disagreed with (when if what you’re sharing is TRUE you definitely can).
Most of what we’ll be talking about in this article is about getting you to a place where you can deal with both of these things but you need to be committed from the outset to being on YOUR OWN TEAM – if you’re not, then you’re just gonna make life difficult for yourself because you’ll stop yourself doing the real stuff and “real always works”.
Here we go:
Figure out who you are, what you’re saying, and why you’re saying it.
The main reason that people find themselves unable to show up online and say something real is because they lack AWARENESS of what’s real about them, what they need to EXPRESS because of this realness, and why it’s worth sharing in the first place.
If you don’t spend some time figuring out this kind of thing then you end up getting ANALYSIS PARALYSIS which is just a fancy way of saying that you have so many potential options that your brain becomes overwhelmed and so you freeze up and do nothing.
When you start to figure out who you are and what stems from this then you narrow down your options a little but you do this in a way that refines your message and makes it easier to share.
Figuring out who you are: Just means that you do a little work to DIG INTO your true values, your true intentions, your true opinions and points of view, your own STORY (without any BS), or anything else that helps you understand yourself.
All of these things can be translated into messages – i.e. what you’re saying – for example, if you value creativity but your story has been that you’ve grown up in a world that doesn’t value the same thing then you can share stories about how you fought to nurture your creativity in a soulless world (for example).
The point is this:
When you figure out the real ‘stuff’, it makes it easier to EXPRESS it.
The first step to showing up online, then – or anywhere else, really – is to be diligent in setting the scene of your life by uncovering this kind of awareness.
The short version is this:
- Uncover something real.
- Live something real.
- Share something real.
To make life even easier for yourself you can ask yourself why share what you’re sharing – if you understand, for example, that by sharing your story you’re helping other people to become stronger in their own lives (or whatever) then that makes it easier to stay motivated and consistent in producing content in the first place.
It also makes it easier to keep riding through the rocky terrain of the internet in general when you don’t get the results you want or people disagree with you (etc.).
If you have CONVICTION in what you’re doing because you know your ‘why’ then the judgements of others and – more importantly – the judgements of YOURSELF are way less likely to hold you back from the real stuff.
Figure out who you‘re saying what you’re saying to.
You don’t need to appeal to EVERYBODY – that’s a mistake that a lot of people try and make in life and online but it just holds you back from being real and it prevents the right people from connecting with you at the DEEPEST possible level.
As the old saying goes: “A friend to all is a friend to none” (or something like that).
Showing up online is a lot easier when you do the work laid out above (figuring out your values, etc.) and then being strategic about reaching out to other people that are on your wavelength or – at a bare minimum – will benefit in a REAL way from your message.
You’ve probably read about figuring out your ‘Ideal Customer Persona’ or working on your ‘niche’ – both of these things are great advice because they help you to get an understanding of the kinda person you’re ‘speaking’ to with your content.
Spend some time reflecting on these things. If you want to figure out your niche (and a lot more related to this kind of thing) then check out this free video workshop I made:
The point is that you don’t need to appeal to everybody and so you don’t need to aim your content to everybody either. Figure out who you’re talking to, make sure it’s somebody you actually WANT to talk to because you share things like values and aspirations, and then direct all of your online content at them in a way they can relate to…
Don’t be scared to polarise.
A consequence of not appealing to everybody is that not everybody will agree with you – that’s fine and dandy but if you have some emotional ‘stuff’ going on (like SHAME) then disagreement will make you feel like there’s something ‘wrong’ with you when there isn’t and so you’ll start holding back or stop sharing your message.
Here’s a little mantra that will serve you well here (stolen from the physicist David Bohm):
“Your opinions are something that you have, not that you are”.
In other words, your opinions don’t DEFINE ‘you’ as a human being – they’re not the real essence of what it means to be you.
If you forget that then when somebody disagrees with you online then you can fall into the trap of thinking that they’re disagreeing with you fundamentally as a human being.
Of course, some other shame-driven people actually might think that about you if your opinions trigger their ‘stuff’ but – even so – the bottom line is that an opinion is just an opinion so you can remain outcome-independent and not let it affect your self-worth.
Actually, because this is just something that is going to happen to you when you share things online – i.e. people disagreeing with your opinions – then you might as well USE IT to your advantage by turning up the VOLUME on some of your more ‘controversial’ or real opinions (without trying to be CONTRIVED and creating controversy for the sake of it – just not holding back what’s TRUE).
This might seem ‘scary’ at first if you’re not used to it but because you’re not trying to appeal to everybody (see the point we made above) your polarising opinions serve to do two really important things:
- They act as a SIGNAL to call the people that you DO want to communicate with to you (because they’ll likely either share these opinions already and respect you for sharing them or they will learn something new from what you’re saying and respect you for that).
- They serve to help you RISE ABOVE the noise online and help you to get attention that you need (for the sake of your business, etc. – not for the sake of filling an emotional void or whatever by seeking empty attention as an end in itself).
There is so much noise online and most of it is just people sharing the same old boring, safe opinions and ideas because most people are scared to leave their comfort zones and be REAL.
Being polarising cuts through the noise and allows you to rise as a signal instead. The payoff is that this will connect you to others and help you build confidence as you handle whatever disagreement arises and connect with those that actually matter to you and what you’re doing.
Don’t try to be something or somebody that you’re not.
The biggest mistake that a lot of people seem to make online with their content is that they attempt to come across as something they’re NOT. This might make them feel good in the short-term but if the whole point is to build REAL connections then it’s just setting them up for failure.
The most simple example of people trying to be something they’re not is when they present themselves as being a ‘guru’ or ‘expert’ in some area and so attempt to come across as though they have ALL the answers, are completely INFALLIBLE, and can solve absolutely every problem that you might have in a given area.
This is an example of somebody being a CONTROL FREAK and trying to control the way that their online audience sees them so that they can feel a certain way about themselves and feed into their ego ‘stuff’. It’s also completely UNREAL because NOBODY has all the answers, everybody is fallible, and nobody can solve all of your problems.
Trying to be something that you’re not – on and offline – is something that we do when we have an emotional need to play it safe and to try and control situations because of insecurity and lack of confidence in our abilities.
When we have true confidence in our abilities then we are able to do two really important things:
- Admit where we don’t have answers or have room to grow – because we’re not trying to be an ‘expert’, just somebody who has learned certain thing in our own lives and continues to grow and evolve.
- We are able to be spontaneous and therefore REAL – because we’re not trying to control the moment but we’re being in it and just sharing from the REAL place of where we actually already are in TRUTH (not where we want to make it look like we are for our own ego or attachment to certain outcomes).
The short-version of all this is that you obviously need to be able to DELIVER whatever it is that you’re telling your audience you can give them but you don’t need to be ‘perfect’.
Being perfect is BORING and it makes you harder to be humanised and to build an actual connection with people.
For example, if you’re trying to come across as some perfect ‘guru’ type creature you might think that you need to present yourself as being impeccably moral, successful, and never making mistakes. Only sharing that side of yourself – i.e. your successes – might seem interesting to you and make you feel like you’re showing yourself off to the world in the way that you want to be seen but… it’s not real.
EVERYBODY has failure. Everybody has made mistakes. Everybody has screwed up. Everybody has a dark side to their nature.
You can only really CONNECT with people by sharing your stories and if your story is just “I won and everything is great” then nobody is going to find that engaging or – more importantly – relate to it.
It’s the failures, lessons, obstacles, and challenges that make you interesting so don’t be scared to share that stuff. Even more importantly, it’s not just about the past – even right now, we’re all learning things and facing challenges. Don’t try and be something other than the perfectly imperfect human being you are in truth.
If you find yourself trying to overinflate your image of yourself with the things you share online then ask yourself ‘Why?’ – more than likely it’s because you’re JUDGING yourself and so you’re using your content as a vehicle to try and hide from your judgements. Actually, by hiding in that way you’re just exacerbating the problem as it’s a form of avoidance.
If you wanna be real, then share the real stuff. It will get you better results anyway because it will stop you being BORING.
Work on being spontaneous and consistent.
Spontaneous and consistent might not sound like they go together but if you want to show up more online that’s what you need to work on.
In this sense, ‘spontaneous’ means that you’re not over planning every little detail and you can actually enjoy the process whilst consistent means that you’re posting or showing up wherever you’ve decided to be REGULARLY.
Only if you’re spontaneous in your approach to producing your content can you allow your REALNESS to shine through in it – that might mean making a video and just following prompts or bullet points instead of robotically reading a script or it might even just mean opening your mouth and going for it raw (that’s my favourite approach – have a look at my YouTube channel).
If you’re writing content then being spontaneous might just mean that you don’t choose the topic you’re going to write about until it’s time to do so. That means that when you start writing you’re writing about something that’s FRESH to you and your experience at present (that’s what I’m doing with this article right now – reflecting on thoughts I’ve had about this area over the last few days).
This approach is REAL because it connects whatever you’re putting out to the learning journey that you’re currently on and it keeps you growing REAL (which is what it’s all about). You can still do things like add SEO strategy or hashtags or whatever but as long as it fits within the wider context of who you are, what you have to say, and why you’re saying it (like we said above) then it should resonate.
The ‘Consistency’ part means that you set yourself some kind of structure of when you release your content. That basically means having some kind of Rolling Content Calendar that you’ll stick to from one week to the next – for example, on my calendar (email if you want the template and I’ll send you it) I post on this blog/site on Mondays and Fridays.
That consistency is good for my own creative process because I know what I’m doing but it’s also good for my readers who know what to expect. Knowing why you’re doing things on what day is obviously important (I chose twice a week because it’s good for SEO) and it depends on the platform you use but the point is that having structure keeps you ACCOUNTABLE and being spontaneous keeps you REAL and you need BOTH to get RESULTS.
Add Value: Entertain, Educate, Elevate & Tell Stories
All this talk of content and sharing things is fine but you need to make sure that you’re ADDING VALUE to the people that you’re communicating with. This means – first and foremost – that your content isn’t just about ‘You’ but it’s about ‘Them’ and their own lives: the problems they’re facing, the values they share, the lessons they want to learn, and their own experiences (etc.).
This means your content has to actually be ‘good’ otherwise you’re only showing up in a way that benefits you (and that’s ego).
I think the best content does all four of these things but if you can do just one or a couple, you’ll increase the odds of adding value which makes it easier to really SHOW UP:
Entertain: Basically means, don’t be BORING. Don’t just be a humourless ‘guru’ or whatever but put your actual personality into things and make people laugh. If you’re not funny, share something novel or that grabs attention.
Educate: People read and share content online because it educates them in ways that solves their problems or gives them valuable information that can help them in their lives.
Elevate: This is the BIG one in my opinion: it means that you’re helping people to GROW MORE REAL by sharing things that help them on their own life journey to become more WHOLE. It means sharing valuable insights and ideas that make life better.
Tell Stories: Finally, you need to at least give access to your story somewhere. Stories are how human beings really CONNECT and get to understand each other and that’s what it’s all about. You can also weave stories into the things that you share in general so that it’s more engaging and relatable. That’s why I share my story on my site so people can understand where I’m coming from.
Practice makes imperfect
When you first set out – especially with video – you’ll try and be perfect and to play whatever ‘role’ you think you need to play to come across successfully. Eventually, you’ll feel comfortable enough to be imperfect and to show the REAL human side of yourself to the world (which is what they want you to GIVE anyway).
This is why you need to just practice. You can start making videos on your phone or whatever – just choose a random topic – and then watch it back and delete it. Do this a few dozen times (or whatever) until it doesn’t feel ‘weird’ and then share it with a select bunch of people and build in increments before you’re ready to share with the world at large (unless you’re feeling brave then just dive in and post it somewhere).
Like most things in life, the more you do it, the easier it’ll get – even with things like having people disagree with you or even troll you and say horrible things to you (you’ll realise it really doesn’t matter and having trolls is kind of a compliment in a strange way).
Ultimately, the reason to practice isn’t so that it becomes perfect but so that it FLOWS and, ultimately, this comes down to being CONSISTENT and focusing on the things that are real to you and that are worth sharing with the world even if you share them imperfectly.
The more you talk about certain things (or write about them) the easier it will become (trust me). You’ll start to notice connections between things and certain themes will keep arising that become the ‘building blocks’ of whatever content you’re working with (for example: one of my ‘building blocks’ is REALNESS: I’ve talked and written about it so many times now I could do it with my eyes closed).
Set yourself a routine and then stick to it. Don’t try to be ‘good’ at first – in fact, don’t try to be anything. Just let what needs to come out come out and then keep building by continuing to be consistent.
Conclusion: Show Up by Showing Up
If you want to start showing up more online then start by SHOWING UP for yourself first and foremost. Figure out who you are and what you’re all about and be ready to stand for the TRUTH of whatever that might be in the face of the world’s judgements.
The biggest gift you can give the world is your REAL self and there has never been a better time to do it. Figure out where you want to share your message, learn the technical stuff required to do so, and then just get out there and show the world what you’re made of – you only get one life so you might as well SHOW UP in it.
If this story inspired or helped you then please share it with others! 🙂
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