It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been creating content. Imposter syndrome is something we all face at one point or another. You might be tempted to make light of it, but it can be downright paralyzing. In fact, it’s one of the top reasons why people abandon their blogs and stop putting out content.
So how do you conquer it? We sat down with someone who knows a lot about blogs, online businesses, growing audiences and, you guessed it, imposter syndrome.
After creating dozens of blogs and businesses over the past decade, Pete McPherson of Do You Even Blog knows a thing or two about imposter syndrome. In fact, he has two practical approaches that anyone can take to overcome imposter syndrome. Plus, he spills details on picking the next best platform for getting your content heard…and it might surprise you.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Self doubt, imposter syndrome, the comparison trap. Whatever you want to call these feelings of inadequacy, the Internet seems to bring it out full force in people. McPherson says that everyone goes through it. Even the people who are at the top of their game can still experience moments of massive self doubt.
How Do I Cope with Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome online might be inevitable. But is it also inescapable? According to McPherson, there are actually two ways to combat this non-confidence.
Strategy 1: Don’t Worry About Being an Expert
The first thing that McPherson suggests is to remember that you don’t actually have to be an expert. Being the expert or the know-it-all aren’t necessary requirements to help people. In fact, you’re often going to be a lot more relatable if you aren’t trying to constantly position yourself as an expert.
McPherson says one of the most important things content creators need to understand is that their audience is looking for some kind of transformation. They want to get better at a hobby, travel more, or change their lives in some way. Intuitively, most content creators know this. They also automatically assume that means they need to take on the role of an expert.
Instead, content creators might try on other roles like journalist, researcher, professor, or even friend. Audiences may benefit from an expert, but they may relate more strongly to a friend who is a few steps ahead of them on the same journey. If you position yourself in this role, you can learn with your audience, ask questions of each other, and grow together.
For another take on what audiences want, check out these tips from Mr. Money Mustache.
Strategy 2: Just Be You
Another thing McPherson stresses is to stop trying to be the next anybody. Many times, content creators are inspired to start blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels because of the work of another excellent creator. No matter how much someone inspires you, you’ll never become the new version of them.
It’s just not practical, and it’s not worth putting that kind of pressure on yourself. A strategy that helped a blogger grow three years ago or even three months ago won’t necessarily work the same way for someone starting now.
Instead of forcing yourself into a constant state of comparison, don’t be afraid to try new things. McPherson says one of the best things new bloggers can do is to try a bunch of things. Be willing to implement things in your own voice, and see what works for you. Staying true to yourself is a surefire way to slay imposter syndrome.
Get more advice on finding your voice from Kabir Sehgal.
What Is the Best Platform for My Content?
You’re ready to be yourself, but where exactly do you do that? You need a platform, of course.
There’s a lot of buzz about creating the right kind of content in the right space. Not only are people trying to figure out what is most popular now, people want to be ahead of the curve. It makes sense. The Internet is often about innovation. That probably leaves you wondering what the next hot platform will be.
As someone who has had over 45 blogs and businesses, McPherson knows a lot about platforms. Currently, Do You Even Blog is spread out across a podcast, blog, YouTube channel, Instagram, and Twitter. He also grows his email list and creates products and courses.
Strategy 1: Prioritize Audience and Authenticity
So which platform does McPherson suggest?
He actually says content creators should prioritize something wildly different: Put your audience ahead of the platform.
To do that, pick a platform that works for you. Why? To really connect with an audience, you need to find a way that mirrors how you normally communicate. That way, your platform will allow you to really say something.
For some people, that might be full-time blogging or full-time podcasting. Other people might spread their content out across platforms, doing something like 40% blogging, 40% YouTube, and 20% Instagram. McPherson stresses that the medium doesn’t matter; the ability to connect with an audience does. That means that you need to go where you can get and keep your audience’s attention. In the 21st century, nothing matters more.
If you want to carry content across multiple platforms, don’t miss these tips from Bobbi Rebell.
Strategy 2: Follow the Format of Your Platform
McPherson emphasizes that building an audience is the cornerstone of any great online platform.
When you’re creating content for a particular platform, make sure you really understand that platform. If you’re not using the preferred formatting, you’ll struggle to grow and keep your audience.
The biggest thing to remember is to do the content right for the platform. It’s worthy of experimenting with. McPherson is a big fan of repurposing content, but making sure that you do it correctly for your platform and your audience.
For instance, when he first got his Do You Even Blog podcast up and running, he realized how effective extended show notes were for his audience. He would record a handful of quick takeaways while the interview was still fresh in his mind and then use that to hammer out a blog post. This provided some surprising results. Not only did it help boost his SEO, but he also realized that his audience was looking for something to both listen to and read.
His audience isn’t yours, though. That means it’s worth your time to play around and see what your audience really wants and what you enjoy creating.
Let’s test-drive a scenario with a Don’t and a Do, and let’s take YouTube for example:
Instead of putting up the audio for your podcast and adding an image, think about why people come to YouTube. Most YouTube audiences want to actually watch something, not stare at a still image.
Solutions might include turning on the camera while you record your podcast or even laying your audio with a PowerPoint or some kind of on-screen text. That way, you are creating something that is auditory and visual.
Joseph Hogue of Let’s Talk Money breaks down another way to plan YouTube content that is perfect for your audience without taking up a ton of your time.
Final Thoughts on Imposter Syndrome and Audiences
Imposter syndrome doesn’t magically disappear when your audience reaches a certain size or you find success on a particular platform. Instead, any content creator can fall into the comparison trap at any time. But when you find your mind filling with thoughts of self-debt, go back to the advice from McPherson.
Create content that fits your personality and speaks to your audience. Don’t worry about being the next best thing or being the leading expert in your niche. Instead, be you. Your audience will thank you for it.
To hear the full interview with Pete McPherson, tune into the latest episode of the Money & Media podcast.
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About Our Hosts
Bethany Bayless is a public speaker and emcee who co-hosts the podcast The Money Millhouse.
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