Does the thought of building your digital brand or online platform make you nervous? Does the fear of making mistakes hold you back? You are not alone. Starting something new is always a challenge for just about everyone. We just have to commit to one step at a time.
I recall the first day of my pottery class in my sophomore in high school, my instructor wandered into the classroom ten minutes late. Immediately, I noticed his worn corduroy pants and untrimmed moustache. Before that year, most of my classroom life was spent in a parochial school with the very nuns that made my mother stand a whole class period with a wad of chewed up gum on her nose. This teacher was not only different, he seemed from another atmosphere. He struggled through the next 15 minutes shifting from one thought to the next. He warned us about the kiln, how the heat could burn off a hand and even a whole arm. He lamented over not having enough tools and materials for our class. And, he made sure that we all understood that clay should be recycled whenever possible. By the door stood a wastebasket lined in heavy plastic on a platform with large dolly-like wheels. This is where all the clay scrap, slop and trimmings were to be discarded with careful attention to ensure non-clay items were kept out of the receptacle. He went on to explain that this was also likely to be where the “ugly one” would end up. The “ugly one” as he described it, is your first, second or third attempt to create something from nothing. Whether it was the effort of creating an adventurous piece or a new technique practice, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will not like it and it will end up in the recycle bin. He explained that these pieces were part of the creative process. Rather than being frustrated by ugly ones, accept them and keep working. They will get better.
He was right. By the end of my thirteen short weeks in the class, I mustered up quite a few pieces that were tolerable and I even spent some time on the wheel to create a small jar that was a little wobbly but it didn’t leak any liquid. It ended up having a spot on my bedroom dresser over the next few years as a home to all the important hair accessories that a teenage girl must have within arms reach.
Looking back on that pottery class, I learned to embrace the process and focus on the progress rather than on the finished project. It is the expectations of the finished project that can hamper the actions you need to take to progress.
Online platforms serve people who want to create a following or amplify a message. They are necessary for anyone who desires to become an author, thought leader, entrepreneur or an influencer in today’s digital world. Building an online platform requires that you put your work and possibly your image on display for the world to view and even judge. It’s not an easy position for anyone. Focusing on the progress can help quiet those fears. Getting motivated to start can be the hardest part. Here are three steps you can do today to begin:
Step One: Make a master list. Dump everything you need to complete for your online platform onto one master list. Write it all down on one document, from the big projects like the website launch to all the pieces and parts that make up your online platform. This document will evolve and will probably wake you up in the middle of the night. You can organize and edit later, just get it out of your head and on the list. Make sure you make a column for step two.
Step Two: Apply deadlines. Start with your target date to publish in mind and work backwards. Give every piece and part a deadline. Everything. If you are using Excel or Google Sheets you can sort by date once you have applied all your deadlines. Working in a newsroom, every moment of every day was structured according to a deadline otherwise, it didn’t get done. When you are a news producer you have multiple storylines you are working on that all need to come together in one complete package by air time or a publish date. A deadline helps you push through second guesses and finish. A wise friend reminded me of this when I was building my online platform, she would tell me “if it doesn’t have a deadline, it does not exist.”
Step Three: Schedule it on a calendar. Now take that list with deadline dates and either print out a google calendar or use your favorite online tool. Some people like to use Asana or another tool. Keep it simple and find tune later. If you try to learn a new tool at this stage it may prevent you from the task at hand, which is plugging in the time to complete all the projects on your list. Try to use hour by hour chunks of time to dedicate to an item on your list and if you miss a deadline, reschedule it as soon as possible. Do not skip this step.
I followed these steps when I was building OPI and it helped me stay on track. As you build and grow your online platform, doubt, fear and anxiety will tag along every step of the way. I know this first hand, which is why I also know that education, tools and a supportive community will help you overcome these mindset traps as you persevere.
Join the journey by downloading the blueprint to help you get started. Let’s commit to the ugly ones together. Our platforms are a work in progress.
We will get better.