I’ve always been the kind of person to hunt an idea instead of a solution. I would focus on what I think people needed instead of what they wanted and that paired with imposter syndrome essentially undid whatever work I would put in. Can you imagine building something for yourself, and then not believing in the worth of the thing that you built for yourself?? Absolutely balderdash.
It’s a cycle I see a lot of people a little behind me in the start-up and solopreneur space face. They make products and services because they genuinely love and believe in the value of it — but they shoot their own ideas down before they validate them because they don’t think anyone else will appreciate the things they made or their skills. I’m currently in the process of building a company that serves the self-study language learning community online called Gladly Global and we recently released a new set of printables for our community. I have used most of the printables myself, and a lot of thought and effort went into them — yet it took us almost 3 years to get them uploaded and out into the world. Cripes! 3 years… for digital products!
It’s not that we didn’t know what to do, or how to do it. It’s that we didn’t feel confident in the demand for the printables so we let it slip…and slip…and slip…
We judged ourselves and our product (that we all love) before it even touched the market!
Slowly, but surely, I started to see a pattern in how I launched products. There was an underlying mindset of ‘incompetence’ and ‘lack’ — I didn’t feel like I was going to make sales, and I robbed us of the opportunity subconsciously. I was minimising the things that got us the most reach and maximising the things I felt the most frustrated with. I was doing all sorts of busywork to avoid the immense pressure I felt from facing my community.
Finally, in 2021 I hopped into Start-up Twitter, where I started to see an open culture of promotion, excitement for progress and mutual feedback loops. I’d never seen such authenticity online before. People were sharing tips, their salaries, their failures — it was beautiful and awestriking. It got me thinking a lot about the time I’d spent online before, and how little of my journey I’ve been willing to share. Instagram, where I spent the majority of my energy trying to build a platform, is much more centred around looks, metrics and wins. Though it can be shifted to be more authentic, it’s more of a ‘best of’ reel that showcases the best of a person and their capabilities. Twitter, highlights the personality and ideas of a person by nature of the platform — and taught me to celebrate my thoughts and reminded me of the weight of ideas.
Lesson One — You don’t need a following everywhere.
I used to feel this overwhelming pressure to have my content be everywhere. I believe this was me, once again self-sabotaging work that produced results by searching out new things or beating dead avenues with a stick because I was looking for something else. Being in start-up Twitter, I saw so many tight bootstrap models that included Twitter, maybe some live streams — emails. Everyone making meaningful progress that didn’t seem unhealthy was doubling down on their favourite spots on the internet.
Lesson Two — Ideas are the currency of greatness.
I have complained countless times (definitely a bit too much) that my ideas and effort on Instagram, largely went down the drain with each passing post. It felt like my unique insights that weren’t often being said, and actually got less attention than the things said over and over… and over. Plus, there was so much work that went into shaping each idea into content for such little engagement return. I started to think that my ideas didn’t hold value in the community and that I had to regurgitate what everyone else was saying to be successful. Being in the Twitter space helped to foster the exact opposite truth. My unique point of view and propositions got me in front of people I never would have imagined without extra effort on my part. The numbers were smaller, but the impact felt more profound.
Lesson Three — Less is More
My time on the internet has predominantly been occupied by different variations of the study space and productivity space. These spaces are largely occupied by neurotic, gifted kids seeking an outlet. The demographic is also heavily, women, and so I believe the internalised need to ‘over-prove’ our worth also exists in this space — joined together with gifted-kid energy to produce a hyper-toxic love-child of a productivity ethic. As a result, I fell into the motions, also always believing that more and bigger is ultimately better. On Start-up Twitter, I saw people looking for the minimum — on purpose. I saw them looking to be efficient, figuring out what they could handle and being proud of whatever that was. I strongly believe the space has helped me to have such a healthier and wiser outlook on my 2022.
Lesson Four — Authenticity HITS different
Referring to lesson two, I often felt like I needed to embody something in order to make money online. I had a very specific image of who did, and if I wasn’t that person, people wouldn’t buy from me. When I went on Twitter, I wasn’t limited by the same algorithmic segregation as I had been subject to before. I realised a lot, and I mean a lot of different kinds of people, with different looks, ideas, abilities and skills were doing their thing on the interwebs. Sounds really obvious now that I’ve written it, but I honestly had some cobwebs over my eyes with this one. This is why it’s so important to surround yourself with inspiration that connects with you and vibes on your level. Since wiping the webs, I’ve been making a point to do things my way and not worry about it so much and it feels AMAZING.
Lesson Five — Never be afraid to boast failure / Build in Public
The inspiration for this article was my decision to go public with my income building. Before entering the space, I’d never heard of ‘Building in Public’ as a concept and instead had been told to hold onto my secrets to lure clients in. Instagram is a platform where people aim to build authority and to do so, the best of their business and experiences are shared and the fails are curated into mini-funnels. I don’t see anything wrong with that model, after all, it’s normal to celebrate the wins and brush off the bad — but I found myself feeling inadequate and painting my wins and losses in black or white when truly each step in your journey is a spread of grey. You never really know what post or line of copy is going to go viral or snag your next client. You could be doing all the right things, and just be steps away from a moment of greatness. Knowing that is clear in the confidence of the journey. When you share where you are at honestly, what you did wrong and how you failed, you reassure yourself and others that you see nothing wrong with failure. You celebrate and welcome failure, almost as much as you do success.
If you’re interested in watching me build Gladly Global and my personal brand & coaching in public, follow me on Twitter, Twitch and YouTube and I’ll see you around sharing energy and abundance in 2022!