How this thing began
In November 2019, I lost half of my subscribers in a single day.
That was because I only had two readers and one unsubscribed.
Still, it was devastating. How could one of my friends unfollow my poorly written and unoriginal thoughts on self-improvement?
794 blog posts later, I’ve become at least slightly better at writing—trying to share my stories and insights in a concise manner. People seem to dig it, as we’re now at 417 subscribers (thank you).
But after making the recent decision to email these directly to you, four people, two of which I know personally, have unsubscribed. And I couldn’t be more thrilled about that. Let me explain.
We’re starving for validation in the early days of creating something and sharing it with others. Do I suck? Is this good? Like and subscribe!
The problem is, we do suck. We haven’t found our voice, created any value, or developed enough skill yet. So why would people stick around?
Well, in my experience, it started with an early adopter: my friend Grace. She was so pumped that I was blogging and publishing something. She read every post.
For months, it was just the two of us reading my mediocre blogs on habits and mindset. I was basically just writing things I thought she would enjoy. But every now and then, I’d write about a personal story or an educational topic and other eyeballs would appear.
Slowly but surely, more and more people would visit the site. As I entered new communities, people from different realms would tune in: a new gym, an online coaching community, and past jobs.
For two years, I wrote a new blog every Monday through Saturday. Most of them were terrible. I cringe when I go back and read my old stuff. I was overly confident without any real-world experience to back my ideas up.
But I was getting in the reps. I showed up to practice almost every day. And as a result, I was accidentally becoming a clearer and more effective writer. It was quantity over quality.
I discovered that most people enjoyed it when I shared personal stories from my own life. I used to think that would make me sound self-important and boring. But it turned out that real-world experiences made people feel most connected. So I started telling more stories and giving fewer lectures.
At first I was afraid
Building an audience with the people already in my life: Facebook friends, coaching colleagues, high school acquaintances…It’s been a wildly rewarding thing to pursue.
I love when people comment or email me about their own thoughts or experiences based on something I’ve written about. It feels like a purer form of social media.
But the downside has been a deeper craving for approval. Since I have a personal connection with many of my readers, I have felt a heightened pressure to not upset them.
In the early stages of the blog—before I felt secure in my voice—whenever someone unsubscribed or criticized my ideas in a Facebook comment, it would eat away at me.
Any ounce of disapproval meant I wasn’t cut out for creating content or sharing my opinions. Then I would get twice as gloomy because I would recognize how strongly I needed people to like my work.
After these uncomfortable moments, I’d have to remind myself that I only had 20 subscribers and that it wasn’t even close to the end of the world. As it turns out, I’m still alive. Someone I went to high school with left a frowny face on my Facebook post and it didn’t end my life.
I kept posting and sharing. I continued to sharpen up my writing skills. And more people enjoyed it each month.
I don’t know when “getting over the hump” happens. But there came a time when I had gotten enough validation in the form of subscribers, praise, and my own security. This validation allowed me to simply let go of the fear of pissing people off. It made it easier for me to speak my mind.
It’s like having an incredible group of close friends nearby. With that community secured, it makes it easier to be yourself. But if you were to move to a new city where you knew no one, you might feel less loose with your words and actions. The need for approval would be more present.
That’s how I feel now.
So, when people unsubscribe or message me when they disagree or dislike what I say, I welcome it. I try to use these as opportunities to improve and gather perspectives outside of my own.
If someone finds these posts boring, how can I make my stories more captivating and my insights more relatable or usable? If the emails get annoying, how can I shorten these blogs?
Rejection is always a good thing. It weeds out the people who aren’t the right fit. Dates, clients, subscribers, etc.
Just like I would hate going on a date with a woman who didn’t actually like me, I’d feel awful if someone was subscribed to this blog just to be polite…these emails going unread in their inbox only to be deleted.
I want you to enjoy reading these and get value out of doing so. So if you don’t, I implore you to send me feedback or to unsubscribe!
I’ll be sending out a super short survey soon to learn more about what you guys want to read more of and less of moving forward.
Thanks so much for making it this far. You’ve allowed me to turn this side-project into a pillar of my life. I’m wildly grateful.