My Writing Journey Writers & Social Media

Five Things I’ve Learned from Launching a Mentoring Business

five things I learned from launching my own mentoring business

It was just over a year ago when I had the idea that I’d like to help other writers market themselves using social media. At the time I had just created this blog, my Instagram presence was less than one thousand followers, I had a love/hate relationship with Twitter and Facebook and had very little experience with other platforms.

So what on earth made me think I could do it?

Well, my background is in marketing, so that knowledge I had. And I could see the potential of this online world. I was looking around the internet and there were people, often millennials, leading the way in communicating to different audiences.

There was Zoella with her vlog that captivated thousands and thousands of fans. Or Instagrammers that had tens of thousands of followers, who were now transferring into blogs and video. Some were earning good money from advertising. Others were writing articles in online magazines. Or speaking at conferences. Or getting book deals.

The internet was driving change.

At the same time I would hear dire things from the publishing industry. Marketing budgets were limited. Books were not selling and supermarkets held a lot of power – if they decided to stock you then your book would likely sell, if they didn’t, well, it was a lot harder.

I could see how bloggers were making the internet work for them. But many authors (not all of them, I hasten to add!) were struggling with social media.

It was confusing. Moving too fast. Overwhelming. And how on earth were you to find an audience if you weren’t already established as an author?

So that was my vision – recently expanded upon to help writers and other creative people.

I learnt how to do all these things myself. I’ve researched, worked hard on my photography, experimented with different platforms, hired a mentor or two and taken (lots of) courses.

And today is the day I finally launch my mentoring business.

So, what have I learned? Well…

  1. Imposter syndrome does not go away. Seriously, I thought I’d managed to quiet down this pesky, almost crippling, feeling. Yet over the past few days it has returned with a vengeance. Who am I to be telling people what to do and how to do it?  What makes you so special? Argh!
  2. Eighteen months ago I used to get nervous when pressing publish on a blog post. Now it’s all about email. How long did I stare at the web page today which had a button saying ‘send to your entire mailing list’? I had such tummy flipping anxiety.
  3. There’s always a shadowy figure I’m imagining every time I send a mailing out. I’m picturing someone there laughing at me in the darkness, just out of sight. Or pulling my words apart, scoffing and pointing.
  4. When you work for yourself from home there’s no-one there to celebrate the little victories with – so they pass by unnoticed and you forget how much you’ve achieved in a short space of time.
  5. Panic ensues when you’re away from your laptop. What if you’ve forgotten x, y or z? And, related to this, there’s the temptation to spend all your time on your business. And not switch off.

Obviously, I do feel a sense of accomplishment along with my unease. This has been my dream for so long. I mention those five points above to reassure anyone going through something similar, or, thinking about putting themselves out there more on social media, and feeling jittery about it.

It’s all normal. Trust me.

Pushing through that fear and trying new things means being so far out of my comfort zone I feel breathless.

But apparently this is where the magic happens…

5 things i've learned after launching a business online

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2 Comments

  • Reply Diana

    I’m interested to know if you ever deal with social media and internet burn-out — and just want to write without keeping The Online Audience always in mind — and how you deal with that, if so?

    9th March 2017 at 8:29 am
    • Reply Helen Redfern

      Hi Diana, yes, I’ve dealt with social media burn out before. In fact, the last time was not so long ago – at the end of last year. I vowed then that I’d not get into that situation again. And, even though it’s difficult because I’ve just launched my business, I am trying not to be online all the time. Making sure I have breaks, spend time outside with my dog or the chickens, not be glued to my phone and aimlessly scroll through. It’s a cliche but prevention is better than cure. If I do need a break – and I’m getting good at noticing the signs now – I step back. Remove twitter and facebook from my phone and focus on what is around me in real life.

      Writing without keeping the online audience in mind is difficult. On the one hand you want to attract an audience. But on the other you want to retain your own creativity and writing for your pleasure. I think this is a problem that many novelists writing their second book encounter. For their first one they’re writing for themselves. Then, with their second, they’re aware of their audience.

      It is finding the right combination. I often start writing blog posts with myself in mind, then I might alter it and show how it might help other people. Or, I might think of a helpful post but I write it in my way. I don’t know if that makes sense?!

      9th March 2017 at 11:39 am

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