Here’s my problem with the plethora of knowledge and training and blogs and articles out there in the universe: For every piece of advice, there is a counterpoint to it. Do this. No, do that. You’re nuts, you need to do this.
Follow this site. No, follow this one.
It is a sea of noise that never ends. You feel like a ship caught in a major storm. So hard to find your way.
Anyone who decides to build their own business — and for the purposes of this article, let’s limit it to online businesses because that’s my perspective and likely yours as well — knows that there is just too much noise, too much information. Just…. too much. Blogs and websites abound, on every conceivable topic.
So many experts have hung out their virtual shield, with opt-ins and online courses and blogs filled with information, that separating the wheat from the chaff has become almost impossible.
Who’s legit? Who isn’t? Who knows what they’re talking about? Who doesn’t?
What’s right? What’s wrong?
What Should You Do?
Believe me, I get it. Since starting my freelance writing business, I’ve slowly been drifting into overload mode. It’s incredibly easy to do, as we scour the internet for sources of relevant information.
And while there is a lot of great content out there, determining which is legit and which isn’t is not as easy as one might think. Human nature being what it is, undesirable elements tend to surface whenever there are needs to be filled. And even the legitmate sites out there may be less than valuable once you look deeper.
Weeding your way through it all can be overwhelming and exhausting.
Subscriptions and Courses and Products, Oh My!
I’ve subscribed to quite a few writing blogs and sites, most of which I do believe are good. But lately I’ve had to go back and unsubscribe, sometimes reluctantly, from a few just to stay sane.
If I overload myself with too much stuff, I know soon it won’t matter if they’re good or not because my brain will be too fried to care.
So Much To Learn, So Little Time
For me, the elements necessary to be proficient as an online freelance writer involve much more than simply writing. As if that weren’t enough. And even where just writing is concerned, it’s not that simple. There’s content marketing, copywriting, ad writing. You get the picture.
And of course, there’s the need to gain expertise, if that’s even possible, with social media marketing.
And when you’re a new business, delegating tasks to assistants or outsite vendors may be cost prohibitive, assuming it’s even a good idea. Even that is not cut and dried.
Less Is More
I’ve realized that the time has come for me to simplify. To embrace the less-is-more mentality.
And to really explore what works best for me, not what works for someone else.
There are usually many good ways to do things. The trick is finding your way. What works well for one person may not work at all for another. Experimenting becomes the order of the day.
Learning to Listen to Our Inner Voice
We don’t follow our own instincts, our own inner voices, enough. We get sidetracked by what others are doing. We’re told to follow those already successful, which is good advice. But if something just doesn’t feel like a good fit for you, it probably isn’t.
We feel we must “step outside of our comfort zone.” But is that always the best path?
It’s really hard to know, sometimes.
Maybe we’d be better off if we lived in a vacuum, unable to see the path others are taking, leaving us free to follow our own way.
It may lead to nowhere. But then again, it might lead you exactly where you want to go.
And you’re free to step off one path onto another at any point along the way.
Follow Others, But Find Your Own Way
We absolutely benefit from mentorship and advice from those who have gone before us with success, but we have to know when to put the brakes on and consider what works best for us.
The red flags for me are:
Cost — is the training or program you’re looking at exorbitantly expensive? If so, will you be able to recoup your expenses or will you likely find yourself buried in a deep financial pit, feeling taken advantage of? If I’m going to spend a fair amount on something, I better be able to see what I’m getting from it.
Sometimes we do have to take a leap of faith, but if something sounds like a ruse created to separate fools from their money, then listen to that inner voice. Don’t be that fool. If your common sense is trying to get your attention, take heed.
I’m not saying don’t spend money. I’m saying spend it wisely, and only after you’ve done your due diligence. For every endeavor that we pursue, there are those out there poised to take advantage of us. Just be careful. They can be cleverly disguised.
Often valuable information and training can be had for free or at a lower cost. Don’t fall victim to scam artists. They abound and can look legitimate on the surface. But many are the equivalent of yesteryear’s snake oil salesman so be careful. And don’t jump into anything too quickly.
Time — Even free subscriptions to programs and online courses involve time. Even if it’s worth its weight in gold, if you’re overextended, you won’t benefit. This is where simplifying comes into play. Pick a couple to follow that you feel a connection with. Establish a bit of a foundation and then add more when you’re ready.
I guarantee if you overload your plate, you’ll make yourself miserable. You’ll feel like you’re drowning. Even the most valuable training will be useless if you can’t focus.
Life is busy enough. Know where to draw lines in the sand to stay sane. Confusion and exhaustion do not a successful business person make. And I’m pretty sure your family won’t benefit either. It’s just not worth it.
Inner voice — This one is a bit of an intangible. It’s one we often tend to doubt, when it should be the one we develop the highest level of acuity toward. Listening to your inner voice warning you, telling you which way to go, is easy to dismiss. We tend to second guess ourselves and believe that voice is a liar. Or just wrong. Learn to tap back into it and pay attention.
It’s really true. If something feels wrong, or off, it probably is. Move forward with care.
Stepping Out Of Our Comfort Zone Is Overrated
I believe that stepping outside of our comfort zone is overrated. We do need to be uncomfortable to grow, but when you move beyond being merely uncomfortable into being miserable, then something is wrong.
To really find what you want to do with your life, in your occupation and life choices, following your inner voice, your bliss, may be the fastest road from here to where you want to be.
Learn to listen to your inner voice.
Pay attention when it screams for your attention.
Beware of charletons.
Find what works best for you, what makes you happy.
And do that.
For as long as it feels right.