As a freelancer, blogger, or online writer, there is so much pressure to “kill it”. To have hustle on top of your hustle, for your side-hustles to have sub-hustles. To build empires. To be a #girlboss or #bossbabe or #momtrepreneur.
We are expected to be entrepreneurial and savvy and opportunistic. It’s not enough to have good content, you have to know how to market that content. How to utilize every interaction as an opportunity, and turn that opportunity into a building block toward success. Oh, and to make all of it look easy, effortless and on-brand.
It’s kind of exhausting when you have no idea what you’re doing.
After all, I’m just a gal who wants to write stories about teenagers and essays about identity, I didn’t think I’d need this whole other trunk of knowledge to do that. Especially when I feel like I’m still in the early stages of even learning how to write those stories.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for working hard with the express hope of success. It’s the online culture and assertion that your work and words don’t matter as much without a huge audience that simultaneously bums me out and pisses me off.
Because once I take off that mantle of pressure to SUCCEED, I’m able to see just how much I’ve learned in a few short months. The thick skin I’ve cultivated from all the rejections (so many rejections). This anxious introvert has learned how to reach out to other bloggers, use new apps and social media tips, all with the earnest hope that my writing will reach more people as a result.
Yet what I have to show for these efforts so far doesn’t really equate to killin’ it by a lot of standards. Most days it looks more like a befuddled shuffle than anything.
So, if I’m not killin’ it, what am I doing? What are any of us doing?
Well, learning, growing, cultivating, developing.
Building an online presence requires a whole education. At this point, I still consider myself to be in an apprenticeship phase. None of this comes easily to me. If it did, I would have gotten a degree in business instead of social work. The fundamental difference of those two fields should tell you that business very much does not come naturally to me.
Does that mean I shouldn’t try? OF COURSE NOT. The world will always need writers, we should always try.
This kind of skill-building offers a slew of opportunities for personal growth, financial growth, learning, and developing in a way that can only better us as writers. I’ve learned as much from my resistance to market myself as I have from writing every day or excavating my past. It’s all part of the professional and personal journey that is being an artist and writer.
There may be pressure to achieve massive success in the form of followers, shares and likes, but, ultimately, those numbers, whether they are small or large, do not infuse the work with value. YOU DO. You don’t need to build an empire or even want to in order for your work to matter, for it to feed you and fuel you, which will always serve you.
I’ve had stories biting at my heels for decades now, a restless yearning to express myself creatively if only I had the guts to be uncomfortable and put myself out there. It has taken me this long to be ready to be uncomfortable. This long to feel like I’m ready to get out of my own way and unabashedly try.
Which means I have a lot of catching up to do. I’m just another blogger in a sea of bloggers, just another YA writer in a monsoon of YA writers, trying my hand at a wildly improbable dream that people with degrees and decades in the field have yet to accomplish. But I’m more fulfilled than I’ve ever been and I will work as a one-woman-show operating all the levers as long as it takes.
It may not be an empire, but I’m pretty sure that does mean I’m killin’ it. At least it does to me.
I’m always looking to support other writers who are in this phase as well. A great way to do that is to leave your links to your blogs or Instagram in the comments so we can follow each other!
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