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09 Dec 15

How To Feel Safe When You’re Visible Online

One of the biggest fears around marketing ourselves, as self-employed men and women, is the fear of visibility – and especially as it relates to being visible online.

Girl with back turned: Do you feel safe beingPeople seeing our words, our ideas, ourselves can feel exposing. We feel vulnerable, in the spotlight, open to criticism, and this can be so terrifying that many of us hold back from building a website, writing a blog, recording videos, sharing Facebook statuses, offering webinars, or any other online marketing approaches that are known to be effective.

When you’re not visible, your ideal clients can’t find you – and you don’t get paid. Your chances of making it with self-employment diminish when you’re scared to be visible.

How can it feel safe to be visible online?

The power of criticism

The truth is that while we can react with pain to criticism, the words or opinions from others don’t actually have the power to hurt us. Other people simply don’t have that power over our internal world. It’s our reaction to their words that hurts us.

But does this mean you should just put yourself out there and allow a criticism-throwing free-for-all?

I don’t believe so.

I hold the same boundaries online as I do in my physical home.

If you came to my house-party and voiced a criticism of me – perhaps you point out a way that I’ve missed the mark, or you disagree with me – then you’re still welcome as a guest in my home. I’d want you to tell me more. I’d see how healthy it is to hear you and discuss the issue and learn something from you; hopefully, we’d both grow as a result.

In contrast, a short while ago, someone attempted to comment on my blog. My website settings allow me to approve comments before they’re published. When I read this particular comment, I noticed it wasn’t constructive criticism or healthy debate; the tone was aggressive and disrespectful.

If someone showed up in my home with that tone of voice, I’d ask them to leave – and the same applies to my online home.

I deleted the comment. Deleting a comment is equivalent to showing someone the door.

House-keeping without resentment

Here’s the thing: I don’t need to hate the person who wrote that comment. I don’t need to disrespect them in return. I simply don’t want them in my home and as the owner of the home, I’m in charge of that.

This person also didn’t share their name or their email address or website. This would be the equivalent of someone coming into my home wearing a mask and refusing to tell me who they are; in the offline world, a person like that would be considered an intruder and I would take action to remove them from my property.

I also asked myself this question: Is their comment of benefit to my community? My online home is not just for me; I share it with many beloved self-employed men and women who feel safe and supported here.

This is truly our home, not just mine. As the gate-keeper, my responsibility is to protect the boundaries of our space.

The anonymous comment wasn’t contributing to this community. It wasn’t sharing experience or offering value. The primary purpose of this website is to help people have an easier and more enjoyable experience of self-employment and with that filter in mind, this comment was a straightforward delete.

As you boldly make yourself increasingly visible online, create your own policy for managing your online spaces. Hold your primary purpose in mind. Mirror online the boundaries you’d hold in the offline world. Respect yourself, hold space for your community.

Special announcement: Guidance with being effectively visible online

If you’re committed to making yourself visible online so that more clients can find you and pay you, I have exceptionally good news for you.

There’s a big announcement coming tomorrow about the Blog for Clients training material. Keep an eye on your inbox! (And if you’re not already a subscriber to my emails, sign up in the box below to hear the announcement.)

Over to you

Do you feel safe online? Why / why not?

Perhaps fear is holding you back from even commenting right here, in which case drop me a line here rather than sharing publicly, I’d love to hear from you – and at the same time, ask yourself: What do you fear would happen if you commented publicly? Write those fears down so you can clearly identify what’s really holding you back.

And if you’re one of those who feel comfortable commenting, let us know why. Has it always been like that, or did something shift?

Let’s all join together to help one another enjoy ease with all aspects of the self-employment journey.


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© Corrina Gordon-Barnes

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  1. Jennifer Riggs

    Thanks for this, Corrina. I have been working with my own vulnerability online. I read your posts a lot, but this may be my first comment (other than on your blogging course!). Two weeks ago I launched a new website and blog. I felt vulnerable, but it was also a turning point. Your post is a nice reminder that as we open up online, we still remain in control. And what feels vulnerable at first can actually build our strength and confidence over time. You are a great model of this balance.

    1. Corrina

      Thanks, Jennifer – and celebrating your comment here!

  2. Claire Stone

    In the past, I’ve really been really worried about comments on my blog, and I also had to delete a comment. Using the home analogy, you’ve made me now feel very comfortable about deleting it and I will keep the analogy in mind for future reference because in the past, I’ve hesitated a lot about whether or not to delete something. It’s my house. And I get to choose the boundaries!

    1. Corrina

      Claire – Yes, no-apology deleting. We’re simply keeping our house clean.

  3. Kate Bonnycastle

    Corinna, I really love your home analogy. You’re right on! Our online activities need parameters, whether we’re big business and need social media policies, or solo businesses managing online relationships. I really like this new way to think about my online home and communities – and it’s a great way to explain it to kids, too. Thank you!
    Kate Bonnycastle´s last blog post ..Your Vacation Message – Inspiration

    1. Corrina

      Ah, hadn’t thought about the kids aspect Kate – yes, that’s a brilliant point.

  4. Katrin

    I appreciate you writing about this, Corinna.
    I have nothing there has been a shift in our societies, how to set borders and what behaviors we find acceptable and what not. Hate speeches on social networks have really sped up this process, and I am pleased to see (and I am optimistic about it) that more and more people manage to grow into this and are able to set borders. You describe this well from the perspective of comments.

    When I started my website, I was very nervous about this and I choose to moderate comments first before they go online. Now I have grown into that and vulnerability isn’t that much of an issue anymore, even though I am an introvert in Social Media.

    Still, some people test out how far they can go. And they’ll get their response. In virtual as well as in real life.
    Katrin´s last blog post ..What You Need To Know To Find Hosting For Your Website

  5. Loolwa Khazzoom

    Ten years ago, when I was looking up an article I had published, I came across not one, but two websites dedicated to hating on me. I was shocked, horrified, and quickly in tears. I called a friend, shaken up. She started laughing and said, “Congratulations!” I didn’t understand. “There are people who go to great lengths to get hated on, because if someone cares that much about your opinion, it means you are relevant.” Speaking with her turned around my feelings about the situation. It’s true: When we say something that is cutting-edge, and truly relevant to this life, it can really shake people up. That said, I think it’s awesome to delete nasty posts. I have a rule on my Facebook page: If it doesn’t sit right with me, it’s out the door – and so is the person who put there, if I feel like it. My house, my rules.

  6. Louise Tremayne

    Thanks Corrina for the house analogy – I love that too! I really struggled when I started my blog. I procrastinated and procrastinated, then realised I was stuck in fear and used EFT to help me get over that. I realised that I didn’t have to ‘bear all’ as it were and that I could establish some boundaries online, just like I do in the real world. It now feels safe for me to express myself online. 🙂
    Louise Tremayne´s last blog post ..What Pain is Trying to Tell You

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