A few weeks ago, a grad job program application asked me to write about a fear I had overcome and how it shaped the person I am today. While I have my fair share of irrational fears, spiders and clowns at the top of that list, and a few fears that are quite universal, someone you love being hurt for example, there is one fear that I’ve wrestled with the most. The past few years, I’ve worked to overcome the fear of being caught out as some sort of an imposter.
The embodiment of this fear is the two-year branding journey I have gone through here with le blog. It was taking, finally, the leap and launching the site after fretting and mulling it over in the months following an ordinary day in July. Developing the first website, transitioning my existing Instagram towards the blog and its content, and growing a following took priority during the first six months. Starting my blog was a tightrope act between liberating and terrifying. Every decision was mine to make, and even as I was making strides in building content and audience, a voice of doubt dogged my steps.
My fear was equal to my passion; the drive to make this digital space and creative platform meant that I cared intensely about doing it right. Have you ever cared so much about something that it petrifies you? That you may feel paralyzed to actually start, because until you do, the possibility of being great still exists? One reason why so many successful women grapple with imposters syndrome is because the narratives we hear are not telling stories of the loneliness or the anxious insomnia or the days you push yourself to the physical and mental limit.
My challenge was building a brand that resonated with young women, telling stories that they encounter, and providing a destination that showed them how to balance personal style with fulfilling, busy lives. You all know my love of alliteration hence, the “Girl on the Go” moniker was born. I decided early on to share my love of travel and the real-life experience of living as an expat in Paris, London, and Scotland.
The largest task was determining how to create meaningful connections with this audience while also preserving my privacy and my authenticity. Throughout these fledgling two years I’ve had to build both my brand and my confidence bit by bit. It was easy to feel like I was the savvy young woman I wanted to be with each peak in engagement, growth and pageviews. A summer and autumn of explosive growth culminating in winning an award for being shortlisted on Shape Shift Report 2017 Top 100 Content Creators and Micro Influencers was followed by a significant lull once the “newness” wore off.
Battling doubts that made me question if anyone enjoyed my writing, whether my creativity was subpar, or if I could live up to this recognition filled the start of the next year. But I couldn’t sit there in my doubts, frankly I got annoyed enough that I decided to kick my butt in gear. I doubled-down and began investing in le blog – developing photography and editing skills to make an appealing visual narrative and a recognizable style. I navigated my collaborations with brands and partners and walked away from those opportunities that did not sit right with me or reflect my audience. (I can promise for example to NEVER partner with any ‘skinny’ teas or anything else that preys on women’s insecurities). I learned how to balance sponsored and organic content as a girl has to pay her bills, but I also need creative freedom and aim to feel relatable to my audience. Basically, if I ever start to sound like an infomercial, someone please reach through the internet and slap me.
Investing in myself is an ongoing process. I take pride in the fact that my most read blog post in 2018 was a partnership with a Parisian tour group operator, showing an in-depth guide to the city I called home for a year. In May I spent several weeks burning the midnight oil to transfer my site to self-hosting. The relaunched platform is beautiful and makes me do a happy dance every time I post. Over the summer, I attended a blogging conference in London, networking and making connections to other entrepreneurs in the industry. Capping out the year with a number of collaborations and long running campaigns with brands that I had long admired felt like coming full circle. Weaving their strands into my own brand story, in the story I was telling and sharing with, you my lovely audience, is the best moment I’ve had blogging to date.
The fear of being an imposter faded away with the realization that I was succeeding, while being unique and true to my personal brand. Now the frustrations and anxieties of running my own small business are tempered with faith, in myself and in my brand. I understand that the “Girl on the Go” tagline I’ve developed means that I had the grace of not always knowing what the future holds. Neither do you, the beautiful, badass young women that make up my audience. Overcoming this fear made me not only more empathic to all of you babes, but also confident in the authenticity, originality and value of my story, my style, my brand.