A few days ago, on June 2 2022, I felt inspired to go through my Instagram (IG) Stories archives and dig up some of my very first video IG Stories ever from back in early 2019.
This was inspired by recent conversations with clients who would come to our coaching calls wanting to talk more about how they can do better in their content or “work more on their unique thought leadership”.
For many of us, we might think that our content is too basic, beginner, or generic. Or maybe you think it doesn’t sound clear enough. Or maybe you don’t like how you look in the post.
In a nutshell, we often have thoughts or judgments about our own work.
These are definitely thoughts I’ve had to work through and these are things I’ve coached clients on as well. So let’s talk about it.
I usually get very curious about and talk with the client about how they currently feel or think about their content so far.
More often than not, the client will share that they are comparing their own content with other people’s content, including my own content, other coaches or entrepreneurs that they really look up to.
Honestly, I had the same thoughts about my own content. Not just in the first year of my business, but also in the second and third year as well.
But as the years went on, even though that thought does still creep up, I experience it in slightly different ways nowadays.
I recently looked back at some of my own OG content from literally the first few months of my business. And wow, they were too good not to share. So I compiled a few of my favorite ones from February and March 2019, and posted them on my Instagram.
For a quick background, I officially launched my business on March 6 2019, because that’s when I announced my first paid offer ever.
I personally marked that as the beginning of the business, because prior to that, I was just creating wholesome content and sharing some ideas and personal experiences. But I was not too certain about what direction to take if I were to start an actual business.
When I say my OG content was too good not to share, well, I didn’t mean it in the sense that that content was the best content ever or the most thought provoking content or that it was so well produced. None of that.
Let me explain by first sharing what actually happened in my mind a few days ago when I scrolled into my IG Stories archives.
There are three particular observations I want to share:
My initial reaction when I first looked at those IG Stories, I was like, oh my goodness, this is sooooooooo cute! The version of me from 2019 was really trying her best and was showing up, genuinely happy.
Back then, I had zero expectation of what the business would look like, and all I really cared about was that this is so cool that I actually get to create things and share it with the world.
And I’m not creating things because I have to, but I actually get to create something because I want to.
I was celebrating that version of me back in 2019. Because, hey, we gotta give ourselves a lot, and I mean A LOT of credit for even STARTING to put ourselves out there.
Starting to create content for the first time with the intention of adding value and sharing our ideas and opinions and personal experiences, rather than posting food pictures or highly edited selfies to get our friends from college to like it. (I’m talking about myself back in the day, because I used to care so much about IG clout before starting my business.)
The fact that I even started content creation and started talking about a paid service I could offer to someone who might actually benefit from it? THAT IS MAJOR. Really.
That in itself is incredible. And I do not take it lightly when I say that I am extremely proud of 2019-Cheryl for showing the hell up, even with all the self doubt, insecurities, comparisons and feeling lost about what the hell I am even doing with my life and career. Amazing.
Then, I noticed how different I looked back then, visually.
For those who may not have seen photos or videos of me from 2019, I actually look quite different, in terms of appearance, mostly because I have lost quite a bit of weight since 2019. Also, I did my make up and hair quite differently as well.
I want to share this observation because I know that one of the thoughts several of my clients have come to me for coaching on, and I myself had to coach myself on throughout different points in my own business journey, is feeling insecure about how I look, especially in my photos or videos.
I’m pretty sure 99.9% of you listening to this have also probably had some thought about how you look, or maybe even how you sound or how you speak, in your content.
Personally, 2019 was when I was at my heaviest and I cannot deny that it was when I felt the least confident about my body image.
But you know what was fascinating? I didn’t let that be a deterrence for me to not show up, create value through my free content, and tell people how I can help them.
Because I can tell you, at the time back in 2019, even though I did not like my own face or body or how I looked visually in my content, I still held the belief that I had something of value to add to this coaching industry or via my content.
Simultaneously, I held the belief that the way I look does not take away the value I can create or how I can help people.
Likewise, I also believed that the way I look doesn’t contribute or add to this value or how I can help. My looks literally do not matter in that sense because my skill sets and my brain are entirely separate from my appearance.
So when I noticed myself paying attention to my visuals while looking back at my old content, I distinctly felt a sense of gratitude towards past-Cheryl. And I also felt extremely proud of her for not making excuses about why I cannot or should not start and continue working on my business, which, back then, was really just an idea in my brain.
Because until I signed my very first client, I was operating out of an idea and the awareness of what is possible, but I didn’t yet have “concrete evidence” that this is a viable business.
That’s why I’m so, so proud of past-Cheryl for showing up despite having a lot of self judgment about the way I looked.
And the third most interesting thought that came up as I was looking at those archives was… Wait, I talked about such lame things!
Did I really create content on how to find your niche? How to create eye-catching Youtube thumbnails? Giving tips on why you should tailor your marketing to your ideal clients?
That’s so beginner and I’m glad I don’t talk about those topics or create that kind of content anymore.
This was REALLY interesting. Because as soon as those sentences ran through my brain, I caught myself. I literally said, “Wow Cheryl, who the hell are you to judge 2019-Cheryl‘s content? If it was not for your content in 2019, and also 2020 and 2021, you literally wouldn’t be here today in 2022.”
Here’s why this observation matters a lot.
The way I look at this, is that 2019-Cheryl did her absolute best in her content. She started off with sharing her thoughts and tips on what she did know at the time, and overtime, in the years that followed, my content got “better” because I now have actual lived experiences to work off of.
But when I first started, I had less lived experiences to rely on as content. But I did it anyway.
The truth is, you will rarely hear me today talk about topics such as niche, ideal client, how to create an offer, how to do a sales call, and so on. And it’s not because those topics aren’t good or relevant or that they’re too beginner for me. Because that’s not the case at all.
I know that sure as hell at one point in my own journey, learning about how to pick a niche and understanding the concept of an ideal client and also getting tips on how to put together a coaching offer – those contents were exactly what I needed. These content have value and are extremely helpful for the people who are at that stage of their journey.
That said, the reason why I’ve since then shifted the types of content I put out is because I now have way more lived experiences and opinions to create content on. So, it was simply a decision I made to create more content based on those other lived experiences or more recent ones.
If someone asks me to create content on the topic of “niche”, I can 100% do that and I’ll share my own examples from my business or share my own opinions on choosing a niche.
But rather, it was just a decision I made about what I want to be known for, and then creating content that best reflects that.
In this scenario, talking about “niche” wasn’t exactly something that contributes to building brand awareness for the specific messages, values or thought leadership that I’m centering my brand around.
I know that a lot of people might currently think that their own content is too beginner or too basic or too generic compared to, let’s say, other coaches or entrepreneurs who are further ahead than them.
I really want to emphasize that we all start somewhere. We all start out in our business journey with the lived experiences and awareness that we have collected in our lifespan, up until this current point in time.
So I would encourage you to create the most amazing stuff based on what you currently do know and what you believe in, rather than looking around and thinking about what other coaches are talking about like advanced topics or thinking that they have a way stronger opinion on XYZ subject matter than you do.
Because honestly, I’m pretty sure that the other person literally had to go through working with many, many clients or experienced a range of failures, mistakes, and lessons, or overall just a lot of trial and error in their own journey, before they’re able to arrive at their current stage in their business where they can create such “advanced content” and have a very established opinion, stance or thought leadership in their industry.
Frankly, hating on your existing content is not going to help you gain more experience or become a better content creator. It literally doesn’t help you or your business or your people.
Instead, I would love for you to lean into what’s already inside your brain, and create content based on that. That includes your own lived experiences, your story, lessons or mistakes or failures you’ve navigated, tips you can offer based on your own observations or experiences, examples you can provide to substantiate a point you made, your opinions or perspectives on issues in your space, and so on.
Because even though someone might think that XYZ topic is too beginner or basic, I am extremely confident that you are capable to reinventing that topic in a way that’s in line with your own opinions, values or experiences and present it in a way that is not “basic or beginner”.
For each of the observations I made, these are all things that honestly, entrepreneurs and content creators at EVERY level of success or at every stage of their business all have to work on.
To quickly summarize the three things:
1. Celebrating and acknowledging how much progress and growth you’ve created
2. Not letting forms of self doubt, insecurities or fear of judgment become an excuse or hindrance in your business and content
3. Stop hating on your current work and trust that your work will get better and more impactful and effective with practice and with time. You have to keep doing it. Things like trying to edit your content over and over before posting is really just slowing down your progress and growth
I myself had to work on each of these three things in some way shape or form during 2019. And 2020. And 2021. And also to this day, in 2022.
Sure, my content might look and sound drastically different in terms of the topics I share, or the delivery of the content, or even the depth and specificity of the examples included in each piece of content.
But I am still not immune to forgetting to acknowledge my growth, swimming in self doubt and self judgment, and also questioning whether I can ever truly be a thought leader in this coaching space.
And I honestly don’t think these are things that will ever permanently go away. But as always, rather than trying to eradicate these types of thoughts or feelings, I have learned to adapt quickly whenever they do come up.
Meaning, I have equipped myself with tools and also strengthened my self awareness so that these thoughts don’t get in the way of me continue to improve my craft
When I think of what is my BEST content, it’s content that reflects what I personally believe in, whether that be my own lived experience, my own opinion, my own lessons from recent failures or mistakes, and so on.
It’s content that stemmed from my own brain and I actually really mean what I say. And, it’s based on all of the awareness I have inside my brain, at this current moment.
Because one month from now, I can probably recreate a piece of content I created today, and it’d be even “higher quality” or more indicative of my thought leadership simply because I’ve literally had one month more experience on that content topic and hence I know how I might want to improve on this piece of content.
It’s like the phrase, hindsight is 2020. Except, you won’t have that hindsight awareness until you actually first post the content, and then continue moving forward so you can actually look back and evaluate your content.
But if you don’t even post, that will slow down your opportunity for growth.
You have two options here:
Option 1: You start working on a piece of content, let’s say on Monday. And you spend the entire week editing it. You don’t post it till Sunday.
In your mind, by waiting one full week before posting it, you can think more about how to improve it before publishing it. Maybe you even think, “Okay, I will have one more week of “lived experience” to leverage and hence improve my post.”
Option 2: You start working on a piece of content on Monday, but you post it on the same day, even though you’re like “Ehhhh I don’t know if it sounds clear enough. Maybe it’s too wordy. I feel like it’s not catchy enough. I’m talking about a generic topic, but I did some of my personal examples or opinions. Okay I’ll make an offer in the post as well and just post it.”
And because you’ve already posted it on Monday, then later in the week, on Wednesday, you start on a new post, and the same thing happens.
You work on it, you think it’s ok, not so great but it’s also not terrible. You look back on Monday’s post, you identify what you like and didn’t like about that post and apply those changes in this post.
You also decide to make an offer in this post, and post it on Wednesday night.
And the same thing happens on Friday.
Now, you’ve created three separate touch points with your audience.
Three pieces of content that all contribute to the brand awareness you’re building for your offer.
And also, three pieces of content that you can then look back and evaluate what you think you did well on and things you’d like to do differently next time.
But more importantly, you keep building on that brand awareness and adding to that library of value you’ve been creating since you first started the business.
Here’s what I mean by library of value: My IG feed and podcast are two separate libraries that people can always access whenever they discover me. I’m constantly adding new stuff to that bank. Let’s say someone finds my podcast back in December 2020, after I launched the podcast in mid-October 2020.
That means at that point in December 2020, the person will only have maybe eight episodes to go through in order to learn more about me and my work, and also to make a decision on whether or not this Cheryl Lau person can help me and my business.
Those eight episodes might be enough for someone to make a decision. But more likely than not, they’ll probably just keep following me for a few more months, consume more weekly podcast episodes, and then eventually feel more confident in their decision to book a sales call with me and talk about working together.
But then, let’s say someone else finds my podcast today, in June 2022. That means this person will have access to over 80 episodes and they can go through all 80 episodes to learn more about me and my work, and figure out whether my approach resonates with them, and ultimately make a decision on whether to apply to work with me.
More likely than not, for those people who do resonate with my approach and would really love working with me, the person who finds my podcast in June 2022 is much quicker to make a decision than someone who found me in, let’s say, December 2020.
Simply because my library of value aka the podcast was way smaller back then.
Also, because I continuously improve my craft and I continue to add more and more value into the podcast every week, this makes it easier for someone to make a decision about working with me in June 2022 compared to December 2020.
All that to say, just post the damn podcast episode or Instagram post or TikTok video or blog article or whatever.
Lay down those touchpoints with your people. Make offers. Build brand awareness. Start adding to that library of value now. It will all build upon each other.
The combined effects of each touchpoint will add up and compound together, and it will compound faster and faster over time.
Yes, you could wait longer just to make sure the post is better, but realistically, how much better is it going to be if you wait one week or two weeks before posting? Like how much difference would it make?
I also want to add that there’s no right or wrong. You could choose to wait until you think your content is better, or just post it now. Neither is right or wrong. But it’s really just what you think is more important to you at the moment.
That said, even if you decide to post something today, and then a month later, you’re thinking that the post from last month doesn’t really capture the full picture of what you want to say because you’ve garnered more insights, lessons and lived experience from the past month.
Then, you can always just make an updated post. Literally. You can just say, “Hi, I made a post a month ago but now I have an update, so here it is.”
Or, you can just recreate the old post and archive the old one.
Just know that you have options.
So yes, there we have it. I went on and on about why you should just post the post and even if right now you think you don’t have original or unique ideas, even if right now you don’t like how you look, even if you think your caption is not clear enough. Post those posts.
Build up your library of value, lay down more touch points between you and your audience, keep making offers and building brand awareness for your offers, and keep improving your craft as a content creator. That is all.
I hope you’ll have a good chuckle looking at 2019-Cheryl. Because honestly, it was so wholesome for me to look back at those IG Stories.
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