Fighting your demons makes you a better marketer

Anxiety. My first post for State of Digital, the website I read daily to keep myself up to date with the search engine marketing industry. And now I’m sitting on a crowded train leaving Stockholm and the agency where I work. I’m heading home. I’m done for the day. Writing my first post for State of Digital.

I love writing but tend to do it in waves of energy. My brain pukes out sentences my fingers try and keep up with until there is no more. Hibernation and writers block follows.

I am truly worthless when it comes to delivering articles on demand. The creativity goes out the door and I start to imagine and plan other things. Maybe it’s time to go fishing with my brother-in-law or cook something I’ve never cooked before. Thoughts like this cross my mind.

But fighting the demons that are holding you back are the best thing since the Swedish smorgasbord.

Fighting your demons makes you a better marketer. And anxiety is one of my demons.

Anxiety And Fear Signpost Meaning Worried Nervous Or Scared

My first year in SEO and learning to speak

When I started in this industry, which is the SEO industry, I had never held a lecture in my life. Then my CEO at the time told me after a few months (I think it was three months) that I needed to do just that. Hold a lecture in his stance, as he was booked for it but simply couldn’t get his time in order for it.  And so, he told me I had to do it. More or less ordered me to.

A 30 minute talk about SEO for companies at a business event. Anxiety kicks in.

But after 2 minutes on stage I realized that I knew what I was talking about. I grew 5 mental inches and left the lecture with an amazing feeling. I wanted to teach, talk and discuss. I wanted to do this all over again. And all the teaching, talking and discussions that followed gave the agency more business. I grew my network and in return I could create interesting fusions between companies and people. And the increased confidence didn’t stop on stage. I brought it into meetings and networking events.

More anxiety in self-management

My second demon was called self-management – carrying with it my familiar friend – anxiety. I had my priorities somewhat wrong and from time to time I was horrible to work with. I didn’t manage my time the way I was supposed to ending up in me getting to spend time with a personal coach via the agency. The coach helped me set boundaries for me and how to manage my time better. Someone who could explain how I needed to view things, and how I could sort and estimate time.

And it worked.

When I switched agency the next time a lot of things changed. All of a sudden I didn’t have any project managers. Apparently I was supposed to manage my own time, my client’s time and the project. My new CEO threw me in the deep end of the pool on day one and for this reason I am grateful. I wouldn’t be where I am without his… recklessness.

So why the title of this article?

If I hadn’t faced my demons along this fun yet bumpy ride, I would have been that SEO guy sitting quietly in the corner of Agency Blah-Blah. I wouldn’t write this or be blogging by myself. I wouldn’t be surrounded by interesting people with great ideas. And I wouldn’t be sitting here on a train, writing a post for State of Digital with my friend anxiety sitting next to me. For anxiety is now, finally, my friend.

I truly believe that for each new set of skills, you’re more interesting for an employer. If you’re confident in what you’re going to talk about, people will sense this and open up. And then naturally, your professional life gets a lot easier.

Turn it all into something positive

Know that the moment you realize that you know your topic, the biggest obstacle is already behind you. We are generally scared of public speaking because we don’t want to make ourselves look like fools. But if you know your topic and can explain it for your parents or a neighbour (that reference your work as “Internet and stuff”) – you’re set. Test yourself by giving your talk to somebody that has no idea of what you’re actually talking about. Learn to explain everything in detail.

Self-management sounds easy but I am claiming it to be one of the hardest things in the world to master. For us working in the digital sphere it is even harder. We’re surrounded by shiny new things each week. Use Trello! Use Slack! Ditch email! The inbox 5.0 is launching, use email again!

Don’t get lost among the tools of the trade. The most simplest and clear structure is the best. Keep your toolbox as small as possible and your self-management will benefit from it. I’ve seen whole companies embrace services after services thinking that the next thing would solve everything. Don’t get distracted by shiny new things.

If you want to go places, you have to embrace the journey ahead.

SEO and analytics as focus areas

I will from now write posts for State of Digital but on my topics of SEO and analytics from now on. This first post of mine is more about a part of my personal journey and I hope for fellow marketers it rings a bell as I know many that feel stuck and unappreciated as I was. But most of the time it’s not our managers or CEOs holding us back. It’s ourselves, and in my case, it was my friend called anxiety.

About Per Pettersson

Per is a digital strategist by heart working as a consultant in Stockholm, Sweden, mainly with SEO and web analytics but also with social media and paid search.