The difficulty of building a home, a digital identity and online audience following all at once.

For much of 2019, I have thought about Roosted.

Initially just different ideas with various (some embarrassingly bad) names… in recent months it became this blog, and this Instagram

However, despite the space that Roosted has occupied in my waking thoughts, for a long while, it caused me confusion and difficulty in pressing forward.

Whilst I managed to distill in writing the themes it would cover into four areas (shown below) this crystallisation still managed to leave me feeling unstuck.

This post is about seeking clarity, creating a digital identity, and building a following. 

If you’ve ever experienced the process of putting a part of yourself out there for the online world to see, then this may resonate with some of your own experiences or things to consider.

Why create something online in the first place

In this post ‘The Origin of Roosted’ I described needing a space I could pour myself into creatively. After too long feeling frustrated with pent up creative energy – the blog provided me with much needed relief. In recent months I’ve found writing online and creating Instagram stories an enjoyable and even therapeutic process as I go through the somewhat scary process of buying a house alone and finding solace in talking about it with people (who have been nice enough to care and comment and share and like). 

However, at its core, there is another ‘why’ behind Roosted I have been more hesitant to share.

That motivation is in wanting to have a big impact in the world.

Wanting to have a big impact has been true for as long as I can remember. At school, I’d be first in the class to narrate or read out group work, at weekends for my entire childhood I spent every Saturday on stage at drama school, and in early friendships in taking charge and organising group sleepovers.

Still today, this manifests with my interest and enjoyment in public speaking and writing online. Friends still laugh at my need to throw big (and multiple) birthday parties. 

Admitting this gives me a feeling of dread: what does that say about me? Will people judge? What if I don’t have an impact and fall short?

But owning up to this is key – it is key to the work I feel called to do in the world.

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you

Marrianne Williamson

I have faith in a God I believe created us to be unique for His purpose. If God has made me this way for a reason, why should I hide this part of myself from the world? 

I’m excited by seeing other people own up to their dreams and unique skill sets, knowing full well that when people do so, they become fully themselves, and fully alive.

So, fed up of playing small, waiting at the sidelines, Roosted was my way of saying “I’m here and I’m ready to go all in”.

A comforting motivational thought that kept me going for the first few posts and momentary awkwardness is

“Empowered people empower others” 

Why and how to build an audience online

‘Impact’ in todays’ world means having an audience. Whether it’s subscribers, followers, a community or customers; it means attention from the people who know you and listen when you speak. People who know what you’re about and what you stand for.

So how do you build an audience?

Read any advice on building a following and you’ll be hard pressed to find any that doesn’t ultimately say something along these lines:

Focus. Get clear on who you are serving. Pick a niche. Segment your target audience. 

If you’re clear, consistent and patient, you’ll build a following. 

Sounds pretty simple right? Arguably, it doesn’t take Einstein or a revolutionary message to attract viewers online… Just look at the heights of fame achieved by those offering fairly mundane forms of entertainment: videoing themselves opening toys from their plastic wrappers, playing PlayStation, or applying make up. 

person performing heart hand gesture

Content like this appeals to audiences who know exactly what they are getting from it. This kind of content doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. There are audiences available for almost any obscure set of interests imaginable online.

So with some semblance of a brain, lots of viable interests, and the knowledge of how to create and post content online: how could I possibly miss the mark on this one?

I write this article today, during a holiday travelling through Central Europe in June ’19, because I feel that I am missing the mark. That I do not have the clarity or the audience or the consistency locked down. 

At the time of writing, I haven’t written anything I’m proud of for over a month, I have 150 followers on Instagram and an average view count of 5 people per day on my blog. So whilst I’m all about the ‘hashtag small wins’ and congratulating oneself for trying… objectively speaking I have not ‘nailed’ it.

One minute I’ll post about money, the next about vintage furniture and the next on having greater self belief. 

Yet the people I enjoy following are experts in one of these segments – none across them all.

So if I am confused about my focus, it is guaranteed that any semblance of an audience will be too.

 – –

A Slave to all of my many interests 

Rather than just write about home related content, I wanted Roosted to provide an outlet for the self confessed personal development nerd in me. 

For anyone wondering what I mean by personal development, I mean holding an unwavering belief in the ability to improve ourselves as well as the situations we find ourselves in. Improvement that comes through learning and a willingness to embrace (sometimes painful) growth.

I’ve been through a fairly significant journey of growth myself in the years since I arrived in London aged 21 in September 2013. Whilst life cannot and should not always be an upwards trajectory of progress, I am pleased to say no longer do I experience some of the hardships I experienced in those early years. My life included having few friends in the city, being out of shape physically, living on my overdraft, dating people who didn’t respect me, and living in housing situations I hated. 

I’ve worked on myself – loving myself, finding work I love, finding life-giving friendships, building better habits around health and money management, and finding passion projects to throw myself into, as well as finding a faith in Jesus.

I’ve done this through a commitment to learning – devouring online content, books and seminars from the knowledge of experts. From personal trainers, dating experts, career advisors and financial gurus. 

I even went on a (free) course to find God, slightly ironically! But over 8m people around the world have done the Alpha course, so I am in good company.

So you get the picture. I have learnt a lot. 

But I’m still learning. 

It is only now, through a lot of reflection, that I can see it would be unfeasible to think I can provide insight across all of these areas at once. 

So what content does that leave me with?

Something I can credibly share, and remain committed to doing so, is my experiences buying through the shared ownership scheme, as a single person in London without crazy savings or salary to support me.

This is partly because I have to commit to my home. Contractually obliged to pay a mortgage to the bank, and not sublet my home until I have increased my ownership to 100% through staircasing. 

As other areas of my life might flex, my home is the foundation upon which I can make my decisions. 

This commitment feels daunting, and so the documenting of the process via Roosted is a cathartic exercise. It is grounding me and providing a bedrock of identity for me, when other areas of my life might still be going through some learning curves.

But talking about buying a home, and posting some photos on Instagram was never what Roosted was about. That feels like a hobby, more than having any real impact. 

The ‘Work’ Ellen

So where can I have real impact?

 I’ve spent my ‘10,000 hours’ (as the theory goes) in building expertise within the field of Talent. My career has been focused on helping others with their careers. 

‘Work’ in and of itself, is a subject others seem to want my advice in, and is an area that I have seen the most success in. It has clicked for me so far, and I have a lot of passion for it.

Over the last six years I’ve generated a lot of knowledge about the job hunting process, the future of work, and have interviewed thousands of people – supporting them to find work that aligns with themselves and their goals. 

Work fascinates me: in todays world we will have multiple careers, side hustles and passion projects. We will be working for longer and see robots overtake many jobs gone before. Many of us will be self employed, learn new digital skills, work remotely and experience things that generations before us never had to. 

I enjoy thinking about and talking about how we each choose our work, and how fulfilling work leads to better lives.

The work we each do is important and I have therefore decided to commit to helping people realise this fact, and align themselves to meaningful work. 

Using my writing, speaking and coaching abilities – this is where I can offer the most impact.

The Clarity I have sought for months

We all learn from our mistakes. My mistake (since I’ve put considerable time and money into it) is launching Roosted, and the Instagram, without much of a plan. I went in hurriedly amid a house move, and I wanted to do it all. 

I wanted to offer all these ‘services’ in my writing efforts whilst still figuring a helluva lot of it out for myself.

As the saying goes: 

You can do ANYTHING, but you cant do EVERYTHING.

Whilst I may well come back to all of these pillars one day, right now I have to focus.

Roosted will remain, but be a social media presence for the house (like your beloved family dog gets his own account).

This means that the other parts of me – the ones that like talking about personal development? Well they will just have to come from the real me. From the digital identity I already have. 

To feel alive, and truly myself, I must own up to this side of me. 

Work is a passion area for me, and I may as well put that out there.

The greats – Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Oprah, Ariana Huffington – these women do not hide away sides of themselves for a small audience. They own their entire authentic selves for the world to see. Sorry for the all female American line up there but they paint my point nicely!

I am excited to own up to the interest I have in helping people to shape their careers and passion projects – and will be offering coaching and content on this topic via a website named after nothing other than me – Ellen.

Thanks for reading if you got this far 🙂


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