The vulnerability required to post something new on social media, something you created and put your heart into, is gargantuan. You know there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of people who can see it. But you feel compelled to share your message with others because you know that it’s valuable, meaningful, and inspiring. When you get a “new follower” notification, you know that your message has reached someone who saw the inherent beauty and power of it. Your content added value to other’s lives. Gaining a new follower, more views, or more listeners through social media is called traction, and it’s the key to spreading your message to the world. How can you build traction on social media, and what are some common pitfalls to avoid?

I like to use the analogy of starting a car when I think about creating traction. To get where we want to be, i.e., to be seen or heard by others, we have to start the car. We have to self-generate energy to get the push forward. Our self-generated power comes in the form of creating content. Whether it’s through the written word, vlogs, or podcasts, you have to begin creating the material that will share your message. Your first pitfall comes into play here: perfectionism. We want the content we put out into the world to be the best version of itself. But as you’re getting started, the instinct to make your content perfect will hinder you rather than inspire you. If you listen to the early episodes of my podcast, you’ll notice that they sound a little rough. But as I strived for consistency rather than perfection in my episodes, they naturally became smoother and more fully realized. I’m much more confident in my ability to produce and record now than I was when I first started, and that shows in my content. The same will be true for you; as you create more and more content, the quality of your work will get better and better.

As the wheels of your car start turning, as you begin attracting an audience, you’ll receive feedback. Feedback usually comes in the form of analytics. Paying attention to what content your audience is responding to will help you hone in on what parts of your message they find most valuable. However, this is where the second pitfall rears its head: you want to avoid getting too attached to one social media platform over another. Maybe you hoped that Facebook was going to be the platform where you received most of your followers and feedback, but you’ve discovered that you get more of a response and follower base on Instagram. Don’t let it get you down; all this means is that you have a better way of communicating your message through one platform versus the other. Consider how you can use this method to your advantage; it will help you gain traction.

Finally, you should consider how you can release your content as consistently as possible. You’ve brought value into someone’s life via your content. You want to be a reliable and trustworthy source of value to them. The best and easiest way to achieve that is by creating a schedule of content release and sticking to it. The pitfall that comes with that is, well, life! Sometimes your plan (both in content release and in general) will be disrupted. Maybe you need to care for a family member, or you get sick, or work becomes overwhelming. The fear of your message being interrupted by outside forces can be paralyzing. But the thing to remember is that if you don’t try, you won’t succeed. If you don’t share your message with others for fear you won’t be able to do so consistently, you won’t be sharing your message at all. Fortunately for us, the little interruptions life throws at us are universally experienced (hello, Monday morning traffic jam). Your audience will understand and will not disappear if you have a few interruptions here and there. They’re humans, just like you, and they’ll still find value in your message if it’s a week late.

Gaining traction on social media can be challenging at first. It requires so much energy from us, and the fear that it won’t be accepted is an enormous hurdle. But I promise you, by using these methods of content creation, you will find your audience. Your message is unique and worthwhile, and your audience will respond to your passion. Before you know it, you’ll be speeding along down the road, your audience cheering you as you go. Here a few tips for getting that car rolling:

To thwart perfectionist tendencies: Estimate how long it will take for you to complete a piece of content. Spend no more than 10 minutes considering this, and write it down somewhere visible. This is your new time limit. Whenever you begin creating content, set a timer for your time limit. Once that timer rings, consider that content complete. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect or not; it matters that it exists. Don’t forget to share the results with your audience!

Consider your platform(s): Take a look at some of your most popular pieces of content. Which social media platform gave you the most likes, hearts, comments, or views? Why do you think it was successful? Write down a list of reasons, taking into account the format and the topic of your content.

Looking ahead of your schedule: Think about events coming up in your life. Will they hinder your ability to release content? If so, contemplate writing a personal message to your audience. What possible interruptions do you foresee, and how can you prepare them for that?