3 Ways to Stay Authentic (+ Help Yourself Stand Out)
There are thousands upon thousands of blogs out there, all with their writers struggling to maintain their individuality and push to the front of the metaphorical line. With the blogging world becoming more and more fast-paced and all about numbers, it's easy to lose who you really are along the way, and why you originally started blogging. I've written out 3 ways to stay authentic with some actionable tips to help you stay acquainted with your initial vision - all without sacrificing the views.
3 Ways to Stay Authentic
- Write like you speak.
It's easy to get caught up in proper English and sentence structure and all the do's and don'ts, but some of my favorite blogs that I frequent are my favorite because they read like I'm having coffee with that blogger. Kinda like we're sitting in a cozy living room with cute coffee mugs and big fuzzy blankets, laughing over our latest snafu or how we didn't wear real clothes all weekend long. Writing like you speak means that your voice transfers to paper. (Or the internet.)
- Create branding that speaks volumes about YOU.
Branding and the design of your blog is such a controversial thing. I think a lot of people tend to brand their blog as this perfect, pink and gold polka-dotted masterpiece when in reality, they love lots of bold colors and black accents, and so they struggle with loving their blog, or vice versa. I know that for a long time, I tried to go pastel with my colors. It just didn't work out for me, and I realized I was trying to squeeze myself into a box that I just couldn't fit into. I wasn't a pastel kinda gal - I was a bold kinda gal. So I re-branded, and when I did, I immediately felt more relaxed about my space. And when you feel more relaxed, you tend to write like you speak. See how that works?
(Read: Why You Need a Brand to Be a Successful Blogger)
- Don't sell out.
It can be very easy to accept any sort of sponsorship that comes your way, but I have to caution you against that. As a faith blogger with lots of posts about blogging and how to be a better blogger, accepting a sponsored post from a nose ring company might not suit my own personal brand. Your branding should extend to your content, and if your branding is who YOU are, then accepting a sponsorship that goes against that is to betray your own brand. You could also lose readers over the sudden post that really doesn't fit. Stay true to who you are, and sponsors will come to you because of your authenticity.
I've started making branding packages for bloggers that you might find helpful (there are also things that I offer for free, like this purple & gold blogging kit). The first is a beginner's blog kit. I find that this is helpful because when you first self-host your Wordpress site, it can be very overwhelming. DIYing your blog can take months because you have to learn the ins and outs of all the different programs, terms, and settings for your blog. The beginner's kit includes a cohesive color scheme that we'll work together to nail down, two different fonts that will define your blog, and a customized header design.
The second kit I offer is an advanced blogger's kit. This is for the blogger that knows what they're doing, but simply doesn't have the time to do it all themselves. A color scheme, fonts, header graphic, sidebar graphics (if the layout allows), and a personalized pin-it button comes with this package. If you'd like to see some of my most recent designs, you can go to my Facebook page.
How to Know What Speaks to You
Being authentic is all about knowing who you are and expressing who you are through your blog. People will see that you are passionate about your topics, categories, and posts because you're literally writing about things that make you, YOU. I recommend blogging about things that you love in your daily routine.
I love coffee, so I recently started participating in a link up from Heartnatured.
I enjoy makeup, so I pin a LOT of makeup looks even though I don't blog about it much.
My favorite animals are cats, so sometimes I post funny cat photos on my Facebook page.
That's just how I roll. I like to think that people follow me because I'm not all about what looks perfect and fits exactly within the mold of how bloggers SHOULD behave. I think there is a lot of expectation created out of thin air that makes us feel we have to look a certain way on our blogs and act a certain way, and pose for photos just right and speak just so. Honestly? Life is messy. Figure out what you like, and talk about it! Get it out there. If you don't enjoy what you're saying, there will be a lack of passion.
When to Reevaluate
Late last year, I remember that I started to avoid my computer because my blog was stressing me out. It got so bad that I would sometimes get hives when I felt I had to get a post out the next day that I felt so very blasé about. I knew that by publishing content that I wasn't passionate about, I was short-changing myself, but I didn't know how to stop. After all, aren't we pushed to have schedules and routines and get certain posts out on certain days or you'll never gain a reader base?
Let me just stop right here and tell you a little secret.
Readers will find you and follow you because they like who YOU are...
not because they love your schedule.
When is the last time you heard someone say, "Oh, I just LOVE that they have a schedule - that's really why I read it," and didn't laugh? Why do YOU read blogs? Because you like the person, right? Or their content is fun, forgiving, and flexible? Blogging isn't all about rigid schedules and time frames. If that's what you enjoy, then do it. If it's giving you hives...
Reevaluate. Rediscover what makes you tick. That's true authenticity there.