Introduction – Six years ago I had an encounter with a one-handed woman in Victoria. I was making a purchase at a store where she was the cashier and my hands were full of bags, my purse straps and my wallet. As I tried to get my debit card out of my wallet, and hold everything at the same time, I blurted out: “Oh, I don’t have enough hands.” This, to the one-handed cashier who was having no trouble at all ringing up my purchase! Not a proud moment. I came home and told my husband about it, who of course laughed at my expense, and then I sat down at the computer and wrote about it. It was the fifth blog post that I ever wrote and I called it “Mortification at it’s best (or worst)”. I tell you this story because it has to do with what I wanted to talk about today. In that moment I could have just had an embarrassing experience and gone on my way. But no – I was a blogger. I knew I had to write about the story, and share my awkward moment with the world. That was me being a genuine blogger and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Here’s what we’re going to cover in this session:…My focus for the session is personal blogging but if anyone has any business examples that fit in, they are welcome to share them.Poll the audience – how long have you been blogging? A) considering starting a blog, B) just starting a blog (under 1 year), C) 1 to 3 years, D) more than three years
In the beginning you have a reason for starting a blog. Or many reasons! This is important to remember, as it’s why you were passionate about blogging in the first place, genuinely.You have great intentions, and then comes the scary part. You start to realize just what it may mean that everyone can read it.I asked a group of artists that I’m involved with how they felt when they started their blogs and they gave me some great answers. And I remember feeling some of these things myself when I started.
I asked the FlyTribe (participants of Kelly Rae Roberts’ course) how they felt when they started their blogs. This is what they said.
And they also said this.And this is SCARY. And the danger is that you start to tell only part of your story…and show the best parts only of yourself. The PR Version…
This is my business picture (and what I look like all the time, even in the middle of the night when I get up to write blog posts.)When you have too many fears about “putting yourself out there”, it’s tempting to share only the PR Version of You, your “shiniest self”. That is, all shades of white and no shades of black or grey.But there is a problem when we share only this version of ourselves…our readers are only seeing part of the picture. They are not really seeing what it means to be us. And we are not being authentic or genuine.AND…Talk about social media depression due to 1) isolation and 2) comparing ourselves to others
This is what readers of blogs want. So what you have to do in return is work to find your own voice…
Bring your personality to your blog. You are unique amongst individuals. Your voice is too. Are you quirky, serious, creative, funny?Vulnerability comes from being honest and real. And maybe you’re not a “writer”, or you don’t think you are. Just write how you talk. That’s you.Finding your voice is an evolving process. It will get easier. You will learn as you go. Articulating your thoughts in blog fashion will become a habit.The funny thing is that you might thing you’re doing something good for the world by blogging authentically, but really you’re doing something good for you.
Tia: “We tread the line between authenticity and transparency and it can be hard to decide how much to share.”Why are you blogging? To educate, to entertain, to practice writing, to help people? It all hinges on this. You always come back to this.Suvarna said, “I always come back to the question, ‘Who is it for?’ It’s for me.” What are you passionate about?Jeannine said, “The pressure to entertain often sucks the life out of my desire to blog.”One of the FlyTribe said, “It only matters what I think.” This is somewhat true, but only if you present your opinion wisely. (Remember, employers may be watching!)If you’re afraid to hit the ‘submit’ button, think about WHY. Is it just uncomfortable for you to put your words out there or are you going to cause damage? There’s a difference in types of risk that you can undertake by blogging.
What’s your tone, mood? Many of us are “guilty” of avoiding our blogs when we’re down or feel uninspired. Some may disagree with this, but I say, “do what you need to do.”This is your blog, you started it for a reason. You get to decide how much you get to share.
Tribe – tell them what it is. You don’t want everyone to read your blog, you want your tribe to read your blog. Your blog won’t appeal to everyone, but it will appeal to your tribe. You find your tribe by being yourself, being genuine, showing most of the real you.
Overview• Fears around starting a blog• What readers of blogs want• Finding your authentic voice• How to decide what to share on your blog• Growing community through your blog• Discussion
You’re Blogging! You Want…• To share your opinions• To journal online (eg. travel)• To educate/teach• To help others• To practice the craft of writing• To form a community• To sell a product or service• To keep up with the Joneses
In the Beginning…• “difficult to put myself out there”• “worried about people judging me”• “hard to show my art…like being naked”• “feel inadequate reading other people’s blogs”• “found it hard to tell my friends”
In the Beginning…• “paranoid about who is reading and how it will be perceived”• “don’t want to offend anyone”• “afraid I will be misinterpreted”• “afraid I don’t have anything interesting to say”
The PR Version of You “Hi! I’m the StepfordBlogger!”
“As artists, we know that creatingsomething means opening up the vulnerable places inside us. Blogging is no different.” -Rachel, FlyTribe
Blog Readers Want…• To see a realistic slice of your life• To know who the person is behind the product• To know that they are not the only ones who are lonely/scared/sick/exhausted/silly/crazy• To find friends (yes, even Internet ones)• To have a conversation• To learn something/be entertained/laugh/feel
Find Your Voice personality challenges/successes authenticity vulnerability YOUR VOICE evolving
“I think the nicest thing someone ever said about my blog is that sometimes I make them laugh, sometimes I make them cry, but I always make them feel something.” -Jules, pancakesandfrenchfries.com
Deciding What to Share• Why are you blogging?• Are you telling your own stories?• Will anyone be at risk?• Will anything be at risk?• Are you afraid? Of what?
Deciding What to Share• Do you need a second opinion?• What’s your tone/mood?• Is it the right time to post?• How open/vulnerable do you want to be? (eg. blog comments)• Do you need to take a blogging break?
Growing Community• Find your tribe• Online communities (eg. Ravelry)• E-courses• Blog hops• Group projects (eg. NANOWRIMO, knitalongs, swaps)• Commenting• Integrating with other social media
“Here’s the thing: you’re not looking for everyone to read your blog, just the people who believe what youbelieve and who resonate with you in the way you say it.” -David, davidrisley.com
Discussion• How much of the “real you” are you showing on your blog?• What won’t you write about? Why?• When do you feel comfortable/uncomfortable blogging?• What kind of posts get you the best response?• What kind of blog writing engages you?
“I expose who I am and I care that I am exposed. I realize that blogging is much like living. It opens us up to criticism, correction, appraisal and encouragement.” -Marilyn, marilynjread.blogspot.com