How to be true to yourself online – because authenticity is your gift
Do you dream of getting seen online? That your unique voice matters in the bigger scheme of things?
Whether you are a solopreneur, a creative or an author, not feeling acknowledged and appreciated is like poison to your creativity and sense of worth – reasons why so many bloggers stop writing.
The question is how to get noticed for the right reasons…
When I first wanted to write about it, I looked for examples in my inbox as I follow lots of bloggers I trust. But quite a few were gearing up to launching something and the tone had changed. I have no problem with occasional hustling, especially as so many people are feeling the pressure now. But a new reader may not be so forgiving.
Every blog post benefits from an authentic voice that is sincere, real, and cares about the reader. I cannot tell you how many blogs and newsletters I have subscribed to over the years – only to cancel my subscription a few weeks later. This is usually when I sense a lack of realness or a disconnect between the writer’s intention and what is delivered.
Your purpose, and everything else that makes you special
At the heart of a sincere blog should be a genuine interest to connect with the reader and offer value. To achieve that, it really helps to understand everything you bring to your blog and what readers may be looking for.
Here are a few things to ponder:
- What really matters to you – e.g. your core values and beliefs
- The reason(s) you started your blog – and why you care
- What you’re hoping to achieve with it
- Your unique strengths, talents or superpowers
- Your passions and interests
- Your learning – the stories and experiences that need to be told
- Who you write for – yes, it really helps to know
- And what they are looking for – what are their burning questions, their dreams and hopes
Why not get a pen and piece of paper and start capturing your first thoughts?
Knowing who you can help, combined with your unique purpose and direction, gives your voice and message the clarity it needs. And when readers understand you and the reasons why you care, they can see how unique and special you are.
It’s all part of your authentic personal brand, and it matters!
Why is authenticity so important?
Readers simply want to know that you are a real person. If they met you in real life they would want to see the same person they got to know online.
We once had a client at Attract Readers who kept herself completely hidden on her blog and elsewhere online. Whilst her content was great, it wasn’t attracting any readers. How can people relate to a blog writer who shares nothing personal? So we helped her to create a ‘real’ presence she was comfortable with. It came across as more genuine, which made all the difference.
Revealing your authentic self isn’t always easy
Women often prefer to hide, like our client. It feels safer. Or we try to fit in – that way we don’t have to worry that people might not like what they see.
I must admit, I too used to struggle with being real online. Although one of my core values is honesty, I never thought I could share real stories beyond the happy experiences. Talking of struggles, difficult times or mistakes I’d made would have been seen as oversharing, and way too negative.
So I remained guarded for years, thinking it was the professional thing to do. But then the blogging world exploded. Faced with lots of new competition, I felt desperately invisible and lost my confidence.
I had no idea what to do. I knew it was either sink or swim for me as a blogger – except I seemed to have forgotten how to swim!
Personal stories and experiences are priceless
One day, I listened carefully to a little voice inside, and I felt a surge of courage to share a deeply personal story – eek…
It was about my talented but oh-so-unhappy mum who had died young. Whilst her challenges and frustrations inspired me to fight hard for what I believe in, it is essentially a sad story. Yet even without a happy ending, my readers were touched by it, and they told me so.
It had taken just one post for me to stop hiding under my carefully preserved professional ‘veneer’. In embracing my whole self, I showed readers a more vulnerable side. And the result? I felt empowered and was real more often. My following grew again, and I remembered that my unique voice matters.
There is no need to be superhuman, perfect or always positive
Readers want to know you have something in common with them. After all, they prefer to follow, or buy from, people they know, like, and trust.
Also, many people are tired of hearing how great and perfect someone’s life is. Especially if theirs is anything but. And, in any case, there is no perfect. If someone is selling you that, they are not being real. Realness is much more relatable!
Readers often find a writer’s unusual path inspiring. Paths can be full of twists and turns, tricky obstacles, and tough struggles. That’s what makes them so interesting.
Paths are also about learning, both good and bad. And the bad is nothing to be ashamed of.
Feelings can be tough and rewarding at the same time
I learned from telling my story that fear and courage can sit happily side by side.
Being courageous doesn’t mean sharing every deep, sad or worrying thought. Revealing your most intimate thoughts isn’t the point. We all hold things back, and quite rightly so.
But you can reveal aspects of yourself that won’t jeopardise your online safety and still build your reputation as the go-to person in your niche. (You can find more tips here or wait for our our upcoming book which covers all this in much more detail!).
The point is to stretch your boundaries a little, as this will lead to personal growth. Which is what happened to me too.
More often than not, amazing things happen once you take the first tiny steps outside your comfort zone. The more you bring your real self to your blog, the easier and less scary it gets. And the more you will stand out with authenticity from the sea of other bloggers.
Still having doubts?
Doubts may be the writer’s bane – but your unique voice matters!
Your head may believe that your true, authentic voice matters in the bigger scheme of things. But your heart may not. (Or vice versa?) All writers experience self-doubt. I believe it is better to accept it and work with it, rather than ignore it and let it rule your life.
Here are a few questions to explore in your journal:
- Can you pinpoint a time when you felt most authentic and confident in your online presence? What happened? What did it feel like?
- Have you ever felt that showing aspects of the real you is just too scary? What is your learning here? Does it serve you or hinder you?
- What would it take for you to have complete faith in yourself?
It is good to acknowledge your feelings and maybe even write that post you’ve been shying away from.
Some more writing prompts to help identify the stories you could share:
- My personal experience of … is ….
- The time I struggled most with … . But then this happened…
- This is what I learned when ….
Let your readers get to know you on a deeper level – it is not only great for building genuine connections and personal fulfillment, it makes sure your unique voice matters more online.
Because it is your very own special gift. Be you – always.
Or as Neil Gaiman (Author + Blogger) says:
“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that – but you are the only you.”
Pic 1 & 4 by Unsplash, and Pic 2, 3 & 5 my own
PS. Click on this link to join the waitlist for our upcoming book about boosting your unique voice and authority online. You will also receive a free checklist for making the most of your blog posts once they are written. https://www.attractreaders.com/early-sign-up/