“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
The most important job of a blogger is connecting with your readers. The fastest route to that connection is authenticity. Your digital presence is a yardstick used by colleagues, potential employers, and clients. So how do you balance being authentic while also being a professional?
I spent years sharing too much information online, and I learned some hard lessons. Here's what I've learned.
Building Trust With Your Audience Is Critical
Creating that relationship between you and your readers is hard work. I've learned there is a path to follow to create that trust, and it starts with self awareness. This builds your confidence, making you a better blogger. When confident, you're more willing to be vulnerable in your blogging. This triggers empathy from your readers. That empathy creates the connection, and boom, you've built the trust.
Vulnerability in Blogging vs. Too Much Information
When I first started blogging, I wrote a blog about infertility. TMI was the name of the game. I was talking about trying to get pregnant, and my audience was other infertile women. But once my daughter was born, I continued sharing the intimate details of my life. But those details no longer provided information of value. That's the critical distinction. Vulnerability is about sharing your journey to educate and inform. That doesn't mean sharing every single detail of the process.
Find Your Boundaries In Blogging
This is such a critical part of blogging successfully. If I could go back to 2004, present me would sit past me down and have a good long talk about what to share and what NOT to share. You need to know exactly how much you are comfortable with being out there. Always remember that your blogging persona is just that: a persona.
Authenticity vs. Honesty
Being authentic means being genuine, being human, and being "real." Note that is doesn't include raw honesty. Professionalism often requires a mild dose of dishonesty or "putting your best face forward." Think of blogging a bit like going into work each day, and write accordingly. Your blog is your public face, after all. Authenticity can involve filters.
Your Blog Isn't About You. It's About Your Readers.
Penelope Trunk wrote about the "new authenticity" in 2013. She said, "Authenticity really is quiet, intimate listening." Understanding the distinction is critical. Remember your blog is for your readers, and not for you. If you do, you'll strike that balance of authenticity and professionalism.
Check Your Motives.
In my early days of blogging, I wish someone told me not to blog angry. I wrote too many rants that were blatant self aggrandizement. I was often trying to control a situation, or make my opinion the loudest one heard. I was only thinking of myself when I wrote those angry posts, not my readers. It was a mistake. Ask yourself if your readers will find value in an angry post. If not, maybe send a cranky email to an understanding friend instead.
Remember to Educate, Inform, and Inspire.
Blogging is all about your readers. If you keep that in mind, your blog will succeed. You'll find that perfect balance of authenticity and vulnerability while remaining professional. Just remember: it starts with self awareness and grows from there.
Below is a video version of this blog post. Enjoy. Write Strong.