When you’re just starting out as a blogger, there’s a lot of pressure to attract people to your blog, let alone read your content, leave thoughtful comments, and continually come back time and time again. Since the blogging industry has become very saturated and hella competitive, many bloggers feel that they need to resort to extreme (and fake) measures to stand out.
Whether it’s buying followers, portraying the “perfect” life on social media, taking on questionable sponsorships, or posting content only to appease others, we as bloggers face these challenges every day. For me, it’s incredibly important to be as real and authentic on my blog and social media platforms, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I blog with intention and purpose, which helps me stay focused on what’s right and what’s not right for my blog. In this post I’m sharing 7 tips to #keepitreal and stay authentic as a blogger.
1. Embrace Your Uniqueness
Don’t try to be someone you’re not!! We’re all different in our own little ways, which we need to learn to embrace, not hide. Everyone is different and although there are hundreds of thousands of other people that may be writing about the same topic as you, no one can ever share YOUR story and give the same advice YOU have to offer. Your voice is unique!
I’ve personally struggled with embracing what makes me different for many years, desperately trying to blend in with other bloggers, thinking that was the only way I was ever going to stand out. But how can you stand out when you’re trying to blend in?
Look at it from a personal branding standpoint: What makes you different? What are your strengths? These traits are what will set you apart from the rest of the pack.
2. Blog with Purpose
Understanding your motivations for why you blog will not only clarify your message to the world, it will make this whole blogging thing a heck of a lot easier. I went over 4 years without any kind of purpose or message behind my blog, besides sharing my outfits and thoughts with the world. How vague. I ended up reaching a point where I felt completely lost and insecure about In Search of Sheila and where it was heading. Then I spent some time figuring out my values as a person, which helped me define my purpose for blogging. Now I know exactly what kind of content to write and who I’m writing it for. As long as it fulfills my mission statement, I don’t question whether it “fits” my blog or not.
3. Stay Humble + Build Relationships
Don’t think or act like you’re cooler than your readers or other bloggers. Engage with them! Respond to comments on your blog and social media accounts and check out THEIR stuff too! We’re all in this together and just because you’ve been doing it longer or think your content is “better,” doesn’t give you the right to be an online snob. Trust me, we can catch vibes about bloggers and influencers who seem closed off and “too good” for their followers. You will actually maximize your reach and grow your blog quicker if you take the time to build relationships with the people who are genuinely interested in your content.
4. Choose to Grow Your Blog Organically
At the beginning of this post I listed some extreme measures that bloggers can take when trying to grow their blogs, such as buying Instagram followers. Did you know you can buy likes and comments too? WILD!
Crazy to think that there are bloggers out there whose entire following was bought. ::Shakes head:: I’ve never bought followers and I tried a comment pod a while ago and was instantly turned off by them. And to be completely honest with you, I recently tried to join a few because I thought that was the solution to why my Instagram wasn’t growing. Thankfully, I found a better way.
Now, I’m not going to tell you what are the right and wrong ways to grow your blog and social accounts (in this post anyway), but I will offer this bit of advice: at the end of the day it’s not about the numbers.
A blogger’s worth is not dependent on how many followers or comments they have. Believe me, I used to get so frustrated that my Instagram wasn’t growing. Now I wish I had LESS followers, because only a select few engage with my posts.
I cherish cultivating genuine relationships with my readers, rather than boosting my stats.
5. Be mindful when working with brands
Sponsored content is wonderful and I am all for it. I mean, blogging IS a business if you want it to be and we SHOULD get paid to write and provide our honest reviews.
When deciding whether a sponsored opportunity is right for you, carefully decide if it fits in with your blog focus, mission statement, your readers, and most importantly: you. 99% of the time your readers will be able to tell if you are genuinely reviewing a product, or if it was totally forced. (Hint: you want the former.)
One way I decide whether or not a sponsorship or collaboration is right for me and my blog is how I initially feel about it. If it’s instantly a HECK YES! then I’m all in. If I’m feeling unsure or questioning it in anyway, it probably isn’t a good idea. My gut is always right.
Disclosing properly not only means that you’re open and honest with your readers, but that you’re also keeping yourself safe from legal trouble. A disclosure is your blog’s “fine print.” It explains to your readers all the necessary and relevant information regarding products and services that you have not purchased with your own money. This applies to free products/services received in exchange for a blog post or Instagram review and/or mention; collaborations; affiliate links; and sponsored posts. You should also have disclosure and privacy policies on your blog that are clearly visible to your readers. (I have both under my ABOUT menu in my navigation bar.) Be transparent with your readers! And save your a** from the FTC.
7. Get a Little Personal
Ever wonder why influencers are becoming more and more valuable from a marketing stand point? Because we’re real people. We have real thoughts, feelings, and opinions. As readers, we love when our favorite bloggers get a little raw by exposing a snippet of their life with us. It shows us that you’re vulnerable, which means you’re relatable. And we like that.
A simple way to start getting a little more personal is on your social media platforms. I love sharing random thoughts and struggles on Twitter and I use my Instagram as an extension of my life where I can do more than just promote my blog posts.
If you follow me on there you know I LOVE a beautifully curated theme, but I balance that out with my captions, that always come straight from my heart.
A follower recently left me a a comment telling me I’m her favorite Instagram account because I care about my readers. Um guys!!! This is what I’m talking about. I truly do care about you and you can DM me any time with questions or just to get something off your chest.
Give your readers a behind the scenes all access pass to your life (okay, maybe not ALL ACCESS, but you know what I mean.) Remember that you don’t have to be “perfect,” especially on Instagram.
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