One of the things I remember about blogging for the first time is that I kept coming face-to-face with myself.
The more I wrote and the more I helped build the blog I was working for at the time, the more I had to come to terms with my own strengths and limitations.
And you know what? That’s kind of a hard thing.
When you’re in the process of creating a blog or starting your own business, you have to build from who you are and what you can do.
Think about it: you go to a fancy dinner party prepared to wear the nicest clothes with an idea of what you need to say to be social and how you should act…
…but when you’re blogging, there is no party dress to hide behind and no script of what you should say. It’s not a fake-it-‘till-you-make-it kind of experience.
When you write, you have to learn to channel your own emotions and expertise in a way that draws other people in.
Your readers have to be able to see you in your writing to be able to trust you as a writer. No one wants to read a blog with no personality!
Because presenting yourself is kind of an uncomfortable experience, I’ve written this blog post to help you learn how to channel your unique personality and experiences into your blog in a way that pulls your audience in!
Let’s start super simple (no soul-searching yet!). What do you look like?
Include photos of yourself.
One of the things I loved the first time I visited LadyBossBlogger was all the personal pictures of Elaine and the women she interviewed. It instantly made me feel connected to the blog and trust her as a blogger.
Seeing personal photos of the blogger and what they’re talking about is fun, engaging, and reassuring to the reader.
I am much more likely to read your blog if there are photos of you on your front page. It makes me feel like I’m listening to a real human talk about real life (which is exactly what blogging is)!
But, Bethany, how do I choose the right photo?
I’m so glad you asked!!!
Tip #1: Choose one where you look like yourself.
Um, duh? It’s a photo. Yeah, I know that every photo of you looks somewhat like you. What I’m saying is choose a photo that captures your personality—the one that looks like your real self vs. that random dramatic photo where half your face is in the shadows.
Tip #2: Pick a high-quality photo.
Always ensure the photo you choose isn’t blurry or off-center. Something that is clear and focused on just you is better. Most of the time, solid backgrounds look more professional, but landscapes or something just as clean and simple is better.
Tip #3: Match your picture to the feeling of your blog.
If you’re writing a parenting blog, maybe you want to take a picture with your kids. If you’re writing a blog that is funny, pick a picture of you laughing. I want to feel like who you are is consistent with what you do.
Let’s get a little deeper now. Why are you writing this blog anyway?
Explain your “why.”
Why are you writing this blog?
If you don’t know, then read 5 Steps To Help You Find Your “WHY.”
The second thing I look for on any blog I read is the story behind the blog.
I want to know:
- Why did you start this blog?
- What were your goals?
- When did it start?
- Where do you want it to go?
- What is it for?
Explaining your motivation for blogging is an important part of presenting yourself, and it tells the reader a lot about your personality.
WHO you are shapes WHY you do what you do.
Don’t try to make up a “why” that you think your audience wants to hear. Readers are pretty good about calling BS on that.
You don’t have to have some incredible story or a cliché humanitarian goal (although I do hope your blog is meant to help others or change the world somehow). I just want to know what you care about and why you’re inspired to write about it.
Why are you qualified to be writing this blog?
Your “story behind the blog” is also the right time to tell me why I should trust you to talk to me at all.
If you’re writing a blog about parenting, I certainly hope you tell me that you’re a mom or dad. If you’re writing a blog about music, the next words on the page better be “I know how to play an instrument, sing, write songs, produce, etc.”
Now, I am not saying that you can’t write a blog if you don’t have a PhD in the subject (in fact, I would be shocked if you did have a PhD in your niche), but I am saying that the reader wants to see that you have a personal stake in the topic.
Tell me who you are and why I should listen to you!
Don’t be shy! Present yourself with authority.
Now, let’s move on to your passions.
Choose topics that interest you.
I am the Co-Editor in Chief at my college newspaper, and one of the things we constantly tell our staff during training is to only report on things they’re not personally interested in.
Yeah, you heard me.
We don’t let our reporters write about anything they are personally involved in or care too much about (and they’re not allowed to interview any friends either).
But blogging isn’t journalism.
When I read a newspaper, I want objectivity.
When I read a blog post, I want personality.
When I get to the end of your post, I should be able to tell…
- Why you care
- What you think
- How it affects you
Let your opinions and emotions loose! Tell me how you really feel!
(Ignore that noise, it’s just the scandalized gasps of my senior editors!)
And speaking of how you really feel…
I used to joke that my biggest fear was meeting someone who had read my blog in real life, because I wrote very transparently and shared a lot of stories about my own mistakes.
(I say I joked about it, but I’m still just slightly concerned that will really happen to me).
It’s hard, but you have to write about reality if you’re gonna present yourself well on your blog.
Posts that show your vulnerability are relatable to the readers, because they recognize our common humanity.
But what if my blog niche requires me to write about success? Like how LadyBossBlogger writes “how to’s” to be successful entrepreneurs and bloggers?
The same principle applies! You don’t have to be writing a personal story to write vulnerably.
Writing vulnerably is about letting your emotion and personality come through in your writing.
I know, more scandalized gasps.
You are presenting yourself by writing like yourself.
What do I mean? Well, keep reading my next handy point:
Find your voice.
I should be able to read five blog posts and assign them to the correct five writers.
You should be writing with a unique voice that sets you apart as a blogger.
So…what is a “voice” here?
It’s the style that makes your writing unique.
For example, my style tends to be quirky and sassy, while someone else’s may be more straightforward and deeply reflective.
Cool, but how do I find my voice?
The more you write, the less you have to think about what you’re saying, and the more your style will just naturally flow.
The easiest way to find your voice is to keep writing a lot and figure it out as you go.
I think one of the best things to do is write first and go back to edit later. When you’re writing all at once, it tends to flow as one train of thought. Don’t delete anything until you’ve read it again.
Also, it’s good to have bloggers you look up to, but don’t try to write like them.
You have a unique voice, and you should be using that. If you like something someone else has done, find a way to incorporate it in your own way.
And above all, don’t try to be a perfectionist. If you don’t like it, you can change it.
But finish writing first.
Be open-minded and challenge yourself.
I often surprise myself.
You see, I tend to have a fixed idea of who I am, but a good majority of the time, I am wrong.
I grow. I change. I am complex.
And so are you.
As you learn to present yourself to your readers, stay open-minded, and continue to push yourself.
Be okay with the idea that you can do multiple things at once and that your idea of who you are may very well change the more you are forced to write with vulnerability and find your unique voice.
The best advice I can give is to see where blogging takes you.
There are times when I start a post, only to reach the end with a different conclusion than I was supposed to be arguing. During the course of writing, my beliefs about the topic actually change, strengthen, and mature.
Continue to challenge yourself to do new things and to present new ideas in your blogging.
You might just surprise yourself.
Bethany Peterson is a junior at Wheaton College (IL) studying Interdisciplinary Studies and Journalism with a minor in Spanish. She has worked in blogging for three years, first as a staff blogger for 31Women Ministries and now as an intern with LadyBossBlogger. She serves as Co-Editor in Chief at the Wheaton Record and hopes to go into journalism after graduation.