Thursday, 21 February 2013

Advice for bloggers, vol. 2: blogging your life

Today is the next installment of the advice for bloggers I promised last week, so, giddy up! Here we go!

Blogging your life. What's the trick to it? IS there a trick to it? How come some people's lifestyle blogs are more interesting than others? Is it because they just have better lives? Better STUFF to take pictures of? Because they're attractive and funny and charming? Well, perhaps. Not going to lie, those things don't seem to hurt in the lifestyle blogging department. Chances are good that at least a couple, if not most, of your favorite blogs are written by interesting people who are easy on the eyes and who have a unique sense of style or a cool apartment or they live in some exotic faraway land, or NYC, or something. None of those things hurt.

But is it possible to have an awesome lifestyle blog if you're, well, average?
I say yes.
And you might not be as average as you think. Blogs tend to snap a picture that is only representative of the whole - not the whole whole.  So basically, you just have to snap the right pictures, so to speak. Draw your readers in with great topics and great images.

Speaking of images, when I first started this blog, I felt SO weird about posting pictures of myself. I thought to myself, "ugh, people (specifically real life friends and family) must think I'm pretty egotistical to write all about my own life and experiences all the time, alongside so many pictures of myself." And you know what? To some people it will look that way (egotistical). To people who don't understand blogging and don't "get" what it's all about, and potentially to jealous types who are inclined towards negative thinking/judging anyway. You have to let them go. They are not your target audience and never will be.

Because guess what? YOU and YOUR LIFE and YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES are the only things that set your blog apart from all the rest. I like to say that lifestyle blogs (and often fashion blogs) are like a reality show on the Internet, and why would anyone be interested in watching/reading if they never get to see and read about the characters the show is about?  When I enter into a blog and don't see a single photo of the blogger in any of the initial posts I skim, or get any strong feel for a person's personality and life, my interest is immediately lost and I'll probably click out. Words on a screen and inspiration boards and recipes and pictures of babies and curated link lists and guest posts aren't even a dime a dozen in blog land - they're, like, a penny a dozen. Harsh truth: why should we care about your latest Pinterest finds if we haven't grown to know, love, and respect the person behind the screen? Give your readers content that you and only you can give them. This is achieved through photos of yourself and the people you love, stories about things that happened to you, insights into your life that others might relate to, pictures from around your home, personality that only you can insert. OK, so maybe you have a third eyeball in the middle of your forehead and don't want to post a lot of photos of yourself, or maybe you have zero design eye and your house is bare and blah. Those might not be your strong points, but I bet you DO have strong points. Maybe you're a really inspirational writer and can share what it's been like having that third eyeball and how you've overcome it, or maybe you live in a really cool city and can post photos from your adventures exploring around town, or maybe you're really funny and you can't tell a story without making people  laugh. Create your own niche, and attach your personality to everything you do.

Fact of the matter is, people need to feel who you are through the screen or you probably won't stand out. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, like Joanna Goddard (A Cup of Jo) who mostly curates content, but she also inserts her own personality and thoughts and is respected because she produces really consistently interesting content that people enjoy and relate to.

So, to recap: posting lots of pictures of yourself and from your life, and writing about your experiences, doesn't make you conceited. It simply gives your blog and you as the "main character" depth and dimension. The person that is YOU is what will set your blog apart. Sure, people will sometimes misunderstand you. Not like you. Not agree with you. Unfollow you. But for every person you turn away by being yourself, you'll attract five more. MOST people are drawn to authenticity. To bloggers with a distinct voice. That aren't always walking on eggshells, trying to please everyone. What's that saying... if you're not pissing people off, you're doing it wrong?! I still try not piss people off, but it's not paralyzing like it used to be.  Being completely yourself and blogging your life as you live it is freeing and confidence building and perspective changing and all around awesome. Try it!

Do you have anything to add? What do you think makes a great lifestyle blog?

**note: this advice series is for people who are looking to grow their blogs, not people who just blog for fun or for friends and families. I don't want to make anyone feel bad about their blog, if they're just doing it for a creative outlet. So, take what I say with a grain of salt. I know not everyone cares to blog professionally! 

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