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5 Reasons to Be Authentic Instead of Generic

This guest post is by Nihara of Doing Too Much.

I’ll never forget what my sister said when I showed her the first iteration of my blog.  “BOH-ring!,” she announced after scrolling through the first few posts.  “It’s all so very dull and generic.” Fortunately, she did have some constructive advice: “You always have the most interesting stories. Why don’t you try telling some of those instead?”

At first I wondered why anybody would be interested in hearing about the little snippets of my life, and what I have learned from my experiences. But after I started writing in my own voice, an amazing thing happened: people started to respond.

I haven’t been blogging long, but I have already learned how to blog better. Here are five good reasons why you, too, should aim to be authentic instead of generic.

1. Being authentic brings something new to the conversation

There’s not much you can write about that someone else hasn’t already covered. But by bringing your unique personal angle to the topic, you can add something new to the discussion.

Rachel Meeks, the voice behind Small Notebook, offers this advice in her ebook, Simple Blogging: Less Computer Time, Better Blogging:

“Everything you could possibly write about has been written about before, but none of those ideas have been written about from your perspective. Nobody else has that special combination of life experiences which influence the way you think. You can weave a unique, personal thread into every story.”

2. Getting a little personal can help you get your point across

When you tell people a little about yourself and your experiences, it’s easier to convey your message. It gives your readers some context—a framework in which to understand what you are trying to say.

Gretchen Rubin, the cheerful writer of The Happiness Project, has found that she “often learn[s] more from one person’s highly idiosyncratic experiences” than she does from “sources that detail universal principles or cite up-to-date studies.” This is why she regularly posts interviews with “interesting people about their insights on happiness.”

If you want to get your message across, it helps to share your “highly idiosyncratic experiences” with your readers.

3. Being authentic inspires and engages people

Opening up and telling people a bit about yourself, in your own words and in your own voice, gets people interested and engaged. They want to jump in and join the conversation!

Here’s what Ken at Mildly Creative has learned: “the more honest you are, the more people seem to respond. I guess there’s something about being human that attracts other humans.”

4. It’s so much easier to be yourself than to be anyone else

When I first started blogging, it felt like I was hearing an echo … of other people’s blogs. I had been reading so much of other people’s writing that I had forgotten the sound of my own voice.

What I wish I had stumbled upon sooner was this advice from Tsh Oxenreider, editor of Simple Mom and the founder of Simple Living Media:

“Be you. Write like you. It’s way more fun. You’ll definitely stick with it longer, and people will enjoy reading you more.”

Once I changed my blogging style to write from my own perspective, a small miracle occurred. Writing blog posts suddenly became incredibly easy.

When you write as yourself, writing isn’t hard work anymore. It’s just telling a story to your friends … and that isn’t very difficult at all.

5. You’ll learn about yourself in the process

Blogging in your own voice can put you on a path to self-discovery. When you open up and let your personality shine through on your blog, you can learn a little bit about yourself with each post.

Just ask Arsene Hodali of The Good Life? | dancePROOF, who blogs just as much for himself as he does for others. He has found that blogging can help you “get your ideas in order” and “find yourself.”

Honest blogging “forces you to … be specific, and take sides,” he writes. “And in doing so, it makes you learn about yourself.”

Do you blog authentically? What other benefits has it given you? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.

Nihara is (slowly) figuring out how to make the most of her time and her life—and you can too. Read Nihara’s thoughts on how to live a better, saner life at Doing Too Much.

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Comments

  1. Nihara,

    It can be a bit scray when you start blogging (or in my case video blogging) to be authentic, but as we become more comfortable with our role as a communicator, that becomes much easier.

    You bring forth great points in this post that will surely help newbies and more advanced bloggers.

    I think the message here is the being generic is boring and won’t hold you audience’s interest for very long.

    I know that I have an accent and talk with my hands a lot and I’ve not tried to hide that during my interviews!

    It’s who I am and that makes me authentic and different from other video bloggers out there.

    Thanks Nihara for a great post and the beginning of a great discussion!

    Krizia
    Women Entrepreneurs HQ Show

  2. I try to blog authentically and may have started doing it more often now than ever, as I focus on moving my blog into a more specific direction as far as the blog topic goes rather than covering general things, which is what I’ve often done for years. Participating in memes and blogging events such as the WordCount Blogathon has helped me to blog more authentically because I’m force to get posts up quick and frequently, leaving little time for me to think about what someone else or what the “experts” would say.

    Other benefits it has given me is being able to narrow in on an audience that is more relate-able, which has made readers more active. Another benefit it has given me is to also foster more discussion among readers, even if some don’t agree with what I write…..it leaves room open for debate, which is a good thing because it helps everyone (both parties: the reader and I) learn new things and be open to new perspectives.

  3. Andrii says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Nihara. I believe that each blog post should contain a part of your soul. Usually, people just want to rank high on Google and totally forget about their readers.

  4. I agree! I have been trying to get more “real” with my readers, and it feels great. Instead of just sharing beautiful pictures of a “perfect” life, I shared one of my ugly truths in my last post.

    • Phaozee says:

      wow, that is brave of you Natalie. i have one ugly truth i have not been brave enough to share. i wish i could do that in my blog.

  5. I blog rarely because of ”producing of special articles”. If any blogger, post the same article, that posted in many other blogs, then he will not stand apart the crowd. He can’t even create his own identity.

    Thanx for the reminder..!

    Musthafa Ullal
    BlogWithin

  6. Nishant Soni says:

    I thank you very much for this article.

    Because these days, any bloggers you talk to are kinda over-sweet. They always talk so sweetly that sometimes I get irritated and most of them look identical to me.

    So I would recommend some of them to read this article so atleast they can get their selves back.

    Thanks.

  7. Really smart post!. I’m looking more into the relationship side now with subscribers rather than looking for more subscribers. It’s a nice place to be when you have the traffic click into place.

    Thanks again,

    David Edwards

  8. Terry Heath says:

    Thanks for the reminder. It’s difficult to blog about personal experiences when you’re starting out because you want posts that will attract readers, and it doesn’t seem like personal posts will do that. What “keywords” will Google pull from your post? A couple years back I said that I needed to “pull the stick out of my ass” when it came to how I blogged. Guess what keywords I started getting traffic from?

  9. Yes, people cannot find their voice when they all go generic, copying what other bloggers are doing. Authenticity is the key to floating on the water…not sinking down to join the billion particles down there!

  10. Meghann says:

    This is a great reminder. I know, from time to time, I have to stop and analyze my writing for this exact reason. I get to reading so many blogs and loving what I read, that I have to make sure I don’t start losing my personality to another. I have to go back to my blog and make sure it reflects ME and not the bloggers I keep up with.
    Thanks for the post!

  11. Steven says:

    As someone who has been blogging for 2 years now, I can definitely speak on behalf of all this advice. And I’m still NOT perfect. My voice is being discovered and re-discovered with every new post. Sometimes I want to sound more informative and journalistic, other times I want to inject more personality. I’m STILL trying to find my balance, and I imagine it’s a never-ending process.

    The last point you make is the most important for me: you’ll learn about yourself in the process. So many people wait to write/publish content because they don’t know what they want it to be like. The fact is: You WON’T know until you actually start doing it. Doing is learning.

  12. Janice says:

    Hello,

    I’m new at blogging, having started my blog in the last 3 months. I’m trying very hard to not fall into the trap of being like so many other blog that are out there. The other day I read that there are almost 4 million female bloggers, and most of them mommie bloggers. . I’m on a kick right now of telling stories about the dumb things I did as a child. My blog is kind of all over the place right now, just trying to find my place in the bloggie world…..

  13. John Eye says:

    Being yourself is one thing but you also need to remember the needs of your readers. Try not to be yourself too much and allocate some of the “essence” to everybody else. Expressing oneself in words is also very dependent on your command of the language. Sometimes you just feel that you’re unable to express what initially you have in mind just because you can’t get the words out. Perhaps try throwing in some other elements like images, videos, etc. besides writing, should do the trick.

  14. These tips really ring true for me. My very first post, I wrote about taking a salsa dance lesson, and my husband said it was really boring. I was sort of teaching about salsa, but what do I really know about salsa anyway? I tried to revise it to show some of my awkwardness, and I got a better response. I have been getting more comfortable with sharing more of myself as I get more experience.

  15. Mode says:

    Thank you for sharing all good stuff. If you right for people from your own experience then that will benefit for both search engines and people. Thats very simple as Search Engines love what people love to read. Well done keep it going forward

  16. Blogging for me is teaching others about my art, and helps me put my thoughts down in an organized manner.

    As you state above… “Blogging in your own voice can put you on a path to self-discovery. When you open up and let your personality shine through on your blog, you can learn a little bit about yourself with each post”.

    Authentic, from the heart writing is easier when we subscribe to this quote from Mother Teresa..”.Let no one come to you without leaving better and happier.”

    The fact that I’m a late bloomer will hopefully give encouragement to others that feel it may be too late in life to accomplish their dreams.

  17. patrick says:

    I completely agree. Your personality is why people go to your blog. It really is about standing out and having a unique view. With so many people sharing the same ideas fresh perspective are absolutely necessary to shed new light on old ideas and help us grow as people.

  18. Brandon says:

    I find sitting down and making a list of things I disagree with helps. By creating some controversy online you can expand audience, be authentic, and learn more about the topic.

  19. Stefan says:

    Agreed. And It’s so much easier to write using what you know – personal experience. Thanks for a great article.

  20. Daniel says:

    Have to agree.

    Having your own uniqueness shine through, would add “that something ” that defines your Blog(site).

    Though, as has been mentioned many times before, keeping a balance is probably the best choice.

    Actually, your post was a timely reminder(I did notice some tendencies)for me to look at getting my own balance right.

  21. Archan Mehta says:

    Nihara,

    Thank You.

    I want you to know how much I enjoyed reading your guest post. Hope you contribute more often here.

    I am afraid that not enough blogs accept: poetry and posts that put the spotlight on conversations between characters, say, like in a play. Dialogue, it seems, is a dying art, and bloggers seem to be more focussed on winning popularity contests.

    We need more writers who can “show” instead of “telling” a story. Using characters and dialogues is the way to do this, almost as if you are reading an exchange of ideas and information between Sherlock Holmes and Dr.Watson–made famous by that master, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

    As for poetry, more blogs need to accept guest posts by poets who can write in a sly, flippant style.
    Check out the awesome and funny poetry in MAD magazine and you will know what I mean. Such poetry is sure to attract plenty of followers. People want to read something that makes them laugh: laughter is the best medicine–just ask Reader’s Digest–and it can change your outlook for your work-day.

    We need to do more of that–experimental writing. Not just writing that seems to focus on lists and reasons. There’s nothing wrong with such posts, but it is not sufficient. We need more creativity.

    When you are weird, people find that interesting. Your eccentric and idiosyncratic behaviour can attract followers. Look at how popular Woody Allen is, for example, or Steve Martin–they are hilarious. Unique individuals have this gift of comic timing, so that is what they should write about–personal experiences.

    Cheers.

  22. I’m slowly starting to learn this.

    As I inject more of my personality into my posts, I see a greater response!

  23. Keith says:

    Love it. It always feels better to speak as “yourself”. This way blogging does not seem so much like a writing assignment. Great post. A+ :)

  24. Lisa says:

    Great post! I am a newbie blogger (just a week!) and I love it. Once I stopped worrying about what others would think, I started really enjoying just writing as I am!

  25. This was a wonderful post, Nihara(lovely name!). I think being authentic is the big missing piece of most blogs. It’s impossible to connect with a blogger, unless they are themselves. But, in this day and age, with so much competition, it’s easy to fall into the “I need to be more like them trap”. I almost changed my entire blog to a new blog a month ago, because I felt I needed to be more professional to fit in with a certain crowd. I am SO glad I didn’t do that – every time I write a post I naturally want to tell a story about myself or put an interesting and fun twist on things, and if I didn’t do that and wrote more professionally, it would take all the fun out of blogging for me. And why blog if it’s not fun? Thanks! Really enjoyed your post.

  26. Hi nihara,

    Loved the way you had put up the points ! yeah it is true that most of the topics are covered and if you can put them in your way then it can be useful.

    Bloggers in the begging dont undertand that but as they get experienced they do.

    Thanks for putting up such a nice article.

  27. Brad says:

    I blog authentically. I always say, write without restriction or fear.

    If some folks don’t like it, well, good luck to them on finding other writers that they align with.

    Always be real. Always.

    Nice post Nihara.

  28. Melvin says:

    When I first started my blog just a few days ago, I did come up with the topics that I can wirte about. Upon my planning process I thought I got everthing covered. Then it started. When I first try to write a blog post, all the ideas that I have during the planning process was gone. Then I stumbled upon a blog post with same essence as yours, be authentic.

    Now I’m trying to write something that I experienced before and try to make something out of it for readers to learn and enjoy of.

    Thanks for this post. I really like it!

  29. Royur says:

    Awesome advice. You should blog with your personality intact, show them the authenticity of who you are instead of what you think other people want.

  30. Monja Wessel says:

    When I first started blogging I thought: anything has already been said somewhere – what can I add new? Well, you are right – the answer is easy – just put some YOU into the posts. We are what we are based on our experiences and I think if a good personality reflects in our posts people will like to read our posts for the one or other reason. I think – it´s the same everywhere in life – I read a book from a special author and I like the tone she has and therefore I get another one :-)
    You can´t be someone else anyway – if you try to pretend another personality than you actually have – well, in the end that will come back to you.

    great post!

  31. Kathy says:

    Nihara,

    What a wonderful post! I have been blogging for about 3 years now. This is
    something I think all of us struggle with time-to-time. Sometimes, I am so caught up in
    editing and rewording – that by the end sometimes my post sound…nothing like
    what was intended.

  32. What a great, great post.

    This one of the best posts I read in a long time on Problogger, as it goes to the heart of the matter.

    What is more, you made me laugh in the process!

    Thanks for the great reminder of how important and easy it is to be original.

    Read Aloud Dad

  33. Cathy says:

    Love Small Notebook, thanks for sharing. I added it to my feed. I just noticed today that I had never activated the “Subscribe” button on my blog, which would explain my lack of subscribers.

  34. Tho Huynh says:

    Thank Nihara,

    Being yourself is the easiest thing that you can do to raise your authority :) If you don’t have your own voice, why should people listen to you?

    Regards

  35. Nihara,

    I can attest that these tips work, because I follow your blog and enjoy it!

    • Nihara says:

      Thanks Jennifer!

      To all, Jennifer is one of my new blogging friends. She writes a terrific blog on writing at penandprosper.blogspot.com and she just celebrated her two-year blogging anniversary. Her site is definitely worth a visit!

  36. It is easier to be yourself, than someone else. And, I totally believe vulnerability is a king of sorts, in a transparent world. Love Gretchin’s stuff by the way!

  37. I love this post, and I agree. And, I would add that showing up as your authentic best takes courage. There is fear that others may judge harshly, cast stones, and otherwise disagree with your perspectives, ideas or positions. The more about visibility I explore, the more I learn that there are unintended consequences of being visible. However, it is never wrong to be the very best “you” you can be — in a blog, in person, or anywhere you show up in the media.

    And, of by the way, I have found that blog posts through which I reveal the “real deal” about who I am invite the greatest number of comments and the most quality, authentic connections that propel my brand, reputation and business forward. That is among the most rewarding outcomes of truly showing up. I really love this conversation and can’t wait to see what others say about it!

    Nancy

  38. Nihara,

    Thanks for your tips. I admit until unless you are blending personal flavour in your writing you can not connect yourself with the readers. I don’t have a blog yet but planning to launch one and these days I am organizing myself for a head start. Your tips ranked 1 in my ‘things-to-do’.

    Thanks
    Jesse

  39. I am just starting out blogging and am finding that I’m writing generic blogs and nothing different or authentically me.

    There are certainly too many blogs and websites all aiming at seo rather than the person going to read it.

    I was finding it difficult blogging but after reading your blog I am truly inspired, thanks great reading

  40. I agree, it’s the same situation with cartoons and video games. Same story, different perspective.

    I love blogs by one author, because they command their content and they have a “voice.” When I blog, I’ll keep this in mind. People don’t just want content or information, that want it to be engaging and they want it from how you experienced it. That’s what makes it thrilling. Informative content without context is like a shell without any meat inside.

  41. George Tee says:

    Hi Nihara, great insights! It is important to write from the heart and writing from experience. There are such blogs that is so good to be true. Readers can sense that and is likely not succeed. You can add different conversation and topics if you really know your craft. Giving a background of who you are to your readers makes them understand you. Being true to your readers makes them trust you, interact with you and would likely come back to your blog for your content writing. In the stage of blogging, we tend to compare our writings to others which should be not. Just listen to your own voice and believe in yourself.

  42. bennix says:

    Kudos! so great post. It’s really good to show that your blog is authentic, off course this would measure your credibility online and people would surely join and embrace you..:)

  43. Lyse Lauren says:

    There is much to be said for authenticity. I know from my own humble experience that the pen flows when one writes in a conversational style and from personal experience, and naturally this is felt and in most cases, appreciated. Nice article and timely. Lyse

  44. Angelica says:

    I think with most new bloggers, the one who takes the courage to be different and avoid thinking of following the crowd would perform better but of course this is much easier said than done.

  45. Thanks for the post, Nihara! Great points! One more I’d add is that it also creates a relationship with the reader. It gets them invested in who you are as a person and how you approach the world. Visiting a blog becomes more like catching up with a friend than reading an advice column. And there are few connections in the world more powerful than relationships. Great job!

  46. I have to say I really agree with much of what you said.. Blogging with a personal voice is what keeps me interested in the blogs I read while a lack of a personal voice does the exact opposite. I try to write with a personal and identifiable voice on my blog because I want the readers to be able to eventually correlate the content to my own style!

  47. Glynis Jolly says:

    I don’t feel that I’ve said anything unless I put myself into the article.

    Nihara, you head the nail on the head with this.

    I took a peek at your blog. It was so interesting I subscribed to the feed.