How to be an authentic blogger.

05 January


People always talk about how important being authentic is, particularly if you're a blogger hoping to be a successful blogger (I mean the mainstream kind of successful, i.e. getting paid to blog).

But how does that work in terms of keeping up with trends and being offered sponsored content? I wanted to share some of my thoughts. Please keep in mind that I'm not a "professional" blogger, so I'm sharing these from the viewpoint of someone who consumes a lot of blogs and has for a long time, who 100% supports bloggers making those dollar, dollar bills y'all but who also has a low tolerance for crappy, half-arsed sponsored content.

It all starts with your voice

If you write from your heart you'll notice that you have a tendency or preference to write in a certain way. AKA a natural tone of voice.

This is really helpful when you have a blog because it forms part of your "brand".

Think of Hannah Gale, Chloe Plumstead, Megan Ellaby. If you read any of their blogs you can tell instantly that it's them.

If you can work out your natural tone of voice and writing style it will be a huge asset to you, because you'll be able to work out if a post doesn't sound like "you". Only you have your voice, embrace this and you'll stand out with zero effort.

Also, if you aren't great with spelling and grammar, that doesn't mean you can't write well and have a voice that people want to read. It just means you need to use spellcheck or have a friend look over your post before hitting publish.

Don't feel pressured to follow trends

Don't want to set up a weekly newsletter? Don't do it.

Feel like a twat wandering around your town in a beret? Don't do it.

Don't want to write listicles? Don't do it.

Yes, following trends may help you to seem cool and on top of the latest thing, but you won't be able to convey your authenticity, you'll be competing with loads of other people who are doing the same thing and you will most likely feel unhappy, unfulfilled and unenthusiastic about blogging.

Skip the trends, do what you wanna do and you'll stand out.

Or follow trends in your own way

I always find it interesting when I see an influencer following a trend in a different way to how everyone else is doing it.

For example, I think Lydia Elise Millen produces consistently fantastic YouTube content which follows the current trend of "follow me around" vlogs but with a bit of a difference. Her vlogs aren't usually labelled as such, they just have a normal title like "The Best Foundation in the World" which is something I'd expect to be a sit-down video.

But actually what you get is a 45 minute long vlog which includes said foundation plus a load more content. So she's actually giving me, as a viewer, more content than I expected and a (nice!) surprise in that I'm actually watching a vlog rather than a sit-down video. It's not clickbaity, Lydia seems natural and like she's enjoyed making it, it fits into the vlog trend in her own style.

Or, for a shorter example, you know how everyone is wearing Old Skool Vans at the moment, usually with straight leg jeans and an oversized jumper? Well, if you wanna hop on that trend train but you love your super girly style, why not share how you style your Vans with a floaty dress?

You've embraced the trend but stayed true to your style. Easy!

Sponsored content

Sponsored content is where a lot of influencers who previously could do no wrong start receiving some backlash.

Not because their audience doesn't want them to be successful, but because they think they've sold out.

The thing is, people don't want to feel like they're being sold to. It's accepted that bloggers do create sponsored content, but it has to feel right and not spammy.

If I'm a loyal follower of your high-end fashion blog and you write a post about shopping at Aldi to make a quick buck, I'm going to doubt your authenticity. Why? Not because I hate Aldi (I fricking love Aldi, but that's beside the point).

It's because I read your blog for a reason, to find out about expensive clothes and bags, see how you style them, maybe for a bit of escapism. So no, I don't visit your blog to read about a discount supermarket, no matter how much I like it outside of your blog.

The other mistake I see is bloggers who usually have a strong tone of voice completely change how they write when they share a sponsored post and as a result sounding like a robot. I think this usually comes from a place of wanting to seem professional, and that's great! But that brand has chosen to work with you because they love your writing and your blog.

With all that said, I have a few quick-fire tips for being authentic as a blogger:

  • Write in a journal whenever you can to help you find your natural writing voice.
  • Question whether you're following a trend because it's in style or because you actually want to.
  • Think about how you can follow a trend in your own way. You'd like to vlog but you don't fancy uploading to YouTube? Try doing it via Instagram Stories!
  • If you're asked to create a sponsored post or review something, think about whether it compliments your current content and what your audience expects from you before accepting.
  • Make sure the brand you're working with are happy for you to create content that is consistent with your brand. If they want you to share one of those awful pre-written articles, they probably aren't working with you for the right reasons (FYI the right reasons are because they love your work and think their product would be of interest to your audience).
  • Have a brainstorm to work out how a sponsorship could fit into your usual work seamlessly. This post by Hannah Gale is a great example; it's a sponsored post for a skincare brand but the only things that give this away are the specific products mentioned and the disclosure note at the bottom. It works perfectly with Hannah's usual content as you probably wouldn't even realise it was paid for. A bad example would be the same post but with a really long section about skincare and one line for every other section.

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