Find Your Voice: Grow Authenticity

This past week, coughs, headaches and fevers overcame my household.  While attempting to do my best to go to work, I ended up taking quite a few sick hours to recoup.  During some down time this week, I ended up doing a little bit of “work” reading that I felt was geared towards my clients.  For those of you that are new to my slice of the internet, I spend my days as a social worker for survivors of domestic abuse.

When I meet with clients, a big part of my work with them is helping them find their voice and practicing authenticity.   Those two things, 1.) finding your voice and 2.) practicing authenticity, mean so much to me and what I hope to convey to my readers as a blogger.  And, while this blog post is not a “how-to” guide on how to be authentic or find your voice, my goal is to put a few thoughts into your mind regarding these topics and challenge you to take a step back and examine what your goals are for your blog.

At the end of last year, I wrote a bit of a polarizing post in response to an event that was an honest wake up call for me on how I want my blog to operate.  This kicked off my desire to truly seek authenticity in my writing.  As Brené Brown put it best in an excerpt from her book, The Gifts of Imperfection:  Let Go Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, authenticity is a daily practice.

Brene Brown

Brené Brown also hit the nail on the head when mentioning that one mistake to be made is, “...trading in your authenticity for approval.  You stop believing in your worthiness and start hustling for it.”  Gosh, I was at the point of hustling for it around the fall of last year.  I pulled in the reigns and am happy with the re-direction of my blog.  Yes, there are growing pains in the process but I feel as though it is ultimately what is best for the life of my blog.

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards:
they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so
that they will be happier.  The way it actually works is the reverse.  You must first
be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want.”
– Margaret Young

Let’s look at the quote above and apply it to the blogging world.  Often times, bloggers attempt to go at things backwards by trying to gain as many followers as possible,  take on as many sponsored posts as their scheduled can demand, and join every group/ambassador program on the planet.  And, at what cost?  As the reader, to me this type of behavior can be damaging.  Is it easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of being a new blogger… of course!  With all of these new and exciting opportunities, it is easy to think that you have to be a part of it all.  But, I warn against it.  You have to put in the time, develop relationships with your readers, collaborate with other bloggers, and produce quality content that keep folks interested in hearing more.  If you develop a faithful following and a blog that is viewed as a trusted resource in your niche, then add the bells and whistles in a way that can allow you to remain true to your voice.

So, I challenge you to ask yourself if you blog with an authentic voice?  Do you feel as though the blogging community as a whole blogs with an authentic voice?  What are some of your struggles with this topic?  What is something that you think you can do to be more authentic in your writing?

Lisa

Comments

  1. Really interesting post! I've worked really hard to stay true to myself while blogging. I try to write the way that I would talk to my friends and not the way I think someone wants me to write. I love all of your quotes. I have an MSW too but no longer practice. It's hard work. Nice post! #growyourblog
    My recent post My Favorite Winter Jacket-The Gemini

    • Work is definitely exhausting and constantly involves working on myself in order to provide the best possible services to my clients. Somedays, I envision the quite life without the MSW… I'm not sure whether or not I would miss it!

  2. Great post Lisa. I had written a while ago that I felt like I was getting caught up in a million product reviews and I hate that from other blogs. I think we all get a million requests from companies etc to write about their products, but I really started looking closely and turning 90% of them down. I found I wasn't getting to write about what I wanted to write about! I have a few more products that I've committed too already, but after those are done, I'm definitely stepping back because that's not the reason I started blogging! Thanks for the reminder again!
    My recent post Fit & Fashionable Friday: #Beebetter with Bombas

    • Yes, lately product reviews are really boring for me to read and the same goes for the majority of sponsored posts. As a blogger, it's our jobs to craft a story for a sponsored post. Some folks are awesome at this and never make me feel like I am reading a sponsored post. So, I think that's the trick. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I won't ever do a product review or a sponsored post again, because I will. I just don't want it to be the regular content on my blog. And, I need to work on my storytelling for those posts a little bit more to make it engaging for the reader.

  3. Such a good post, and I read the post you linked to. I haven't gotten any product review requests and part of me is actually happy about that. I wear what works for me and if it doesn't, I use something else. And I'm honest about it on my blog.
    My recent post 5 Favorite Olympics

    • That's the way to do it! And, sometimes, when you do get these offers, I think it is important to remember that you can say no. Not every product or ambassador program will work for every person. And, I think that brands/PR companies appreciate when you are honest with them and tell them that it just isn't a good fit.

  4. I feel that I write the way I talk (minus the few expletives). As a whole I think the community strives to be authentic…well, except for those who choose to remain anonymous bloggers.
    My recent post Maintenence Week 4

    • I'm with you (I tend to use a lot of expletives while running!). I think it begins to get frustrating when you see the community as a whole putting themselves out there in a very genuine way. And then there are those bloggers sell their souls for anything… But, then again, those are just my thoughts! 😉

  5. This is a great post. As a blogger and a blog reader it's pretty obvious when someone writes a review if they actually liked the product or not. Having sponsored post after sponsored post isn't fun to read either. I started reading their blog because I was interested in their journey or life, not sponsored posts. As a blogger I end up turning down most of the review pitches I receive.

    • I have definitely learned this from trial and error. I am definitely being more selective on what I decide to review so if it gets to the blog, I want my readers to know that it is good stuff. Plus, if people see my pictures, I think that they can tell what products I tend to use very regularly. Readers are far more observant than bloggers give them credit for and I know that I can call BS on a blogger that claims to OMG, love this item forever! If I have never heard a peep of it before on their blog or social media accounts, they will get the side eye from me!

  6. fitnessmomwinecountry says:

    Oh my gosh Lisa, I was just having tea with a girlfriend yesterday and we were having this exact conversation. Wow, what timing, what a sign this is. I have just recently written back to a company and kindly gave them my terms for working with them and it made me feel empowered. I don't think they will go with me, however, my heart knew it was what I needed to do.
    My blog is supposed to be about my life as a mom and the journey of the struggles I come across, while I share the fabulous wine country. I am working on being more open and worthy of being me and not just products 🙂
    Thanks for this post. I am here from Grow Your Blog and have already been following you and your sites
    My recent post Mirror, Mirror …

    • I wish I was out in Sonoma having tea with you! I think that a lot of us have these kinds of conversations because of some of the folks that we see come in and out of the blogging sphere. I think it's amazing that you wrote back to a company to let them know that it wasn't a good fit. Just know that you are here for the long haul and I feel as though your blog is well respected! Please keep sharing as you already do!

  7. What great post! As a new blogger it is easy to get caught up in how will my blog stand out from everyone else. However if your true voice doesn't show I think it will show to the readers that you're not really in it for the right reasons. Although it's slower to gain followers, I think being true to yourself and keeping your blog genuine will gain the right kind of notice.
    My recent post Fit Giveaway 2015!

    • Agreed. It's so important to have your own voice. Honestly, I never imagined that anyone aside from my husband, mom, and closest friends would read my blog so for me that was easy. I think it get more challenging when you know that more people are reading. Sometimes you may be more guarded and sometimes the opposite may happen for folks. It's certainly an interesting process to watch unfold.

  8. This is a really great post. I've been blogging for several years but only recently decided I was ready to grow my blog. It is tempting to want to be a part of ALL the ambassador programs and comment on ALL the blogs but that's not the way I want to go about this. I blog for the community and the friendships I've formed with other people and that will always be my main priority, no matter what, and I try really hard to keep my voice authentic in my writing. I'd much rather leave 5 meaningful comments than 15 one liners. If a blog starts to produce nothing but sponsored content I'm pretty likely to remove it from my reader because it's not fun to read that stuff all the time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic!

  9. dancingtorunning says:

    Great post, Lisa! I wrote a very similar blog post today, that they best way to grow your blog is to remain true to yourself. Signing up for and agreeing to every single opportunity out there is impossible, but it will also stretch you thin, and cause you to loose sight of the purpose of your blog. The thing that will make your blog stand out most is your voice, and when that shows through your writing you're likely to attract and retain loyal readers.
    My recent post Friday Five – February 6th – Five Ways to Grow Your Blog

  10. Lots of good points in this post! I think your tip about building relationships, rather than jumping on every opportunity – whether or not it fits your goals/brand – is especially important. Better to be selective and pick the opportunities that are right for you!
    My recent post I'm a Rock 'n' Blogger!

  11. mainegirl2runs says:

    I love your raw honesty and perspective on blogging. It's so important to stay real and true to yourself. This post is so well written. Writing and blogging, for me, is a reflection of myself and what matters most to me. Quality over quantity with writing.
    My recent post The Stories Behind Each Race

    • I certainly can't keep up with posting here more than once or twice a week. It's difficult to find the time and honestly, what on earth would I need to share with people every single day… I'm just not that interesting 😉

  12. briwifruit says:

    Yes! I read a post yesterday about a blogger feeling "tucked away in the theoretical blog drawer" because she didn't focus on how-to or magazine style posts (I wrote a response today, basically saying there's room for everyone and all our voices are important). Authenticity is the most important thing, I earlier last year I was struggling with what you've mentioned above. I'm trying to take the pressure off by writing only when inspired, and trying not to compare myself to others.

    • I find that taking the pressure off having a writing scheduled definitely helps! If you aren't inspired to write, then it probably isn't all that inspiring to read. At least that is my two cents 😉

  13. I always try to write in the same way I would be talking to anyone on the street, but I do catch myself (more often than I'd like) writing in a way that I think would be pleasing to others – or sometimes even writing in a way that I have seen work for other bloggers. All of that seems kind of ridiculous though when you realize how much easier it is to just be yourself…it comes so much easier!

  14. great post Lisa- blogging is just that, sharing and sharing a part of your world and your perspective. It is fun to do a product review or two now and then, I like reading about new stuff but it is nice to read about the day to day too. I think bloggers that let their true personality shine will be the most successful 🙂

  15. This is a great post. I’ve been blogging for years and while I bust my hump to get more readers, I do stand firm on only posting stuff I feel strongly about in some way. I don’t want to post just for the sake of posting and have only done a handful of product reviews. My blog represents me as well as my business so I want what I post about to reflect that. Thanks for the great quotes and the opportunity to reflect on what we do and how that represents us!
    Jenn @ Run with Sole recently posted…Run the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon with Sole!My Profile

  16. GingerRachelle says:

    I am brand new to the blogging world. So far I feel good about the way I write. I don't feel I have a problem writing like I speak. It's probably not everyone's cup of tea but oh well. I'm not affiliated with anyone and I've not done any sponsored posts, I don't know that I will. I'm sure there are some out there who aren't being authentic, how could there not be? But, there are people I really think are being themselves and I feel like I can trust their opinions and the things they say.

    • I think for me, it gets tiring when I see Blogger X writing about her love of Y brand shoes on Monday, Z brand on Wednesday and N brand shoes two months later. I mean, I dabble in different brands too but as a blog reader it gets tiresome when every brand is the best thing ever! Now, I do love when bloggers provide useful comparisons of said products or legitimately detailed reviews.

  17. alicenronan1 says:

    Ohhhh! I have been reading so much about this very topic lately and working on how to steer my site towards authenticity. I started out with a purpose and a goal, but didn't really think people would be all that interested in my story so I offered advice as a professional. Now I'm beginning to realize that my story is really what differentiates me from other professionals. It's what helps me connect with people and help them make changes in their lives. Taking on groups, sponsorships and the like has helped grow my site in some ways, but most likely hindered it in others. It's a delicate balance I think.
    My recent post The End of Another Whole30 Plus a Survey

  18. alsoranagain says:

    Great post. I try to be authentic with my blog but sometimes I sugarcoat the truth so I don't sound negative. I have struggled with running injuries pretty consistently since last June and feel that if I talk about my struggles all of the time that readers will get turned off.
    My recent post Would You Rather…

    • I had a period where I was injured. I barely posted during that timeframe for the same reason. Plus, I didn't really want to hear about others running either. I just wanted to focus on my recovery.

  19. First of all, I LOVE Brene Brown. Her comments on shame and how it holds us back really speak to me. I also agree with everything she says about authenticity, but it is hard.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post.
    My recent post Choosing Your Ironman

  20. I read and loved your prior post. As I said then, we are just getting started, so we are happy to benefit from the wisdom of those who have been out there longer. We just passed on applying for what would seem to be a perfect fit ambassadorship because we just don't believe in the product. It would not be fair to us or the company. I have already seen how easy it is to get caught up in followers etc., but then was also ecstatic when a product we really believe in and have loved for years took a chance on us as ambassadors. So that's what I hope it is always like! Thanks for your honesty and style. You are one of the first blogs I've followed, and I've enjoyed it the whole time! (Along with Shut Up & Run!)
    My recent post Group Race Registration Fail. Again. – Race Planning 101

    • I'm glad that you found an ambassador program that is a good fit for you! And, I'm thankful to have readers like you! It's awesome to have some new perspective around here 🙂

  21. I love this! As my blog grows and I've gotten more exposure, there's also lots of opportunities that aren't really what I'm looking for….but would get me more traffic. My goal is to stay true to myself and not lose my voice. Thank you for posting this!
    My recent post Bringing flexy back….

    • I try to be mindful of the type of growth that I am interested in for my blog. To me, it's more important to develop fewer quality relationships with readers and brands than to have tons of pageviews.

  22. I love this! Definitely makes you think why you started your blog in the first place.

  23. Great post! I've tried to stay true and consistent with my writing. I try and limit my sponsored and product review posts because I've seen so many blogs get caught up in that and that is the quickest way to lose me as a reader. My sponsored reviews and ambassador roles are ONLY with companies I believe in 110%.

    • True, these days I am trimming the blogs in my reader. I couldn't believe that one blog I follow recently had 4 sponsored posts within a week period. TOO MUCH! When I read your blog, I know that you only post about companies that you value. I hope that my readers know that about my reviews too!

  24. runawaybridalplanner says:

    You must have quite the rewarding job, I bet it's an amazing feeling when you know you've helped someone "find their voice" and get out of a bad situation and headed toward a more secure and promising future!
    Great post! I completely agree with the don't get overloaded into the new blogger hype. I think we've all been there at one point, and you start getting excited. But eventually you realize you have way too many things on your plate and it's near impossible to keep them all up. Developing great and lasting blogging relationships is probably one of the most important things I have discovered myself. In fact, if I was direct anyone I would suggest doing this long before a person gets into the ambassadors and sponsored posts. If you don't have a clear voice, and purpose for your blog, beforehand I have seen it happen to some where their blog turns into more of a product and review push and the loss of individually happens quick!
    So many good suggestions in your post I could go on and on, but I will stop before this looks like a book, LOL
    My recent post You can be a friendly blog stalker too

    • Thanks, it is definitely a rewarding job but it has its stresses too. Thanks for hosting the blog hop – to me this is the type of thing that I want to be a part of because it helps build long lasting blogging relationships. Oh, and you can write me a book anytime. I think lots of us could go on and on about this topic!

  25. One of the things I'm often worried about when blogging is coming off inauthentic – I sincerely hope that I'm always being my true self and that it translates to my writing. I was actually planning on writing a post along these lines soon, I just hadn't quite come up with exactly what I wanted to say, but you put it in to words beautifully!
    My recent post Watch a Marathon.

  26. When you sent me this quote the other day I thought it had a blog post written all over it. Love this. Wise words my friend 🙂
    Mar @ Mar on the Run recently posted…Friday Five: Fitness Snapshots!My Profile

  27. As with pretty much all of your commenters, I totally agree! I think everyone has a different definition of what they think is "authentic" to them as a blogger, too. (Although I think we can all agree that the blogs that turn into almost daily sponsored posts seem like they've lost touch.) I'm glad you're finding your own way to stay authentic–we're all on our own journeys, so we all have to do things our own way!
    My recent post Post-Run Yoga

    • We are definitely all on our own journey. And, that is the piece that I love about blogging. I enjoy reading about those travels. Now, when blogs churn out sponsored post after sponsored post, it does seem as though they have lost a bit of their voice. And, that makes me give them a big old side eye.

  28. Tricia Johnson says:

    I have worked really hard to come across as authentic and only work with brands that I use and believe in. I try to really write about things that I'm going through and that are important to me in a real way so people can see the real me and know that other people are feeling the same things that they may be feeling, even if they don't say it out loud enough.
    My recent post Friday Favorites – National Frozen Yogurt Day, Chia Pods and More!

  29. Great post! This is something I have been struggling with too. Since I've only been doing this blog for a few months (I wrote another blog about auto racing for four years) I'm trying to grow my readership, and I don't feel like I'm succeeding. I do find myself trying to tailor my words and post to appeal to more people, but in the end I don't think that is my voice. In fact, my wife and I recently had this conversation because she asked me what I'm trying to get from my blog. To me it's the opportunity to share my running with others, and to network and grow into a community with people.

    I've mentioned on my blog that I am trying to be more social on FB, Twitter and in person at races because I want to be part of something. So I just want to have a fourm, and be part of something, where we all share our journeys and help each other improve, both as people and as runners. I've always lived by the mantra "If I shine, we all shine" and I want to have that with my readers. So trying to figure out HOW to do that is quite a challenge! Most of all, I want to be myself and feel like people are doing and going through things with me, as opposed to being an interested observer.
    My recent post Good Morning From London!

  30. Building an authentic blog is definitely important! We want to be ourselves while also offering information to others that builds credibility
    My recent post Weekly Workouts Roundup: Getting Vivofit

  31. Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles says:

    An excellent topic. I started my blog and was posting 5 days a week by I thought that is what I HAD to do and itbecame stressful for me And I felt that I would be writing more fluff than being myself and saying things that meant more to me. I took a step back to 3 days which is ideal for me right now and it made a big difference And I feel that I can truly express myself better and wit better quality rather than quantity!

    • I think that writing when you have something to write is a far better method than cranking out 5 posts a week because you think that you are supposed to do it that way. Kudos to you for finding your way!

  32. This was a great read! I’m new in the blogging world and thus was very helpful. I struggle sometimes in what to write. This helps give me a better focus. Thank you!

  33. Authenticity seems to be the hardest thing for any blogger. Especially me. And I decided a while ago, if I am going to blog, I need to do the things I blog about so I designated 2 nights a week for blogging and I am not allowed to blog the rest of the time. I find it helps me be true!
    My recent post #SnackTimewithSDMom – Yoplait GREEK 100 Whips! and other ideas!

  34. I love this!! LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I've read this book and this is so important!! It's so important to my role as a parent to teach my boys to be authentic and to find their voice!! Love it thanks for sharing!!

  35. This is a great post. Sometimes it feels like we're being pulled in all directions to "fit in" to whatever particular niche we want to identify with. I struggle at times to keep my voice clear without bending to what I 'think' people want to read. The truth is, our blogs are first and foremost a way for us to express ourselves. If other read and (hopefully) enjoy, that's just the icing on the proverbial cupcake!!

  36. kemeyer2014 says:

    I think it's somewhat difficult to write with a 100% authentic voice. You're always going to have at least some thoughts of "Who is going to be looking at this?" or "Will this sound dumb?" or "Is this okay to say?" Developing my own authentic voice on my blog is something I think I'll always be working on! 🙂 Great post!

  37. fitmomma0722 says:

    I love that quote…that's exactly how I try to approach this "blogging thing". I feel like if I keep doing what I love…for all the right reasons…to share my story, to help others realized they CAN lose weight, live active healthy lives….I will find success in doing so and opportunities will open up. __I think the one thing I can do to be more authentic in my writing is not care what others think about it. Not be afraid of criticism or offending someone with MY thoughts…because surely that's not my intent but someone always seems to take offense to something and I absolutely HATE offending others. __

  38. Julie @ Running in a Skirt says:

    This theme is one I really take to heart. I've committed a lot of time in the past six months to grow my blog, but I have tried to do it with always staying true to myself. I'm sure I'll screw something up along the way, but I hope I do more good than bad!
    My recent post 5 Fashion Rules I Break

  39. This post is so refreshing! I can see how loosing the you in your blog can be kind of easy if you are not mindful. Your honestly is really a breath of fresh-air. Thank you!
    My recent post LOVE!

  40. Jen@jpabstfitness says:

    I made sure to find my voice and my slice of the internet before I joined any networks or started promoting my blog at all. It was important that I was passionate about what I was doing before putting myself out there.
    My recent post Marvelous Is… {MIMM #2}

Trackbacks

  1. […] post about the State of Blogging and Lisa from Lisa Runs with Cupcakes wrote a wonderful post about authenticity last week. Both are definitely worth a […]

  2. […] This post. I’ve seen quite a bit of talk in the blogging worlds these days about authenticity. […]

Leave a Comment

*

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.