I started blogging in 2014. I was instantly hooked and loved to write and post almost every single day. I relished my new found hobby. But then I started to gain traction and as the pageviews grew, I became obsessed with keeping that momentum going.
And you know what happened? I wrote less. And less and less and less. I found it difficult to decide what to write about and even harder to actually complete a post, let alone publish it.
It’s funny how when you first start, you don’t even care what you write about. You just enjoy the process. Yes, those first posts are quite comical and lacking in what I would now call real substance. And the images, they are cringeworthy for sure. But I clearly remember how exciting it was to just put myself out there, warts and all.
A lot has changed since I first started blogging. It is big business now. The competition for readers is fierce. And for better or worse, I’ve changed too.
I no longer feel like it’s acceptable to just throw something up for the fun of it. Everything must have a story and a clear message. Gone are the days of sharing feelings or merely experiences that I have had.
And, above all, be positive! Check your negativity and don’t be too controversial.
And it’s all because of numbers: pageviews, subscribers and dollars.
I want more.
It’s no longer about the writing. It’s about being accepted. And accepted means more shares and eyes on my stuff. So I bend to what the expert say I should do. I write more about what others want to hear. And I find myself stifling what I really want to say in order not to offend or piss off anybody.
Essentially that means I’ve lost my voice.
And that’s super scary to me.
Recently, I had a blogging friend send me a draft of a post she had written.
“Tell me if I sound too angry.”
At first I thought this was a perfectly legitimate and acceptable question. I’ve looked for this kind of feedback from other writers too before I published.
But for some reason, this time, it hit me hard.
What have we done?
Are we not allowed to be human anymore?
Are feelings taboo?
Why are we squashing our inner most thoughts to be acceptable to the masses?
The blogging world is full of clones. Blogs that look and sound alike. Sometimes I can’t tell one blogger from another. Chasing numbers and money has made us generic. Mainly because it’s easier to follow a formula. To blend in. And you can find some success in doing that for sure.
However, if you look at the bloggers or Instagrammers you really love, that you follow fervently and check in with often, it’s because they have allowed themselves to be real.
You know what they like and dislike. You’ve seen their bad hair days and their bloated, not so skinny days. You’ve celebrated their wins with them. You’ve commented with support on their not so good days. You’ve followed their journey, step by step.
Authenticity is hard. Especially in our social media world, where people find it acceptable to bash you for not being perfect. We are afraid to show our imperfections.
Somehow we have got it in our heads that we must present ourselves without flaws, the end product, or no one will be interested in what we have to say. And that simply is not true. The real value we can share is our struggles and our ability to connect to others that are in the same place, or a few steps behind us.
None of us are perfect. But that’s what makes us all unique.
So today, I want to encourage you to go with your gut. Let your feelings out. Fly that freak flag high. And let the numbers sort themselves out later.
Because true blogging success is being true to yourself and your voice.