This guest post is by Natalie Sisson of The Suitcase Entrepreneur.
When you first start blogging it can be difficult to find your real voice. It can also be unnerving to put yourself out there and say what you really think. Like many blogger,s you probably try to be appropriate, politically correct, and inoffensive in your blog posts.
Well, let me tell you that if you want to be just like everyone else, that’s a guaranteed approach to get you there.
Of course though, you don’t. You don’t want to be like everyone else because you are unique. You have important things to say and you need to say them in a way that’s true to who you are.
If you want a thriving blog, one where your adoring fans come back time and time again, and hang off your every word, you need to be you.
Unabashedly, shamelessly, wonderfully, completely transparently, totally, authentically you.
People relate to people. They’ll relate to a real human being, telling their story, living their life, and sharing it in a creative, amusing, entertaining, and truthful way. That way, they get to come along on the journey.
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” —Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde was a smart man, and he knew what he was talking about when he said this. The biggest failure I see among bloggers is trying to fit in. I’ve been guilty of it myself. You get caught up in reading other people’s blogs and trying to emulate what they’re doing, and as a result you end up with a mix of nothing spectacular at all.
In order to be yourself you have to take risks, to accept that you are not perfect, and to be courageous enough to say what you really think. People will love you for it. It takes a huge amount of bravery to be original instead of a pointless replication of someone else.
“Be who you are, and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”—Dr. Seuss
I personally have seen the most success when I’ve written from my heart. My community resonates most with me when I tell them how I screwed up, that I was scared, that I didn’t achieve something I set out to do.
It makes me more human. It shows my vulnerability and people get that. They want that. They buy into your mission and your vision, and want to follow your steps and see you succeed.
I’m not talking about writing a revealing post about your recent trip to the hospital or penning a long relationship saga. I’m talking about revealing just enough to build loyalty, respect, and admiration among your followers for baring yourself, admitting your hard-fought battles and costly mistakes.
Follow that up with the lessons you learned, pass on your new-found wisdom to your readers, and you’re on a sure path to blogging success.
Authenticity + creativity + massive value + key takeaways = a thriving blog
My winning equation above has taken me a long time to solve. I don’t always get it right (see vulnerability and truthfulness in action right here), however, I do look to solve a problem every time I write and this equation helps immensely in keeping me focused. I also aim to be engaging, genuine, and grateful.
Here are some examples of bloggers who I believe have a truly unique voice and use it extremely well to create a community of raving fans unique to their personality and writing style. Warning: Some of these people may offend with their use of swear words or abstract opinions. But for me, tt’s all part of their charm and what sets them apart.
With a blog named The Middle Finger Project you already know that Ashley Ambirge is going to deliver up some serious attitude and in-your-face content. That’s what’s so refreshing about her candid, quick-witted posts about leaving corporate America behind to do your own thang!
“Become known for something–rather than trying to become known for everything. Because frankly, that’s impossible.”—Ashely Ambirge
John Falchetto appears to have a wonderful life, living in the French countryside and coaching expats on how to become immensely successful in business even if they feel isolated living a world away from home. The thing is he genuinely understands their problems and challenges and writes compelling content on his blog Expat Life Coach that speaks to the heart of those who read it and need it.
“When I first started out in business in 2003, I was foolish. Although I had quit my corporate job in PR and I am all for quitting when things really don’t go your way, looking back I would have done it differently.”—John Falchetto
Kent Healy is a creative thinker who is always questioning why things are as they are in the world and challenging you to do the same. He blogs about unconventional ways of thinking, acting and living and makes you focus on what matters on The Uncommon Life.
“There is immense value in being able to think and act independently in a world of conformity and convention – in fact, all innovation and novelty depend on it. It can be challenging to free ourselves from the explicit and implicit forces that keep our brain in the box, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.”—Kent Healy
Emergent by Design is the brain child of futurist Venessa Miemis who has an entirely unique take on the intersection of technology, communication, and culture, and attracts intellectuals, academics, and big-picture thinkers to her blog and with them a wide array of opposing comments.
“Then I started poking around in Twitter and wondering if it’s a complex adaptive system and if it might actually grow to become a global human consciousness, of sorts. Lately I’ve been looking at how design thinking can be used to better understand human behavior and facilitate innovation.”—Venessa Miemis
I could not leave out my idol, Seth Godin, who really needs no introduction. On his self-titled blog Seth has the uncanny ability to write the shortest blog posts with the most substance I’ve ever witnessed. His straight-up, insightful, brilliantly worded daily posts draw thousands of views and shares because he creates art and then ships it, and inspires you to do the same.
“What I am writing about is the ability of each of us, without authority or permission, to do work that matters, to have an impact and to create a place for ourselves in a society that’s brainwashed us into doing something that’s an easily replaced commodity. A big part of that is acting like an artist. Being personal, making change, communicating a vision.”—Seth Godin
What makes you unique?
While it’s not for me to tell you what your “special sauce” is, you do need to find it and then cook up a fantastic recipe that allows you to create mouth watering content for your blog that readers devour.
If you’re nervous to hit Publish on a post that you’ve really put a lot of thought into and that reveals a little bit more of you than normal, then congratulations. That’s a great sign. It shows you’re developing your USP—Unique Special Proposition.
When you get clear on what that is, you’ll see how imperative it is to making you stand out. You’ll also witness your blog community react strongly by sharing your content across the social media sphere and commenting like crazy. Then you really know you’re doing the right thing—you are in fact being yourself.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and others who know you to develop your USP:
- What are you better at than anyone else?
- What do you enjoy doing the most?
- What do (or could) you provide that no one else is providing?
- What annoys people the most about your industry or blog area?
- What is remarkable about you?
- Do you have an unusual combination of elements?
- Do you have a big personality?
Now write your USP statement. Take action. You can look to this as the reminder of what makes you distinctive and unique by following this format:
I am unique and different because I provide [USP] which no one else in my field provides. No one else can or will provide this because [insert reason].
Put yourself into the equation
I talked about my winning formula above. Now it’s time for you to write your own. So how do you go about sharing your new-found USP on your blog straight away?
There’s nothing like sharing a personal experience you’ve had and relating it to the topic of your blog. If you write on health and fitness, for example, then talking about your own journey of going vegan or training for a marathon will be much more inspiring then simple how-to tips. Break this out into a series on how you achieved the results you did and you have a reason for people to come back to your blog.
Listen to your instincts
If you believe strongly about a topic related to your blog, but you’ve been nervous about sharing it with the world, then there’s a good chance other people will find your personal stance interesting. Strong opinions always illicit a response—good or bad. The point is you want to get people talking, and you want them to engage, to think critically, and to respond because they care.
One of the best ways to show your USP is to take a current popular topic and put your spin on it. Justin Bieber may not be of interest to you, but is there something that particularly irritates or fascinates you about his meteoric rise into music stardom? Is there a post you can write that takes a lesson from his story that other people just aren’t seeing?
“If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just.”—Anita Roddick
Natalie Sisson is a Suitcase Entrepreneur and Adventurer who shares creative ways to run your business from anywhere in the world. She is passionate about using online tools, social media and outsourcing to create more freedom in business and adventure in life.