Why Vulnerability Makes You a Better Blogger

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The other night I was listening to a TED Radio Hour on NPR about “Mistakes” which covered Brené Brown's 2011 TED talk on the Power of  Vulnerability. She talked about our desire for connectedness, our fear of disconnectedness (shame) and worthiness. It made me think about the blogging community, how the industry is so fixated on influence and perfection that the vulnerability blogging used to have is slowly falling to the wayside.

It's strange because the #1 piece of advice for blogger success is to be authentic. But how do you be authentic without being vulnerable? You can't stand out if you don't take risks… and you can't take risks without being vulnerable. You can't be successful as a blogger unless you connect with your readers, and guess what? You can't make that connection unless you take that first step and be vulnerable to your readers.

Listening to the podcast, I realized that though there are bigger parts of my life that I need to be more vulnerable in… Obviously you can't have a successful relationship with your family without vulnerability, but when it comes to work that depends on authenticity and connection (like blogging). It's odd that we never discuss how vulnerability makes us better bloggers.

I'm not an expert on vulnerability.. and admittedly, it's something I personally need to work on, but hopefully this bit can help you put vulnerability into context with blogging.

TMI is not vulnerability

When I was first listening to the talk about vulnerability, I thought of all the posts that go into gory details. Brown says in the podcast that “one of the big four myths of vulnerability, that vulnerability is letting it all hang out.”  It's true, we might talk about things that bother us, sensationalize topics, but are they authentic or ploys for attention? Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Perhaps sharing topics you know to make a deeper connection with your readers, topics you know will help them makes a difference.

Vulnerability allows us to be seen, really seen

I hear bloggers talk about how they are not “seen” how they need more visibility. Sometimes I wonder if that theme runs throughout the industry. We all want to be seen.. but do we want to make that raw, honest, attempt to make a connection with our readers? Just how passionate are we about what we're writing about? While we're throwing glitter in the air and pretending we're just as happy as all the other bloggers… is that reality? Or is it just a show? It's impossible for readers to get to know us, if we don't let them see who we are.

Vulnerability allows us to take risks

The very nature of taking a risk means things may not work out the way they are expected. It's a bit of a gamble. When you tell someone you love them for the first time, there's a risk they might not say it back. You write a post that's close to your heart, there is a chance it may not go over well with our readers.  We are all imperfect, and we can't see into the future, so we have to take risks in order to make progress. We have to walk through fear. In the video, Brown says, “Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language — it's from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.”

Taking risks with your whole heart, that's vulnerability.

Vulnerability allows us to experience joy and gratitude

In the TED talk, Brown talks about how we can't selectively “numb emotions.” You can't numb shame without also numbing joy, gratitude, happiness. Walking through the fear of disconnect allows us to experience a the good emotions as well.

Vulnerability allows you to be “enough”

…when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I'm enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves.

“Not enough” is a plague in fashion blogging. I see it all around. People expressing their feelings about not feeling pretty enough, not having enough clothes, or enough money, connections, time… whatever for not succeeding. But we are “enough.” Upon Brown's research, she found, the people who regularly step into vulnerability, are the ones with a good sense of “worthiness.” They believe they are worthy of love and belonging, those who do not have this sense wonder if they are not good enough. The good news is that these are thoughts and beliefs which can be changed… and the bad news is that change takes work (a lot of work.) Focusing on the good news, we can all focus on doing what we can to believe we're already worthy of belonging… and that we are already, “enough.”

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13 Responses

  1. Brynn

    This is an issue that plagues so many of us bloggers. Wanting to be seen but being afraid to show who we really are. I know the blogs that I instantly subscribe to are the ones that are “real” and I can tell that from the photos, the content and every touch of the site. It’s worth the risk to be real in my mind.

    Reply
  2. Debbie Burns

    Keeping it real…that’s what I want to do in my blog. I want to be a positive uplifting source of encouragement while still being who I am with all my ups and downs. You know…it’s the bloggers who write just as you imagine them talking that are the ones you connect with…the ones you want to follow. Debbie @ ilovemylemonadelife.com

    Reply
  3. Christina @ The DIY Mommy

    This is a great article. Thank you! I think vulnerability is also a great asset in the mom blogger community. It’s nice to know you’re not alone in the struggles that come with having young children and also trying to work!

    Reply
  4. Alison @ Get Your Pretty On

    Wow, this is timely. I picked up Brene’s book “Daring Greatly” a few days ago and have been hooked. I can’t tell you how many emotional breakdowns I’ve had since starting to read it because it totally speaks to where I am right now. I wrote a very vulnerable post on my blog last week about my struggles with “not good enough” and couldn’t sleep the night before it went live. I thought my readers would think I was crazy. Instead I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and encouragement. I SO love this message! Thank you for sharing. Yes, there is room for vulnerability and connectedness in fashion blogging.

    Reply
  5. Juliana Bui

    This was a great post. I think that vulnerability is a big part of trying to make it big as a blogger and I’m glad that you brought our attention to it. It’s really inspired me to make my blog a bit more personal and to connect with my readers more.

    – Juliana
    http://cocoandpicasso.blogspot.ca/

    Reply
  6. Diana Sofia

    I loved this post. When I started my blog, one of the main things I had in mind was how connected I felt with certain bloggers. After analyzing, I realized that most of the fashion bloggers that I follow non stop are showing, between lines, more deep and human aspects of theirs lives and that was for me what made them much more interesting and just real. I connect with them in deeper levels, because of experiences, believes, insights about life and of course, I also love their style. I have try to keep my blog as real as I can. We all have ups and downs, but for sure is a very thin line the one that divides the TMI and being vulnerable. So I guess we just need to keep practicing, every day and go with an open heart not afraid of what people is going to think. And also, it’s a matter of balance, not every day you have something “vulnerable” to share. When showing a little more vulnerability, I always think… whatever… if I scare some people with this, I better scare them soon enough, because is just how I am, there might be others that connect with my ideas. Thank you so much for this post! I feel inspired! 🙂

    Reply
  7. Z

    I love this article a great deal.

    Our own vulnerabilities are what makes us unique.

    I started my blog and decided that I wanted it to go BIG. I put into it all the kinds of things I thought people might want to read, and did those things that all the successful bloggers do.
    Before long, I began to realise that this approach wouldn’t make me the kind of blogger I would like to follow. So I began to focus more on the things I love and am passionate about, and soon didn’t feel afraid to talk about the things I do wrong and post pictures of myself not necessarily looking perfection!

    I don’t love these bloggers who bare all to their readers, but I do love the bloggers who put that bit of themselves that makes them totally unique into their blogs, whether it’s their ability to laugh at themselves, point out their mistakes or connect with you on a personal level.

    Since I realised this, blogging has become a release rather than work, and I no longer care about making it ‘BIG’! I simply want to connect.

    Z
    http://www.are-we-on-time.com

    Reply
  8. Bridget Lappert

    I really enjoyed this article. Particularly that vulnerability doesn’t mean letting it all hang out. There’s a big difference there and I’m so glad you pointed that out. Thanks for this great article.

    Bridget
    http://www.brokebutbougie.com

    Reply
  9. Ivy

    This article couldn’t have said it better, great job. I think a lot of people are more in tune and connected to someone who is willing to be vulnerable then say another blogger who sounds to robotic most of the time. As Z mentioned speak as if blogging is a release and not work!

    Reply
  10. Marquita

    I love this!!! I am a huge advocate of “I Am Enough”..environmental standards can sometimes push us to want more, or be someone else, all while forgetting who we are and what we have to offer.

    Reply
  11. Adorngirl

    It can be hard to divide the difference between TMI and putting out there how you feel and as much as I respect those that lay it out I have to be honest that the bloggers who continously whine and moan are irritating it seems attention seeking as they seem to need the constant compliments.

    Those that are always positive even though you they are not like that 100% of the time is what you want to gravitate to as it is aspirational.

    Reply