Although I've been “blogging” for nearly 10 years (it seems like forever!), the “profession” and title “blogger” has really only come into it's own recently. In such a new industry, things are still working themselves out, but THE one thing I've observed and believe to be true is that our readers want personal integrity and honesty most of all. They WANT to trust us and they WANT to relate to us on a personal level, they don't always want to see a fairytale life in perfect photos and tweets, they want to see the no-makeup days, the sweats and sneakers days and the difficult days.
In such a new industry, things are still working themselves out, but THE one thing I've observed and believe to be true is that our readers want personal integrity and honesty most of all
I know what you're thinking though: “no they don't! they want beautiful images and perfection, they want to live vicariously through bloggers as if they're celebrities – those bloggers are the ones getting book deals and hundreds of comments.” In a lot of cases that's true, and there's an argument to be made for creating the type of fashion/lifestyle blog that readers can simply escape into, and use for entertainment purposes – what's referred to as aspirational blogs as opposed to inspirational (more reality, and blogs that actually inspire to you by relating to you).
Generally I do think blogs are better when they're inspirational, but that's probably because those are the types of blogs I like to read. I've always preferred looking at pictures and reading about women who look like me, have a similar style, and budget I can relate to – reality over fantasy – so that's the way I structure my blog (I read magazines to escape into fantasy, not blogs).
If you're so inclined though, you can decide to create a character for your blog; an image, or idea that's yourself, enhanced, or even not yourself at all. But once you put yourself out there as “the next Martha Stewart” or similar, you're in it for the long haul, and think about the downsides:
It's really hard to maintain
What if you don't feel like being your “character” one day, or you accidentally post something on Facebook that isn't consistent with the persona you try to portray on your blog? If your readers are following you for an escape/fantasy and you always post outfits in heels/skirts and full makeup, maybe they don't then WANT to see the casual days or the no-makeup days, or they don't want to hear about your “down” days.
You'll get called out
Readers can get very protective of their favorite blogs and if they find an “inconsistency” in your “story,” they won't be shy about calling you out for it (there are entire websites devoted to that, by the way). Not that you should cater specifically to your readers constantly, but you are your blog and your brand and it's important that you maintain consistency and integrity if you want to keep readers and/or monetize.
You'll alienate readers
Over time, with a fake persona or character, you'll lose a lot of your readers who will get tired of seeing the same images and ideas over and over again. They'll want to come up for air at some point. I'll admit, I used to read Martha Stewart consistently, but got burned out from all the “Martha Stewart-ness.” When I stopped reading, it was like I could finally take a breath. This is the same way I felt when I stopped reading fashion blogs; like I could breathe again. I was drowning in perfection and characters and people I couldn't relate to in a million years, so I quit reading. Of course, there are people who will always gravitate towards that idea of perfection and ultimate beauty and those types of blogs, but I'm convinced that if you want to blog for the long haul, you need to be you. Just you.
When it comes down to it, why work so hard to create/maintain a persona that isn't authentically YOU? Why not just be yourself? One of my favorite things is when my friends tell me that my writing sounds just like I talk, or when someone recognizes me from the outfit I posted that day. It's not WORK for me to maintain my blogs and social media accounts because they're just an extension of me. Honestly, I curse a lot more in real life than I do on my blogs, but my dad reads my stuff, so I'm just being polite 🙂 But you get the idea.
I vote for real.
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]