When I started this piece, I asked in the BlogathonATX Community Facebook Group for some examples of bloggers that are good at authenticity. I got a big fat nothing until somebody asked “What do you mean by authenticity?” and I really couldn’t answer. It’s like pornography – I know it when I see it.
I turned to Google – because that’s what we do – and this is what I got:
Okay. That is not really helpful.
I’ll try to define it as I see it, feel free to chime in down in the comments section with your definition! For me, I feel like a blogger is being authentic when it feels like they’re letting you see more than just the topic at hand. The man/woman behind the curtain is revealed. When a food blogger reveals her messy kitchen or a tech blogger talks about his mom. It’s not about revealing secrets or being overly personal, just a feeling of openness.
Brands can often achieve this with self-deprecating humor, and I think there’s room for authenticity in all aspect of blogging. Blogging isn’t a newspaper article – there is room for the personal, the quirky, the aside. God, I love a good aside.
Before she became a Food Network product, Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman was very good at making her readers feel very connected to her. Tolly Mosely does a great job on her blog Austin Eavesdropper, too. I LOVE Hyperbole and a Half – she talks about living with mental illness in a way that practically defines “authentic” for us.
Those are some great personal blogs – but what if you write a tech blog? WTFSEO is great at presenting pretty tough tech stuff while still remaining human. Brands tend to have really boring blogs – I hate to say that, but y’all know it’s true. Sharpie has a great blog, though, and so does local giant Whole Foods.
So what does that mean for you? Readers can look up just about anything you can teach them on Wikipedia or Instructables. You are not the ONLY person that can roast a chicken or build a server. But just like you learned in kindergarten, you are a special snowflake. Authenticity is presenting that snowflake while presenting whatever it is you have to say. It’s telling YOUR story – whether that story is SEO or chickens or technopop.
This ephemeral idea of “authenticity” – while almost impossible to define – is why people read blogs. Open yourself up and add a little bit of you to your writing – your readers will connect more and while they will remember you, and that they liked you.