And I would say if asked, most of us would say--of course I'm being genuine! But lately there have been a number of blog posts that have got me to thinking more about this.
It seems that many of us, unknowingly, erect a nice, thick wall between us and our blog readers. I think a lot of us do this because we don't think we're all that interesting OR we're afraid that if we do show our personality, people aren't going to like us. It's not a conscious thought, but I think many of us still have that first-day-of-school, what-if-no-one-wants-to-hang-out-with-us phobia.
So we build up these lovely little shields, where people can sort of see us, but not really.
What kinds of things can create distance between you and your blog readers?
1. Blogging only about writing
I did this for a long time because it's what I liked to talk about (and what I still like to talk about), but also because it didn't require me to really put "me" out there. Sure, I used my personal style and voice to deliver the information, but I was still in teacher mode, hiding behind the advice-giver role. (Kind of like this post *cough*)
Solution: It's okay if you want to talk about writing. So what if everybody else is doing it too? But think about how you can shine through those types of posts. Don't just put up a list of rules and move on. Talk about how this affected your writing personally. Talk about a struggle you had with that particular issue. Inject the information with your voice and your personal experiences. Need an example? Check out Chuck Wendig's blog. No one would ever accuse him of holding back personality in his writing posts. :)
2. You hide behind a niche.
Once again, not necessarily a bad choice to have a niche blog. Niches attract niche audiences. People know what to expect and you can get a great following. But sometimes a niche can act like a security blanket. If you have a niche like Scary Mommy, where it has an over-arching theme of shining light on the reality of motherhood, but the posts are injected with personality, humor, and personal stories, well that's awesome. But if you have a mommy blog where you're just doing reviews of kid's products or a food blog where you just share recipes, you run the risk of not really letting people get to know you.
Solution: Look at your blog. Could someone else slip into your role and your readers wouldn't notice? Then you're probably hiding behind your niche. Look for ways you can put your stamp on the information you're sharing.
3. You're leaning too much on theme days or memes.
So this is one I'm guilty of too. Themes can be a great way to help you keep a schedule on your blog and streamline things. I'm not saying don't do theme days. But sometimes, we get so hung up on themes that the blog can start to suffer from generic-itis. Now, not every post has to give a piece of you. My Boyfriend of the Week posts and my Friday round-ups aren't chock full of personality. But they're fun (mancandy, yay!) or helpful (links!) and that works for me. However, if that were the ONLY type of blogs I was doing all week, then I think it'd be hard for readers to ever get to know me.
Solution: Use theme days if you enjoy that and it helps you keep your blog going, but schedule in some "free" days where you can talk about whatever and share your personality.
4. You shy away from giving your opinion or tackling a controversial topic.
Okay, so this does not mean you need to start talking about religion and politics (unless that's the kind of books/blog you write). But I think many of us--especially once we're published--back away from giving our opinions or touching controversial topics for fear of alienating readers or attracting trolls. I've chosen, for instance, not to do book reviews and I never talk negatively about any book or author. I don't plan on changing that policy. But that doesn't mean I can't give my opinion on other things. Giving opinions shows a part of who you are.
Solution: Give your opinion and do it with conviction. BUT still be aware that some topics are better left alone. Make sure what you're taking a stand on is worth it.
5. All you do is non-stop promo.
Yes, your blog should hopefully lead people to check out your books. But you're not going to get them there by beating them over the head with--hey, look at my book, let's talk about my book, here's an excerpt, here's a contest, here's a discount code, check out my blog tour. People will only get to know you as an annoying salesman, not the impression you want to leave people with.
Solution: Don't be an annoying douche-bag, firstly. :) Secondly, intersperse promo type posts amongst your normal blog content. People won't get upset if you post that stuff sometimes. Just make sure it's not all the time.
Okay, now a few warnings...
A) This does NOT mean you should just ramble about me, me, me.
Yes, we want to get to know you and your personality. We do not, however, want to hear about your trip to the grocery store unless a spaceship landed in the parking lot or something. People are still most concerned about "what's in it for me" so make sure you are always providing something--a laugh, information, advice, inspiration--just provide those things with your own personal flavor.
B) This is still the internet, and you need to be careful about what you share and how personal you get.
You're never going to see me posting pictures of my son, giving my address, or discussing me and hubs' sex life. There are people who do and that's fine. Those are just my personal lines. No one needs to know THAT much about me. :)
And here are the blog posts that inspired this post:
Not Just Another Writer’s Writing Blog - Write it Sideways
Is A “Niche” Or “Non-Niche” Blog Right For You? - Write It Sideways
The Controversy Over Controversy - Amber West
So what do you think? Am I overthinking this (always a distinct possibility)? Or do you think you sometimes hide behind these walls? What do you do on your blog to show your personaity?