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If you’ve been around these parts long enough (thank you!) you would know that it has been a turbulent trek for me to find my authentic voice online.
Since throwing off the shackles of this awkward identity, my life has changed dramatically. I have a booked-out copywriting biz, feel more comfortable in my own skin and now, I am actually coaching people on their voice. Say wha?!
To use two of the buzziest buzzwords of the wellness world; authenticity breeds abundance.
It has also led to me learning a thing or two about speaking your truth – no matter how quirky, dirty or flat out weird it sounds. Don’t feel alone; this is something that a lot of incredible bloggers and entrepreneurs are struggling with.
So I would like to share these things with you in the hope that it map help you find your voice online!
Ask Questions. All the time.
I’ll hit you with the most important point first. We all draw inspiration from others. It’s a given. In today’s day and age the opportunities to inspire and be inspired are available at the click of a button. Buuut… just because it is written does not mean that it is true. Or, at least, that it is true for you.
Never take what anyone writes or says as gospel (except, of course, for this sentence because it’s bang on – if I do say so myself). Always, always, always ask questions of the content you consume. Here’s some that I regularly ask myself;
- Do I agree with that?
- Do I really agree with it?
- Which points resonate with me?
- And which don’t?
- What are the key lessons I have taken away?
- What opinion have I formed?
Idolisation sucks balls
Continuing on from the above point, we also need to be aware that our inspiration stays as that without crossing over to idolisation. This is especially pertinent in the online space.
Believe me, I am totally down with being a Fan-Girl. There are some inspirational ladies that should legitimately run if they ever bump into me on the street for fear of many, many selfies (Amy Poehler – watch your back).
But idolisation puts people onto pedestals. It’s another word for perfection and it removes curiosity and replaces it with complacency. You become so enamoured with the writer that you gobble up their words like prophecy rather than parlance. Most of all it puts the writer on a different mental level to you and will always keep you smaller.
Idolisation will blind you to your own view of the world. Value yourself. You are worth it.
When writing – disconnect.
Personally, writing is the ultimate art of connecting with myself. However it is hard (I would argue damn near impossible) to connect to your truth and voice if you are hyper-connected and ultra-reactive. That means if you are on the internet or have a phone.
Connectivity is sneaky. One second you are looking for a quote to support your point, then all of a sudden you are six links deep and flicking through an article that proves that cats are actually just furry ninjas.
When you are writing – disconnect from the internet, turn of your phone and tune in to the noise of your own thoughts. If you need to support your post and articles either collect them before you start writing or enter them in afterwards.
The Cringe Test
After I’ve written something, I read it (out loud) as if I am talking to my friends. If there are any words or sentences that make me cringe – I cut them. Don’t use words that make you squirm… these are not your words. Also don’t use ‘moist’ – that’s no one’s word.
Use personal experience
People want to know the writer behind the words. Let me illustrate. What moves you more?
1. Write authentically. Do these things.
2. I really struggled with authenticity and finding my voice online. I was confused and lived in a way that made my soul feel incongruent. I stopped after having a breakdown, rediscovered who I was and now my life is awesome. Here is what I learnt. I hope it works for you too.
People love a good story. They compel. They connect. Your vulnerabilities and quirks turn you from text on a screen into a valued friend. Your audience wants to know what you have struggled with, moved through, earned and learned. Share it!
One of my favourite uni lecturers said something to me that stuck.
“Sure, knowledge is power but it isn’t even knowledge unless it is communicated”
Dr. Alan Pilgrim
Share what you learn. Share links. Share people. Not just the “big guys”. Never hoard information – it does the human race a disservice. Enlighten people!
…but give credit!
If you work in the creative sphere (blogger, author, entrepreneur, balloon artist) – you generate ideas and then gift them to the world.
Thought-leaders share their intellectual property with the world to make it a better place – and that is incredibly brave. This sort of contribution carries with it an unspoken trust that the beneficiary of that knowledge needs to honour.
Never try to pass something off as your own if it is not. Don’t pretend you came up with something if you didn’t. To quote another uni lecturer “if you plagiarize I will bust your ass”.
This may seem like an obvious one but, then again, “knowing yourself” is a broad objective indeed.
I did an interview for a magazine once and they asked me what three philosophies I live by. Cue crickets. Even though I clearly have values and opinions that dictate my life choices I had never sat down and thought – hey, if I was going to die tomorrow what are the three lessons I would impart to my kids and the world. Marose? A little; but also an important consideration to have.
Here are three questions I regularly ask myself (they change) that may also help you find your voice online (and off);
- What are 5 words you would like people to think of when they read/see/hear you and your brand?
- What are the top 3 philosophies that you live by?
- What is the number 1 problem that you want to solve in the world and how are you doing it?
And last but certainly not least; if you have found yourself on your own rollercoaster trying to define what is real – you are not alone.
Putting yourself out into the world and sharing who you are and what you do is bold, brave and bloody triggering. Having to chop yourself down to fit into menu’s, categories and brand identities tends to bring up a lot of stuff. You are not alone.
But I really hope that my insights have helped you iron out a few of your struggles so you can get your bearings and find your voice online, blog-thentically.