Blogging is the great soapbox of the 21st century.
From gossip bloggers following every move and indiscretion of the celebrity world to technology bloggers giving readers an insight into the detailed specifics of niche gadgets, blogging has only grown as a medium of education, journalism, and self-expression. Popular personal blogs have become a mainstay.
However, as with all art forms and outlets that offer a low barrier for entry, the number of active bloggers at any given time is daunting and is only expected to rise over the next few years.
This means big things for those hoping to define themselves as prominent voices in the digital landscape. That’s why, through chatting with an SEO agency in Melbourne, as well as some coffee-soaked hours spent researching the current state of blogging in 2018, we’ve gathered some insights into the “blogging identity”.
What Should I be Writing About?
As we get into how you should be defining yourself, it’s best to lay out a bit of a blueprint.
Before you can have a blogging identity, it’s important to first think about what you are going to be basing that identity around.
An anime blogger and an accounting blogger are going to take very different approaches to their writing. So, to find a voice, we’ll need to take a look at what we’re using it for.
Finding Your Niche
Whilst regularly updating your blog with whatever you’re excited about at the moment may be cathartic, finding traction can be tricky if you’re inconsistent.
As with any form of expression, your audience will come from the expectations you have put in place being fulfilled on a regular basis.
When this idea comes into play, many aspiring bloggers have the same reaction:
Won’t people get sick of reading about the same thing every week?”
The answer to that question is a definitive no.
As a blogger, it’s important to remember that, regardless of how dedicated your audience or fan base is, you’re not the only place people are seeking out their information. The internet is a sea of observations, information, and viewpoints. An individual that is looking to fulfill every need of their audience will burn out very quickly.
So, rather than trying to be everything at once, it’s better to simply ensure that you are focused on providing entertainment or information that appeals to those that are interested in your offerings.
So, How Do I Choose?
If you’re researching ways in which you can define yourself as a blogger, it’s safe to assume that you’re expecting this to be a longstanding endeavor. So, if you’ve found something that you love writing about, you should ask yourself;
Will I still be able to consistently write about it in 12 months?”.
This is an issue faced by many well-regarded entertainment bloggers; those who made a name for themselves discussing certain shows or pieces of media that are no longer coming out with newsworthy information.
To avoid the fate of so many fandoms and tribute blogs, it’s best to allow yourself some wiggle room when deciding your niche. A blogger that writes about hip-hop culture is going to have a better chance of adapting with the times than one exclusively dedicated to Kanye West, for example.
So, now that you’ve got a malleable niche to dedicate your writing to, how do you define yourself?
Take Inspiration, But Avoid Replication
Have you ever gone down the feed of a blogging platform, such as Medium or Tumblr, and noticed that a lot of blogs have an unmistakably similar style?
The same writing mannerisms, the same quirky jokes, the same format; the trail of imitation isn’t easy to spot. This is common among new bloggers who haven’t found their voice, as mimicking the voice of someone they respect and admire seems like an achievable route into seeing similar success.
Unfortunately, what is often lost in that thought process is the realization that this other writer already exists; leaving those that have stolen their style feeling like cheap forgeries.
This isn’t always the case as such, given that many popular bloggers and vloggers have managed to gain an audience through replicating the style of someone they respect.
However, that replication is often short-lived; making way for a unique voice supported by the experience they’ve gained from trying to mimic those that inspired them. One excellent example of online creators breaking the mold of their inspiration is Vlogbrothers.
Vlogbrothers and the Road From Inspiration
John and Hank Green have maintained one of the internet’s most noteworthy communities, Nerdfighteria, since January 2007. While they have been a hugely influential figure in their own right, they have also been very open about their own inspirations.
On several occasions, they have admitted to initially mimicking the format and style of their early work from fellow early internet trendsetter, Ze Frank.
Frank has spearheaded internet-based media and the creation of online communities since the early 2000s. With work spanning community projects, his vlogging show “The Show With Ze Frank”, and his work as chief of research and development for BuzzFeed, he has influenced a huge number of creators in the worlds of blogging and vlogging.
Understanding the difference between inspiration and replication is vital in defining your identity as a blogger. You can gain success copying the style and format of someone else’s media, but only when you’re willing to branch out with your own personal mark.
Appearance is More Important Than You May Think
It’s easy to feel like your writing speaks for itself, and that set dressing is unnecessary if your writing is good enough.
While this is true, a blog that is poorly designed, or simply doesn’t match the tone of your writing, is likely to be taken less seriously than a more flashy website.
Authority is everything as a blogger, and a well-designed blog will go a considerable way in defining you as a voice worth paying attention to.
I recently read a Forbes article detailing the ways in which Nike and Reebok have managed to maintain a specific tone throughout all media channels and the reasoning behind it. From color schemes to a strong copywriting voice, these companies have achieved something that all aspiring bloggers should strive toward when developing their identity: Consistency.
This consistency isn’t just about writing in the same voice across all of your mediums, it’s about creating as many identifying factors as possible for your audience to acknowledge and recognize.
However, that isn’t to say that you should go out and try to make each part of your site as separated from the mainstream as possible. Instead, simply make sure that your blogging aesthetic is pleasing to the eye and can be seen across all channels that represent your blogging identity.
Visual Representation and You
The internet gives us an interesting ability to curate how we are portrayed. Whether it be the Myspace DPs of yesteryear or a cartoon avatar that allows you to be defined through anonymity, we all have a level of control over our digital facade. This is something to keep in mind when building up the visual side of your brand.
Your logo, your bio photo, your avatar; whatever visual representation you decide to go with will inevitably become attached to your blogging identity.
So, as with the points above, you should think about what your audience can glean from it. It should also be noted that a poor-quality image, as with a poorly designed website, is unlikely to add credibility to your blogging identity. People will only take your blog as seriously as you seem to take it, and the more effort you can put into creating a visually appealing, user-friendly journey, the better.
Having an Undecipherable Domain
Although search engines have made the days of typing in URLs manually effectively obsolete, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t important. They are often the first point of acknowledgment from potential readers and can be a strong factor in influencing click-through rates, trust, brand potential, and more.
It’s important that your URL matches your brand as much as possible, so much so that many people will base the name of their blog around which URL they can acquire. Think about how confusing it would be to a reader if your blog was called The Writers Wisdom, but your URL read “funwritingideas2017.wordpress.com”.
Even if they still thought you might have something to offer, the likelihood of them remembering/trusting your blog immediately suffers.
How These Elements Come Together
Individually, the tips we’ve given can seem very slight or small, and to an extent, they are. If you were to have a low-quality photo as your bio pic, it probably wouldn’t have a huge impact on your overall identity. However, building an identity is the process of creating something that is far greater than the sum of its parts, and that’s important.
Why do you think that brands like ASOS and Nike go to such great lengths to ensure that everything on their brand, both online and in retail, is stringently consistent?
It’s because your audience wants a means to recognize and understand who you are; both as an individual/group with viewpoints, information and/or products to be shared, and as an online presence that they can trust.
The one major difference between a multinational corporation and you when it comes to online brand building is that the product you’re selling is, essentially, yourself. It’s a product that you get to market as you wish, but just make sure that your audience knows what they’re buying into.
Samuel Shepherd is a writer, musician, music reviewer, and content marketing specialist based in Australia. Over the last few years, Sam has managed to turn every one of his hobbies into a profession of some kind; a choice that should not be emulated.