Putting yourself into the spotlight online can be quite a daunting experience. Now that we have kids, especially, we both have to think quite carefully about what we put online and what we don’t. But even if you don’t, just taking that first step and writing online can feel intimidating for lots of reasons.
One thing I know that worries first-time bloggers is that perhaps they’ll put something online and someone somewhere will take issue with it and they’ll end up with someone “trolling” in response, or even worse with ongoing harassment as a result.
That worry that one day we’ll have to deal with someone being unusually nasty is something that we both talk about from time to time. Bad stuff happens and from time to time you hear about a prominent blogger having to take a break from it as a result.
You could take a view that the best thing to do would be to have a very “at arm's length” approach to writing online. To reinforce yourself from any of that risk by being slightly impersonal in what you write. And that works for business blogs and if you’re doing “content marketing” rather than writing from the heart.
We’ve both learned, though, that if you write from the heart, and don’t just talk about the highs – how life is one long Instagram success-fest, well, you find a certain type of person takes note and follows along.
That’s the approach that we’ve both taken – Stef is always tweeting not just about the successes, the wins, the highs, but the stuff that hasn’t worked along the way. Sometimes you can’t go into too much detail when things aren’t going so well, but it’s all part of the process. Without a little struggle, your whole story can look pretty dull from the outside.
Blogging is about telling a story, and none of the major basic plot structures of any well-known stories are entirely lacking in any form of struggle. In fact, the struggle is a big part of them!
So we’ve decided to be somewhat vulnerable in our writing over the years. To put ourselves in the spotlight occasionally, and not hold back from talking about some of the struggles along the way. But that’s in moderation. People equally don’t appreciate following along for someone’s constant tales of how things aren’t going well. You’ve got to have the right balance. Vulnerable enough to give people a sense of the reality of what you’re doing. Stand-offish enough to give an air of mystery and to help them something of themselves in what you write about.
I think people will begin tiring of the overly-polished Instagram life. There are so many apps that can remove all the blemishes, clone out the strangers in the background, fill in those shadows, crop out the imperfect world around your perfect moment. That’s not to say that we’ll all want to see every detail of the lives of others, but understanding how much of your own reality into your writing and how you represent yourself online is something I’d encourage us all to think about.
One last thought is about positivity. The world can throw things at you and your plans might not work out all the time, but you can still be positive through it without dismissing those events. We both try to be positive and support other people to do what they’re doing. That’s why we’ve made Makelight in the first place! If you can stick to something like that, where you’re able to balance up talking about some of the honest reality of your life, but putting that in the overall context that you’re striving towards things being awesome, you’re probably on a good path.
At least, that’s what we’re always trying to do. Balance up being positive, talking about possibilities and futures as-yet-unmade, with a little reality, a little vulnerability and not being too self-involved along the way. It’s tough to achieve, and we’re not there yet by any means, but these are the things we talk about when we’re asking ourselves “what shall I write today?” Have a think – when were you last vulnerable in a post or are you mostly presenting a veneer to the world?