It's a Jungle Out There in Blogosphere
By Ambra Nykol
Someone once said, "every individual is born an original, but dies a copycat".
I know the "be yourself" message sounds trite. In fact, it is. Unfortunately, no one believes it anymore.
This can be cross-applied to blogging. You would be surprised by how many people try to write like, sound like, and be like every other human being on the planet. Do you ever visit a blog and feel like you’ve been there before? It’s probably because there are 15 others just like it.
As blogging becomes more mainstream and certain bloggers gain more notoriety, there is an inevitable desire to want to duplicate whatever the top blogger of the moment is doing in order to gain their success. This is a huge mistake in blogging.
If I read one more blog titled "_____pundit" or with the tagline: "The musings of..." I might vomit. For love's sake, at least be original.
Abandon the Idea of "Reporting" The News
The advancement of the "blogosphere" beckons that you be you. Otherwise, it becomes this echo-chamber of lemmings who crack the same jokes, use the same memes and report on the same stories.
Newsflash: I can get the news regurgitated to me on BBC and CNN. Why in the world would I want to spend my precious time reading the same dry material on a poorly designed weblog? What makes a blog interesting is when I can read about the news filtered through another person's world.
Don't report. Opine! And don't just list off other peoples' opinions. I want yours. If nothing else, when you come to Nykola.com you will read about the world through the eyes of a wacky (and somewhat rebellious) black chick in Seattle. Where else can you get that but the world wide web?
Give me a reason to come back again.
It's troublesome to think that in all the vast array of individuals on the planet (none of whom share matching fingerprints, by the way), people feel the need to be copycats.
A good percentage of the blogosphere needs some personality. Like the dad said in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", "they are dry like a piece of toast". Get some flava and add some hot-sauce.
Ambra addressing a blogging conference
Unique vs. Obnoxious
In being unique in your approach to blogging, it is possible to go too far. I can't stand reading raunchy writing. It’s a turn off. I think Chris Rock is a brilliant comedian, but I think he'd be 10 times more funny if he just cleaned up his language.
Remember that one kid in class who always had to be the center of attention? Right. Don't be them. And if you answered, "no", you probably were that individual. In which case, you need to try extra hard not to be completely obnoxious.
"Being yourself" simply means being comfortable enough in who you are that the things that are special about you shine through in your writing and your approach to blogging. Just "be".
Stop Trying to Be Accepted
This concept is easier said than done as another element to blogging is the idea of acceptance. As much as we'd like to deny it, we all have egos and we protect them at all costs.
Having your own website is incredibly narcissistic. Don't worry if people don't comment and stop checking your stats like you have OCD. Throw away the fear of what other people may think. I've gone months without checking my web stats. Really folks. It's not that big of a deal.
Don't disregard an opinion or an idea you have just because you think it might rub people the wrong way or it wouldn't be funny.
A brief personal example of this is my "monthly fashion critiques" feature. As a matter of habit, I have always been prone to wanting to help others not make horrible fashion mistakes. I took that passion to my blog and started the "Caught in a Fashion Faux Pas" series where I snapped pictures of walking victims, published them on my site minus the faces and talked about what went wrong with the outfit.
It's never done in a mean spirited way, but there are a few people who have the reaction I feared many would have and they accuse me of being heartless or "un-Christian".
The reality is talking about issues of fashion is very much a part of who I am so it flows very naturally. I had to be secure in knowing that my motives were pure and all in fun. Incidentally, I get email after email from people who say the fashion posts are among some of their favorites. Imagine that!
Lastly, the fundamental reason why people must allow their own personalities to shine through their blog is because perpetrating a fraud is tiresome. Being yourself is both natural and pleasurable. After all, it's what you were created to do. It takes the least amount of work, and it reaps the best rewards.
The more you stick to what you know, the more popular your blog will become. Last I checked, the only thing I knew how to do was be myself. Try it sometime. It works!
Ambra Nykol is a columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Soundpolitics.com, Seaspot magazine and Modestly Yours. She owns and blogs at nykola.com
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