This is the fourth post in the Writer’s Platform series. Here are the others:
Finding Your Online Persona
Are you true to yourself, writing with your usual sarcasm or even in your own dialect, or do you write using a persona?
Whatever your preference, finding a writing style for blogging or articles can be tough – striking the balance between being true to yourself, and reaching as wide a readership as possible through your words.
That said, many people have made a living out of truly knowing just how to express themselves online. The rise of the ‘Mommy Blogger’ shows just how appealing the platform can be for people who have previously had no outlet for their talent or creativity. For every passion, interest or industry out there, there is a person who has seized the moment and carved a niche for themselves online through effectively finding their voice.
An online persona can be tricky to discover, and then develop. Many of us have an inherent nervousness about our writing which is only compounded when we sit in front of a blank document and wonder how to express ourselves. For the first time, our generation is able to write words which can be instantly accessed by a global audience, and this is a daunting undertaking.
What if we simply fail to find an online persona which appeals to our audience?
The advent of blogging has negative aspects to it as well as positive – for every article we publish, there will be people out there who will read it, and dislike it. Your readers have the capacity to both judge you and vocalize that judgment instantly, which can be harrowing for a new writer struggling to find their voice.
The relative anonymity of the web means that people can state their opinions without holding back, safe in the knowledge that their recipient is probably on the other side of the globe somewhere, going to sleep just as the writer of the comment is waking up. This opens things up, frees readers from the necessity to be politically correct or sensitive, and means the new blog writer can suddenly be on the receiving end of a barrage of critical, insensitive, or simply unhelpful comments.
There are a few things to consider when you first set out to establish your personal brand. Here are some questions that I found helpful.
What’s the long-term brand that you’re developing for yourself? Is it funny, professional, approachable, or sarcastic; can you sustain that brand over time?
Who are you, and what do you want to achieve by writing online? Are you happy to show yourself as you are to your audience, or are you more comfortable writing behind a pen name to protect your identity, allowing your creativity to pour forth without fear that your spouse, boss or kids may stumble across your words?
A father of three children, all of whom use the internet, he wanted to blog but was concerned that if he truly spoke his mind, he would risk offending his offspring. So, he developed two blogs and ran them alongside each other.
The first is written under a pen name, and it is a platform for him to rant about all that is wrong in the world, use expletives, and let his coarse, funny and irreverent humor shine through. The second blog is his ‘shop front’ for his writing activities, and it is a mild, professional and honest account of his day to day life as a writer.
In this way, he manages to balance the personal and professional perfectly, fulfilling his need to express himself without compromising his brand in any way.
Ultimately, your online persona needs to be a reflection of who you are, and what you want to achieve. Choose wisely, and you’ll have the ideal platform for self-expression which also works to develop your business and cement your professional brand.
After much thinking, I’ve decided to write under a pseudonym. My real name is difficult to remember, and I’m yet to meet a person who can spell it from the first go. But this is where my deception stops; everything else about me, my books and my blog is real.
Is your blogging persona different from who you are in real life? Are you writing under a pen name, and why?