All the data shows that people prefer doing business with authentic brands and authentic professionals. But how authentic is your blog writing? Do you sound authentic? And, how do you write authentically, anyway?
In my last blog post, I shared 5-steps for a good bio/marketing message for an e-newsletter:
- Tell them who you are and what you can do to help solve their challenges.
- Let them know what kinds of people you work with, and how long you’ve been helping them.
- Don’t try to sound too good. People have antennae for hyperbole.
- Read your bio out loud to see if it sounds authentic.
The problem is that when you try to write authentically, it’s difficult to know what exactly to do. What makes blog writing sound real, sound authentic?
In the past, we’ve discussed this word which I think gets bandied around too liberally without adequate definition: authenticity. What the heck does that mean, anyway? We should write authentically, from the heart, and connect with readers on an emotional level. Yikes, that could mean a lot of things.
Then I read this in Simon Sinek’s beautiful book, Start with Why:
“For values or guiding principles to be truly effective they have to be verbs. It’s not ‘integrity,’ it’s ‘always do the right thing.’ It’s not ‘innovation,’ it’s ‘look at the problem from a different angle.’ Articulating our values as verbs gives us a clear idea… we have a clear idea of how to act in any situation.”
One thing’s for sure, you can’t go out and ask customers what they want you to do in order to be perceived as authentic. That completely destroys all chances of becoming so.
I meet weekly with a group of 10 women over the age of 60 to discuss the meaning of life. Each of our members is highly educated, accomplished in a profession or the arts, and brings a different perspective. We’re not similar in politics, religion or family backgrounds, and many of us have lived all over the world. In my group meeting, I had to answer this question and put the noun into a verb form. I came up with:
“When I’m authentic, I am true to myself in what I do and say, and I respect others’ needs to be true to themselves.”
Even that seems a bit vague… true to myself? I’m still thinking about this, and trying to see examples in real life where I do it and when I don’t do it. So far, I’m about even. I know my writing is improving, but I don’t feel like I share enough of my authenticity in my blog writing.
Online, there are a few people who stand out for me who come across as authentic blog writers. You can read their blogs to discover for yourself how/why their writing resonates authentically. People like Sonia Simone and Naomi Dunsford come to mind, but there are many others I enjoy reading like Robert Sutton, Seth and all the great minds on Harvard Business Review.
What about you, what makes someone’s writing seem authentic? How do you add a little more of it into your blog or newsletters? If you’re having trouble, check out my free Shortcut to Publishing an e-Newsletter.