Nothing is more attractive than someone fully being who they are. – @AuthorAlchemy
Yep. Just as I thought… the pendulum is swinging away from the now all too frequent “numbered” and “list” posts for blogs, and into storytelling and authenticity. And I’m so, so glad. The blogs I read without fail — I mean, every post they put out — are perfect examples. For 2013, it’s my turn to do what feels authentic and honest for me.
So buckle up. But first, let me tell you whose blogs I’m so faithful to — and why.
These are the traits that each blog shares and the reasons I’m so faithful:
- Unfailing honesty -- They may not mince words, but they’re genuine.
- Humor — Great writing with some real laughs while they make their points.
- Interesting — I’m never, ever bored and I learn something important.
- Responsive — I’ve commented on their blogs and each one has replied. I didn’t “look” for that, it just developed. I feel known to them as a regular reader. We’re also connected on Twitter.
- Original — They don’t follow the crowd. They have their opinions, but don’t tout themselves as “gurus.” They’ve created individual identities — successful ones. They’re always a step ahead. Always growing.
- Expert — Great information! Solid creds in their fields. I respect them.
- They don’t follow “the rules.” They are authentic. Great content isn’t all about plugging in keywords for the sake of SEO. It’s about them having a real conversation with their audience.
- The “like me” factor. No, not the Facebook kind of “Like” — the feeling that he or she is like me. We “get” the same stuff. We’re interested in similar things. We have the same values. We don’t know each other from Adam — but, we do.
I should start with one I’ve been reading now for years: The wild, holy-crap-I-can’t-believe-she-put-that-in-her-blog, fascinating, vulnerable, brilliant genius of Penelope Trunk.
I think I first started reading Penelope’s blog on Brazen Careerist, one of the start-ups she founded — and I probably got the link to a post off of Twitter. When I first “met” Penelope (which I believe is her pen name — and I can understand why), she was single (or semi-single, or newly divorced but still connected to her ex) with two very young boys. What captured me was that she’d met a young farmer (who read and admired her blog, as a entrepreneur) in Wisconsin and was driving long distances to meet him at his farm in the “middle of nowhere.” And somehow, she managed to write about career advice, e.g. having a miscarriage in the middle of a business meeting — that landed her on network news for tweeting about it as it happened — as well as how her Aspergers affected her working life and relationships. Among many, many things.
I have never stopped reading her blog. Though she’s not keen on my generation (Boomers), I learn from her all the time. She loves research and backs everything up with multiple sources. She’s not for the faint of heart — her blog is her life, it’s explicit at times. But mixed up in the stories of her life on the farm (she married the farmer) are pieces of clear thinking, advice not many people have the guts to give, and a look into a mind and world (she’s also an author of a best-selling career advice book and has the #1 career blog) few people are brave enough to share.
Next up — Erika Napoletano of RedHeadWriting.com. Warning: If sensitive to general swearing and the F*** word, do not click on the link. << This will probably drive you straight to it, but you’re a grownup. I think you can handle it.
I love her About page, where she describes herself thus:
Writer, disruptive presence, devil’s advocate.
Over the course of my reading her blog, she’s redesigned her top-of-the-heap site (Judith Shakes Design) that’s like a Mexican pinata of hot surprises; published two books including The Power of Unpopular (a best seller), spoken at TedX, and writes for Entrepreneur Magazine. She’s also lost a love of her life; grieved openly on her blog; traveled with her dogs; been scared; ranted (regularly, in The Bitch Slap) and otherwise been as real as they come. And I read every expletive-filled word she writes. Because she’s smart as hell and won’t steer you wrong.
Laurel Belgray of TalkingShrimp.com is currently living in her 1980′s girlhood bedroom at her parent’s place (with her husband) while their newly-purchased NYC apartment is being remodeled down the avenue. And she’s not afraid to talk about what she’s found in her old closet (a collection of buttons – mine up there is an example, except it belongs to me from the ’80′s), or recounted remarks she’s overheard from an “insufferable’ woman next to her at a restaurant. Laura is a writer who works in network promotion, corporate branding and on the web. So you know she’s not living at her parents because she doesn’t know what she’s doing in her career. She’s also worked for TVLand and Nick At Night.
She doesn’t post all that often (too busy being successful) but when she does, I gobble the post up. Is reading about how she ordered a whole carton of her favorite chips with nowhere to store them in their last apartment hard info about writing? No. It’s not about that. It’s the funny, skillful way she writes about it. It’s the “we share the same sort of humor” human touch she brings to her writing.
Finally, there’s Andy. Andy Hayes and I have known each other for what’s beginning to feel like forever. During that “forever,” he’s become one of my most valuable colleagues — and a dear friend. But that’s not why I read his blogs religiously.
I met Andy while working on a PR project for a client. We “met” on HARO (HelpAReporterOut.com) when I answered a query Andy had posted. Then we went to email.
He was living and working in Edinburgh, Scotland. Still working in a day job and doing travel writing and web site creation on the side. I was “there” when he made the jump to working for himself. He created an online travel magazine site and I did some writing for it. He moved to Portland, OR… but before that, famously spent two weeks exploring the Finger Lakes with me and we “captained” an Erie canal hire boat for three days. That cemented our friendship. And I learned so much from him — as he worked constantly reading and reviewing books, building and maintaining sites, preparing his travel posts, building his “empire” — which is now AndyHayes.com. He’s a creative web producer.
His blog and site are FULL of information about making your website better. When I read his posts or site, I hear Andy as if he’s sitting right across the table from me.
Each one of these people is an example of how I want to communicate and become more authentic right here on my site. You don’t have to worry about flying F***s or tales of my love life, but I hope you’ll see more of the real me and less of the person who felt she had to follow the goose gaggle and do this blog “right.”
I hope you’ll also see some design changes in 2013, too. And who do you think I’ll seek out as my “go to” person for that? ;^)