Why Authenticity as a Writer and Blogger is Crucial to Success

    authenticity as a writer - woman smiling

    Lately, I have been contemplating the issue of authenticity as a writer.  Are we what we write? Do we practice what we preach as bloggers and authors?

    Letting the “real” you shine through in your writing has become a staple of the blogging culture. Authenticity has become so important that potential readers have come to expect nothing less than full disclosure from the bloggers they follow.

    The case for authenticity is usually presented from the side of the reader, and how they benefit from your total exposure. There are several reasons why you, as the author, stand to gain just as much, if not more.

    Nowadays expectations are so high that it’s no longer enough to be honest about the value you offer new and existing readers. In other words, it’s not enough to let them into your office or living room. They demand the keys to the bedroom, and will be hard pressed o stick around if you don’t let them in.

    It’s not enough to state your qualifications and the mission to which you apply them. They want your dirty laundry as well.

    Why are readers so demanding these days?

    Well, in a nutshell, because we’ve trained them to be. For years bloggers have been laying it all on the line to establish a personal connection with their audience.

    Readers benefit from full exposure because they get to connect with you on a more profound level. They learn to trust you and the value you provide. I want to look at the flip-side of that equation and show what you, the author, can learn from baring your soul on the page. Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy by letting it all hang out.

    How Being Authentic Helps You No Matter What You Do

    1. Find your true authentic voice. This is something many A-List bloggers talk about. A great way to get down to the brass tacks of what you have to say is to not hold anything back from your readers … or yourself.

    2. Feel the freedom. With stark authenticity comes great freedom of expression. It’s very liberating to not have things hanging over your shoulder.

    3. Reconcile with your weaknesses. Encourage your strengths. Putting everything on the table and taking a good look at it is a great way to see what’s working and what’s not. It’s great way to decipher what you’re good at, and what you may need to work on.

    4. Nip potential naysayers in the bud. It’s a known fact that working on something unique that develops a loyal following inevitably attracts naysayers and critics hell bent on bringing you down and hurting your brand. When you’ve put everything on the line, it makes it that much harder to find things to give you a hard time. If there is one thing they can’t accuse you of, it’s being dishonest.

    5. Give others a reason to trust you. Baring your soul makes people believe in you. Showing them that you’re just like them makes them want to stick around and get to know you better.

    6. Give yourself a reason to trust yourself. A lot of bloggers like to play themselves up. They want to look like they have tons going on and are having huge success. Stretching the truth about how well you’re doing hurts no one but yourself. Stick to what you know. Write about what you can prove, and don’t be afraid to prove it.

    7. Let go of fear. Baring your soul is one of the most daring, hence most terrifying things you can do. Doing it will bring you face to face with some of your deepest fears. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection. Talking through those fears will help dissipate them.

    8. Learn from your readers. When you share mistakes with your readers, they will be eager to help whether its through encouragement or through advice of their own. They’ll also feel comfortable sharing some of their own woes. Blogging is a two way street and the wisdom goes both ways.

    9. Learn from yourself. Create optimal conditions for mutual growth, discovery, and self-realization by being honest about who you are, what you’ve done, and what you hope to become.

    10. Be true to yourself. There are times in life when we take liberties with our transgressions. Keeping the light on with your writing will make it harder for you to keep yourself in the dark about what’s really going on around you, and what your role is in it all. Make being ‘frank’ your default setting.

    11. Stand firm on the side of your values and beliefs. Being authentic about who you are, what you go through and how you are progressing keeps you motivated to stay true to your values. Blogging about them openly helps you understand them more precisely. If you’re confused about what they are, writing openly about it may help you figure it out.

    12. Take responsibility for “all” of your actions, both good and bad. Blogging about your faults, mistakes, grief, suffering, and struggle helps you take responsibility for the actions you take, for better or worse. When the eyes of thousands are following your story, there’s no excuse to hide behind.

    13. Get a better picture of your purpose, talents, and virtues. When you do something right, you’re readers will laud you. When you do something wrong, you’re readers will be quick to call you out. They’re brutal honesty will help you hone in on what you’re good at, and what you need to work on.

    Authenticity is great for growing an audience by gaining people’s trust, but the reason it’s so important goes beyond what it can do for your blog or your writing.  Being authentic won’t just make you a better writer, it will make you a better person, and that’s what this is all about. Isn’t it?

    There are many reasons why we should stay true to who we are. But importantly, I can’t think of any reason not to.

    Some may not like what they see when you show them everything. They may walk away and never come back. That’s ok. Let them. From their shadows many more will walk into the light. Those are the people you want around anyways.

    What have you learned from opening up to your audience and showing them all your dirty little secrets? How has it helped you’re writing?

    About the author

      Gianpaolo Pietri

      Gianpaolo Pietri is an architect, blogger, brand designer, and entrepreneur who blogs at Simply Optimal. He's a committed minimalist and the author of the upcoming ebooks Ideate! and Revolution 2.1. You can subscribe to his RSS feed, or follow him on Twitter.

    • Juan says:

      Just a minor typo: “They’re brutal” instead of “Their brutal”

      I can’t but agree on the main idea behind your post, Gianpaolo. Besides what has already being told the nice thing about the web is that no matter how weird you are there are more people like you and broadcasting it is the easiest way to attract like-minded people.

      About sharing your mistakes I prefer to do that only when there is a lesson to be learned and therefore experience to be gained by others. Otherwise I don’t think it’s of too much value to the kind of people I would like to connect to.

    • I love this posting. I completely agree that authenticity is so important to create credibility, as well as gain an audience’s trust. I blog about my own experiences with the medical system and with my prior breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatments. I’m professional about it, but I am also authentic. I feel there’s no other way to write than to do so authentically.

      Great posting!

      • Gianpaolo says:

        Thanks Beth! I agree with the importance of being professional, even if that means acting unprofessionally. I know some bloggers who make a killing from acting unprofessionally, but they’re very professional about being unprofessional.

        As far as authenticity is concerned. Is there really any other way to be? I’ve never known anyone to respond adversely to a truly authentic attitude where all the cards are on the table.

        I wish you the best with your treatments. Are you in remission?

        • Actually, I’m completely done with treatments; thanks for asking!! And I’m lucky enough to be a survivor and to use my words to help others.

          I agree with you: there is no other way to be than to be authentic.

    • Veron says:

      I’ve definitely felt that little voice of fear just before hitting the publish button. But in the end, getting naked has really helped me as a person.

      I can’t say how “right on” all of these points are! I can really relate.

      So much depends on ones ability to be true to oneself and others.

      I’ve been flirting with pushing the frontier in this area. And this post has reminded me of its importance. In a world of so much artificiality, it seems like people are placing a premium on truth.

      I was also just thinking today, how many things the simple act of blogging does for the author! I’m starting to think, that if someone comes to me with any emotional, intellectual, or spiritual issues…I’m just going to tell them to start a blog. I mean…I’m just saying :->

      • Gianpaolo says:

        I couldn’t agree more. My blog has helped me more than any other program, product, or therapy session ever has. We all feel the need to tell our story and share our experiences, blogging really is the most effective tool I have found for doing that.

        “I’ve been flirting with pushing the frontier in this area.” Me too my friend.

        Thanks for sharing Veron.

    • Kara says:

      It was very timely for me to read this post. My last post was one I published because I felt that (a) readers might be getting bored of my series of interviews (which based on lack of comments appears not to be the case), and (b) I felt would be a “palatable” post.

      My blog is about using your intuitive/psychic type stuff, and how to develop it. The post I was going to post was about how I failed at some aspects of the stuff I recommend, and how I still need to work on my self practice, before a new opportunity presents itself. But I was afraid to post it, as I thought it would make me look bad, like I didn’t know what I was talking about.

      However, the next day I realized that my vulnerability would have been the key to the blog post. So I chickened out, and posted a namby-pamby post that I’m pretty sure no one enjoyed, including me.

      Thanks for confirming the need to be authentic in our writing! Soon I’m going to post the one I should’ve posted in the first place.


      • Gianpaolo says:

        I think you should, regardless of the outcome. My guess is people will respond positively to your vulnerability. I know I would. Why? Because that makes me connect with you. Because we are all vulnerable and we all fail.

        I’m very happy to hear the post inspired you to have the courage to publish your authentic self.

    • Diane Cruz says:

      Blogging is another tool for self-expression not approval by readers. If you write what you are truly needing to express then you are writing authentically.

      Other authentic people intuitively notice. Those are the people you want to continue to cultivate conversations with anyway.

      p.s. You’re a Guamanian Vegan? that is awesome! I’ve had an “interesting” time trying to educate my Guamanian family about healthier foods. Lol!

      • Gianpaolo says:

        Hey Diane,

        I myself am not a Guamanian vegan, but the founder of this blog, Leo Babauta, is. He really is an inspiration and has helped me immensely in my blogging journey.

        I’m a world travelling, meat eating, Puerto Rican blogger architect who is thinking of going meatless, but wandering if it’s really worth it. What do you think? jeje;)

    • As a blogger, I have held back a little bit on “baring my soul” as not all readers look for that. I have discovered though as my blog has varied slightly, people really are touched by the personal side of you. I think you have to find that balance – be true and authentic, but also provide useful posts that are not too in the weeds about your personal life. Some bloggers use their blog as a place to vent. Not always useful – plus once it is out on the web, you business is everyone’s business!

      Thanks for this post!

      • Veron says:

        I was reading a blog post the other day, where the author was reminding folks to keep the point in mind while writing. What do I want the reader to get from this?

        The author went on to recommend writing that goal at the top of the blog post, so while writing it can keep you focused. I’ve found that to be helpful. But I’ve found that speaking from a place of honesty can be equally as important.

        You’re right! Finding that balance between being personal, and useful is important.

      • Gianpaolo says:

        That is a great point. I don’t advocate ‘soul baring’ as the premise for your blog. Especially when you blog about a specific topic to a specific niche. But I would say to let the real you shine through in your writing. That’s the point I really want to drive home with this post.

    • So True!

      I gain so much more from blogging than I think my followers could ever gain from reading it! The entire process is therapeutic and has led me on a road to self-discovery. Learning who I am and sharing that person with the world is so refreshing!

    • For me writing serves as an important way to reflect. As I write honestly about my experiences, including my mistakes, I come to deeply understand myself and the topics I’m exploring. Of course I write for my readers and hope to bring them a benefit, but I am already assured a non-monetary benefit to me every time I put words in print, regardless of whether anyone reads or not.

      Thanks for a great article GP – I am following your work with avid interest.

    • Ajeva says:

      From a client’s perspective or someone who hires ghost writers, your tips may not work well. Yet, I believe that bloggers out there should not be afraid to just go all out like Seth Godin did – making him a thought leader ( and top blogger as well ). Don’t let fear hold you back as a blogger and it’s definitely worth my time reading that you are the 1&% who don’t agree with 99% out there.

      • Gianpaolo says:

        I couldn’t agree more, and Seth is a great example of the point I was trying to make. Great observation.

    • Marci says:

      As a psychotherapist, I’ve been trained to listen and not focus on myself. Writing has been a slow peeling to find my voice (it has been a great peel but gradual).

      I share so others know they are not alone. I may be a coach for others, but I am not perfect. I am always a work in progress and I hope others find comfort in my work on my self. Lastly, writing is a great place to integrate what I’ve learned as well as holding myself accountable. When I air it on my blog, I am more aware of it in my everyday life. My blog is like my coach, a gentle reminder of my life and work in progress.

    • Aileen says:

      It is important to stay true to ourselves and be authentic. It allows us to live in state of being where we challenge our minds and our comfort zone.

      I liked your # 7 ” Let go of fear. Baring your soul is one of the most daring, hence most terrifying things you can do. Doing it will bring you face to face with some of your deepest fears. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection. Talking through those fears will help dissipate them.” It pushes us to live a deeper more conscious experience and I believe it encourages our readers to do the same.

      I love how summed it up “Some may not like what they see when you show them everything. They may walk away and never come back. That’s ok. Let them. From their shadows many more will walk into the light. Those are the people you want around anyways” poetic and true!!!

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