When it comes to making money online, traffic is king. Can a blogging personality help you drive that traffic?
Even though I provide a lot of content, I don't think much about traffic. Even on my own blogs, I don't focus as much on traffic as my business partner would like me to do. As I've thought about traffic and content, and I realize that having a blogging personality can help you drive more hits to your website — as long as your personality is engaging and/or controversial.
As you consider how to proceed, the question becomes this: Does your blogging personality match your real personality?
Personal Branding or Online Anonymity?
The Internet provides us with the ability to be anonymous or semi-anonymous. You can create a blogging personality that accomplishes what you want, whether you sell products and services, or whether you just hope to stir things up a bit. Some bloggers and others feel more comfortable saying controversial things when they feel like there is a smaller chance that they will be identified.
Others have no problem being “out there,” engaging in personal branding efforts to be seen as a certain type of person — even if it brings haters to the door. For some, just adopting a posture that provokes a visceral reaction is the business model. It can be extremely profitable if you understand your audience and are willing to cater to a specific demographic.
If you decide you are going for only anonymity, you might adopt a blogging personality that is different from your day-to-day demeanor. After all, you don't want friends, family, coworkers, and others to figure out who you are. There are lots of reasons to adopt a personality that is different, especially if you want to avoid hurting others' feelings, or if you have a job you don't want to lose due to what you write online.
Your personal branding as a blogger can also make a difference in how you are perceived, and whether or not people trust you. There are plenty of bloggers out there who brand themselves as experts, high-energy, snarky, or whatever it takes to grab attention. Sometimes the personality matches what see in real life, and other times you might be shocked to meet an online idol and discover that s/he is nothing like you expected.
Find Your Voice
When I started as a professional blogger, I didn't think much about my voice. I wasn't expected to. I provided content based on simple and straightforward concepts, often citing other research or presenting the views of primary sources. Or writing keyword articles to pay the bills. None of these types of writing lead to any sort of blogging personality.
These days, I'm finding my voice. As freelance writing, content marketing, and journalism become increasingly conflated, it's clear that some sort of personality is required. Your blogging personality needs to be something others will follow if you expect to earn more money from your writing. Freelancers are gaining ground (and challenging old assumptions about ethics). Reporters are no longer just reporting. They are expected to have some opinions and some followers. Everyone expects to have some sort of spin — at least when they are on Twitter.
As a professional blogger, you need to find your own voice. Sometimes, that voice isn't as loud as you'd like, especially if you are producing something for someone else. Increasingly, though, even when your voice is muted to some degree, you still need your own personality if you want to take your branding to the next level and capture more attention (and traffic).
The Importance of Authenticity
When developing your blogging personality, one of the most important things you can do is be true to your own “real” personality. Authenticity matters. If you are semi-anonymous, or even totally anonymous, there is still the chance that you will be unmasked some day. Are you true to yourself? What happens when you meet people IRL that only know you online? Does it suddenly become clear that you are a fake?
People respond to authenticity. I'm pretty straightforward about who I am and what I'm about when writing on my own blogs. No real surprises when you meet me in person. It also means that I'm a little boring online. I could spice it up, but it wouldn't be as authentic.
It can make sense to build your blogging personality around certain aspects of your personality, though, downplaying other sides of your life. Decide what makes the most sense for you, and go from there. But make sure the core of your blogging personality is rooted in who you really are, and what you hope to accomplish. It will make your life easier, and your professional blogging career more rewarding.