Why It's Good to Be Different in Blogging & Business
I'm a very independent person, by nature. I'm not sure if it's got something to do with the fact that I'm an only child, or if I inherited my dad's stubborn nature, but I've always been more of the I'll-do-it-my-way mindset.
Don't get me wrong. I love to learn, and I think we go through things in life and business in order to create a story that we can then use to help others. But at the same time, I don't do things other people do just because it worked for them. I like to create my own path.
I truly believe it's good to be different in blogging and in business - different, not weird. Weird scares people. Different people don't follow the herd, they lead the pack; they learn from their mistakes but don't fear making them; they embrace change and buck the system...
I've been doing this blog thing since 2010, and "back in the day" when I first started, I tried to emulate what was working for so many other "big" bloggers. I started linky parties, I hosted giveaways, I created features....and guess what? I started becoming a cookie cutter version of those blogs. Nothing stood out. There was nothing about my blog, back then called "One Tough Mother", that made me stand out among the sea of other home decor & DIY mommy blogs.
You know what else happened? I burned out. Like, big time. Like, this-is-not-fun-anymore-I-think-I'll-just-quit burned out.
I was too busy trying to keep up and be like everyone else that I became everyone else, and I didn't like it.
Fast forward a few years to May 2014. I was coming back from a six-month blog sabbatical and decided to rebrand my blog. I was determined to do things differently this time, and that mindset shift required a facelift on the ol' blog. Sweet Tea & Saving Grace was born.
I didn't try to emulate anyone. I blogged on my own terms, tried things, failed at things, learned from those failures, started over a lot. I kept a very loose editorial calendar, focused on writing about things I wanted to write about, instead of whatever was trending at the time. (Hello? Remember when everybody and their mom crafted with burlap??)
And you know what happened? My blog grew faster than ever before. I fell in love with writing again. I built a community.
You know what else happened? This. This thing right here that you're reading - this business happened because I dared to be different and create my own path.
DARE TO BE DIFFERENT IN BLOGGING & BUSINESS
Amazing things happen when you stop trying to be like everyone else and instead just be inspired by everyone else. [Oh snap, that's good! Tweet that.]
My friend Stephanie from Small Talk Social says it best: We are not unicorns. There are so many others doing the same thing we're doing, selling what we're selling, saying what we're saying.
So what makes us stand out?
You are your brand.
You are uniquely you - your personality, your voice, your life experiences...your can of crazy. (Hey, we've all got one.) Embrace it! Let it ooze out of your pores and spill all over your blog and business.
When I started openly talking about my faith and my love affair with sweet tea on my blog and social media accounts, I became instantly real. I was no longer a blogger sharing home decor. I was Kirsten from Georgia, that girl who drinks sweet tea out of a mason jar and calls everybody "hon". And oh yeah she makes cute stuff, too.
Own your unique story.
I don't hide the fact that I'm a Christian, or that I've been divorced and remarried. I don't hide the fact that I love listening to Disturbed when I work or that I have six tattoos.
Everything I've experienced, everything I do in my day-to-day life...all of it...is part of me.
Consider Chip & Joanna Gaines. They've built their reputation around their faith & family values more than their ability to beautifully remodel homes in need of TLC. People line up to visit their store, work with them, or meet them because of their unique story.
They own it and don't apologize for it. Neither should you.
Know who you serve.
Don't try to write your blog or run your business for everybody. You'll end up frustrated with your readers or clients, exhausted from "work" when it shouldn't feel like work, and uninspired when you should feel energized.
Identify specifically the kind of person you want to write for or work with, then produce content and design products and services with that one person in mind. Knowing exactly who you serve allows you to attract people who embrace your differences because it adds to the character of everything you do.
Be confident in your abilities.
I get it. It's hard to talk about yourself in a way that demonstrates your expertise on a subject. Most of us feel as if we're arrogant when doing so. But if you're not confident in your own abilities, no one else will be either.
Be aware of how you talk about what you do to strangers.
Random Stranger: "So, what do you do?"
Response #1: "Oh...ummm...I have a blog and I teach stuff and...you know what? It doesn't matter. Nevermind." [nervous giggle]
Response #2: "I run an online business in which I educate and encourage bloggers and creative business owners, helping them achieve success on their own terms and bring together their passions and their priorities." [drops mic]
Which one of those responses would make you want to work with me? Yea...that's what I thought.
Know what you know and own it, girl.
People remember "different", so go be that.