Staying authentic online can be challenging, especially when you’re trying to grow a blog or business. In an age where we’re bombarded with clickbait and content targeted more at search engines than humans, it can be hard for those with a genuine message to get through. Sometimes it just feels easier to adopt an ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join em’ sort of approach. So essentially we all end up shouting over each other, trying to be heard.
Let’s talk about social media for a minute. It gets a pretty bad rap in the media, but in and of itself, it’s neutral. It’s just a tool which can be used positively or negatively. Used in a certain way, however, it definitely can become detrimental to our mental health. And I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always used it well.
My Twitter account, for example, is completely automated. I just don’t have the energy to be active on it, so it’s set up to share links to random old blog posts. It’s not really benefiting anyone, just adding to the noise. I get a little traffic from Twitter, but I wonder if it’s worth it sometimes.
Facebook groups, meanwhile, should be places to connect and help each other out. But most are a sea of self-promotion. And I get it – I’m not here to judge. I do it too. I’ve joined a ton of groups just to share my ezine. I like to think I’m providing value by sharing it, but then I’m sure everyone else thinks that about their posts!
When I finally got Instagram this year (I know, I’m late to the party), I was pleasantly surprised. I liked the fact that you can’t put clickable links in your posts – it discourages people from using it promotionally. I felt there was much more of a sense of community than on most social networks, with people really engaging with each other’s posts. People seemed to actually care about what I posted. And with no pressure to be promotional, there was more freedom to be creative and have fun.
But Instagram, as I’m sure you’re well aware, is not perfect. There are still a lot of people trying to gain as many followers as possible by whatever method they can. What annoys me most is when someone follows me, then unfollows as soon as I follow them back. It’s hard to form meaningful connections when so many people have that sort of attitude.
I recently joined an Instagram engagement group on Facebook with the hope that I’d be able to connect with similar accounts in a way that was mutually beneficial. Instead, I found threads capped at 100 participants where you share a post and everyone has to like everyone else’s. So you have to click through to 99 people’s accounts and like posts which you probably have no interest in. You get a ton of likes in return, but to what end? It’s almost certain that none of those people will follow you. Theoretically, more likes make your post more discoverable, but I’m sceptical about whether this strategy brings long-term gain. And some people posted non-vegan food or makeup tested on animals, which I obviously wasn’t going to like.
What I’m getting at is, I’m tired. Chasing follower numbers rather than meaningful connection feels hollow and depressing. When I look at the successful bloggers and vloggers I most admire, they have one thing in common – they are their authentic selves. And they have a big, dedicated following because people see and respect their authenticity.
But I’m not just writing this post to rant about social media. I’ve been thinking about authenticity in the context of this blog too. When I started out, I had the firm notion that Little Green Seedling wasn’t about me. So for the past couple of years, I’ve been writing in a mostly factual, impersonal style, with some anecdotes thrown in to illustrate my points. I had a vision of Little Green Seedling as soul food, something that could inspire people to live in a way that brought them inner peace and encouraged them to live in a way that benefits everyone – animals, the planet, other people and themselves.
But I’m coming to realise this vision isn’t so compatible with the way I’ve been writing. People connect to people, not impersonal walls of text. You could read every blog post I’ve ever written, and you’d probably still be left with little idea of who I am and why I’m doing this.
This has been bothering me for a while now. I have tried to address it – I started a chatty newsletter which lasted all of three weeks before I got writers’ block and started making excuses not to do it. I’ve also toyed with the idea of starting a YouTube channel, but I don’t have the resources (i.e. a decent camera) right now, and it could be hard to fit it in alongside freelance writing work, blogging and editing Seedling magazine. At one point, I made a vague resolution to be more personal in my posts, but I had no idea how to do it.
Whilst meditating the other day, it suddenly hit me what the problem is. I always try to pick a specific issue as a topic for each post and just write about that. I have a huge list of ideas in a Google doc – about 50! They’re important topics which I feel need to be written about. But I’m losing enthusiasm for writing in this way. It can be very research-intensive, and there’s little space for creativity.
So I’ve been thinking the time may have come to show rather than tell, by sharing more of what I do and how I feel. My spiritual practice has become increasingly important to me over the past year, and I’m feeling much more open as a result. And my intuition says I’m absolutely making the right decision by moving in this direction.
As I write this, on a Sunday, I’m preparing for some pretty big life changes. On Thursday, I’ll be moving from the heart of the Welsh countryside to the city of Bristol in the south-west of England. I’m so excited to meet lots of amazing people and make some beautiful memories. I know this move will bring so much joy, connection and freedom to my life, and I hope this blog will mirror that.
Anyway, if you read the whole of this rambly post, that means so much to me! Let me know below if you have any ideas about where this blog should go. I’m hoping to be able to post more frequently from now on, as I’m feeling really motivated and excited to head in this new direction. I might even do a very belated intro post; I never did one when I first started blogging, and my About page really sucks!
P.S. I hope you all had a beautiful Christmas (if you celebrate it) and start to the new year.