Decide who you are before you start blogging

by Martin Reed on 30 April 2008 in Articles

Blogging online communities

Are you blogging to make money? Are you blogging to make a name for yourself? Maybe you are just blogging for fun. Regardless of the reason, it is important that you determine how you want to be perceived. Work out who you want to be, and ensure that this comes across in your writing.

Why you need to decide how you want to be perceived

If you don’t know how you want to be perceived, then you won’t be writing in an appropriate style. If you want to be seen as an authority in your field, you need to be specific, accurate and concise. If you want to be an authority blogger, you need to avoid words like ‘probably’ or ‘perhaps’, and instead use words like ‘definitely’ and ‘I know’. If you want to be seen as professional, you need to avoid the use of slang and tone down, or even avoid, personal thoughts and opinions.

If you are writing without knowing how you want to be perceived by your readers, you will be sending them mixed messages. You will writing to everyone but catering to no-one unless you have a clear vision of who you want to be, and how you want to be known.

Convey who you are in your content

Writing is a hugely powerful medium and it is important that you strive to convey who you are through your writing. Unless you want to be perceived as a ‘grey suit’ devoid of personality, make sure some of it shines through in your content. If you want to maintain a professional image, you can still inject some personality into your blog by coming across as more relaxed in the comments section; not only does this allow people to see the real person behind the words, it also encourages people to get involved and submit comments in order to ‘tease out’ your real personality.

Keep your message consistent

Once you have decided on who you want to be and how you want to be known, it is important that you maintain this image. Just as you confuse readers if you don’t know who you want to be, you will confuse them just as much if you change your writing style on a regular basis. Of course, it is only natural that your writing style will evolve over time – just make sure that such changes are over the long term. The last thing you want is for readers to be unsure whose content they are reading.

People build relationships with people

Your readers don’t want to build a relationship with a machine. They want to build a relationship with you – the emotional, physical, human writer. A blog is an online community – you want to encourage loyalty and interaction. If you come across as a real person, who is clear and consistent with their image, you will find it much easier to build relationships with your audience.

Your thoughts

Do you think it is important to have a firm understanding of how you want to be perceived as a blogger before you start or do you think you should let your readers make up their own minds? Do you think it is beneficial or even possible to manufacture a personality for yourself as a blogger? Share your thoughts and opinions by leaving a comment below.

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Amish Made Furniture May 1, 2008 at 12:37 pm

I believe that it is an evolutionary process.

If I start off being just myself and let my subject matter come out sincerely and without any hidden agenda, the post will convey my personality. From the comments that the post receives, and the replies that the blogger offers, enables the relationship to grow gradually and a community develops.

Determining what one is prior to starting the blog may be possible if the blog is a highly technical one but, if it is not, quite how one can define ones self is extremely difficult. Mankind has been battling with precisely that question “Who am I” from the time that it became articulate.

Mr Woc May 1, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Hi there

I have to say blogging is a bit of an art, I have not quite mastered yet, the community spark blog is really good, I find it really hard to think of decent articles to come up with, so I must commend you on your content.

Its probably common sense, but it is quite important to keep your blog consistant i feel, dont wander onto too many different subjects, as this just bores people,

As for the rests of your article, it was very useful there are some good tips i will try to transfer over to my own blog.


Smiley May 1, 2008 at 10:34 pm

Wow, creepy. I just contacted you about something very similar to this. This is something I’m having trouble with at the moment. Because of my unpopularity when I first started FC I decided to rid of my silly “wind up” past. I decided to become ‘Smiley’, personally welcome everyone, always chat to them, always polite, helpful, courteous, always answered their questions – even personal ones so they knew they was chatting to a real human behind the staff tag.

But now the site’s growing, I want to attain some anonymity but still be the same approachable persona, but if I suddenly become a closed book and keep information such as my age to myself, people may lose their trust in me.

But because of my age, I also think the site would do better if people did not know how old I was. I come across as a lot older and professional when they don’t know my age and they enjoy their stay, as soon as they know my age now it’s sort of “oh.. thought you was older, wow, you did this site? Hmm I have a son your age..” and it sort of kills the atmosphere. Whereas in the beginning people liked that I was just a regular person.

I don’t want to lie to the users because obviously regulars know my age so if a new person found out I was lying, that doesn’t look very good either does it.

But overall, I agree with your post – creepy, I contacted you about this just 5 minutes before I came to check your site! A consistent persona is important, but does that include from the beginning to the end, or from the beginning, and then eventually “phase” into your consistent persona once you’ve already gotten your loyal member base/reader base.. I know this post is about blogs, but I believe having a persona is equally as important in a community.

You could say I’m having a persona crisis at the moment!

Amish Made Furniture May 2, 2008 at 10:44 am

Smiley’s comments make for interesting reading. Here is a classic case of exactly what one needs to address, the question of “who am I”. This apparently has been addressed by Smiley and he has got on. To the specific query about the age problem, so what if someone has got son of that age? You simply be who you are and write what you want. Frankly, people should admire you if you write such good posts at the age that their sons are at!

Online Furniture Store May 3, 2008 at 9:58 am

I would put that slightly differently, “decide to be true to yourself when you start blogging”.

Kate May 4, 2008 at 10:53 pm

When it comes to technical or meta-blogging, I think your advice is spot on. After all, who really expects to be perceived as an “expert” in their field if their own approach and technique is still inchoate?

But personal blogs are more about going through that process where all can see: deciding who you are, what you think and why. The great draw of a personal blog is not just reading someone else’s opinion but also knowing that person is, in theory at least, intelligent enough to consider others’ opinions and, when appropriate, revise their own.

Andrew Reynolds May 5, 2008 at 4:26 am

Definitely yes, it’s important to know what you want, what kind of blog you are going to launch and the topics that you will cover.

Eva White May 5, 2008 at 9:12 am

Very well written article and a very helpful for us bloggers here. I like the way you explain everything in such simple and clear language.

John Walters May 5, 2008 at 12:17 pm

This is where I’ve been going wrong. I’ve tried the ‘blog about every topic’ way but it just doesn’t work. I have to try and find a niche and then comment consistently on it so that I attract a very specific audience.


Martin Reed - Blog Author May 5, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Ramana – I completely agree. When I started this blog, I wasn’t really sure why I was doing so. I now realise that I blog in order to network, to get my name out into the community building niche and to help others. As a result, I think my blogging style has gradually evolved over time to reflect these aims.

Mr Woc – I agree with you; you should decide on a particular focus or niche for your blog, otherwise you will struggle to attract and retain an audience. Blogging as an art? Well I guess if you add deadlines and work quotas then you aren’t far off!

Smiley – Yes, I think that what I have said applies equally to other communities where you have an ‘authority’ role. You need to determine exactly who you are in order to convey a persistent, clear message and avoid confusion. Good luck with your soul searching!

Ramana – I agree that age shouldn’t be an issue; unfortunately though, it can be for some. That’s why it is important to consider your audience before making any firm decisions about how much information you want to reveal about yourself.

Reena – Definitely. When deciding how you want to be perceived, you should ensure you are not going to be deceiving yourself or your audience.

Kate – You make a great point; the importance of how you are perceived varies according to the unique characteristics of your blog/online community. I still think it’s important for technical or authority blogs to convey some of the author’s personality, though.

Andrew – You’re right. In addition to understanding what you want, it’s important to consider what your readers want!

Eva – Thanks for your kind comments, I am glad you enjoyed the article.

John – I would agree with you. Choose a niche, and stick with it – you’ll find it far easier to attract and retain an audience.

Nicole Price May 6, 2008 at 10:13 am

Its an interesting post. How would one determine whether one has successfully created the right image? For instance, could you check my blog and tell me whether the image based on my style and content is appropriate to the theme of the blog.

Smiley May 6, 2008 at 10:31 am

Nicole; I don’t believe anybody can tell you whether you’ve settled into the right persona for the image you want to put across…. except for yourself. If it feels right, it’s probably right. If things aren’t going too well and you’re feeling a little out of place… you need to have a good think about your persona.

That’s my ha’penny’s worth anyway.

Trucking News May 6, 2008 at 10:52 am


I guess blogging speaks what and who really you are. Its an expression of something that you an say in real life. I think its bit of art.
But in business world, it has change a lot. People try to make it more professional by adding some many stuffs that are for selling purpose.
I decided who and where I am going to blog about, what do I have to give etc.etc.
Well anyways, the Admin has quite been sucessful to post interesting article regarding the Blogs which is must I think for every new blogger.

Chicago Massage May 7, 2008 at 6:36 am

This is one of the reasons why I like maintaining a few blogs at a time. When your blog is supposed to be representative of “you”, it means you really have to figure out who “you” are. Like, for good. Ouch.

When you have a few blogs going, you can emphasize different aspects of your persona that lead you to be interested in different topics. Then you get to manifest a wider spectrum of your personality while still offering your readers at each blog the type of personal focus that they can understand and connect with.

Chat May 7, 2008 at 7:12 am

I have tried blogging in the past but always seem to get “writers block”

Martin i don’t know how your write all these rich posts! GJ

I may try and start blogging again in the future now that i have some wisdom from you.

John Walters May 7, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Chat, just make sure you are blogging about something that you are interested in yourself. If you aren’t interested in the things you are writing about then your audience will realise that.


Baby Won't Sleep May 7, 2008 at 10:10 pm

Good article – it’s important to figure out who you are early on because things stick around on he internet forever, and some of it could get embarrassing.


Smiley May 9, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Martin i donít know how your write all these rich posts! GJ

I believe he listens to his readers, takes ideas based upon their questions, and then gives them their answer in the form of a blog article based upon his experience!

I can’t see the owner of any big chat site starting a blog, allowing people to ask him/her questions, and then have them actually answer them publically in the form of an article to help others form successful communities. Only Martin, eh?

A good man to be respected, and certainly not one of the fat cats.

Martin Reed - Blog Author May 12, 2008 at 7:59 pm

Nicole – I agree with Smiley. I can’t determine whether your image is right for your blog as I don’t know what perceptions you are trying to convey about yourself. Decide who you want to be, then work out whether this is reflected in your site.

Trucking – Yes, if your blog is attached to your business you need to ensure you share the same attributes as your company brand, otherwise you’ll confuse your customers and potentially damage your business.

Chicago – Good point. If you love to write in different styles depending on your mood, then having more than one blog could be a great solution.

Cody – Half the time, I don’t know how I come up with them either; on some days it’s really easy, on others it’s really hard!

John – I agree. If this blog was on anything other than online communities it would have died a long time ago!

Nicola – Yes, things do stick around on the Internet. The last thing you want to do is start preaching about something only for someone to dig through your archives to find you disagreeing with yourself!

Smiley – The readers of this blog really do provide much of my inspiration for blog posts. I tell you what though, it’s still hard work and something I only do because I have a passion for the subject.

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