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We’ve talked a lot about niche this year, but you don’t necessarily have to practice nichecraft to gain a following. Your niche could simply be you and your unique style. But how do you hone a style that sets you apart from other bloggers while maintaining your authentic self? Get ready to make a few lists.
Take a long, honest look at yourself and then make a list of all of your best qualities. It might look something like this:
- My generosity to strangers
- My dry sense of sense of humor
- My creativity in the kitchen
- My attention to detail
Now, make a list of your shortcomings. Why? Surely I wouldn’t suggest that your shortcomings should be part of your style. Heck yeah, I am. If there’s one thing that people can identify with, it’s personal defects. We all have them, and we’re all anxious about them. Acknowledging those parts of your personality that could use a little sand-blasting, makes you more relatable. For example, could relate to someone whose list included the following foibles?
- My constant worrying about things beyond my control
- My occasional desire to abandon all responsibilities in favor of binge-watching my favorite television show
- My fear that I’m totally screwing up my kids for life
Clearly, if you’re starting a food blog, you’re passionate about food. But what else makes your pastry puff? Your passions help to shape your best qualities and curb your worst. They motivate your actions and keep you focused on the future.
Integrating your other passions into your food blog can add some variety to your posts and help you to stand out from bloggers with different motivations. Can you imagine how much more awesome a food blog might be if it’s created by someone who brings in these other interests?
Once your food blog is really rolling, your followers will become your fans. If you’re allowing your authentic personality to show, some of those fans may even think of you as a friend or a member of the family. Why not open up with readers a little about your hopes and aspirations? Not only will they cheer you on, they may actually be able to help you accomplish those goals. For example, imagine a blogger who occasionally brings up the following goals. How might you be inclined to help?
- Open a bed and breakfast
- Cultivate a community garden to encourage healthier eating
- Publish a novel
An honest self-assessment can be difficult to manage. You may be too generous or too critical with yourself. Ask your friends and family to share their thoughts on what makes you unique.
Now that you’ve got a clear sense of what makes you unique, it’s time to take a look at your favorite and least favorite food blogs. You may wonder how studying other bloggers can help you define your own style.
The truth is none of us are entirely self-created. We fashion ourselves after people we admire and try to avoid the mistakes of people we don’t. Understanding what you like and don’t like about the work of other bloggers can help you figure out how to make the best use your own qualities.
Pick your top three favorite food blogs, and then take some time to read a few posts closely. Instead of reading as a reader, read the posts as a writer. Then make a list of the qualities that make that blog so loveable.
- Is it the blogger’s personality? If so, how would you describe it and how does she reveal it in her writing?
- Her attention to detail when she styles photographs? What do her styling choices tell you about who she is?
- The cool, high-tech widgets she uses to make her blog more interactive? Even this choice reflects something about the blogger – her modern sensibilities and her desire to connect with readers.
Except in extreme circumstances, there’s nothing objectively awful about any blog style, so I’m not asking you to hate on other bloggers here. Blog preferences reflect your personal taste. Nothing more.
However, knowing your personal taste and what definitely does not appeal to it can help you to avoid those same qualities in your own food blog. Even if you’re sure you’d never make the perceived mistakes of another blogger, remember that we tend to reject those qualities in others that most remind us of our own perceived shortcomings.
I keep using the world ‘perceived’ here because one man’s shortcoming is another man’s strength. You may find profanity crass and unacceptable on a blog, but the bloggers at Thug Kitchen have made a mint on dropping the F-bomb.
Your style as a blogger is a combination of your best and worst qualities, your personal stylistic preferences, and the style choices that you’ve picked up from people you admire. Developing your unique style is a matter of acknowledging those things, experimenting with them, and refining them over time.