Whether you already have a blog or you’re just thinking about starting one, do you look at the top bloggers in your niche and wonder, “How will I ever get there?” Because I still occasionally have those days, 11 years into blogging.
Oscar Wilde famously proclaimed, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” And when I find myself getting caught up in self-imposed comparisons, I try to take solace in that. While comparisons can be a helpful benchmark to see if I’m on track (and I do follow a lot of blogs to keep up on market research and trends) if I check in too often, I start feeling low instead of inspired. How about you?
Maybe it’s just me but I feel like comparisons are harder to shake off now and it’s a sign of the times. I’ve been blogging since 2001 and I sometimes still get caught up in asking myself if my blog and work measure up. Part of this comes from a distorted reality a lot of blogs present (mine included sometimes), especially now. Back when blogging was a great big unknown and I was on Live Journal, we all did it for fun. Sure, there were really popular people but the overall playing field was much more balanced. Digital cameras weren’t that sophisticated yet and I don’t think any of us ever posted a photo larger than 500 pixels wide. I didn’t even know what an action was in Photoshop! We documented everything in a more “This is what I did today” way. There was less of a format or a formula. Our journals were often little more than personal diaries that happened to be outward-facing.
The Proof Is In The Picture
In the last few years (and especially now with Instagram), I feel like the proof is in the picture. Before, people were trying to explain how great their lives were and it was easy for us to write it off as being boastful or insecure. But now that we have visual proof, it really hits home. I’m a designer and by nature, I’m always rearranging my belongings and surroundings. Part of that no doubt comes from being in the advertising industry where the aim is to curate the best image possible on a client’s behalf. Companies pay big for that polish and it’s understandable because competition is stiff.
But what happens when that seeps into our daily lives? The lines between online and real life have been so blurred that it’s hard to separate fantasy from reality. If we see imagery in an ad campaign, it’s obvious that there’s a team behind it. But when we see it on blogs, it’s harder to tell.
When we’re comparing our blogs to everyone elses’ we only know part of the story. Contrary to what anyone says, none of us should be expected to share every little piece of our lives online. We all have different comfort zones. And we should respect that when it comes to everyone else, too. When we only see bits of a story (usually the best parts) it’s natural to fill in the blanks. I’ve met a lot of bloggers I admire (after following some for years before ever having that real life interaction) and I can tell you that I’m always blown away by how approachable, vulnerable and normal they actually seem. It’s a good reminder that we all have struggles.
Standing Out Is More Obvious Than You Think
When it comes to blogging, if you’re wondering why what you’re doing even matters, the answer is simpler than you think: We each have something within us that makes us unique. You have a distinct voice and perspective from everyone else in the world. Only you have the ability share, define and curate your experiences. Instead of comparing yourself to everyone else, you will actually stand out more by just being yourself.
If you’re familiar with differentiation when it comes to marketing, standing apart from the competition is a usually viewed as a major competitive advantage (and we go into a lot more detail on the subject at The Blogcademy). Your differences from every other blogger are what will actually make you the most memorable. If someone visits a dozen blogs in your niche, chances are that they’ll remember the one that is the most unique.
At the end of the day, I try to remember that blog posts are just a snapshot into someone’s life. They don’t necessarily reflect a current moment. A blog post is a recollection of a point someone’s life that was memorable to them. It’s a learning experience. Instead of focusing on everyone else, focus on what you do best. The rest will come naturally. If the pieces haven’t fallen into place yet, it’s okay. It takes time. Just don’t lose sight of what makes you unique.
Do you fight self-imposed comparisons when it comes to blogging?
Any tips on how to stay focused?
View more of the Blog Log series here.