Maintaining integrity as a writer

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8 proven tips to grow your email list
Why you’re missing out if you don’t have a Facebook Group
Everything you need to know about defining your niche

Do these sound familiar?

When I first started writing I wanted to write exactly these kind of articles — articles I thought would help people. My mind was set on writing to help others achieve their goals and live a more fulfilling, balanced life (it still is by the way).

As part of my research into uncovering my writing style and content I followed a lot of bloggers that write about exactly these topics. I sat back and watched purposefully. Looking out for things like: How do they grow their audience? What are they writing about? How are they positioned? What are they doing in addition to writing (webinars, courses etc)?

My rationale was that if I exposed myself to their content long enough I’d subconsciously soak in the things they were doing that worked. The things that actually helped them build an audience and grow their mailing list.

Then I could just apply those to my own writing — right?

This is what my twitter newsfeed would look like. Move over to Pinterest and I’d see the same thing. At first this didn’t bother me. They’re just using Twitter as a medium to share their content. But after a while I felt they were all missing something: personality. Each was promising the same things and the language and tone be used wasn’t the direction I wanted to go in.

With all of this noise telling us what to do and how to best do it, maybe we need to be better at filtering? There’s always an audience out there for these bloggers. But I had to ask myself if that was the kind of audience I wanted to build.

The type of content you produce will attract a certain kind of audience — will your content attract the right audience?

I decided that I didn’t want to be just another blogger promising that doing A & B will change your life. After observing these bloggers for a while, pretty soon I was asking myself — what happened to integrity?

We all follow influencers, it’s natural. People who have interesting or inspiring stories to tell. At the end of the day we’re all trying to make a buck. But it seems the minority of us have good intentions for the way that we do so.

There are many bloggers out there that actually want to help others succeed by teaching and sharing what they know. But the ones who I’ve seen generate the most success from this, are the ones that maintain their integrity.

Just look at people like Paul Jarvis, James Greig or Helen Tran. Three writers (and coincidentally, designers) who write honestly. They aren’t afraid to let their personality shine through their writing. I mean, James is even brave enough to talk about his depression. The way in which these three write is full of integrity. They aren’t there to make a quick buck. They’re there to share their raw feelings in the hope that it will help others.

I started to think — how do I maintain my own integrity in my own writing? I’m very aware that I don’t want to be another one of ‘those bloggers’ (so much so that it almost paralyses me from writing). In fact, I don’t want to be a blogger at all. I want to be a writer. Someone who shares the ups and the downs and isn’t afraid to share their feelings and how it may be affecting their work.

I want people to know that I’m not a superhuman. In fact it’s not easy to grow a mailing list — there are no quick proven hacks. Just hard work, consistency and patience.

Lately I’ve been struggling with finding the balance between wanting to help people but not being scammy about it. Yes there are some processes I have in place that are successful when it comes to managing my client work or podcast. But I realise that my way isn’t necessarily the right way for everyone. We’re all different. The last thing I want to do is preach that it’s my way or the highway.

When I sat down to write I would ask — what can I write about that will help people? This is still the same question I ask myself now, however the answers back then would be tangible things. Like the statements you read at the top of this article.

Now, I’m answering that question by exploring how I can turn things that have happened or that I’m doing or feelings into learnings or advice for others. I want to be more open and personal about my feelings. Because not every day is a good day. I’ve experienced both things that have had a positive and negative influence on me. It’s not all butterflies and fairies.

Those are the real life experiences that I hope can positively help you. You and I, we’re not marketing or design machines. We’re humans. We’re all people who sometimes feel we’re not good enough or are afraid of being wrong. These are real feelings that can influence what or how we work.

So the last question is — how do I share this helpful advice, without coming across as just another one of those bloggers?

When I was thinking about repositioning my writing I asked myself what I do and don’t want to be seen as. In my head it looked something like this…

I want to be seen as someone who:

  • gives helpful and thoughtful advice
  • is honest (open wounds, failures, all of it)
  • openly doesn’t have it all figured it out but is trying
  • has strong, moral principles and a positive mindset
  • is open to other ways of working and achieving goals

I don’t want to be seen as someone who:

  • is looking to make a quick buck
  • is scammy
  • is applying a one size fits all technique
  • has no personality and only pumps out content
  • promises that this one thing will transform your business!

This is why I’m repositioning my blog. Posts will be posted under my new website rather than The Apartment.

It’s stripped back, raw and has no gimmicks or hidden agenda. There’s no brand. It’s just me. I’m not going to tell you the 5 secrets to growing an online following, because it doesn’t exist. Rather I plan to write raw, honest and no bullshit articles. Because hey, who am I to know the answers to those huge marketing questions anyway?

To me, my life is still trial and error. I’m still in the stages of figuring out what doesn’t work for me and what does — repositioning this blog is just one of the things I’m trailing. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t.

Lucky for you, you’ve joined the ride. If you stay onboard you’ll find out.

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About the author

Hi I’m Femke — a designer, writer and podcaster who overlaps between a day job, freelancing and side projects. I love to help other creatives be the best version of themselves. I’d love to get to know you more, say hi on Twitter 👋