Before I even begin, the answer to this question is obvious. I blog for me. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t want to do this for myself. This blog started as a way to journal my experiences as I went from party girl to triathlon girl to runner girl. If you have been a reader from the start, you know triathlon wasn’t something I intended to do past the first race. And I certainly never (ever ever ever) thought I would become a runner. So yes, I blog for myself first.
But I also blog for you.
Who are you? Well, I know some of you have been here for a very long time. Some of you, I knew before my blog. Some I have met through blogging. I have stayed in some of your homes and I have raced races with a few of you. Some of you come only when I have a give-a-way (which is almost never) and some of you are brand new. Some comment once in a while and some on almost every post. I write for all of you. For whatever reason you come here- because you relate to me, need swimming advice, think I am funny, because you want to know how my latest race went or because you know me in real life. I write for all of you.
Being an authentic blogger is tough. This is one of the issues I have struggled with most in my own writing. Not that I feel as though I am not authentic, because I truly believe I am very real. It is more like the struggle to make sure my blogging is personal, relevant and real all at the same time. I don’t want to blog about the same things all the time or post a list post simply because I am not sure what I have to say on a certain day. I want every post to really mean something. There was a time when I did not come first in my blogging and it was obvious. And I had to stop. Having been back writing again, I feel really good. Yet, I still have days where I struggle with “where do I want to go with this post” or “has this been done too many times already” or “will this matter when I look back on it” when I am thinking about my topics.
When I first started blogging, I had been reading Healthy Living blogs for about a year. They weren’t nearly all the rage they are these days, but then again, neither were running blogs. In fact, it was hard to find a good running blog. The ones I was finding were written by people who were “real” runners and I was just trying not to fall off the treadmill for a mile straight. One of the main reasons I started a blog was because I wanted to find other people like me. I have always been a writer but I was so new to triathlon and running. I figured I would keep a blog as a journal and if I were lucky, I would find other people doing the same thing. Little by little people did start reading…caring…asking…about me. It was surreal. And I loved it.
Gradually, I formed friendships, participated in blog meet-ups and even ran this race with one of the very first people I ever communicated with through blogging. I really loved blogging. Then something changed. With the blog world, with me…in general, I guess. Running blogs got really big. Healthy Living blogs had already blown up and now running blogs were too. Suddenly, some of the blogs I had been reading for years became immersed in ads, give-a-ways and shilling products. I felt left out and so for a while, I tried harder. Even though some of the posts that were written during that time are some of my favorites, I am not proud of myself for trying to be someone I am not. Often I was posting because I felt like I had to, not because I wanted to. I was not always authentically blogging.
When I stopped blogging (I truly believed I would never blog again) it was because I needed to remove myself from feeling like I couldn’t keep up. With how much I had going on in my life at that time, I just needed to back away. When I decided to come back to blogging, I knew I would do it only if I could go back to how it was in the beginning. Blogging for me first, then for my audience. These days, most of my old readers don’t follow me. That’s ok. I know the ones that do and have been with me for so long are my friends and I am welcoming new readers every day. I would rather have 10 solid readers who respect what my blog and come here for the right reasons than have to keep up with trends to keep hundreds of readers.
Here is what you will always get on my blog: Real Jillian. A middle of the pack runner that knows her place in the world. A regular girl who lives a pretty regular life and likes to document it in this blog. Reviews only when it is a product I use, like and believe in and a possible give-a-way now and then.
Here is what you will never get on my blog: product shilling, a boatload of ads, 35 rules to enter a give-a-way or in your face requests to follow me, re-tweet my posts or subscribe to my blog.
You come here for a reason. If you didn’t like what you read, you wouldn’t. I know from my stats that this blog gets quite a bit of traffic and people are reading. I would rather have 5 genuine comments than 200 insincere ones. I feel like if my blog was full of ads paying me to blog, my posts would become less authentic. I would be blogging for traffic and not for me. I would be forced to recommend, through ads and posts, products I don’t use or like. I like my free not-so-big blog and I love the places blogging has taken me and the people I have met. The blog is evolving but I am going to remain true to who I am. Always. That is my promise to myself and my readers. The blog isn’t perfect, but it is mine.
What does authentic blogging mean to you? Who do you blog for?