Texas Style Conference Panel Recap: Authenticity in Blogging

 Every blogger, whether they've been blogging for a few days or multiple years, has concerns about remaining authentic and expressing their true voice through their posts. As a relatively new blogger I am especially concerned with establishing boundaries regarding how much personal information to share, and how far I should go, in order to engage my readers while being authentic. I suppose that's why I was so excited to attend the Authenticity Panel during the Texas Style Council Conference this weekend in Austin.

Moderated by Kristina of Pretty Shiny Sparkly, the panel featured three bloggers whom I have always admired for their ability to be consistently authenticity through their blogs: Indiana of Adored Austin, Jen of Jen Loves Kev, and James of Bleubird Vintage. Discussion began with comments on why authenticity is so valuable when blogging. Jen stated that authenticity makes you approachable and real. Humor, self-deprecation, humility, honesty, and openness engage readers and make then genuinely interested and loyal towards your blog.

How does one express authenticity when blogging? According to Indiana, the best techniques are those relating to how you write your posts. She strongly suggested that we write as we speak. While an impressive vocabulary will get you far in the business world, blog readers are much more likely to want to know you if you write spontaneously and off-the-cuff.  Indiana recommended we write as if we're speaking to a friend, looking at your posts as a shared conversation between you and your readers. Writing about a subject you're well-familiar with and interested in also keeps your posts vibrant and authentic.

One concern most bloggers have is determining boundaries when sharing personal information. While we all want our readers to get a glimpse into who we are beyond outfit photos, it can be challenging to determine just how much to share. Indiana strongly suggested bloggers avoid airing dirty laundry. This includes details regarding fights between you and your friends or husband, using inappropriate language, and sharing personal information such as your phone number and home address. In addition, when her blog was just beginning, Indiana avoided using real names in her posts in order to protect the identity of friends and acquaintances.

However, James believes that sharing personal information is a useful tool for engaging readers. For example, she shared her birth story on her blog, and regularly features photographs of her adorable baby girl and details regarding her growth and development. James believes that drawing a blog audience can be much more effectively accomplished through the inclusion of personal photos and day-in-the-life conversation than simply through outfit pics and brief discussion regarding what she wears.

The panelists all agreed that it is ultimately up to the blog author to determine what to share and what their comfort level is regarding post content. Jen recommended that bloggers be safe regarding personal information, but not overly concerned. It's far more important to share your life story and develop a sense of community by using your authentic voice, than be stifled with anxiety about over-sharing. For example, Indiana's blog includes a memorial video of her dog, which recently passed away, and she was comforted by the overwhelming outpouring of support from her blog readers. 

The panelists also cautioned against feeling the need to share everything in order to prove your authenticity. Having a focus on one or two elements, and expounding on them, will make your blog more communicable. Indiana mentioned that readers will be more eager to dialogue with you if you have a clearly defined focus.

The panelists agreed that sharing your struggles also ensures the authenticity of your blog. Readers are less likely to remain loyal and engaged if they feel the blog author is more concerned with crafting an image of perfection than remaining real. As blogging becomes increasingly popular as a social media tool, it's crucial for authors to be unique in order to differentiate themselves from one another. Readers love discovering what makes you who you are, and that includes details regarding personal struggles in addition to positive experiences. In addition, asking your readers questions and requesting their input is another way to ensure authenticity in blog posts.

The panelists addressed the fact that there are downsides to expressing authenticity in blogging. James mentioned that she has received judgment from readers regarding her behavior a a new mom. Jen Lula mentioned that occasionally readers feel they have the right to give their opinions, and negatively judge you for what you write. Many of us have received nasty or even blatantly hostile comments on our blogs. It's an unfortunate side affect of being authentic. The panelists agreed that it's crucial for bloggers to develop a thick skin in regards to negative comments. Fortunately, the positive rewards for blogging far outweigh the negatives.

Most of the panelists agreed that negative comments can often lead to positive discussion. Respectfully responding to these comments often leads to constructive dialogue. While the panelists strongly recommended blog authors approve all comments before posting them, Indiana mentioned that she occasionally leaves negative comments in her blog as an opportunity to respond to and engage her readers.

The authenticity panel helped me understand why it's crucial for bloggers to remain true to their own voice. Being unique, establishing boundaries, staying true to my individuality, and including personal struggles are what differentiates my blog from others. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the Texas Style Council Conference and learned so much from all the speakers, including Kristina, Jen, Indiana and James.

If you would like to learn more about the panels at the Texas Style Council Conference in a real-time format, please look for my #TxSCC twitter feed at @dresscourage.


  1. What an amazing recap of the panel. Thank you so much for sharing this information.

  2. Great recap! i covered the keynote address today if you would like to hop on over and re-live the moment! I haven't had a problem with negative comments and I was suprised to hear how many did...I guess the discouragers are everywhere!

  3. Fantastic recap! I bet you took excellent notes in college. This is helpful stuff. Thanks for sharing!

  4. i'm forever grateful for your live tweets during the conference!! i had to leave early on Sunday and missed the last half of this panel, but your live tweets kept me up-to-date.

    and i totally agree about writing just like you speak. i find that i really enjoy reading those blogs more and apply the same rationale to my blog! :)

    cute & little
    come join the Color Brigade!

  5. This is an amazing recap and something very near and dear to me. My greatest fear in life is to lose myself and my authenticity, both on and off-line. I do agree that it is important to know just how much to share, but that there is no set rule, rather it is at the discretion of each blogger.

    Thank you for this, and thank you for being you and remaining authentic. It is why I enjoy your blog so much.

  6. I've followed your tweets on the conference and read this post carefully.

    There are many approaches to blogging: we differ in who we are and what we hope to accomplish. I, for example, break many of the "rules" other follow. I'm wide-open about my life and don't hold back information out of fear. Also, I lack any desire for monetizing my blog which was described as a big goal for some others.

    The goal of authenticity is terrific and I hope others pursue it. I just hope they do it in their own original way and not like everyone else -- which would, of course, make it inauthentic...

  7. Oh I wish I was there, there are so many questions that I think what exactly is autenticity in blogging world, yes there are bloggers out there that have interesting personalities and authenticity but there are a lot that dont either both have tons of readers that following them everyday...wish I was there but I really love your recap, wished that I wasnt at work on sunday I can read your live twitter, I think I might do it right now

  8. it was so nice to meet you !! !

  9. Great recap! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Great recap, I think authenticity and honesty are everything. I often get turned off by "famous" bloggers who paint a portrait of a perfect life. I just can't relate to them. I also find it a turn off when a blog starts feeling too commercial as in too many ads, too many gifted items being featured, etc... Blogging at its essence is real people connecting to real people and keeping true to that mantra is important to me.

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  12. GREAT recap!! This is exactly what I've been looking for while trying to catch up on what people learned at TxSCC! Thanks so much :)


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