Friend Friday: What makes someone authentic?

I am about to confess something that will likely leave some of you laughing, scoffing, or shaking your head at me and thinking “that poor, misguided woman.

The single, most important reason that I love blogging as much as I do is because of the real friends I have made.

Real friends,” you say?

“You mean those people who you have never met in real life,” you say?

“You mean those people who know nothing about your real life,” you say?

Image via cartoonstock

I say: yes, those people.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t consider every blogger out there my friend. I don’t even consider every blogger I interact with a friend. I am not THAT crazy. But there are some that I feel I have truly connected with. Some that I know I would get along with beautifully in “real” life. Some that I respect and treat the same way that I would respect and treat a close friend. Some that have impacted my life more positively than some “real” friends have during the past year.

Does that make me crazy?

You might think “hell, yeah, that makes you crazy.”

I say, no, it doesn’t. Because each of these bloggers has bridged that great internet divide and given us a glimpse of who they really are through their content. Through their humor. Through their creativity and originality. They are warm and welcoming to each of their readers, and create an atmosphere that is inclusive, not exclusive.

Just as we are each drawn to the individuals in our “real” circle of friends for specific reasons, we are also drawn to certain bloggers for specific reasons. There is something about them that resonates with you – something that makes you feel a kinship with them.

That “something” is their authentic voice…. which just so happens to be the topic of this week’s Friend Friday questions!  So, let’s get on with it…

Authentic Blogger

Photo taken/edited by me.

1. Most readers and fellow fashion bloggers value authenticity in the blogs they read. How would you describe blog/blogger authenticity? I described some of my thoughts about what makes a blogger “authentic” above, but I think the main element is this: they let their personality inform their content.

Bloggers with truly authentic voices are not focused on selling something. They don’t set out to impress their readers. They aren’t marketing themselves as “the next big blogger.” Instead, they focus on writing in such a way that is true to who they are as a person. As an individual. They offer unique and compelling content that is infused with personality. They don’t talk down to their readership and instead embrace them. It’s difficult to do that as a writer, but the bloggers with true “authentic voices” manage to do just that. They manage to sprinkle their posts with just enough personality that you feel like you are reading something a friend wrote.

2. When it comes to your blog how do you infuse it with that true/authentic feeling? Honestly, I am not sure how to answer this question. As an anonymous blogger I think it is a difficult thing to do because there are no visuals of me(for the most part!) to create that sense of familiarity. Instead, I have to do it solely through my writing.

I try to be real in my writing. I don’t write anything for the sake of getting hits or exposure. Instead, I focus on subjects that interest me. When I am passionate about something, the writing comes naturally, and I think the authenticity does as well. You can’t force authenticity – I am not even sure you can really explain it – it is either there or it isn’t.

I must be doing something right because I have received comments indicating that I do somehow manage to do this, including this one just this morning:

“i really want to commend you and your blogging skills. one of the things i adore is that you can make your blog *so* personal, and give us such a great idea of who you are, and yet you are anonymous. so many people can’t even do that when they’re sharing actual pictures of themselves.” – Kristy Eléna of Vogue Gone Rogue and Full Time Fabulous

Notice she doesn’t really say how I do it. I honestly believe that authenticity just is there (or it isn’t). I don’t try to be someone I am not… I just try to be myself.   If that doesn’t appeal to someone, they can move on to one of the other countless blogs out there!

3. Have you stopped following a blog in the last three months? What made you lose interest? I have actually stopped following quite a few recently, for various reasons:

  • Due to sheer volume, I have decided to focus on “smaller” blogs and have stopped regularly reading most of the big guns (I still read them on occasion, though!).   There are so many talented bloggers in our StyleNation that it seems to make more sense to focus on the ones that are often overshadowed by the greats like Gala Darling and BryanBoy.
  • There are certain blogs that, to me, appear to have shifted from true style blogs to marketing platforms for their respective owners.   Those are blogs that I stop following.
  • Content, content, content: unique, unregulated content is key.  If that is lacking, I won’t be following.
  • Aesthetics: I admit, there are certain blogs I stopped following simply because I couldn’t stand the way they look.  They weren’t user friendly at all.

4. We can’t communicate effectively on our blogs something we don’t live in real life… what are some ways you try to live an authentic life? How exactly does someone not live an authentic life?  Seriously – I can’t quite wrap my head around that concept.

I make no apologies for who I am.  Either someone likes me, and all my idiosyncrasies, or they don’t.  I refuse to change who I am for anybody, and if someone can’t handle that, they know where the door is.   I don’t pretend to be someone I am not .  Someone may not be privy to all the different aspects of my personality – I am complicated, I admit it – but they still know me.  I am who I am.

5. Give a shout-out… Which bloggers do you think are truly genuine and why? For all the reasons described above:

What about you – how do you define authenticity?

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To see what other bloggers are saying about this topic, click here.

For more info on ModlyChic’s Friend Friday series, click here.

{ 33 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

  • Heather Fonseca January 26, 2011, 4:47 PM

    Great post as usual. Lots of great food for thought!

    Love,
    Heather 
    http://heathersdesignblog.com/

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 26, 2011, 5:23 PM

    Thank you, Heather! Sorry I haven’t had a chance to top by your blog this week – playing catch up, but hope to do so shortly!

    Reply
  • Fabienne Jach January 24, 2011, 11:23 PM

    Not only am I on a mission to read everyone’s answers* from this Friday’s topic, but so many people have mentioned you that I was definitely intrigued. I agree with you about making friends. I would say that there are several people that I feel qualify, in that special new friend kind of way. Hindsight will either prove me right or wrong, but I follow my gut-heart-mind combo pretty well. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    * I think I’m a little nuts for trying to do this but dang it, it just had to happen eventually. I’m a curious cat, dontcha know?

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 26, 2011, 4:32 PM

    Hi Fabienne! Thank you for visiting. I am so incredibly flattered that my name was mentioned as much as it was for this topic, you have no idea. I certainly appreciate all of the support!

    All any of us can do is wait and see how our new blog-friendships play out. Hopefully they will surprise us in a good way! Looking forward to checking out your blog and learning more about you.

    B

    Reply
  • Samantha January 24, 2011, 12:01 AM

    I hear you! Love your thorough and honest answers!

    I’m part of Fashion Friday but keep forgetting to post on time :o(

    -Samantha

    http://thisfashionista.blogspot.com

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 24, 2011, 4:27 PM

    Hi Samantha, thank you for visiting!

    I’m excited to hear you are a part of Friend Friday – it is such a great group of people, and the topics are always really interesting. Looking forward to (hopefully) reading your responses this coming week! 🙂

    Reply
  • Bella Q January 23, 2011, 8:55 PM

    B: authenticity is what fuels your blogging, so I’m not surprised I wholeheartedly agree your discourse on the subject in blogging. And man, oh man, you are so right. There are folks I consider not just “blog friends,” but friends and would welcome them into my home if given a chance! My b*friend has a theory about it, and his idea is that we are drawn together with a common interest, not randomly. He said: you’d actually have things to talk about if you met.” And I think he’s right. We are drawn together deliberately by subject, and association. As I’ve said before I too focus on the smaller bloggers, and usually specifically “personal style” bloggers, you know the ones that take pics of themselves. I make exceptions, just like I would in real life. You, V, and some other folks on my blog roll don’t fall in that catagory. Yet we still have interests in common, ethics in synch. And I LOVE good writing, a strong voice, and open hearts, so yeah, you come over and sit on my porch and we talk life while we sip some lemonade.

    Thanks for the shout-out too by the way. Seeing my name with that stellar cast is MAJOR compliment, and I’m taking it! xo. -Bella Q
    the Citizen Rosebud

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 24, 2011, 4:22 PM

    Next time I am in your neck of the woods I would love to sit on your front porch and sip on some lemonade with you, even in the dead of winter (which isn’t as wintry for you! LOL). Thank you for the very, very kind words. You know I take them to heart! As for including your name – it was never a question. You deserve to be listed with the rest of those ladies.

    I think your b*friend is completely right – we ARE all drawn together by a common interest. I guess you could say that common interest is the foundation of the friendships we form, and then our individual personalities are what keeps it interesting.

    I know we’ve discussed our blogroll’s before and we both have shifted to smaller bloggers. What I have noticed about myself is that since becoming a blogger myself I have shifted away from blogs which STRICTLY feature personal style and have focused more on blogs with well-written and unique content. V’s is a great example of that, but so is yours – although you post personal style images, you also infuse each of those posts with such wonderful wit they are a joy to read. And you don’t restrict yourself to outfit posts – I love that variety. I feel liek some of the personal style blogs I used to follow have just become big advertisements, and I find no joy in following that type of blogger. I’ll pick the visual AND intellectual stimulation I can find on yours over that any day!

    Reply
  • Bella Q January 24, 2011, 4:36 PM

    I am a writer by vocation, and I suspect that you are one too. You know what they say: Water is attracted to its own level, that Like attracts Like, and so forth. We are attracted to what we want to offer. For each of us- 1)original and well crafted content 2)unique and genuine voice 3)intelligence. I do like variety, but in blogging dislike the “kitchen sink” approach, which I feel I can veer a little too much into with my local, secondhand/vintage, and blogger community interests. But yeah, a strict diet of outfit posts bloggers bore me. I like a mix of street style, real life style (outfit posts) and thought provoking content.

    I look forward to our someday porch chat. I know it would be interesting!

    Reply
  • Arash Mazinani January 23, 2011, 5:03 AM

    Glad to see you have gone back good old wordpress commenting, even if we did managed to get disqus to work in the end 😉

    Loved reading your answers to this weeks friend friday. As someone who has only briefly flown by your blog from what I have noticed you do focus on writing fantastic content and bringing your own opinions and personality into your writing.

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 23, 2011, 12:12 PM

    Yup, I reverted back to the Wordpress/Thesis comment system and added commentluv. To be completely honest, I REALLY do miss a lot of the features that Disqus offered and I almost switched back to it a few times. Ultimately it seems that sticking to this system works better for visitors and that is more important. I really wish Disqus worked for everyone as I truly think it would be unbeatable it if did, but as it stands… I am sticking to this system for now! 🙂

    Thank you for your nice words about my blog and writing. I try to infuse my rambling with as much of my personality as I can, so it’s nice to hear that it comes across, even to some of my newer readers like yourself! I think your writing does the same as well… being a male writing about fashion gives you a different perspective, and its really interesting to read that and get a glimpse of your personality at the same time.

    Reply
  • fuyume January 22, 2011, 6:47 AM

    I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said her even down to your choices of authentic bloggers. and you would definitely be one of the bloggers that i’d call authentic. I dont think your identity needs to be revealed to be able to show your personality. Your content does that for you not only are you authentic but your super nice too i cant imagine anyone not liking you 🙂

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 23, 2011, 12:17 PM

    Thank you, Faye! That is so nice of you to say. When I first began blogging I really struggled with the whole anonymity thing and whether it would somehow take away from my blogging and any potential connections I could make. It has been extremely comforting to learn that my personality still manages to come through even without images!

    We are really fortunate to have such a wonderful StyleNation that is FULL of talented and authentic bloggers. I am still getting to know you and your blog but I think you also have a very authentic presence in the blogosphere!

    Reply
  • Casee Marie January 22, 2011, 2:10 AM

    I’m so smiley; thank you very much for the mention *again*, B. Especially on such a subject. You’re too much. As I was commenting on V’s post on the subject I was saying that I struggle a little with achieving that perfectly tweaked formula of dirt-under-the-fingernails reality and the more romantic confection of whims and fancies. I like to be inspired by lovely things, but at the same time I crave substance and a little bit of intellectual stimulation. Finding my balance – and worse, finding a readership that also appreciates that balance – can be difficult.

    I’ve been unfollowing blogs left and right in an attempt to be a better/more consistent blog reader, and the first ones I dropped were the “celebrity” ones so I can be a more dedicated reader of smaller blogs. Something that bugs me, though, is when I find myself reading blogs that I don’t necessarily enjoy just because they support me. What does one do in circumstances like that? I’ve seen a lot of politics in following/unfollowing blogs. It can be so complicated and really it’s the one area of blogging that’s stressing me out lately. I’d like to be able to sign on to Bloglovin for an enjoyable blog-reading experience – not one click and “*gasp* 197 unread posts?!” That takes all the fun out of it!

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 23, 2011, 1:04 PM

    The mention was well-deserved, my friend! Yours is one of the most authentic voices I have come across in the blogosphere to date. I think you have found the formula you are seeking, and your voice is only getting stronger as time passes.

    As for following blogs you don’t necessarily enjoy – maybe it is the wrong philosophy to have, but I can’t bring myself to follow a blog that I absolutely do not enjoy. Each blog that I add to my reading list simply because they follow me takes time away from the time I spend on the blogs I do enjoy following. That isn’t fair to those bloggers and I would rather focus on the ones I do enjoy. If they participate here I will respond, and of course I value their input, but it isn’t fair to them or to me to expect to become a dedicated follower simply because they follow me. It’s kind of like the requests that you get that say “hey, follow me and I’ll follow you, just let me know.” My response to those is – if you like my blog, I’d love it if you follow me. If I like your blog I’ll do the same. It isn’t a numbers game!

    I don’t necessarily know if that is the correct philosophy to have, but it has become mine.

    Reply
  • Casee Marie January 26, 2011, 12:39 AM

    Oh, thank you very much. It’s such a confidence boost to know you think that.

    I personally really appreciate that philosophy. It’s not only good for you as a blog reader, but it shows the bloggers you follow that you appreciate their blogs enough to dedicate your time to them. It’s so easy to follow a blog that looks nice, but I think I need to get into the habit of at least reading through the first page and making sure it’s something I’m interested in completely. And yeah, I’ve gotten so many of those requests. Or the “I’ve followed you and it would be great if you followed me, too.” Then the person never leaves another comment. It drives me crazy, the ways people try to get their followers number up.

    Oh and can I be a pain and ask – is your lovely new reply notification a plugin? I’ve been trying to find a way to let people know I’ve replied to their comments on my blog. Otherwise I feel like I’m responding to air!

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 26, 2011, 3:14 PM

    I tend to think that the “follow me and I’ll follow you” people are generally more inexperienced bloggers. Hopefully as they gain more experience they see that isn’t the way to build relationships and gain followers. It’s all about community! I do tend to browse around a blog for a bit and lurk awhile before adding to my blogroll. I’d rather do that and get a better sense of the blogger than add them only to find myself removing them a few days later. Although i probably do have to tidy up my blogroll a bit. It’s grown a bit unwieldy already.

    Yes, the reply notification is a WP plugin called ReplyMe. I quite like it, I just hope that it isn’t annoying any of my commentors. I wouldn’t want to be considered SPAM email, you know?

    Reply
  • THE-LOUDMOUTH January 22, 2011, 1:29 AM

    Being authentic can be difficult. It takes a strong heart and mind to be able to put yourself out there and simply be vulnerable. It’s something that took me years to accept, and I think I’ve finally come out of my shell and I can be myself through my writing, no holds barred!

    B, you write so beautifully. Honestly, your words just suck me in! I always look forward to your posts. They’re so eloquent and professional, yet still down-to-earth.

    The-Loudmouth.com
    Style Blogger Contest
    Valentine Blog Event

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 24, 2011, 4:32 PM

    Thank you very much for the kind words! Can you tell I was an English major? LOL Seriously, though, since I began blogging it is like I rediscovered my love for writing. The past few years I have been so focused on the writing I do for work (which is NOT creative at all) that I forgot how much I enjoy doing it for me. I absolutely love it, and am glad it comes across well. 🙂

    I think you do a lovely job of being yourself in your writing. Your personality definitely comes through in your posts, no doubt about it. Plus, I love your logo/icon. It makes me smile every time I see it because I think “that is one sassy woman!” Love it.

    Reply
  • Katy Rose January 21, 2011, 11:21 PM

    B, Your intro reminds me of a conversation I was having with someone the other day. They were saying how all online relationships are fake and meaningless. They are never deep or real or lasting, and I was trying to argue that while a lot of them end up like that there are some that turn into really great friendships. We help and support each other, even if we’ve never met face to face or know every little in and out of our lives. Thank you for expressing that so well and being one of those bloggers! – Katy

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 24, 2011, 4:38 PM

    I’ve had many similar conversations myself… I know a lot of my “real life” friends think I am crazy when I talk about my “blog friends”, but it really is true – we can build really great friendships with people we haven’t even met in real life yet. I don’t know if the blogosphere as a whole is as supportive and caring as our niche appears to be, but I can’t deny that I have come across some of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing since becoming a part of the Style Nation. I look forward to watching those relationships grow in 2011!

    Reply
  • Fashnlvr January 21, 2011, 8:21 PM

    I so agree with what you have to say about making “real” friends with other bloggers you’ve only met through their blogs, pictures and comments. I feel like in the 3 months I have been on in blogworld I have made some wonderful friends. I look forward to their next post like I would a phone call from a friend. Fortunately, I will get to meet a few of them face-to-face at the Las Vegas StyleNation Meetup and I am so excited! I have spoken to one on the phone (you know who you are) and her voice fits her pictures and internet-voice perfectly! It was really cool.
    I hope who I am comes out in the things I write and my occasionally crappy self-photo shoots. I don’t have fancy editing software for my photos so if I have a wrinkle, blemish or any imperfection (plenty!) I can’t photoshop it out. It is just there!
    If any of you catch me being “fake” please call me on it. The last thing I want to be is plastic!
    http://www.fashnlvr.blogspot.com

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 24, 2011, 4:57 PM

    “I look forward to their next post like I would a phone call from a friend.” <--- That is a great way to put it, and I feel exactly the same way. And when the blogger doesn't post a few days, you wonder if everything is OK, the same way you would for a "real life" friend! I am really sorry that I can't make the StyleNation Meetup (and/or NYFW!) this year. I was hoping to be able to attend and meet some of you, but I can't get away from work. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to swing something for MBFW in the Fall! I am still getting to know your blog but i certainly don't think you come across as "fake" at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. Looking forward to getting to know you better thsi year!

    Reply
  • Kirstin Marie January 21, 2011, 4:44 PM

    B, I definitely do not think you are crazy for calling your blogger friends real friends. I completely agree with you! A friend ship is a real, true, and deep connection between two people, it doesn’t matter where that happens. I’ve met and established such wonderful relationships/friendships with so many amazing people I would have never met outside of the blogosphere. Your writing is amazing, and reading your blog makes me feel like I know who you are, despite your anonymity. I definitely agree with you about focusing on the “smaller” blogs. I feel you can really connect with that person. I do follow a few larger blogs ( one of which is a friend from highschool, fancy that!). Wonderful answers this week, B.

    xo

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 24, 2011, 5:08 PM

    Thank you, Kirstin! I know I sound like a broken record sometimes, but I really do try to be as authentic as I can in my writing, and I am thrilled you get a sense of who I am through my words.

    I agree with this line completely: “A friend ship is a real, true, and deep connection between two people, it doesn’t matter where that happens.” I think that just about says it all!

    Reply
  • Grit and Glamour January 21, 2011, 4:11 PM

    Of course, again, I feel like you are in my head. I concur…I feel a real friendship with so many bloggers, and I haven’t met them either! But that’s something to look forward to. Of course, I’ve lost some blog friends too, but perhaps they were never really my “friends” at all! I really do try to be helpful but some women are so jealous or threatened or whatever. I don’t know why to this day some have gotten their knickers in a twist, but oh well.

    Thanks for the mention, of course. You and several of your choices were in my list too. So that’s proof that you AREN’T crazy!

    ••V••
    http://www.gritandglamour.com
    @gritandglamour

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 24, 2011, 5:12 PM

    Unfortunately, we all lose friends, whether it’s blog friends or “real life” friends. Generally, I think people just change and grow apart. Either that, or once they get whatever it was they needed from you, they move on. I had a great friend once who turned into the most emotionally draining person I have ever known. Needless to say that ended!

    Good to know I am not crazy, and thank you for including me in YOUR list. I was honored to be included amongst all those names!

    Reply
  • A Brit Greek January 21, 2011, 2:55 PM

    B!!!! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, I still have a few Friend Friday posts to catch upon! Like MJ said, you always do such amazing intro’s – I love hearing YOUR perspective! Oh and you are so NOT crazy!!! I also consider some of the blogging community to be my friends too, because feels like you’ve known them for years!
    I’m kinda in the same boat as Marissa too (being relatively anonymous), I also find it a little difficult to ‘show’ my personality/voice through my blog at times and not just because I’m not trying to be authentic or anything, but it’s mainly because I’m not a very strong writer and sometimes the words don’t spill out or flow the way i imagine it, even if it sounds magnificent inside my techni-coloured little head. I often get stuck in a verbal cul-de-sac!

    Anyhoos, before I write an essay, I want to thank you for including me! That’s like… a real honour coming from you! I’m touched!

    I hope you have a superb weekend gorgeous!
    x.o.x.o
    p.s That photo is hilarious, is he stealing a pumpkin? x

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 24, 2011, 5:19 PM

    Thanks, doll! It’s so nice to have you back – I missed your posts (and comments here!) I know I haven’t had a chance to comment on your latest posts yet, but I will soon, promise.

    I think both you and Marissa don’t give yourself enough credit. I know you are both relatively anonymous, like myself, but you still both do offer quite strong glimpses of your personalities to your readers. And honey, you ARE a strong writer. “techni-coloured little head.” and “verbal cul-de-sac!”? Those are such great descriptors, LOVE them!

    It was my pleasure to include you, and you deserve to be on that list as much as the other ladies! As for my little friend in the photo – it does look like he is trying to steal the pumpkin, doesn’t it? Alas, I think he was just nibbling on a piece of straw. LOL

    Reply
  • MJ January 21, 2011, 1:52 PM

    I’m telling you B, you write some of the best FBFF intros! Love it!

    I think what happens when bloggers or even people in general become unauthentic it’s because they aren’t confident within themelves to know that just being who they are is enough to make them shine. I think the pressures of trying to make it big in Blogging Land can get to people and make them think there is some magical formula that if they do X,Y, and Z, they’ll be a hit. However, the more you blog and more you engage and make those blogger friends that you spoke of (I have a few like that too!) you realize that being you is enough and is that magic thing that will draw people to your blog! 🙂

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 24, 2011, 5:21 PM

    MJ, that was beautifully said. I agree with you 100%, all the way down to the nonexistent magic formula! LOL A lot of people seem to get lost trying to be the blogger they think people WANT to see instead of the blogger they really ARE. That never works in the end!

    Reply
  • Marissa January 21, 2011, 1:26 PM

    Oh, wow – I am so honored that you included me! I think there are times when I’ve struggled to show my personality through my blog, mainly because I, too, keep it fairly anonymous and don’t do outfit posts. So, this really means a lot to me. Thank you, B! Now I’m going to check out the two blogs on that list that I don’t already read. 🙂

    Reply
  • Beautifully Invisible January 24, 2011, 5:23 PM

    Marissa you most definitely deserve the inclusion in the list. For bloggers like the two of us our content really IS king because it is all we have 🙂 There is no doubt that your personality comes through in your posts – that is why they are so enjoyable to read!

    Reply