An Uncomplicated Life Blog: Honesty And Transparency In Influencing

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Honesty And Transparency In Influencing

We live in a world where the prettiest pictures get the most likes, and there's constant pressure to "live your highlight reel" online. Here's why I think that's a load of garbage.

This post is totally off the cuff. I had planned to publish the post that will now be coming Monday and signing off for the year. But I got a little edgey, raw and real on my Instagram last week and it compelled me to write this post. I remember I woke up in the middle of the night after posting that photo and contemplated taking it down and deleting my stories to go "back into hiding" about the topic, where it felt so much safer. But the feedback I got from that Instagram post was phenomenal, and some one-off conversations I had not only gave me the courage to keep it up, but they propelled me to write this post as well. Lately, my blog posts have been about reflecting on 2019 and this one will too, in a deeply personal and different way. I want to take a deep dive into honesty and transparency in blogging and being an influencer.

I think the problem starts in that every blogger/influencer I know *thinks* they're sharing their honest life and being transparent online. Sure, they share the pretty photos, picture perfect recipes, amazing makeup tutorials and funny, messy photos of their kids. Then every few months, they share that their life isn't perfect. Maybe they throw up a "behind the scenes" photo, or a "Instagram vs reality" pic. Let me be clear on this: THAT is not being honest and transparent online. The occasional "real life" or "my life isn't all sunshine and rainbows" post doesn't make that influencer any more honest or relatable than anyone else.


Because everyone knows life isn't perfect. Everyone knows there are rough spots and dark moments. But putting up an obscure, over-generalized post about it doesn't actually accomplish the goal of being more real online. In fact, it just looks dumb and out of place. Why not share *exactly* what is challenging? Maybe you got in a fight with your spouse. Maybe you're lonely because you work at home and don't get much social interaction outside of online conversations. Maybe you're in a really rough sleep regression with your kid and you just don't have it in you to curl your hair and put on lipstick anymore. Maybe you got fired from a job. Maybe one of your best friends stopped talking to you. 

Guess what? All of those things have happened to other people too. Sharing about them online doesn't alienate you; it builds REAL community.

Saying your life isn't as perfect as it looks isn't being honest or transparent. Showing me a photo of your messy kitchen doesn't make you more likable. You know what does? Details. Specifics. Reading a story that goes in depth into your life that I find myself nodding my head to and saying, "Oh my gosh, me too!" does. It makes you not only more real, it makes you admirable for your true honesty.

But it's hard. Like, really really hard. It's putting details of your life out there for others to consume and judge. That's vulnerability. And vulnerability is hard. But I promise you, it's so so worth it.

There's been a few times where I've thought about taking down some of the content that I've put up. Anytime I consider this I say, "Ok, leave it up for an hour and see what happens! If you still feel this way in an hour, take it down." 10 times out of 10, I get such supportive messages in response to that difficult content! It's those moments that I'm reminded of why I do what I do; that there is indeed an awesome community of people online. That not everyone is a troll out for blood and negativity. That people DO care.

Being honest and transparent is hard. It's especially hard when your blog is a business and how you earn an income. You have to weigh being professional with being a personality. But I think when you share some level of detail on a subject - any subject, really - it makes you not only more relatable as an influencer, it makes your product endorsements stronger too. Because if you'll share details about a topic, it shows that you'll speak your mind. So, if you speak up about "not so pretty" parts of your life, when you do speak about great things, they're *actually* great things! You can't have nonstop good. You can't even have mostly good. To be viewed as an honest influencer, I think you need to share a lot more life stories - the good, bad, mundane, hilarious, sad, and average stories.

Here's the post, if you want to click over and check it out:

I hope that I've achieved that this year. I hope that if you follow me, you know you're getting my real opinion on a product, my real thoughts on a situation, or some real entertainment on something that happened to me or in my life. Moving forward into 2020, I hope to continue to put that level of realness out there. I realize that means some brands won't want to work with me and some followers will leave. I realize that means my photos won't be perfect, my hair might be greasy more than it's clean, and I'm not going to be a ball of positivity and motivation. My goal is to use realness to encourage others; not staging beautiful photos that I truly believe only make people feel less-than.

Does sharing personal stuff mean everyone will like it? That you'll gain fame and followers as a reward for your vulnerability? No. Did everyone like what I had to say about Young Living in that IG post? Absolutely not! In fact, YL reps messaged people who commented in support of me, trying to "earn their business back"! Can you even with that? I can't. It's definitely not all smooth sailing when you share your real thoughts on businesses, products, or current events. In fact, I myself have unfollowed people for their opinions - when CA passed their new vaccination laws and a whole bunch of people spoke up (and shed light on the fact that they're anti-vaxxers) I quickly unfollowed them. Despite my love for oils, I believe in science and medical facts and don't want to spread anecdotal evidence or myths, nor support those who do. And I'm sure some Young Living die-hards unfollowed me for what I posted. But all of that is ok. It narrows your people down to those who are actually your people. The people that should be following you and the people whom you want to follow yourself.

I mentioned this post was off the cuff, which makes me not entirely sure where I'm going with it. I definitely wanted to thank everyone who reached out after my raw IG post. I want to hug everyone who encouraged me and told me they're in my corner with me. And I want to encourage others to be brave enough to share their struggles online too. Give us some detail on your real life and let your followers support you! It's ok to be scared to share, scared to hit "publish" on a post that sheds light on an ugly topic in your life. It makes you more real, a more tangible person. Yes, it means some people aren't going to like you, but it also means that those who do will like you even MORE. I hope this is a trend I see coming to fruition in 2020 - more honest conversations online, as more and more of our relationships are lived out online. 


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