What Will You Use Your Voice For?
Dear Miss Britt,
You look fabulous today.
You’re also funny, witty, charming and smart. And my goodness your words are magnificent!
You know all of this is true because the Internet told you so.
The ego well of the blogger need never run dry. You have only to publish a post, send out a tweet, or update Facebook with a deeply personal, hysterically funny, or perfectly controversial nugget to receive validation from all corners of the web. Someone out there will get you. Someone out there will laugh with you, cry with you, or rage with you against the injustice of Daylight Savings Time.
One of the best things about the Internet – and blogging in particular – is the ability to make your voice heard.
But at some point, you might want to stop and think about what that voice of yours is saying.
What you say matters.
Bloggers are quick to point out their power in the marketplace. We want everyone to know that what we say matters. Hell, most of us got started blogging because we desperately needed to matter, and it takes about a nano-second for that need to bet met.
But our influence goes beyond the marketplace.
We make people think about how they’re raising their children. We influence the way families run their homes. We impact elections, purchasing decisions, and real life relationships. We encourage one another to buy better or consume less. We help our audiences plan gardens, pick hotels, and propose to their loved ones.
With great power comes great responsibility.
The Spiderman quote is over used because it’s true. Your voice, your blog, has power – and with that power comes responsibility.
Will you use that power – that influence – to build a shrine for yourself? Or will you use your voice to have a more far-reaching impact?
Will you say something that matters, or will you constantly chase after the quick-fix of the trite?
Of course, there’s no definite right or wrong answer. Having a blog doesn’t obligate you to work for social good. Having an audience doesn’t necessitate promoting a cause or “making a difference.” You have every right to use your voice to drum up a response, and sit back and enjoy the validation that comes with being responded to.
That’s yours and every other blogger’s right.
But is that who you are?
Is that who you want to be?
Is that what’s best for business?
Altruism aside, it’s especially important to consider how you’re using your voice if your voice is your business.
Professional bloggers get paid for their voice, a combination of their words and their influence. Potential clients and partners are naturally vetting that voice before they decide to make a purchase. They want to know about your reputation as much as your impact.
Numbers alone do not make the most marketable blogger.
A marketable blogger has shown that their voice is trustworthy and capable of affecting more than a big flash of temporary responses and comments. A highly marketable blogger has a reputation for reaching beyond their own ego.
How are you using your voice?
I happen to think that your commenters are right. You are funny and charming and smart. I would never suggest that you stop sharing your humor with the world or that you become a whitewashed version of yourself in an effort to please potential sponsors. Phony has a short shelf life.
But there are a few things worth keeping in mind if you’re going to be throwing your voice around in a public forum.
- Think twice before you get involved in the latest Internet drama.
- Pay attention to how much “snark” you throw out into the world and whether or not you balance it with substance.
- Keep the list of topics about which you’re willing to get fanatical short and manageable – and really, really worth any potential backlash.
- Be mindful of how you interact with people – especially people with whom you disagree.
- Make a habit of getting the facts before you broadcast claims about another person or company.
- Try to make things right offline before you do your complaining online.
- Admit when you’re wrong, apologize when necessary. Do both just as loudly and publicly as you have praised yourself or griped about someone else.
- If positivity is important to you, be proactive about being positive. This can be so easy to lose sight of amidst the daily grind!
You don’t have to be perfect.
You don’t have to be fake.
You don’t have to be a mouthpiece in training.
But be mindful. Be aware of how you’re using that voice of yours and do a gut check now and then to make sure it’s in line with the impact you want to have on the world around you. More often than not, your instincts will show you how to maintain your integrity and your authenticity.
Just remember to check in with them once in a while.
Love From The Future,
P.S. Do not mock Crocs. You’ll find yourself living in a pair some day. Really.