I owe a lot to the internet.
No, really, I do. Without it, I wouldn’t have a job. I wouldn’t be able to connect daily and in real time with my family and friends overseas, I wouldn’t be able to shop from my bed at midnight… heck, I wouldn’t even be able to Netflix. Most of the ‘big’ opportunities of my life came from the internet.
But most of all, I owe the internet for helping me find my voice.
Much has been said about the internet, social media and the way we consume technology in general. A quick search online will give you thousands of results – for every article outlining the negative, you’re bound to find at least one article that argues the opposite. I get it. Like with everything else in this world, there are pros and cons, good and bad. I really think it all depends on how we use it.
I’ve been blogging since I was 13 years old, long before blogs were even a thing. Heck, the world was still arguing whether it was called ‘blog’ or ‘b-log’ when I first started! I’ve been on every blogging site, most early social media sites. I’m not even talking about Bebo. I mean, LiveJournal, Xanga, Multiply, Friendster, and MSN. I’ve been around. I’ve changed my username so many times that I always joke I probably have hundreds of abandoned social sites out there, just gathering dust on the corner of the internet.
Now the world has caught on. Blogs have become a standard part of the way we live. People might argue that blogging is considered old school now as our content consumption have shifted over to vlogs or microblogging sites like Instagram and Twitter.
Regardless of which platform you choose to go with – blogging, vlogging, Instagram only – one thing that will never change is your voice on these platforms.
Voice is what sets you apart from others, something only unique to you. It’s your voice that will keep you wanting to share your thoughts, story, and who you are online. In a world where people churn out content 24/7, where we are constantly bombarded by noise and clutter, endless streams of self-promotion and content that lack originality, your voice is needed more than ever.
So how does one find their voice online? Is there an e-book you can download? A course you can take? A webinar? Yeah, probably. I mean it’s 2018 – the internet have answers and resources for everything these days!
Annoyingly, there is no right or wrong way to discover your voice. No official qualification to say you’ve found your voice online. But what I do know is that you probably already know what your voice is.
I’ve read heaps of these articles and advice on how to be an influencer, how to stand out online, and I don’t necessarily believe you have to change who you are online. There is a lack of authenticity online these days that come from people projecting a public image of themselves on their social platforms because they think this is what their audience wants. Well, I can tell you now, as an audience and influencee, I’d much prefer if you stayed true to yourself online. Nearly everyday I see people I follow online ask their audience what they’d like to see on their channels, what content they’d want from them. And my answer is always the same: what do YOU want to write about? What do you want to say? What do you want to share with the world?
That’s what I want to see. Not content created for a specific purpose other than it’s what YOU want to put out there to the world.
I don’t have all the answers but I strongly feel that that’s the secret to finding your voice online. Focus on you. Focus on what you want to say, not what you think people want to see or hear from you. There’s plenty of other places they can get that from.
Focus on doing things that make you happy, sharing stories and images and pieces of yourself that really light you up. Share all of those parts of you. Share your vulnerability, your fears, your dreams, and your hopes. Don’t focus on standing out or follower count and all those egocentric measures we’re told we need to validate our existence online.
When I’m lost or disheartened, when I start feeling the pressure of not having more followers, more blog sponsorships, of how to be an ‘influencer’, I always go back to 13 year old me who first found her voice through treating her blog as an online diary. It was a place for me to keep track of my thoughts and feelings, of adventures, and the dramas that happen to you when you’re 13 and figuring out who you are and how you fit into the world. I think about that girl who felt heard. Who felt like she could share who she is and try her hand at writing. It was the internet where I felt most myself, where I felt like I didn’t need to wait until I’m older to start explore writing. The self-discovery from sharing the things I love and connecting with people I would never have connected with otherwise.
Keep putting yourself out there. The internet is vast and we are connected to the world now more than ever. I guarantee your tribe is out there. Maybe just a hashtag away.