Saturday, January 18, 2014

Behind the Blog: Utilizing Your Gifts and Talents

Anyone else a chronic comparaholic?  Guilty and in recovery over here.  

The reason I started my blog was because I was inspired by other people.  That's the nice way to put it.  If you want the full creepy confession, I was enamored by Kendi's knack for style, her remixing skills, and her witty humor.  But if you are a comparaholic you don't just get inspired by people, you compare yourself to them. And mostly the way it went for me was, "I'll never be as stylish or as funny as her" or the more creepy version, "I wish I could just BE her."  

But, at some point as a blogger you need to find your own voice. That's every blogger's number one advice to someone else, and I used to get annoyed when people said it.  "Be yourself!” and “Find your own voice!"  How cliche can you be?  But the real reason I got annoyed was because I knew that deep down my urge to compare myself was stronger than my confidence that I had something to offer style blog land.

I looked at other blogs and thought how my style wasn't cutesy enough to have a style blog, how I didn't have the "right" clothes, or how my house didn't look enough like Anthropologie. For a good portion of the start of blogging I had difficulty fighting the temptation to be someone else.  

I can't remember if there was a specific moment when it all clicked for me or if it was just a slow build up of daily fighting the urge to be how I imagined a style blogger should be, but the whole "be yourself" and "find your blogging voice" clicked.  Eventually, it clicked.  And lemme tell ya, it was FREEING. 

Once I stopped focusing on what I was not, I could focus on what I was.  I accepted the fact that I would never be as witty as Kendi or may never develop her taste for picking great items, but I felt empowered by the realization that I had other things to offer blog land.  Other things that aren't even necessarily related to style.  And through experimentation I figured out how to incorporate them into my blog in a way that I’m proud of. 

It's clear in my job in full-time college ministry that I have a gift for teaching, training, and coaching.  I'm particularly good at figuring out what people don't know, even if they’re not able to articulate it themselves, and I know how to break down concepts into bite-sized pieces to teach others how to do things.  I'm really successful at that in my job, and one day I realized that I could bring that to my blog.  

You may have noticed that I try to incorporate a teaching aspect here.  My goal is to figure out what people don't understand about style, break down the concepts about style, and make personal style accessible.  That has become my blogging voice, and at least from what you guys tell me, that's one of the main things you appreciate about this blog.  

You Don't Have to be the Most Stylish

I used to think I had to strive to be super stylish in order to have a blog I was proud of, but it was incredibly freeing to realize that's not true.  I learned that there are other things I can offer that make me uniquely me and make my blog uniquely itself, and whether or not I'm the most stylish person on the block I can still find things to offer blog land.

Similarly for you, style isn't all there is to having a style blog.  There are other things you can offer that are uniquely part of who you are.  You can apply those things to your blog to make your blog uniquely yours and offer your unique voice, giftings, and perspective through your blog.

What are things that you are good at, and how can you bring those things to how you blog?  I believe you can do this regardless of what your blog is about.  I could write a blog on animals (if I knew anything about them) and apply the same teaching skills to teaching people about animals.  Get what I'm saying?  

Some examples:
  • Merrick from Merrick's Art utilizes both her creative genius and her ability to teach, knowing how to pull things apart step by step to create great tutorials.  She doesn't just show you her creations, but she writes clear tutorials so that you can do them yourself.
  • Shanna from Because Shanna Said So writes a style/lifestyle blog, and what stands out to me about her blog is that she is great at making you feel like you're her best friend.  That's an incredible gift of building relationships.  If you read what she says about her life, you'll see that she has a wide and deep group of friends in real life too, and she has been able to translate that relational gift to her blog, drawing in her readers through relationship.
  • Grace from Camp Patton writes about life and being a mom, and she is ridiculously hilarious.  I believe it's her humor and her rawness about parenting that draws so many people to her blog.
  • Fran from Franish brings a logical approach and discerning approach to her clothing purchases, writing helpful and informative reviews and tracking her budget as she builds her closet.  

All of these ladies have fantastic style, but I think what sets them apart as many people's favorite blogs are the extra things they bring that are natural extensions of their gifts and personalities.  

What skills or gifts do YOU have that you can bring to the table?  How can you incorporate them into your blog, whether it's conveyed in your pictures, in your style, or in your writing?  

And, from last week's post on creating useful contentif you can figure out how incorporate your gifts in a way that adds value to other people, even better!  

My hope would be that instead of spending so much time trying to be like everyone else we would embrace how we are uniquely created and share that with others.  You might be surprised by how many people you can bless and encourage just by being yourself!


  1. You make so many good points Audrey. I also struggled with what I wanted my blog to "be" like - should I be doing and wearing all of the blogging cliches? Should I make awesome tutorials? Should I be the most thrifty out there? In the end, I knew I couldn't be something I wasn't, so slowly rounding out my wardrobe and dressing how I like, and figuring out simple ways to improve what I have is how I approach my blog now. I don't buy things just for the blog and I don't post about every new trend out there because that's just not me. You make the idea of getting dressed and finding your personal style attainable for the "everyday" woman, and have found a way to teach those who want to do the same. You deserve all the good that comes your way :)

  2. Awesome post, Audrey! Finding your voice is so important when blogging. I've taken a long break from the blog world and I've thought about getting back in there several times, but I beat myself up about basically not being like other blogs. Not being stylish enough. Not having the best picture quality. Not having the best backgrounds. Not having a lot of followers. Thanks for this post about finding your voice and being yourself. I needed the reminder :)

  3. God truly works in mysterious ways, Audrey. I was experiencing a mini slump in regards to my own blog and it's projected direction. I was overhauling it in small ways - like tweaking the design and layout once again! - and setting challenges for myself, but I was still dissatisfied and perhaps just slightly depressed and uninspired. Going to visit my usual suspects just made it worse because, like you, I felt inadequate and inferior next to all the style blogs I follow. I was actually thinking of just going on hiatus when this post popped up on my reader.

    You are a godsend and I thank the stars every day that I managed to find you in the vastness of the interweb. Thank you for your insight and your wisdom. You've given me much food for thought. Here's hoping I don't give up and I emerge from this realization better in mind and purpose.

  4. Rachel @Sew Happily Ever AfterSaturday, January 18, 2014

    I really loved reading this! This year, my goal has been to really improve my blogging and I've been trying to learn as much as I can as to what direction to take things! Thank you for sharing this - it really has reminded that I need to look at myself first!!! :)

  5. Truly sage advice, Audrey. I feel like this particular genre of blogging is very susceptible to "the comparison trap"--it's all too easy to feel like my posts are just white noise with all these fashion rock stars in blog land. Thanks for the reminder to be myself :)

  6. I love this advice it is totally true. Also remember there are so, so many girls all wearing the same things on the web. Sometimes it is because the item is just that good (like the Zara scarf - totally bought it before I realized it was a thing), but alot of the times it is girls copying popular bloggers. Your audience wants you, so be yourself! Loving this series Audrey!

  7. becauseshannasaidsoSaturday, January 18, 2014

    Oh my word!! Every single person, blogger or not needs to read this because it relates to life in general! You my friend have a special gift and that's why YOU have been so successful in life and with your blog! I was BLOWN away when I saw my name...I mean, really? Me? You chose me as an example. Words cannot express how much this meant to me. We all have something to offer everyone and my hope is that every woman/man who reads this will realize it...that THEY have a gift. You have been an inspiration to me since I started and will always consider you one of my very first friends in blog world. Comparison is an ugly things, but we all do it...it's human nature...style blogging is one of the harder ones...but I think we bring an additional view point to just looking "cute". Keep doing what you are doing sister!! xoxo

  8. This is such a great post! I saw Shanna share this on Twitter and I'm glad I clicked over! My husband challenged me the other day and asked me really great questions like, who am I? What are my gifts? What am I passionate about? What do I bring to the table that is unique to me? And he said...write about that! But then he challenged me to only write about what I'd be dying inside if I didn't write...and I'm still trying to figure it all out! But I love that you point out that we all have gifts to share on our blogs, because it's so true just like 1 Peter 4:10 says!

  9. I saw Shanna post this on Twitter and I'm glad I clicked over because this is such a great post and you are so right! We all have unique gifts and talents just like 1 Peter 4:10 says that we can bring to our blogs which becomes our own voice. My husband challenged me the other night with these questions: Who are you, as in what makes up who you are? What are you passionate about? What are you knowledgeable about? What are your gifts? What would kill you inside if you didn't write about it? Then he said, start writing about that! But it goes back to each of us being unique because God made us each unique and we just need to embrace that in real life and on our blogs! Great read!

  10. Audrey, you are so right on here. Honestly, your blog helped inspire me to start my own blog. You are so real, reachable, attainable, and honest. I wanted to bring some more of that into the fashion blogging world because I wear more flats than heels, am cheap to a fault, am not as fit as I want to be and still get uncomfortable being in front of the camera, I work 9-5 and do not have fancy dinners to go to and dress up for, and am an average woman. But you taught me to look more closely at my wardrobe and to be inspired to try different color combinations and even what a change swapping shoes or necklaces in an outfit can make. So we all have something we can share and I learned that I can share my super budget finds and my blog helps me to be accountable to remix and make sure I look presentable when I walk out the door. Fashion blogs like yours, Franish, Because Shanna Says So, and Kendie Everyday (among many others) have given me so much more self confidence and acceptance with myself, and have encouraged and inspired me to not give up and wear black trousers and black flats everyday and instead to get excited about fashion and my already well-worn wardrobe. Thank you.

  11. You made some great points in this.post. I don't blog fashion but I can understand the pressure of having a well-stylized blog especially photos. And yes, there are many popular bloggers with tons of followers who each display a certain trait that grabs people. I have felt that pressure but as time has passed, I have realized the kind of person I am, one who has always danced to my own tune. When I've tried to conform to the mold, I end up discovering again that my way has always worked for me. For.me, it's about keeping it real and so I blog how I blog depending upon what mood I'm in at the moment. Like the old saying goes: If it ain't broke, why fix it?

  12. You inspired me to start MY blog. It's not a style blog, but it's...got style.

  13. Love this! I've been wading through a lot of this over the past couple of months, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. So thankful for you and your obedience to the Lord.

  14. This was the most inspirational behind the blog post yet!! I also was inspired by Kendi to start blogging, I mean she's amazing. However I still feel the same way you once did but honestly it's to be just like you! Your are such an inspiration and role model to me as I begin blogging and this post was very helpful! Thank you so much! :D

  15. What a great post Audrey! It is hard not to compare yourself to others when blogging or in life in general. I realize that I may not have the most expensive clothes or fanciest blog around, but once I learned to just be "me" then it all started to click. One thing that I like to think that I bring to the table while blogging is being relatable to other working moms. By actually wearing what I post and not staging a look, it translates into real life that others can relate to. Heather

  16. Thanks for this series, Audrey! I've been trying to focus on being and sounding like myself on my blog (food blog, not fashion, but I think it totally applies across all genres!), and this definitely confirmed/inspired my goal to do so.

  17. Great post, Audrey! I was the same way about thinking that the "be yourself" advice was so cliche. But, as you said, it is still so true. I appreciate that you articulated it, though. "Be yourself" is kind of meaningless due to its overuse. If we could all just remember that there are so many different versions of cute, funny, stylish, etc., and that the version we are best at is the version that comes most naturally to us. I agree with you that just trying to be the best representation of yourself and who you want to be, is so liberating. No pretenses, just always doing your best (and not copying someone else's "best").

  18. it is so difficult to find your own voice. I am still struggling with it, and i think it will eventually come with time as I figure out with practice. When I think about, I do not even know what my voice is really. it is bit confusing. then, I think about what i want or dont want to talk about on interest as well.

  19. Thank you for this. I miss blogging, and it's looking like I can make some time for it again, and one of the biggest "blocks" is worrying that I'm not as good as all the other blogs, and finding my voice. This post makes me inspired to really try blogging different things and seeing if I can "find my voice" that makes me unique. :)

  20. I usually am not interested enough to read much of what is written in style blogs, I just want to see the pictures. But I have really loved reading these articles on blogging. Great stuff :)

  21. What a great post! And who doesn't have a girl crush on Kendi - big time over here. It is SO HARD trying to keep up with the Jones' though; so much so it's easy to get caught up in that and loose sight of your own vision.

    xo, Nina


  22. MoonlightDreamerSunday, January 19, 2014

    I totally get the Kendi thing. I used to read Kendi daily until I realized that while her clothes are cute, they just don't fit my lifestyle. I still look at her blog from time to time, but your blog is a truly a daily read for me. I like that it isn't pretentious and artificial. You put together great looks for real women who want to look good but live real lives. Thanks for sharing your insights on the process.


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