Have you heard the statement, change your thoughts to change your life? Well, we think that knowing your thoughts may be the first step in the process of becoming more authentic. And finding authenticity as a blogger has never been harder because we’re bombarded all day long with messages from others on how to get more followers on Pinterest, or how to get more likes on Instagram, or how to be the best blogger ever. Today’s guest is Cara Ansis of the site Fork and Beans. And if you struggle with authenticity in your blog, take some time to answer Car’s three secret questions. Read (and listen) on to learn more!
Finding authenticity as a blogger is job number one if you want to be successful. The problem is, we oftentimes look to other successful bloggers as a way of determining what works.
Always looking to other people and what they’re doing is a safety net for us because it prevents us from standing out in the crowd. — Cara Ansis
Finding authenticity as a blogger can definitely be a struggle. There are so many different models of success, how do you find the one that works best for you? For example, you could ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my blog humorous?
- Is my blog contemplative and reflective?
- Is my blog recipes only?
- Should I share blogging tips on my food site?
- Should I share food photography tips on my food site?
- Who is my audience?
- Do I spend time commenting on other sites to get more comments on my site?
- Should I spend hours every day on my social media strategy?
- Should I do all white backgrounds on my food photography? Or do I prefer dark photos?
- Do I tell my life stories in my posts? Or will I just stick to the recipe?
Do you get my point? We’ve all seen blogs that are hugely successful with their zany, in-your-face style of writing. Think Thug Kitchen. We’ve also seen blogs that are successful with a more contemplative, poetic style of writing. Think Orangette. Some blogs are successful with wildly creative food photography. Think Lady and Pups. Others prefer a more simplistic food photography style. Think Simply Recipes.
There’s literally hundreds (if not thousands) of directions you can take your blog. However you chop it, you’re likely to feel inauthentic in the end if you’re not following your true path. Your authentic path. If you’ve struggled with this topic of authenticity (and LOTS of bloggers do), you’ve come to the right place. In fact, today’s guest Cara Ansis shares her three secret questions that have helped her find authenticity with her own blog, Fork and Beans:
- Know your strengths – what are you good at?
- Know your WHY – why are you doing what you do?
- Know your Audience – how will you share your WHY with your audience?
Once you’ve answered those questions and know them in your heart of hearts, then you’re ready to tackle the next, big, hairy step. Failure. That’s right. Because in order to know whether you like dark photos or bright photos, or hilarious writing or contemplative writing, you have to be comfortable experimenting and failing. Because it’s in playing around with these different styles, and failing miserably at them sometimes, that you learn what really feeds your needs.
Cara and I uncover the following steps to help you be the most authentic version of yourself possible.
I will be honest, I wish there were a pill I could take that would make me more authentic. Without that magic pill, I’m left with copying others who seem really authentic. So I try on their style for awhile, only to crash and burn a few months later. Come to find out, copying others is not a pathway to authenticity. [insert disgusted eye roll here].
How can a person find authenticity?
Cara and I agree there is no magic pill. The real answer is to go within. It’s not an easy process, especially when we have layers and layers of self-imposed or society-imposed pressures to act or be certain ways. But if you’re truly striving for authenticity, understanding yourself is the first step. Otherwise, you’ll think you’re steering the ship, but someday you’ll wake up and realize that you’ve been led by a strong undercurrent all along.
When you’re a blogger and you’re sitting alone by yourself in your house with no adult contact, you become very family with the ugly, ugly words you catapult at yourself on a daily basis except it’s magnified now because there’s no real distraction anymore. So you became very acquainted with the main thing you really, deeply believe about yourself. And so the work then becomes about changing those thoughts. — Cara Ansis
What are some steps you can take to be mindful in your day?
- Routine. Be present during routine household tasks. For example, focus on the water as it rushes through your fingers when you do the dishes. Be mindful as your hands grab each dish. Stay present with the sensations you feel, both physically and emotionally.
- Meditate. See the links below for some amazing apps that can run you through some quick guided meditations. Even just a few minutes of meditation each day can be extremely helpful in the process of becoming more mindful.
- Power Pee. It’s sounds kinda crazy, but every day you have to go to the bathroom…several times a day (unless you’re working yourself too hard…which might be a sign you’re not being mindful enough). Each time you go to the bathroom, take a moment to yourself to check in. What emotions are you feeling? Take a deep breath. Relax. That’s a Power Pee, and it can work wonders in your day!
- Breathe. When we’re stressed, without thinking about it, our breathing can become very shallow. By taking a moment to breathe in deeply, you break that stressed out pattern in your day. Here’s what I call my Breathe³ deep breathing exercise: Breathe in to the count of three, hold it for the count of three, breathe out to the count of three, hold it to the count of three. Repeat that 3 times.
You can't be authentic without having at least some time in your day that's mindful. — Marly McMillen #choppedcon Click To Tweet Give yourself time to be present with your emotions. Be aware of the river of emotions that run below the surface. Are you happy? Sad? Can you be an observer of your thoughts and detach from all your “to dos”? These are the beginning steps toward being more mindful.
Here’s my favorite part of being more authentic as a food blogger. YOU get to define success. Is success making money? If so, how much? Or is success getting lots of comments? Is it getting quoted in the local paper? Is it being helpful resource to your readers? Is it just being able to say to people that you’re a food blogger? It really doesn’t matter because success is what you make it. Yes, you heard me right. You get to define what success is for you!
Take a deep breath. You know this is true. Right?
This is a really long quote, but it is SO worth the read on the topic of success as an artist:
Try to let go of any sort of anxiety of what it means to be a successful artist. We live in a society that fetishizes success and also puts an enormous amount of pressure on people because success, like perfection, is something you can never really reach, and you’re never allowed to have or hold, it’s always being taken out of your hands. As soon as you make something great, somebody’s going to come up to you and say, ‘Well, what are you going to do next?’ or ‘This person did it even better.’ It’s an anxiety-producing word. You can never land on it. It’s something that you can chase and chase and chase or it chases you. I was in this conversation with someone the other day…it was an interview and he said, ‘Can you tell me what it feels like to be a successful writer?’ and I said, ‘I gotta tell you, man, I always felt like a successful writer. I felt like I was a successful writer when I was 17. I felt like I was a successful writer when I was 22. I always felt like it, because a successful writer is somebody who is doing the work, who is making the art and who has, in my opinion, a kind of a healthy relationship with it. It’s just that lately you guys started calling me a successful writer, but I’m going to feel like one long after you stop calling me that too. Because I have a contract with this work for the rest of my life and it feeds me and it expands me and animates me. And that’s where my success lies. And I’m so happy and grateful to be the recipient of the material success as well. It was never a condition of the work. And I will never make it a continuing condition of the work. That’s how I honor, I think, the very best part of me. — Elizabeth Gilbert
How many times do you feel like you’re chasing success? You find yourself looking at other bloggers and feeling like they’re more successful. You chase after page views or sponsored posts or views on Facebook like it’s the ultimate in success?
Or maybe you feel like everyone else has got it ALL figured it out and you’re left standing on the edge of the sandbox, scratching your head. You feel constantly behind on everything. Just as you’re finally starting to figure one thing out, everyone moves over to another sandbox.
All of these examples lead to one thing: a Limitation Life View (LLV). Don’t feel bad if you’ve experienced LLV. We all do at one time or another. The trick is finding ways to pull yourself out of that mindset.
When I hear someone getting down on themselves in the blogging world, to me it’s an indicator that they really don’t believe there’s enough abundance in this world for you to have some too. — Cara Ansis
The best way to BE YOU, is to get out a sheet of paper and to answer Cara’s Secret Authenticity questions above. And it’s best to do that after you’ve had a few Power Pees.
Take my word on that.
Because you can’t begin the journey toward authenticity when you’re hating on yourself. That is not the foundation you want to build your entrepreneurial life on!
You cannot be authentic from a place of fear.
You can’t be authentic from a place of falsity.
You have to be honest with yourself. That’s the scary part.As a blogger you have to do some soul care, whatever that might mean for you. — Cara Ansis #choppedcon Click To Tweet
Do you remember yourself when you were two? No? Me neither. But I have this theory that two-year olds are entirely authentic. They’re not even aware of their social selves at that point, so they have no one else to be.
And do you know what two-year olds are also great at? Playing! If you need a reminder of what it’s like to be a playful two-year old, check out these videos:
- Playful Toddler #1: The “Ta-Dah” Tumbler
- Playful Toddler #2: Dancing, Laughing Toddler
- Playful Toddlers #3: Twin Toddlers Laughing in Bath
These videos should remind us of how we start out in this world so playful. We’re looking for the fun in everything. We step away from this as adults, but it’s something we need to cultivate again, especially as bloggers where our creativity has to be tapped time and time again.
You were seeped in playfulness as a child; find opportunities to be playful as an adult as well.
For me, playfulness can be getting out my guitar. Or it could be getting out my colored pencils and taking a few minutes to draw something on a blank piece of paper. It doesn’t have to be GOOD…it only needs to be fun!
One of the first rules of playfulness is being in a trusted environment. If you’re afraid people will make fun of you for dancing around your kitchen, then find somewhere else to dance. Create protected environments where you can truly be yourself.
So, take time to play. Play a musical instrument, dance a little. Do something absolutely, tickle-your-fancy fun every single day!
Our goal at ChoppedCon is to help you be your best each and every day. We feel confident that finding your authenticity in life can help with finding your authenticity as a blogger. We hope you love today’s episode with Cara Ansis!
Now, go forth and Be Your Best You!
Featured Content – Finding Authenticity as a Blogger with Cara Ansis
Here are some of the highlights of my discussion with Cara, where we discuss:
- How there is no pill to take to become authentic
- Why it’s easy to want to follow other’s authenticity
- What success is – you get to define your measures of success
- Why there is no best strategy to get more followers
- You can’t be authentic from a place of fear
- Why you need to change your thoughts to change your mind
- How authenticity to some will look really look different to others – Marly offers Dolly Parton as a wonderful example of how authenticity can look different based on your perspective
- As a blogger, you HAVE to take time for soul care
- Participate in the Power Pee – every time you go to the bathroom take a moment to be mindful!
- Why it’s so important to take time to PLAY
This episode includes references to some resources you might find interesting. Here they are:
- Learn more about today’s guest, Cara Ansis on her site Fork and Beans
- Why not give Cara a shout-out on Twitter or Instagram and say thanks for the Chopped Podcast interview!
- Related Episode: Check out Episode #22 where Cara talks about Finding Your Voice via Instagram
- Marly mentions her favorite meditation app, HeadSpace. She also uses: Breathe and 10% Happier by Change Collective.
- A great book for helping you find your authenticity is Julia Cameron’s Vein of Gold
- Connect with Chopped Academy Online: Instagram | Twitter
- Connect with Marly: Namely Marly | Instagram | Twitter
- Production, music, graphic art & sound design by Shawn Beelman
- Learn about future Chopped Podcast episodes by subscribing to the ChoppedCon newsletter. Just add your email in the subscribe section at the bottom of this page. You’ll be glad you did!
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