How To Be Authentic Online Without Damaging Your Brand

I’ve been writing and publishing for about eight years (even longer if we want to talk about those dreaded Xanga and LiveJournal days). But posting online has become a time-consuming process for me. First, I take the picture. (If I’m being honest, I take several pictures. Sometimes 30 to 40.) Then, I find one that works, edit it in Lightroom, run it through FaceTune to get rid of any stray hairs, come up with a caption, find relevant hashtags, share it on Instagram, share it on Facebook and monitor the posts for comments.

I’m not complaining because I’m choosing to do all of this — it’s just not as organic as it used to be. Once I improved the quality and aesthetics of my content in hopes of building my personal brand, it only seemed natural. But it does sometimes beg the question, how can I be authentic online? A few years ago, that meant throwing up a front-facing camera selfie and hashtagging it #nofilter, but I think our societal expectations have changed.

I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago and she jokingly mentioned that I tend to share picture-perfect moments every day, and then I’ll randomly make a post about how hard life has been and how I’m struggling. It probably gives all of you whiplash! I think my routine so far — only sharing the good things, lying in the caption if I need to, coming clean once I’m feeling overwhelmed — has been messy, but it’s been borne by a desire to keep it real while still keeping things light.

Here’s the thing: I don’t always want to share the bad stuff. Those of you who’ve followed me for a while know that I’m a chronic over-sharer and often have to be reeled in, and I’ve realized that it isn’t always smart to let thousands of people know every detail of my life. I now operate from the assumptions that my followers know my life isn’t perfect because I’m human, but I also don’t ever want anyone to feel bad because things seem unattainable on my blog or Instagram account. But enough of me rambling: Here are four things I do now to keep my feed aesthetically pleasing while still being honest.

1. When I’m Feeling Good, I Create A Ton Of Content

If I’m having a day where I feel motivated and creative, I’ll draft blog posts, update Pinterest and other social networks that I sometimes accidentally neglect, and take a ton of pictures. That way, on days where life kind of sucks, I don’t feel like I have to put on makeup and smile for the camera.

2. I’m Honest In My Captions

When I officially launched my blog, I focused heavily on fashion content. There wasn’t anything wrong with that, but my approach was off. A typical Instagram post included a smiling picture of me with a caption that told you where to buy my shirt. I’ve since shifted to both lifestyle and fashion, and as a result, I use my captions as a way to share what I’m really thinking. They’re often super long, but I get the best engagement on posts that have raw captions.

3. I Don’t Overthink It

If I want to post something, I post it. If I want to share a pretty picture of the sunset without getting too deep, I’ll do that. I use my personal Facebook and Twitter regularly, and I often save my wordiest posts for those platforms. That’s OK. There’s no obligation to share everything with everyone.

4. I Don’t Post If I Don’t Want To

So many of my friends feel the pressure to post 1-2 times a day because of Instagram’s algorithm and explore page. I got caught up in the same cycle until I realized:

  1. It wasn’t sustainable for my emotional wellbeing.
  2. Likes didn’t matter that much to me.

If I’m having a bad day, I’ll log off or just use an old picture (see point number one!) if I feel obligated to share. But I feel much better about myself when I’m not forcing myself to be something that I’m not, which is why I allow myself breaks.

What are your foolproof strategies for staying authentic and maintaining your brand? I’ll be in the comments if you want to chat!


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  1. Jessica wrote:

    Great read girl ! All your points have definitely struck a chord within me and my path thus far with blogging. I’ve caught myself in the circle of “plain content” where I just post and blog a theme just for the heck of it. But lately, I’ve been coming across such messages as yours of just let things be and have fun with being truthful.
    Thank you for this !

    Posted 5.3.18 Reply
    • Ayana Lage wrote:

      So glad you enjoyed it! It’s so easy to churn out content without feeling passionate about any of it, but you’ll get burned out so quickly that way!

      Posted 5.6.18 Reply
  2. Kristen from Pugs & wrote:

    Omg, I was just explaining what Xanga was to my little brother…eek!
    Love these blogging principles. I especially like that you don’t post when you don’t feel like it.

    Posted 5.7.18 Reply
    • Ayana Lage wrote:

      It’s SO important! I’d drive myself nuts otherwise. And don’t you miss the Xanga days?!

      Posted 5.13.18 Reply