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    Blog Perceptions

    What is the image that I project? Is it authoritative and professional?

    Pants: NY & Co.

    T-shirt: Forever 21

    Vest: NY & Co.

    Necklace: NY & Co.

    Earrings: Silpada

    Heels: Alfani Step ‘n Flex

    Like the outfit? Click here for more details!

     

    Part of my New Year’s resolutions include some goals for the blog. I’ve had several experiences over the past few months that have made me consider the perception of my blog, and whether I believe it’s accurate. Fair warning, this post might get a little raw and a little ranty, but in the spirit of transparency, I decided to publish this post.

    First, the obvious: I’m female. Second, more obvious: I don’t write “for women”. Initially, I started this blog to write “for marketers”, and over the course of posting, this morphed into writing “for business people”. Notice that nowhere in any of my mission statements do I say that I write “women’s content”, “for women”, “about women”, or any statement that otherwise makes it seem like my blog is written for a specific gender. And yet, from what I can tell, the perception is that my blog is a “women’s blog”. Now, I’m happy to have readers, and I don’t have a problem with all of my readers being female, as long as that’s a coincidence. But, I don’t think it is.

    One of my MBA classmates landed on the blog on an outfit post, and he told me that he assumed I wrote about fashion. The post in question actually discusses marketing by retail companies, with very little discussion about actual fashion-related items. The post directly below it was a guest post written by a male, describing his corporate life as a sales rep. The post at the bottom of the page, after the other two, was about pricing and deals. Basically, NONE of the posts on that page are written exclusively for females. Sure, the inspiration for one post might have come from a “girly” topic, but there’s plenty of male marketers in the retail industry, so it’s not irrelevant. I usually give a blog a quick scroll-through on the first visit, and visit the “About” page to see if the content might be a fit. I don’t love every post by every blogger, but I’m willing to give it more than just a quick glance if they have a tagline or post title that piques my interest. I wonder how many readers come to my blog on an outfit post, and instead of giving a 2 second scroll (or actually glancing at the content of the post), just bounce, and write me off as another “woman blogger”?

    I had a conversation with another classmate, who blatantly said he thinks it’s true, men won’t read a blog written by a woman. Again, this is anecdotal, but my frustration about the breadth of my audience didn’t seem outrageous to him. I debated a lot about the outfit posts, as I knew they were “girly”, but I realize that this area is a huge space for marketing success and failure, so cutting it out makes no sense. I’ve written about cars and bug repellent, both of which are more “manly” topics. I generally write on completely gender-neutral topics like branding, selling, pricing, and social media. I also realize that I generally guest post on blogs targeted at young female professionals, but most of my contribution posts are on gender-neutral topics, like extreme behaviors to avoid in the office, a business analysis of the 5 Love Languages, or making the decision to attend business school.

    So, maybe I’ve unintentionally set myself up as a blog “for women”. This wouldn’t frustrate me so much if I wasn’t cutting out half the population from readership! Maybe I’m only hearing from a biased sample, which led me to explore the perception of my blog in this post. I’m not trying to insult blogs that target women, as I’ve written for several, and read many of these types of blogs. But, I’ve also expanded my readership to include a variety of topics, targeted at both genders. Part of my goal this year is to contribute to some sites that aren’t targeted specifically at women, so that I can help myself by being part of the solution. So, readers, how do you perceive my blog? Any tips for making the blog welcoming to both men and women? Like the outfit? Click here for more details!

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    6 Responses to “Blog Perceptions”

    1. Angeline says:

      Interesting thoughts!

      I’m not sure that it’s so much that the blog is by a woman, but I think the inclusion of anything fashion-related (even a photo of an outfit on an otherwise gender-neutral post) causes most readers, men and women, to pigeonhole any blog as a “fashion blog.” I started out The New Professional as a blog for professionals, period. I actually tried to get my brother on board even in the planning/idea stages so that it would have both womens and mens fashion. Eventually I added women into the blog mission because my brother wasn’t having any of it, and let’s be frank, women-focused blogs are very marketable. I never really got comfortable with the fact that I was a “fashion blogger,” which was a contributing factor to stopping that blog. I still keep my professional posts rather gender neutral. I’ve also had several male friends who commented to me in person or email about my professional posts (showing that they did read them), though they’d never be caught dead commenting on a “fashion blog.”

      While I don’t think men intentionally ignore blogs written by women just because they’re women, I do think there is a bit of a disconnect for some men who may automatically jump to “Oh, this is a woman’s perspective. I don’t have anything in common with their experience and probably can’t relate” (rather than “Oh, this is a woman’s perspective. It must not be valid”). It’s not the content, but perhaps just the fact that it’s framed with an outfit photo. I agree, that retail marketing is a huge space from which to learn and a great example for the marketing industry, but maybe there’s a way to present those arguments visually.

      I think what you post has value to marketers and professionals of all genders, so I don’t have any suggestions for that. :) Good luck on your blog journey…I think you have some great goals and I’m excited to see how you overcome this challenge.

    2. Ashley Faus says:

      @Angeline, thanks for the encouragement :) I do agree that’s in not an intentional, “I don’t think the perspective is valid”, but, as you say, the feeling that they have nothing in common with the perspective. Funny story, I’ve extended the guest posting opportunity to my brother as well, but he hasn’t taken me up on it yet :)

    3. FrauTech says:

      I do get some male readers (despite many of my posts being “for women”). I sort of agree with your perception. A guy’s blog is a “generic” blog. But as soon as a woman is writing it it becomes a “woman’s blog”. One has only to peruse the internet and read about many women journalists/bloggers/freelancers who wrote under male pen names and saw a big difference in their readership. So hopefully you will pick up some male readers (and it is usually the most intelligent cream of the crop men who will look past the photos!) might just take some time and trying to figure out your niche a little better.

    4. Ashley Faus says:

      @FrauTech, thanks for the thoughts. Your tone is definitely not “girly” in any of your posts, even though you talk about gender inequality/issues. And, you’re legit because you post on an engineering blog :) This is partly why I propose that the perceptions are kind of my fault, since my outfits are decidedly “girly”, and my guest posting is usually on “gendered” sites. We’ll see what 2012 holds!

    5. Joe Kiszka says:

      Well, not ALL of your readers are female. :-)

    6. Ashley Faus says:

      @Joe, I know, I even linked to your guest post to show that guys post on the blog! The difference is that you took the time to actually check out the content, instead of bouncing when you saw a picture of an outfit… or maybe it’s that you know me, so you figured you might as well placate me when I ask if you saw the latest blog post :)

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