03 May 2017
Identity – it’s hard to find your own voice in the “real world” but what about when you blog? The Blogosphere is a colourful place filled with heaps of DIY projects, tips, stories and an endless supply of creativity – it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with the many other “voices” out there, how can you find a blogging voice that stands out? In this post, I share some tips on how to find your unique blogging voice.
Personally, I believe, with a mix of both plus a dash of you, makes the perfect business blog. Sure at times, you’ll need to keep it formal for more technical blogs (for your intermediate readers and for referring to blogs that around about technical things), but remember to keep it conversational. Write like you’re writing an email to your ideal client, not a post and then edit after that. To nail down the voice and tone of your blog you need to understand who it is you’re producing content for. Who are they? Where are they? How can you help them? Understanding your readers as well as yourself is the first step to forming your blogging voice.
That’s “voice”. It’s the tone that a blog has, specifically a blogger’s use of language to invite readers and make them feel welcome.
Magazine, newspapers and most published written work follows a style guide. A style guide is a set of publishing practices designed to ensure the consistency of communication. As a business blogger, you probably won’t need to create a long, detailed list of writing rules for your blog, but rather a list of writing notes, such as a list of adjectives that describe the voice you want to convey. For example, do you want to be approachable /funny/ kind/ helpful/ no-nonsense/ witty/ quirky/ intellectual etc. Doing this can make you self-aware of what is special about your writing voice and helps to hold you accountable.
Another factor you should consider in your style guide is to keep consistent with perspective unless you clearly state that you’re telling a story. For example, are you going to refer to your business as ‘We’ (Plural) or ‘I’ (Singular) if your business is a brand built around you?
If you’re like me, you can also put notes in your style guide that relate to the type of English you are using, as I was taught American English in school, there are some minor differences that can seem negligible but are always worth remembering, for example: remember words such as fantasise, emphasise, etc. use an S and not a Z or that Cilantro is American, coriander is Australian.
There are a number of considerations you can add to your style guide, you can get inspired by others style guides, like this one: The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.
Just like in school, you shouldn’t publish directly (or hand in your assignment directly). Make a rough draft and a final draft – and edit it! Drafting is a crucial part of the writing process, one, many of us bloggers fail to do enough as we are constantly creating now content all the time. Take time with your writing, it’s perfectly fine to give your posts analysis before posting, in fact, it’s recommended! You’ll feel better knowing that you will be able to come back and revise.
When it comes to revision, make sure to simplify your writing by removing unnecessary words and redundant ideas; and by expressing your thoughts as directly as possible. Trimming the bulk from your posts will also help you clarify your ideas and improve your writing.
This practice is beneficial for any type of writing, most especially for blogging. Bloggers communicate with readers through a basis of familiarity. We are not stuffy, all-knowing authorities on existence. We’re real human beings with thoughts, opinions, and skills, but above all else, we are relatable. By putting your own literal voice to your words, you are better able to discern if your writing voice sounds like it belongs to a human or a robot.
It can be easy to lose interest in blogging for your business if you’re not an “authentic” blogger. The quickest way to give up on blogging is writing about things that don’t matter to you or don’t resonate with you. If you don’t like what you’re writing about, what makes you think readers will like it too? Only write about things you care about. It can be tempting to go off course and blog about something you “think” others might want to know about, especially when you are first trying to grow your audience, and write posts for the sake of driving traffic. But if you don’t like writing about something, it will translate into your blog. Just like passion can seep in between the lines, so can disinterest and boredom. In my experience, people are far more attracted to authenticity than they are to anything else. No matter what the topic is, if you care about it, you will develop an audience that also cares.
You don’t need to be a copycat (besides people hating plagiarism, search engines don’t like duplicate content either) but you can learn a lot from analysing other blogs you admire. Do you know what exactly do you admire about these blogs? Why admire their writing? What can you take you away from their blog? What sort of words do they use? How do they make you feel? etc.
The key to blogging is consistency – whether that is daily, weekly or monthly – you must write regularly to “train” your audience when to expect your blog posts but also to help you find your blogging voice. As you persevere your own voice will start to emerge. Like the great Stephen King (mega-prolific author) once said: “The best way to develop your writer’s voice is to read a lot. And write a lot. There’s really no other way to do it”.