Yesterday, we addressed how better to understand blogging voice beginning with a look at video blogging. By using examples within others’ writings, voice becomes more apparent. In the first part to this series, there was a quick exercise to get a baseline of your own blogging efforts. Today, we’ll further our quest for blogging voice with several exercises to identify and develop a strengthened voice on your blog.
So, here’s a quick review:
- Determine the type of voice you want to portray and write with
- Observe others’ styles of voice and begin to emulate that approach to a degree
- Use the exercises yesterday and today to strengthen your purpose and “sound”
- Develop your voice with consistent writing and get comfortable
Step 1: Know Which Factors Contribute To Voice
There are several key factors that remain the same across for all bloggers interested in finding voice. If you write with snark or in a friendly manner, all the elements below are critical to let your voice shine in your writing.
Five Key Factors of Blogging Voice
- Passion for what you write and the excitement or positivity you show. If you want to create community, you have to bring them with your passion. Remember what was mentioned yesterday — passion begets a connection with your audience.
- Confidence with yourself and your personal esteem to show you should be believed, you are credible, and you deserve attention.
- Authority and command for your topic are critical. If you inject your writings with “I think, I’m not sure, perhaps, could be true,” then readers will be unsure, too.
- Personality has to come forth; are you naturally an extrovert, introvert, cracking jokes all the time, snarky, happy? Each of these characteristics contribute to word choice, exclamations, and personalization that make you, you.
- Consistency is critical to success of voice. When you post 3-4 times weekly, you’re writing A LOT. You’re always thinking of topics to write next and hopefully, you’re putting them in draft on your blog or tablet. When you keep writing, you eventually find a comfort and flow in how those words appear. You’ll stumble every now and again, but making mistakes for all to see is human and important. Writing more than twice weekly is important for voice because all of the above weaves in harmony.
But how do you develop these factors?
Exercise 1: How to Build Confidence and Authority
I’m of the opinion that confidence in what you write is the first success factor before anything else. With confidence comes voice. Here’s an example of a tried-and-true blogging method I use frequently to build confidence and authority:
- When you read and something strikes you, jot a note, tear the page and keep it, bookmark it, or sit down to write.
- Tell about that news event or story you read to bring your readers to the same page as you. (Tell it briefly and provide a link to the story.)
- At bottom, interject with your own opinion.
Better yet, add your opinion and then add five tips you’d offer to your audience.
You’re building connection, being authoritative, and showing your intelligence. With this healthy pairing of a news event with a few tips alongside your opinion, there’s no better way to showcase confidence.
As an example of what I mean, the Lance Armstrong crisis provided much blog fodder. I elected to wait until well after the interviews with Oprah to write this blog post, “Did Anyone Media Train Lance Armstrong?”
In the post, I referenced Advertising Age and its story with three experts answering that very question. I shared the story and what the experts said, and then I gave five of my own professional tips at the bottom of the piece. This formula is a good model because people can see your expertise and creativity shine.
Exercise 2: Showcase Personality and Verve
- The streets of Santa Monica were really busy with a lot of people who were attending the farmers’ market.
- The sights and sounds of Santa Monica during the Saturday morning farmer’s market always delight with the chatter of vendors hawking their wares, and families and cyclists zigging and zagging through passersby while ogling the incredible array of fruits and vegetables.
It’s obvious; you can feel, sense, visualize, and imagine the scene in Santa Monica at the Saturday morning farmers’ market after reading the second example.
When you write a blog, it’s important to draw readers in with some of that kind of voice. You have to communicate what’s in your head on screen to make your audience want more!
- Pick out something you’ve written in the past.
- Read it out loud.
- Is it dry and a bit boring, or do your words have personality and verve?
A blog is not a feature story, but it is certainly featuristic and demands your attention to word choice and the personality you inject.
Step 2: Add Style to Your Blogging Voice Foundation
Ever hit a blog and the comment section is a graveyard? Even if you want to comment, there’s really nothing to say or contribute. Sometimes the blogger is just spewing content with no real connection to a reader; voice is stilted and boring.
To make sure your comment section isn’t a graveyard, try channeling one of these styles in your writing:
- Snark. There are only a few people I know who write well with snark. Their voice is abrupt, littered with cuss words, appealing to a special audience, and it may be a way they build confidence with an “I-don’t-care-what-you-think mentality. Warning: Snark does not work for everyone! Be careful when trying this approach to voice; it can fail easily.
- Genre-istic. When you land on a blogger who is a daddy or mommy blogger, they’re writing with purpose — to build community and authority for a specific target audience and perhaps the corporations who need them to market their wares. There are also many tech bloggers who review products and devices; they, too, are trying to appeal to that gear-type audience. The voice is highly authoritative (or should be) with confidence that they know their subject matter. If they’re selling product, they’ll have a strong sales voice to encourage calls to action. With the goal of blogging in a category, you can become an authority when you believe in your product and your mission. This is a perfect example of why you need to establish goals and a purpose for your writings.
- Friendly, Casual. There are many bloggers who just write because. They are blogging as a hobby and use quotes, jokes, storytelling, self-deprecation, book reviews, and more. The tone could be friendly, dry humor, funny, and addressed to a community the blogger knows really well. There may be a finite number of folks who are part of that community who also contribute to the banter. Those who write in a casual way often are hobby bloggers or finding their way. Voice comes, yet purpose is elusive.
- Corporate Business. Company blogs have an automatic professional voice and tone, but they don’t always have to. When someone’s voice is so stilted and painful to read, it sends readers running. When a company decides to launch a corporate blog to push authority and products, it’s imperative they find someone to write who can inject some personality to the writings. No one wants to read a dry, unfriendly business blog; in fact, it’s the first ingredient for disaster.
- Verve, Personality. If you want to write a personal blog where you let down your hair and invite the riff-raff in to judge you, then develop a thick skin. You will get spammers and anonymous commenters who will have a hay day with your content. If you’re blogging for therapy and to heal, your community will come out in droves to support you. There are many people who take solace in these types of support blogs, and it’s highly therapeutic. The blogger’s voice has to be soothing, conversational, friendly, soft, and respectful of readers. Most often, that blogger has to be willing to share personal stories that connect with readers interested in sharing something similar.
- Healthy Mix. Probably the best blogs deliver a healthy mix of all of the above. Depends on the mood of the day, right? If you’re a professional blogger, then mixing up the topics, while maintaining a healthy voice, shows confidence to let your community get to know you better. After all, behind every blog is a person, humans love to connect, and bloggers have that opportunity to make that connection.
There really is no tried-and-true method of teaching voice; it is elusive. The examples above merely provide a brighter light about the factors that contribute to blogging voice. In the end, it’s totally up to you to relax already and get comfy with your topics while zesting it up with a little of this and little of that. Try cooking without a recipe; that’s the ultimate in creativity, and that’s how blogging voice gets baked, too.
This post is part two of a two part series about developing your blogging voice. Check out yesterday’s post on figuring out what a blogging voice is.
Jayme Soulati is author of Soulati-’TUDE! which is a professional blog oriented to social media, marketing, PR, business strategy, and more. She is president of Soulati Media, Inc. and is an award-winning blogger and public relations practitioner. She is a past president of the Publicity Club of Chicago.