Jayme Soulati

How to Develop Your Blogging Voice

Photo Credit: PhotoCo. via Compfight cc

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

  1. 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.
  2. Confidence with yourself and your personal esteem to show you should be believed, you are credible, and you deserve attention.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. When you read and something strikes you, jot a note, tear the page and keep it, bookmark it, or sit down to write.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.

  • http://twitter.com/Soulati Jayme Soulati

    Again, Shareaholic, thank you so much for allowing me the privilege of being a featured guest. I hope everyone gets a ton out of these in-depth pieces!

    • Ginny Soskey

      I’m sure people will! These are awesome takeaways that ANYONE could learn from. :) Thanks again for sharing your wisdom with us!

  • http://jontusmedia.com/ Jon Buscall

    Like @gsosk:disqus says: “awesome takeaways” my friend.

    The snark issue is a tough one. We’re all so polite in this space but I guess there’s a reason for that. It’s hard to be snarky or sarcastic without the paralinguistic stuff.

    My favouite tip from teaching writing courses was to write without stopping for, say, 5 minutes. Keeping the pen moving or the keys flowing forces you to dig deep into your inner voice.

    • http://twitter.com/Soulati Jayme Soulati

      You’re wonderful for reading both of these, Jon. I do appreciate it. The snark thing? It becomes tiresome after a stitch…I would love to let someone know that, too. I think too much of that really affects professionalism in a negative way.

      What a great exercise, as well…writing for 5 minutes; do you really mean with pen and paper? Sometimes I will write a blog post in long hand; I’m not sure why..the time it takes for me to draft the cursive allows me to think ahead…writing is slower; thoughts come faster and more clear.

      I think in the cases I’ve done that, I have not had to rewrite as much as if I was just typing a draft. Hmm, very interesting…hadn’t thought of that!

      • http://jontusmedia.com/ Jon Buscall

        Yes definitely. Writing with a pen. It’s awesome to just keep it going. People get so inhibited and want to edit themselves. It’s one of the best ways of finding your true voice.

        • http://twitter.com/Soulati Jayme Soulati

          Like!

  • http://markharai.com/ Mark Harai

    Hi, Jayme : )

    My three power tips:

    1. Write like you talk…

    That’s the real you.

    2. Write about things you have first hand experience with…

    These are the things you have expertise in and are qualified to teach others about.

    3. Boldly share who you are with the world.

    Don’t hold back and don’t be afraid – those who don’t like you don’t matter and those who connect with you can potentially change your world.

    Awesome lady, you!

    • http://twitter.com/Soulati Jayme Soulati

      I loves these three tips, Mark; thanks for sharing! For sure I do #1; we call it WSYWIG, and that’s who I am always. I no longer have time to play games; it saps me.

      2. I spin that somewhat differently — if I’ve happened upon a new learning I just had, I have to write on it and share it. Like the G+ Authorship and G+ Influence Marketing metrics…those were new and became some fab posts b/c they were teachings and takeaways.

      The fear factor holds many people back. I think it only make the writing stronger. Thanks for being here!

  • http://www.schoolanduniversity.com/ SchoolandUniversity.com

    I blog often and I genuinely appreciate your information. This article has really peaked my interest.

    it’s very helpful for me to setup my new blog !
    thanks for sharing !

    • http://twitter.com/Soulati Jayme Soulati

      Hello, School and U! I’m delighted this inspired you to forge ahead with a wonderful undertaking. I am into my fourth year (just) of non-stop learning and growing; it has been a journey of delight and despair wrapped into a love fest!

      Heh…I’m serious…when you reach a pitfall, just work through it; it’s a total sign of growing pains and then you live to write about it!

      Can you tell I’m passionate about blogging? Please reach out to me; I’ll be there for any of your questions. (BTW, I’m just a baby blogger; there is so much more to learn!)

  • http://www.schoolanduniversity.com/ SchoolandUniversity.com

    I blog often and I genuinely appreciate your information. I blog often and I genuinely appreciate your information. It’s very useful for me of my new blog setup.

    thanks !

  • http://twitter.com/BlackHeartJules Jules Lowe

    This is very helpful information and I thank you Jayme for sharing your knowledge with those of us who need guidance in the right direction. Your post has come at a very appropriate time for me as I have only started blogging again after my business was on hiatus for most of 2012 due to family & personal reasons.

    My love of creating jewellery and ambition to have a successful creative business are definitely helping to push me out of my comfort zone, especially when it comes to blogging. I go through what I imagine stage fright would be like. I know that if I am to make a connection with potential customers and others that may help me move my business forward then I will need to work on reducing the fear and start blogging less self-consciously.

    Next weekend I have set aside a block of time to work on blog posts for the coming weeks and I’ll definitely be keeping everything that I have read here today in mind.

    With many thanks,
    Jules

    • http://twitter.com/Soulati Jayme Soulati

      Hi, Jules! Everyone has blogger fears when starting out; I have never forgotten getting my first comment and calling my friend to celebrate. My goodness; I was so green.

      Plunge in! If you have a passion for your business, you will find your writing will flow easily. People will want to see what you have to say and come back for more.

      The one tip I hope you heed, though, is to write consistently. You will be unable to overcome your fear if you don’t. I’m talking about 3/week!

      Blogging takes time, no doubt. It’s not for the faint of heart! But, it is so incredibly rewarding…touch base with me again; I will always help you.

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