Just how does one find blogging voice?
The answer is…elusive! Not sure there is a solid answer, but at the bottom of this article we ought to have a much better understanding of what the hoopla is about a vlogger’s voice.
When I typed “blogger” in the last sentence, it came up “vlogger,” and I am so grateful that happened whilst sitting in the middle seat in a full airplane cabin pecking letters one by one because the batteries died in my iPad keyboard.
So, instead of using merely a blogger to understand voice, let’s first explore the world of vlogging as it relates to that. Video blogging is so much more visual which makes it easier to illustrate the concept of voice.
What is Voice? Examining Voice and Vlogging
What is your impression watching peeps on camera?
It’s pretty painful sometimes, right? When a vlogger has to look at the camera without furtive eyes or naturally down-turned mouth (without a smile), it is difficult to make great video.
Now think of the words delivered during a video blog. Are you following along and listening? Is that blogger making a connection with you? Are they droning on and on without coming quickly to a point? Did they tick off an agenda or a bulleted list of items they’d cover in their piece?
How about tone? When someone speaks, it’s normal to listen for inflection and excitement and authority. Is the tone of that vlogger credible? Do they take command of their subject matter and do you believe what you hear?
Exercise 1: How to Identify Others’ Voice on Video
Run and get a video blog you recently watched; I’ll wait.
Spend two minutes only re-watching the vlog and pay careful attention; no multi-tasking!
In your head, jot down your impression of clarity, confidence, body language, tone, personality, credibility. Don’t worry, you’ll notice these automagically now that you’re looking and listening more closely.
In a recent vlog I saw, unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the end and here’s why:
- The person was forced and lacked personality.
- S/he was cracking jokes that were not funny, and the content was subpar.
- It was a sorry attempt at connecting with community using a medium that appeared uncomfortable for him/her.
Let’s revisit some of the factors that make a video blog successful (or not):
- Facial expression
- Connection with audience
- Command of authority
When you add all of the above together with high marks, what you get is a masterful vlogger. Yet, it takes time and practice! No one can master being on camera unless they are trained broadcasters (who daily practice news delivery prior to going on camera).
Think of Anderson Cooper next to David Letterman. That provides an awesome dichotomy, doesn’t it? The two can’t be farther apart in personality and tone yet they command respect, authority and attention.
Understanding Your Own Blogging Voice
Are you starting to get the picture of how we’re going to segue into blogging voice?
Many bloggers experience months and months of blogging only to feel a lack of connection with HOW they write. When you read a blogger using English as a second language, the content is often stilted and word choice is sometimes stark. There isn’t naturalness to the flow of the article, and it takes the reader more time to connect with the writer.
This is not a criticism in the least, it’s merely an observation about how those words jump from the screen and in what tone and fashion. It’s how the reader connects with the writer that makes voice come alive.
Blogging voice is extremely different than journalistic voice or that of an author of romance novels. When bloggers write, there is more usage of the first person. Some new bloggers feel compelled to thread the word “I” throughout writings thinking perhaps that writing in the first person is more personable. In one opinion, it’s more egocentric and boorish.
Bloggers who have “found their voice” seem to fit right into an easy presence and comfort in their blogging skin without too much toil.
Here’s how you get to find your voice:
- Establish Goals. When you start blogging, you need to set goals for yourself and the blog. Do you want to build community and subscribers? Do you wish to be an influencer or thought leader? How about being the leading blogger in a genre or category like a parent blogger?
The goals you set drive how you write and thus your voice. If your goal is to sell diapers to moms, then you will need to command authority and then add a sales bent to that voice. Right?
Example of a Mommy Blogger Selling Diapers
Yesterday, I tried the new brand of diaper, called Baby Undies, on my infant daughter and learned the hard way that pretty packaging doesn’t mean better-quality diapers! (I think I’m going to stick to my favorite brand, Diaper G, instead!)
Tone: Personable and friendly
Credible: She experienced a negative event and is warning other moms not to buy that brand
Soft sell: She’s sharing a factual event and encouraging her community to follow her advice
- Be Consistent. It takes 12 months of posting about three times a week to find comfort with your online presence. If blogging is your profession, in that 12- month timeframe you most likely have accomplished a few goals and have already switched it up a few times. If blogging is your hobby, then 12 months may be when you see a few milestones happen, and you grow from there.
- Know Your Audience. Who is reading your blog? Better yet, who do you want to read your blog? If you are an online educator for home-school kids in fifth grade, your voice will be friendly, informal, conversational, yet authoritative and credible. Your audience is also the home-school parents who duel as teachers.
If you’re the pastor of a community church, blogging voice is going to be oriented to inspiring families to volunteer, tithe and attend church. That pastor blogger will walk a fine line between creating community, encouragement and being a leader.
Understanding your audience who is or may be reading your blog is critical to finding your voice. You will write more powerfully instead of in a meandering way. You will connect with them to attain your goals each time you write. You’ll think of what they want to hear and write with that purpose.
- Think About Buyer Persona. Have you ever heard of a buyer persona? At first, I thought it silly, but after really thinking hard about who buys my services, I could picture that person reading my blog. My blog articles began to take on a more professional tone to address some common marketing issues in companies. My voice amplified confidence in my subject matter, and I felt a connection to the person I’d like to have visiting my blog. This has contributed to a good feeling about my writing, defined my blogging purpose, which ultimately contributes to my voice.
Exercise 2: Start to Identify Your Own Voice
How and where you find blogging inspiration for writing fodder is a topic for another day. For the purpose of this exercise, select a topic you’d like to write about. Perhaps you’re a master gardener with a blogging goal to enroll people in your master gardening classes so they can earn their certificate and join your ranks. (Can you recognize the blogging goals in that last sentence?)
How will you write? With purpose!
Your words need to be visual and help the reader connect with your passion about gardening. Do you sense the personalization that has to come across in blogging? Your passion must be apparent; if you write with dryness you will not connect with your audience. Passion for our topic begets connection with your audience.
Ever read the children’s books Fancy Nancy? Certainly, the illustrator made those books but she had to have the words as inspiration. It was a team effort, for sure. Your words need to inspire anyone with the hint of a green thumb that they can become a master gardener just like you.
Your plot of land becomes your canvas to create a breezy, flowy, rainbow garden that brings a gasp of visual pleasure with butterfly wings a flutter.
How did that sentence grab you? I hope it created a bit of a visual…don’t butterflies always do that? Notice the word choices that are lighter and more creative with visual appeal. Try to put more of these types of words in your writings and loosen up. Quit being so stilted. A blogger with voice is comfortable with self first and that confidence helps portray authority.
This post is part one of a two part series about developing your blogging voice. Now that you know what blogging voice is, stay tuned for tomorrow for more on developing your blogging voice.
Jayme Soulati is author of Soulati-’TUDE!, 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.