One of the most fundamental keys to successful blogging is to find your voice. How you sound to your readers, whether that’s the overall tone or the content of your message, is central to becoming a blog superstar. Or at the very least, a blog that has repeat and sustained visitors.
Finding your voice though, in a virtual sea of bloggers and writers, isn’t easy. Especially when we get all wrapped up with wanting to sound legit. One of the biggest concerns I hear from blog consulting clients is that they want to be taken seriously. This means not only posting the right way, or even following the 9 Secrets to Successful Blogging, (which you should do too, btw), but also sounding like you know what you’re talking about.
This doesn’t mean you should sound like a douche and claim to be THE ONLY source for relevant information on your given topic, but rather sound like the best YOU that you can be. To explain how to do this, here are 3 key ways to find your voice that will lead you to successful blogging.
1. Find Your Voice: Define your Avatar (aka your ideal audience).
Think of this as a cooler version of Word of Warcraft; You get to idealize *the* perfect reader. I’m talking name, age, background, marital status and what he/she/they are looking for. The reason for this is two fold.
- A. To help you focus your writing. It doesn’t matter if half your audience isn’t this imaginary person, because your content is so valuable that people of all shapes and sizes will flock to you. But, writing as though you are speaking to one very specific individual will set your tone, language, and content in ways that writing to a large crowd just won’t. Know who you’re writing for, aim to reach that person, and you’ll stand apart from the masses.
- B. Encourage loyal readership. You can’t write for everyone and you’re bound to alienate particular readers no matter what you do. Take my food blog, for instance. I tend to curse. Often. And I’ve had people un-follow me because of it. But because my ideal audience is a 34 year old, sassy and educated woman who grows her own veggies, wants to create community with other real food minded individuals and is politically aware, it makes sense for me to write this way. Plus it’s endeared me to others. Writing in a consistent and particular way will grow your audience – particularly, those who identify with your specific voice. Quality, especially when it comes to SEO and engagement, is better than quantity.
Do me (and yourself a favor). Sit down, pull out a piece of paper or open a new word doc and sketch it out. Jeni at The Blog Maven explicates this process beautifully. Who is your ideal audience? Describe their avatar in great deal. And then write your posts as if you’re speaking directly to them.
2. Find Your Voice: Filter your filters.
I noted this above to an extent, but filter your filters. Toss ’em out the window! Dare to unapologetically be yourself. As I said above, I curse. I do. A lot. To a fault, perhaps. But it allows me write the way I speak. It’s much more enjoyable for me to write blog posts if I do so in my own voice. Trying to sound “professional” or like an “authority” only comes out as stuffy. Besides, what do terms like “professional” or “authority” even mean these days?
With the advent of the internet – and more specifically, blogging – the standards have been leveled. You can be professional and still talk like you. Sounding “professional” or like an “authority” comes from producing quality content on a regular and consistent basis – not on whether you say shit balls or not. People connect with people – be yourself, filter your filters and your voice will emerge.
3. Find Your Voice: Be social.
Whether you’re new to social media or you’ve been at it since the dawn of time (aka the launch of Facebook), you need to be on at least a couple of channels for SEO. I especially recommend Google+ and Pinterest. It will also help build and spread your voice to a larger audience. You can write a new blog post every single day of the week (and no more than) but if you don’t build relationships with other people on the web and let them know you’re there, your blog isn’t going to grow.
To find your voice, you need to test out what works and what doesn’t – being social allows you to test out new voice tactics – what gets a response, re-shares or likes. Just be sure you don’t post anything you’ll regret later (ie naked pics of your neighbor) or that you wouldn’t say in real life (ie lay into someone about how many hashtags they use and why they should go ef themselves).
4. Find Your Voice: Write.
Okay, I know I said there were 3 ways, but this one is kind of a no-brainer. Do it. Don’t stress about it. Just make it happen. Blogging – as with any writing or creative endeavor – is a process and it WILL change over time. And that’s okay. Your audience will grow and change with you so don’t fret about the occasional bad post or how awful your photos looked 2 years ago (one of my big neurosis). Get to writing consistently and reliably and you will find your voice as it evolves.
How have you found your voice? What do you find most challenging as you try to find your voice? Agree with my points? Have others? Disagree? Share below!