Posted 20th July 2011.
Finding your voice? It all sounds terribly pretentious doesn't it?
All I really mean is finding a style to write your blog in that suits you and your audience. That gets your character across in a way that you'd like to be perceived.
Why is this important?
Well, for two reasons:
- Firstly, if you're not writing in an interesting, engaging style then reading your blog will be hard going and you'll lose people. Remember – visitors are reading your stuff online. it's not the ideal reading medium, and there are plenty of other distractions.
- Secondly, before someone hires you – as we said in the first part of this Win Business with your Blog series – they need to feel that not only do you know your stuff, but that they'll be able to work with you. Eventually you'll need to speak to them over the phone or face to face to fully establish that. But you can go a long way down the track with the way you write.
How do you create this good impression?
First, you have to know what impression you want to create. In my post on creating your backstory I talked about how you can focus on and emphasise certain parts of your experience and personality that give you credibility for the type of work you're looking to be hired for.
It's a bit like the way when you see a comedian on stage, the persona you're seeing is almost always them – but it's a certain part of them, emphasised for effect.
This should also influence your writing. If you're positioning yourself as a mad professor, write like one. If you're the people's champion, write like one. If you're the power behind the throne, write like you are.
Generally speaking, I prefer personas which allow you to be seen as the “likeable expert” in your field. That's the guy people want to work with.
No matter what your persona, there are certain rules and best practices when it comes to writing a blog.
Most importantly: make it easy to read.
Write in short sentences and short paragraphs. Much shorter than if you were writing something for paper.
And use short words too. Simple (though not dumbed down) language that's easy to understand and sounds “real”.
Write like you speak.
In fact, speaking to yourself as you write a blog post is a good habit to get into.
Many people advise short blog posts – and they've got a point.
I struggle with this. My blog posts are typically longer. But I figure I've got a very smart readership and if you're interested you'll have the stamina to make it through a few extra hundred words.
Read lots. Read good bloggers. Seth Godin, Tom Peters, Chris Brogan.
Get a feel for how they write. Don't copy, But watch what impact they can have with their words and how they construct sentences, paragraphs and entire posts.
After you've written your blog post – read it out loud. Does it sound like you or someone else?
(I found in my early days, my blog posts had great content – but they sounded like they'd been written by a stuck-up history professor).
Write lots. Write at least a blog post a week for a year and you'll see what a huge difference practice can make.
The next post in the series is about converting website visitors into subscribers.