This One Thing Will Make You Totally Rethink The Way You Blog
When you find your blogging voice, you unlock something spectacular. You unlock the one thing that separates you from everyone else.
You might be thinking what the heck is a blogging voice, or even more, how would it actually help me?Your blogging voice is what sets you apart from every other blog out there. So it’s pretty awesome, and something you need to focus on until it comes naturally.
Let’s look at it another way. You are not like everyone else. You are special and have a personality all your own. So why shouldn’t your blog have its own personality? See?
Chances are, whether your blog is new, or been around for a while, you’re not in a niche by yourself. You have competition, probably more than a few. And your voice is going to take your blog to that next level. Your personality is going to shine through your blog so that your readers connect with you. (And your personality) Not just your content. YOU is why they come back.
What is your blogging voice?
Your blogging voice is made up of a few things.
1. YOUR TONE
Or how you express your attitude through your writing. Are you positive? Are you authoritative?
2. HOW PROFESSIONAL YOU WRITE
If you have a finance blog, you’ll probably want to keep things totally professional. However, if you’re like me, talking to bloggers, chances are you can throw in a cuss word or two. (Because we’ve all been there, seriously.)
3. YOUR BRAND
Everything should align with your brand and how you want your readers to perceive you.
Who are you writing to?
The next step in deciding your blogging voice is to decide who you’re writing to. We’re not deep diving into marketing, but you’ll want to know this going in – it’s going to help you in the long run.
If you need some help choosing your niche, check out our article on defining your niche here.
We’re essentially talking about buyer personas, but turning them into reader personas.
We’ve got an awesome worksheet to walk you through the entire process you can download now!
Why are reader personas important?
Reader personas are important because they help you identify exactly who you are writing to. This way, when you sit down to write your next post you can visualize who you’re talking to.
1. Write as though you are having a conversation with them.
2. Be conscious of their needs, wants, and expectations.
3. Write content that actively helps them in some way.
When we pay attention to our ideal reader, that’s who we attract.
Especially when you’re starting out, it can be confusing to know how to write and who will read your content, but when you focus, it gets much easier.
You’re focusing your efforts on a specific group of people, the ones you want to read your content and visit your blog.
How to understand your reader personas (before you fill out the worksheet)
You want to understand your reader personas so that you can create content that fits their need. You also want to create content the way they like to consume it and where they like to consume it.
Where do your ideal readers “hang out?” Maybe you already know someone who is your ideal reader. Interview them. It doesn’t have to be formal, it can just be a conversation. If you don’t know someone personally, see if you can find someone online and reach out to them.
Find out the three key things.
1. Where and how they consume content.
Example: I like going to Facebook and watching live video.
2. What kind of content they like.
Example: I like how-to videos and written instructions.
3. What content they are looking for.
Example: Because I like hand lettering, I am always looking for new products to try out and better techniques.
There is a fourth item you want to find out, but just by talking to them, you’ve discovered it. You don’t need to ask questions about it.
4. Your ideal reader is…
A woman in her 20’s or 30’s who is interested in learning hand lettering or improving her skills in the area. She keeps up with trends and frequently visits Facebook for interesting live content.
Three questions and you’ve got it almost all figured out.
How your reader persona applies to your writing process
You’ve now determined who you’re writing to, and most likely how you’re writing to them, but how does that translate to your writing?
During this phase of the process, you’re going to discover exactly what to write about! I bet you’ve already got a TON of ideas.
So because our reader persona wants to learn the basics or improve their skills, we have a lot to talk about.
If you’re more of a text person, open a Google Doc and start there. If you’re a visual person, I recommend Mindmeister (it’s free for up to 3 boards, and one is all you’ll need.)
This is a great way to get all of your ideas down. So where are you looking for what to write about?
Look at questions that people are asking on Quora to help you come up with post ideas. Each answer you could give on Quora is a potential blog post (or two).
2. OTHER BLOGS
Take a look at other blogs that write on the topic and get some ideas from them. What posts are they writing? How could you expand upon an idea on your own blog?
3. SOCIAL MEDIA
Using the search on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even Instagram is a great way to come up with content ideas.
4. JOIN FACEBOOK GROUPS (OR LINKEDIN GROUPS) AROUND YOUR READER PERSONA
These types of platforms are a great way to see real-time questions from people you’re trying to reach.
Putting them together:
This is when you’re going to use that Google doc or mind map to get all of those ideas on paper. Separate them into categories and subcategories. You can even prioritize them in the way you want to write them. Now is a great time to start considering which topics will be cornerstone content.
For more information on cornerstone content (what it is, and how it can maximize your blog) click here.
Now that you’ve got a bazillion ideas down, it’s time to start writing.
Writing the content isn’t difficult, or it shouldn’t be, but injecting your voice and tone can sometimes be challenging. Here are some tips to get you going.
Pretend you’re having a conversation.
Remember that reader persona we talked about earlier? This is when you’re going to start putting that persona to use. Pretend you’re sitting at your desk (or on your couch or at your table) with that person. Now, start talking, have that conversation.
Chances are, you’re going to be helpful, entertaining or educational.
Find out more about the HEE method and how to create quality content every time here.
Start with a question in mind. Pretend your persona has asked you (keeping with our theme) “How do you get started hand lettering?”
So your post will be Hand Lettering for Beginners or something to that effect.
You’ll tell that person exactly what you need to do. First, you’ll need to purchase _________ and these are the items I recommend for beginners ______________ (great place for affiliate links!). Next, you’ll talk about the basics and how practice makes perfect and your recommendations on how to get the most out of practice. Then some pointers and tips along the way. All the while writing it like you’re telling that persona in front of you how to do it.
Grammar & Writing Tools
Because seriously, we aren’t all experts. And luckily companies have figured that out and are willing to help us! Great tools to use:
1. Google Docs
For general writing and editing. I also like having the historical posts in their original format. Sometimes I add comments and other notes that are great to look back on when I’m updating a post.
Grammarly is a free tool that has an awesome chrome extension. It will check your spelling and grammar almost anywhere (except in Google Docs and a few others). It’s a great double check, and for me, someone who uses far too many commas, it’s a lifesaver.
3. Hemmingway App
This app is another free tool (they do have a desktop version you can purchase – but I haven’t found a reason to) that checks for things that Grammarly doesn’t. Like passive voice, complex sentences and adverbs.
4. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
The headline analyzer from CoSchedule is amazing. It’s taken some of my top article titles and allowed me to make them even better. (Aim for somewhere in the 70’s)
Read it Out Loud
I mean it. Everything you ever write for your blog. Read it out loud. You won’t believe how many mistakes you’ll find (or maybe it’s just me). Better yet, read it to someone else. Sometimes that separation is really helpful.
I typically make my husband sit and listen to me. (He probably knows more about blogging than I do at this point) The great thing for me, is that while he might not have an interest in blogging, he knows absolutely nothing about it. So when I read an article to him, he can throw important points back at me to show me if he understood it or not.
Come Back To It
I know this can be easier said than done sometimes because, let’s face it, we’re proud of the content we create aren’t we? We want to hit publish right then and there. But take a day, maybe two and come back to the piece of content and read it again. Maybe you’ll find something you missed. Or more ways that you can inject yourself into it.
Practice Makes Perfect
Honestly, the best way to find your voice and to get better at writing is to keep doing it. The more you do, the easier it will be to get your point across and inject your voice.