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This is a guest post by Tony Teegarden.
Unless you walk into the blogosphere as an already seasoned writer, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to go through the, “Damn, I’m trying to find my writing style” hump.
Experienced bloggers call this finding your voice.
Why A Unique Voice Is Important
“People can get information online from just about anywhere, but they are more apt to want it from someone they know, like, and trust.”
Let’s face it: there are a shit ton of blogs on the ‘Net and you have to stand out amongst the noise of other mediocre and sub par bloggers somehow. If you want to attract a loyal audience that resonates with you and your message, you had better sprinkle some a lot of personality in there to rise above the noise.
If you want loyal readers:
- Stand for something
- Provide good, quality content (helpful & useful)
- Be unique in your voice (delivery)
Some benefits of a unique voice are:
- You attract readers of like mind
- You become more engaging
- You build more trust with your audience
- You have a higher chance of turning readers into customers
- You have a lot more fun doing it (enjoy the process)
Here’s the thing: you’re not looking for everyone to read your blog, just the people who believe what you believe and who resonate with you in the way you say it.
A few loyal and rabid readers goes a lot further than 1000 StumbleUpon views that are on and off your blog within a matter of 2.5 seconds (I’ve have/had both).
I can assure you if you haven’t started writing yet and you’re scared, or you are writing and you think you suck, or you’ve been writing for a while and you’re just plain frustrated because no one is sticking, relax. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. (I know a few grammar teachers would kick my ass for that sentence, but alas, it’s my voice.)
Starting to blog with a unique voice from day one is a lot like expecting to know what a preposition is at the age of 14 months. You just wouldn’t expect a 14 month old baby to start using structured sentences & proper grammar, so why would you expect to be writing in a completely unique voice immediately as a blogger?
You have to grow and mature.
What’s “Your” Personality?
Identifying you’re own personality can go a long way. Now this isn’t Myers Briggs so I don’t want to hear about it in the comments. This is for the sake of chunking down and finding a starting point for your voice.
Four major personality types:
- The Dolphin – just wants to have fun
- The Whale – wants to help people or be a part of a cause
- The Shark – bottom line focused whether it be the dollar or the end result
- The Sea Urchin – analytical type who needs all the facts and figures
Now we all have a little of each of these within us, but which one resonates with you the most?
Identify it, amplify it in your writing and explore how it feels.
I’m not going to get into niche selection, customer avatars, etc. This is just about you finding your unique blogging voice. The more real you are with yourself the more you’ll settle into your niche with your own identity.
Just Start Already
Your voice isn’t as important in the beginning as just getting started.
Not writing because you don’t know how is like saying you won’t start talking until you know how.
When I started to blog, I was then, as I am today, extremely passionate about self growth and personal development. I didn’t give a lot of thought to getting it right. I just wanted to get it going. I took inspired action.
I just went head first into it and started blogging my ass off. Content just flowed out of me.
I can’t even tell you how horrible my first 6 months of writing was though. Grammatical errors were like a hail storm of bullets at the OK Corral. An English teacher probably would have just shot me on sight and god forbid I tell you this but, the entire blog posts for the first few months were written in bold italics like this because I just thought it looked cool.
Yeah, not so much.
But you know what? People dug what I wrote because of one of the 3 foundations I mentioned.
It was all good content that met the readers’ need so they were a little forgiving. Umm, OK, they were A LOT forgiving.
Write Like You Talk
I think one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received was from one of my friends I met through Twitter. After reading my blog for around 6 months and then meeting me in person, she said, “You come across exactly in person as you do in your blog.”
With a grin I was like, “Um yeah, is that weird or what?” We both laughed.
I know I’m gonna get some crap for this next statement but eh, so be it.
Here’s the thing. In the beginning you can attempt to write all proper like by using correct grammar and proper sentence structure, however that can easily stifle who you are. The last thing you want to come across as is a vanilla sounding robot. Not that I have anything against vanilla, but it’s just kinda…well, plain. Ya know?
Be who you are and write like that to start.
Now depending on your niche you don’t want to come across as a total ass clown either like, “I are a better personal development blogger cause my bad grammar is bein unique at bloggering.” Seriously don’t do that. Just use your head.
One of the things I learned as a classically trained violinist was that you can learn all the theory you want, however some of the best musicians learned it by practicing a lot, then threw it out the window and allowed who they were to flow through them via their music.
Don’t worry, there is plenty of time to read up on how to be a better writer, but frankly you learn by doing it. I’m writing this post in my voice and I’m sure your voice will be and should be much different depending on your actual personality and the niche you’re in.
People are going to eventually meet you if you’re doing this blogging and social media thing right, so be YOU.
Tweak It Along The Way
Seriously, if you saw my first 6 months of blogging you’d be crazy inspired. I don’t care how bad you think you are right now, I had you beat.
If you’ve already started your blog and you’re in the midst of growing personally, or changing and tweaking your style, that’s perfect. You’ve already taken the leap. The good news is that you can only get better from here.
The more you do it, the more stuff makes sense, and the more stuff makes sense, the more you can start implementing what you learn.
Add more personality or up it a notch as we say.
Grow and don’t be afraid to transform. Take your readers with you on the journey. The most loyal ones will appreciate you for it because they feel they are getting to know the real you and growing with you.
I even made a post about my transformation where I announced 3 reasons not to read my blog (anymore). My audience loved it and I got a sense of, “Wow, sweet! More Tony but just stripped down and real.”
Oh and I’m not a writer by the way. I’m just passionate about personal growth and development.
If you’re passionate about your subject matter and you desire to make an impact, start letting it show in your writing!
Take some risk.
Bonus Fact: Wisdom Comes Through Risk
One cool thing for me in the past few months is that I’ve really started to allow myself to be me in my writing. I was writing for a long time to be congruent with the personal development niche. My thought was other people don’t swear in personal development so I shouldn’t either.
Frankly, it didn’t feel right anymore.
The more I let my true personality shine in my writing the more natural it is for me to drop an “F” bomb every now and then. When I do, it’s congruent with what I stand for, how I want to get my message across and what my message is about.
No you don’t have to drop any “F” bombs to find your voice.
I believe your voice only comes in time and it’s something that only growth as a person, consistently writing, and experience will promote. Don’t be afraid of letting your audience enjoy that journey with you. It’s a bonding experience that you’ll rob you and them of if you don’t.
The more personality you allow onto your blog pages and the more real you are with your audience, the more they will embrace you and your message.
Don’t blog like anyone else, they’re already taken. Just be you. Even if you’re still in the process of finding who that is.
Tony Teegarden (We think) is a personal development blogger at Tony Teegarden Dot Com where he challenges the status quo of what is and explores with you what can be through social entrepreneurship.