The (My) Guide To Finding Your Blogging Voice

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.

  • Anonymous says:

    David,

    It’s funny you bring this up in a post because I just did an interview the other day with two of my favorite bloggers and we spent a good amount of time on the subject of finding a voice. I’ve noticed that a voice of blogger tends to evolve as they write more and as they become comfortable. I often have noticed that a post where you are afraid to push publish or think “what if somebody finds this” often tends to be some of the best work.

    On writing like you talk, I think that’s something that really can take somebody’s blog up to a whole other level. While we want to model ourselves after successful people, I think we eventually have to evolve into our own voice. Of all the blogs I read, when it comes to unique voices, two come to mind:

    Kelly Diels (http://www.kellydiels.com): You and I talked about Kelly in the interview I did with you and we even said that was probably one of her greatest qualities:

    Ashley Ambirge (http://www.themiddlefingerproject.org): One of the most interesting things I learned from chatting with her was the idea of forgoing alot of the traditional “rules” of writing.

    I think it can take up to 6-8 months for somebody to really find their voice. I

  • Gurl says:

    Hey Tony,
    Great points about finding your voice. In truth, the only way to find it is to get out there and use it. At first you will suck…it's almost a guarantee. But you will get better with practice. Or so I've been told, and I am beginning to see it in myself a bit. Excellent post, as always, my friend. Looking forward to more 🙂

  • Good point Jenn, “The only way to find it is to get out there and use it.”

    I've found that to be true at least in (my) case. That's why I titled it The (my) Guide, simply because I'm not a “writer” per say although I have done some studying and of course applied it.

    I'm waiting for an experienced writer to pop in and give me a different perspective. 😉

    Thanks for the share and kind words!

  • Mike CJ says:

    That's the first time I've ever done that – I read the whole post in my reader and didn't work out that it wasn't David writing until I came here. Nice work Tony on finding the voice of this blog.

    I really liked the fish references – I'm a Barracuda by the way.

    “Write like you talk” worked for me. Nathan and I were lucky enough to interview Seth Godin the other day. I loved this from him on writer's block:

    “Writer's block? Have you ever heard anyone tell you they have speaker's block? Or a plumber who has plumber's block? If you write like you speak, you'll never suffer with writer's block, because you can always speak.”

  • I've done a lot of writing in the past, but it's still taken me time to find my blogging voice. I was so used to boxing myself in to please editors and clients that my blog writing was a bland pile of goo at first. It's still a pile of goo, but it's getting a bit spicier 🙂

  • Haha a pile of goo! I felt the same way until I realized I had created my own box because that's what I thought “personal development” people were supposed to act like.

    I got over that and it's a lot more fun to write now. Get it spicier for sure 😉

  • Thanks CJ! I'm glad you dug it.

    Quite flattering that Seth had said the same thing. I really dig Seth's work and I have to admit he's got it right in a kick ass way. No such thing as blocks of any sort. When it's what you do, it's what you do.

    Awesome insight and congrats on the Seth interview! I can't wait to hear it!

  • Gurl says:

    Its my pleasure to share 🙂 I don't think any of the “writers” could take issue with your guide to finding one's voice. But I shall check back after classes and see what everyone else has to say 🙂

  • F-bombs! Haha. Tony you know I like your style. This is a great commentary on the real beauty of blogging. Those of us new to it equate it much too strongly to journalism or other writing styles we're already familiar with. But blogging is it's own medium. When you get past the mentality that you have to be something you're not…that's when great things can start happening.

  • Mike CJ says:

    The interview was for the next edition of Beyond Blogging, which should come out in October.

  • Thanks brother 😉

    Yeah I think that was the biggest thing or me and personally branding myself as me. Great summary:

    “When you get past the mentality that you have to be something you're not…that's when great things can start happening.”

    You rock man. Thanks!

  • You and I are certainly on the same wavelength. You also remind me I need to guest post more often. Lessons learned 😉

  • I was originally inspired by seeing you do it so much not long ago. Thought
    I'd pass it forward 😉

  • Mars Dorian says:

    haha, long-ass but valuable article. It really does take time to find your own voice, and it takes even more courage to promote, thanks to social conditioning. It's a lifelong process that only gets better with time, but it's ridiculous fun once you find your core…

  • Ryan says:

    Hi Tony,

    Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

    Taking risk is a key. It takes courage to find your voice because in the beginning it feels like going out on a limb.

    My experience has been that when I don't care what people will think, say or do in response to my posts I write my best articles. First this felt like risk taking. Over time my mind calmed down because I realized that speaking from the heart attracts like minded people who appreciate what I have to say, which has been the case for my blog.

    Ryan

  • Right on man. Yes guest posting is awesome. I go in phases and can only seem to focus on one thing at a time these days!

  • I'm interested what you mean by saying it takes “…courage to promote, thanks to social conditioning.” Do you mean it takes courage to make offers, sell stuff, etc? If so, I agree 100%! Social conditioning goes a long way toward preventing that.

  • Mars Dorian says:

    Hey Christian,
    I just re-read my comment: The whole sentence should go: it takes even more courage to promote your own voice (show how you really want to be), thanks to social conditioning (because it told you to fit in and act like everyone else.)

  • I was just talking to David about that today. Focus! It's tough to spread
    yourself so thin on so many things and think you'll put 100% into each one
    of them. Guest posting has it's definite benefits but it's tough to do it
    all the time I believe.

    Phases and focus is the way to go!

  • Ah, very nice. I feel ya. Maybe it's a confidence thing for a lot of us. Being yourself is tough sometimes. You gotta get MAD 😉

  • Thanks for your feedback Mars. I told David when I sent this over that I don't think i know how to write a non Epic post haha.

    I admit I'm having a lot more fun now that I've “found my voice” and I'm looking forward to pushing the boundaries of what's possible. Thanks again brother!

  • Christian I agree, I was petrified to completely let go and be myself. “F” bombs and all. I felt I was “supposed” to sound proper. Based on what? I don't know but quite frankly It just didn't “feel” right and you know what? YES I did get mad damnit. I didn't get into this online blogging thing to get in another Box!

  • You nailed it Ryan and thanks!

    You know nailed it when you said, “I realized that speaking from the heart attracts like minded people who appreciate what I have to say.”

    The minute I started doing that people connected with me for who I was, not what I was pretending to be.

    I felt congruent and had a lot more fun doing it. Oh and I like to provide a shit ton of value.

    Great comment brother. Thanks again!

  • Michael Martine told me a while back it just doesn't make sense to run a business doing something you don't love. If you're gonna run a company…even a really small one, you better love it. Otherwise, why take on all the extra responsibility and headaches? If you're gonna hate what you do, just get a job. At least you'll have a steady paycheck (sort of) haha:-)

  • LOL @ your stumbleupon traffic example too. I've had that also. 1 awesome subscriber is better than 10,000 hits from SU. Straight up. Plus, I've wondered how deep Disqus will nest comments. Let's try to break it 😉 ha.

  • That's a fact. I've got some of the most awesome subscribers ever and
    have been with me since I started.

    I think Disqus allows the moderator to set how deep they can go.
    David? Lol

  • I think it is all about being yourself and leveraging your own personality

  • I do not like what people will think, say or do to respond to my message that I write my best articles. First, this desire to assume risk.

  • Alfred Wilmer says:

    In simple words, a innovative market strategies is the HOW and WHY of a marketing plan. Marketing strategies need to be based on good plans, without which you will lose direction and focus. Here are a few tips for creating market strategies.

  • I do like your style of writing and I am also in agreement with your suggestions. I would add just a tiny caveat, by relating something that has to to do with my personal writing style. The caveat is: your personal style may have a large “learned” component as well as a “natural” one. Now for my case, which illustrates the point. I am a trained clinician, academic and presenter of written and spoken material that must meet certain requirements of language and style (the American Psychological Asociation’s Publication Manual 6th ed. is my “bible”). Over the years, my original and colloquial writing style has been layered with a heavy academic veneer. In launching my blog at Stresshacker.com, which is not intended for the clinical crowd, I’ve had to step back from that and go back to my natural and more colloquial writing, but I can tell you it’s still work in progress and the pull toward “proper” style and content is quite strong.

  • Awesome CJ. Can't wait to read it.

  • Nunzio Bruno says:

    There are a couple of things that I've been doing since the start that you mentioned that I had no idea were positives. I've always approached Financially Digital from the point of view of the “Whale” and in my own voice. It's def been a fun adventure and you are absolutely right on the tweaking I try to make it better every post. One thing I struggle with a bit is I guess finding that set group of people to talk to and not trying to reach everyone – because I do really love to educate. Great YouTube video too by the way, I just finished watching it and gave it a Twitter shout out 🙂

  • Hey Nunzio great comment brother.

    Have you done the “defining your customer avatar” yet? Lots of marketers like Eben Pagan talk about defining that one person you're reaching out to. There's a whole process to it. Now even though you will attract lots of other people, you're writing is more personable because you're always sitting down to write to that “one person.”

    I've gotten down to this and it really helped me cancel out the noise of trying to be everything to everyone. I'm not saying it's not important to want to educate everyone. Hell I do it, but when I write, I write to that one particular person so that I'm “speaking in my own voice.”

    You can probably google “defining my customer avatar” or something like that and you'll find something that shares the formula.

    Hope this helps!

    Oh which youtube video are you referencing? One of mine or one of Davids?

    • Mel says:


      You can probably google “defining my customer avatar” or something like that and you’ll find something that shares the formula.” – leads straight back to this post 🙂

      My two biggest issues are (a) consistent writing (b) kowing what I stand for to write more authentically rather than just commenting or me-too-ing

      • Hey Mel! Thanks for sharing your two challenges. Consistent writing is something that can be handled 1 of 2 ways: 

        Way 1. Just decide it’s going to be something you do on a specific day or time during the day. Even if what you write sucks, you have to condition yourself to do it. No way around that. You don’t get muscles if you don’t work out 🙂
        Way 2. Something I learned to do lately is record yourself speaking (I use QuickTime Player on my Mac) and then send it to someone on Fiverr to have transcribed. I found a few GOOD people who will do up to 20 minutes of audio for $5.00. You can make time to speak every day so this way may work even better. Edit it after and clean it up a bit and done! You could have 2 or 3 posts out of that alone! 

        As far as knowing what you stand for I’d say you really need to watch Simon Sineks TEDtalk video (Google it) he did on the Golden Circle. Absolutely stellar 20 minutes and a great place to start and wrap your head around what you stand for. I’ve never seen anything better.

        You can also look at what your life demonstrates currently to see what you stand for. It’s hard to not see the obvious when you really look for it. Even if you don’t like the answer it gives you a place to start and to refine. 

        Hope that helps! 

  • Ralph says:

    I think I'm a whaleshark. I really want to help people but I do have specific goals that need to be reached. My blog is all about helping but it is so time consuming that it needs to generate income for me to continue to do run it successfully. Just curious, what do you think of the “post as” field that Disqus is now using instead of of name/email/url fields? I'm not a fan of it.

  • Ralph, we actually have a little of all of those traits & personalities in us. It's a very simplified version of the Meyers Briggs version. (I just like to keep it simple for folks first entering into the understanding of personalities.

    So it doesn't surprise me that you have both as highly recognizable characteristics. The real power comes from operating from within the middle of them all. Not leaning towards just one. Many folks fall into the trap of thinking the “Shark” is the most powerful quadrant when it's the “middle” that allows you to listen with empathy to all and thus connect with them all.

    As far as generating cash flow with your blog? Read Davids stuff for sure and I'd suggest joining his “Inner Circle” program. I know David personally and I can assure you he won't let you down with ways you'll be able to accomplish your desired goal.

    You have to help yourself before you can help others at your full potential. Seriously check out his Inner Circle. I believe it will be time and money well invested.

  • Raam Dev says:

    Great stuff! I'm curious to hear your thoughts and/or advice for people who genuinely speak less than they write.

    I'm an introvert. I spend a LOT of time by myself, writing, reading, and researching online. I've been blogging for the past 8 years (regularly for the past 4) and it almost feels like my online voice is evolving and developing faster than my in-person voice/personality.

    Any thoughts on the importance of real-world socializing as it applies to developing an online voice? Am I making it more difficult for myself by not actively trying to develop my real-world voice and personality?

    • Damn Raam, a year later and I’m just now seeing this. #FAIL. Regardless I’m curious how you’ve ventured through this? (Since you DID ask this a year ago)

      Believe it or not I actually spend a lot of time by myself these days too doing the same as you.

      As far as your questions I would seek to find out this way:
      How important is it to me to do more “real world socializing?”
      What do I stand to gain from it if I do?
      What do I stand to lose if I don’t?
      Does it feel right to do so?

      Just tune in and if you’re good with how you’re going stick with it. I’m not sure it’s a must that you do. It’s a must that you do what you feel is your truth.

      • Raam Dev says:

        Haha, no worries man. 🙂

        I’d say I haven’t strayed much outside my “comfort zone” as far as socializing in the past year, but I think that’s OK. Upon further analysis, I realized my desire to socialize more comes from a perfectionist mentality, where I feel I should be good at everything. 

        The truth is, I genuinely do not enjoy socializing. One-on-one or two-on-one is fine, but with larger groups of people I fall back into an observational state of mind, observing interactions between people and learning from them instead of trying to jump in and make myself heard.

        • Well that’s all you gotta know is it’s cool with you. Anything else is
          operating outside your own value system. Some people get charged up within
          groups and others feel sucked dry from them. Myers Briggs and other
          personality type trainings reveal that. But heck, if you already know it
          cool 😉

          Glad I could still connect with you!

  • FANTASTIC post! And great timing… yep, as a blogger I'm feeling a bit wobbly. You give me hope! 🙂 The encouragement is greatly appreciated. It's time for me to simply say what I have to say and quit fretting over what my reader might 'hear'. 🙂

  • I have always approached economic point of view the digital “whale” and his own voice. It was def a fun adventure and you try tweaking every post I make it better are absolutely right. One thing I struggled with a bit, I find that to establish a group of people and trying to talk do not reach everyone – because I really love to educate.

  • Mark Mobley says:

    Along these same lines I had a similar realization on the Enemy formula, Find out who you really are. Or as Shakespeare put it, “Know thyself.” Most people think Doubt is having two choices. They don't realize that they are already one of the choices and that are looking at a possibility of a change. Most people have not pushed the edge and found out who they really are. And it is as you have said. This can only be done by taking risks.

  • The Padrino says:

    Be YourselfIf you try to write with a different persona then yourself, or if you try to be cute when in real life you’re not, or if you try to be controversial but that’s not you, then you are adding a burden to the blogging process by creating extra work.  If you are yourself, you don’t have to over-think. This tip not only applies to the content, but also to the voice you’ll use on your blog. Is it ok to have misspellings? To use expressions from the city you grew up that not everybody will get it? Is it ok make jokes? If those things reflect who you are in real life, then yes. Don’t use the same language you use on a business email to a client. That’s not the real you. The real you is the person talking to friends about that topic on a restaurant table. Every time I have a guest blogger I tell him or her: “write as if you were sending an email to a friend”. Make it personalPeople will not read your blog because they want to know the latest news from your industry. They’ll read it because they want to read about your opinion. Yes, personal opinion. Don’t try to make a neutral-point-of-view writing. This is not a magazine or a newspaper. It’s your blog and your voice/thoughts matter. Because of that, don’t re-post content from others, don’t just copy a news snippet from AP because you find interesting. That’s being part of the echo-chamber and it only decreases the signal-to-noise ratio on your blog. A schedule that worksThe biggest mistake of new bloggers is to set a schedule even before they have a feeling for how long it takes to blog. First of all, don’t set a schedule for yourself, but set goals — say that you’ll try to write 4-6 blog posts per month instead of saying “every Monday”. What if there is a Monday that you are busy and don’t feel like writing? Then you’ll have a feeling of failure and from there is just downhill to not blog anymore. Give yourself some time to find the sweet spot. Maybe you’ll find you got addicted to it and you’ll blog 5 times per week. Maybe you find that you are really capped at 2-4 posts per month. Either way, don’t set a schedule on the first few months. Be spontaneous. An idea queueWhat if you run out of ideas to blog about? If you are like me, you’ll never do. Every time I’m in a meeting, or grocery shopping, or just wandering the Internet and I have an idea that would make an interesting blog post, I send myself an email with a 1 or 2 sentence description of it. Then I organize all my ideas in a single place (on my case a draft message on Outlook). Every time I find myself w/ 20-30 minutes to spare I check my list of ideas for blog posts and write about it. My current list has 10 items. The list grows when I go to all day events, meet new entrepreneurs or investors or hit a new challenge on the business. Have a themeA typical mistake of new bloggers is to write about “everything that I’d find interesting and I’d like to read myself”. On that case you’ll have an audience of one. Yes, you are a marketer, but you also like to cook, build model airplanes and are really into astronomy and salsa dancing. You need to pick the central theme of your blog and stick to it, otherwise you alienate your readers every time you go off topic. It’s very common for Tech Startups bloggers to veer too much into the technology aspects and forget the startup  side of things. If you start writing about a new script testing tool you are not writing about tech startups, you writing a technology blog an that’s a whole different beast. Title matters 
    Most of your readers will only read the title of your blog post — the same way people scan newspaper until they find something that attracts them. Avoid titles without context (“Another win”, “We are back”, “Tough week”, etc.). Think about what would your reader get if she read only the title. These are a few good titles “Tips on how to market your startup in a recession”, “How will Obama affect startups”, “Acme releases new tool to count coyotes with a twist”. Content styleHaving pictures on your blog post dramatically increases the number of people that read your post. Seriously. I can’t explain why, but it’s well known by many bloggers. If you have a picture or image at hand, go ahead and add it to the post. But don’t make it a burden (like trying to find a LOLcat image for each post you do). Also, do bold important pieces of text to make it easier for the people who read by scanning (same reason you should use numerals instead of spelled out numbers), but don’t emphasize every other sentence. Size mattersContrary to when you are writing an article, a blog post can be as short as one paragraph and as long as you want it to be, but the sweet spot is between 1 and 4 paragraphs. And by sweet spot I mean post length that maximizing the number of people that will read it fully. The only two exceptions I can think of to write longer posts is if you are doing a Q&A type of post or if you are doing a list (“12 reasons to …”). The reason these are ok is because they are easy to scan and for the reader to get the gist of it (like this blog post you are reading right now). Have funDon’t panic if you don’t get hundreds of readers on your first week. Be very happy if you get five readers. You should be doing this for the long run, so like anything that takes time, it’s much more palatable if you are having fun along the way.Here are a few things for you to read next to get your blog going:

  • Thanks for the advice,
    I just started a blog recently but haven’t gotten a lot of feedback so I had nothing to go off of for a while but after reading this I went back through my posts, rewrote, and I think it did help me be a little realer and tap into the persona I want to share with others through my blog. But of course I am sure I have a long ways to go. Here’s to it!

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