How To Find Your Blogging Voice (Using A Packet of Post-Its)
Do you find it hard to get your tone right for your blog? Is it too formal, stilted, serious, bland or just SOMEHOW NOT LIKE YOU? Many people tell me that while they have no trouble expressing themselves in person, if you put them in front of a keyboard they clam up. Blogging is, for them, like a form of torture. Every sentence takes an age to write, and too often the end result is dreary and limp. In some ways this isn’t surprising. Think about it: when you meet someone your conversation is an exchange, and you respond to that person’s comments and facial expressions. Even when you’re presenting to an audience you can at least make eye contact and see what kind of response you’re getting. But writing a blog can be inhibiting as you’re writing into the void.
When I was a magazine editor we used to do the Post-It Note Exercise. We would think about our typical reader and plot her day from the moment she woke up until bedtime. What was for breakfast, did she go to the gym, and how did she access the news? Writing on post-it notes and sticking them in a horizontal line along a wall, we would get a clear picture of our reader’s day and mindset, and from this could write relevant, targeted features drawing on the right references and language. This is how you make a reader feel understood, like she’s being addressed by someone who thinks like her and can offer helpful insights.
In order to find your blogging voice you need to work out who you’re blogging for. Identifying and characterising your typical reader – her (or indeed his) tastes, lifestyle and fears – will help you find your voice. Preferably have just one person in mind who embodies your readers – perhaps a particular client or business associate. Try the Post-It Note Exercise, at least in your head, to get a clear picture of their world. From now on, when you blog try writing with this reader in mind, reflecting her lifestyle and using her language, keeping it chatty and informal while giving your unique spin on the latest news and trends. Chatty, targeted and newsy. Your blogging voice – sorted.