HOW TO FIND YOUR VOICE AS A BLOGGER
Are you listening?
I have something important to tell you. A truth you simply must understand if you want to get really, really good at this blogging thing!
Ready? Alright, here it is:
All the things you believe people don’t like about you are the very things your readers will like the most. In fact, those things are the key to finding your distinct blogging voice!
So, as of today, you are going to stop seeing them as negatives and start embracing them as a gift!
I’m too shy. I talk too loud. My grammar is awful. I’m not bubbly enough. I’m so awkward. Why am I so bossy? People don’t really like me. I’m a know-it-all! Do you see the game I’m playing? The one where we believe all these ideas about ourselves that make us utterly uncomfortable in our own skin. The very same nobody-likes-me-I’m-gonna-eat-some-worms game that will destroy your chances of writing a great blog post, before you ever sit down in front of your computer.
It’s a stupid game. It’s destructive and counter-productive! So, I’m going to teach you how to play a new game instead. One that will walk you through finding your distinctive blogging voice, so you can start writing blog posts your people will love to read!
If you’ve been blogging any longer than a minute, you’ve probably heard expressions like, “just be you” or “be real.” However, there are a couple of problems with those expressions.
#1. You’re using someone else’s definition of what “be you” or “be real” means.
#2. You’re trying to be a more acceptable version of “you” instead of the actual “you!”
Writing blog posts under the guise of “just be you” or “be real” is like running a race backward. Sure, you may be getting somewhere, but you’re not getting there very fast and it’s likely that you’re going to quit before you get very far.
A Formula for Finding Your Distinctive Blogging Voice.
First things first…
What does it really mean to Be You? And who are you… really?
For the next few minutes, I want you to trek along with me as we discover your distinct blogging voice, starting with what exactly it means to “Be You!”
Get a pen and paper, because you’re going to do a little work. Write down your answers to these questions as you go along.
#1. How do people describe you?
Honestly. Write down two words people commonly use to describe you. Not what people like about you. Not what you wish they thought about you. Words that you’ve actually heard used to describe you.
Several years ago a post-trend on Facebook was to ask your “friends” to comment ONE word they would use to describe you. It could only be one and they had to play nice. I was shocked when the word that repeated itself over and over again in my comments thread was CONFIDENT.
What I thought was my over-bearing-ness was actually, confidence. And, the vast majority of people truly liked and admired it!
If you’re not sure how people would describe you, ask! Use FB, email or text and ask 10 people to use ONE word to describe you. Write down the words that are repeated (trust me there will be some common themes).
#2. What are the reasons you think people don’t like you?
These things are likely the very traits that will make you stand out among a sea of other bloggers.
Write them down through a filter of truth instead of a lens of self-criticism.
I’ll say it again: The very things you think people don’t like about you, are actually the things your readers will love.
Think you’re bossy? Your reader wants your leadership.
Believe people think you’re a know-it-all? Your reader desires your knowledge.
Do you feel invisible because you’re shy? Your reader longs to connect with you!
Think you’re boring? Your reader craves the stability.
“Be You” means recognizing the quirks, character, tendencies, and traits that make you – you! There is no room for attempting to fit your square personality into a round peg. It won’t work and you’ll sabotage your blogging efforts in the process of trying to be or sound like someone else.
Next things next…
What’s your style?
Your style is the element of your blog that will make your reader feel at home inside your blog post!
#1. What’s your own personal style?
A blogger straight-outta-Compton is going to sound different in a blog post than a blogger from the Upper East Side! Neither one should try to sound like the other. It just won’t work.
When you’re chatting with someone, do you use a lot of slang? Perhaps you like big words and feel more comfortable when your portion of the conversation is grammatically correct. Are you a lover of interjections? Uh-huh! Yup! Totes! Nope! Whatever!
If you are formal, be formal. If you’re super casual in conversation, keep your writing casual as well. If you don’t know the difference between a consonant and vowel, well… you should really work on that!
Early in my blogging journey, I read one sentence in a blog post that stated a blogger should not use big words. The writer expressed the importance of keeping things “simple” for a reader.
I wrote a few of my worst posts after heeding that advice. I love the art of expressive language. Attempting to write using simpler words than I would naturally use, made for some clunky, choppy, confining and kinda-painful writing!
So, while I wouldn’t recommend intentionally thesaurus-ing the heck out of every word you write in order to find it’s most complex synonym, certainly don’t replace a word you say regularly with a simpler version because you think your reader won’t understand.
Your reader will understand because she’s your reader!
#2. Write like you talk. And what in the world does that mean, anyway?
Everyone has a repertoire of words, phrases, and expressions they use regularly. Don’t omit those from your writing. Use them.
Likewise, while it is important to know the difference between a consonant and a vowel, a word not being an actual word doesn’t disqualify it.
I say, “what’s kickin’ chicken” more times during the day than I can count! I also tell my kids quite often how “fan-freakin-tastic” they are. And as a stuck-in-between-generations 38-year-old woman who grew up on a 52-acre farm, you’re likely to hear me say, “slower than molasses in January” in the same sentence as “TOTES!”
It’s all part of my style and my readers love it.
You have a style that you must embrace. Your readers are going to feel snuggly inside your writing style, so long as you give them your true style to curl up in!
Last Thing Last…
What Makes You Mad?
Most folks will call this your passion. The problem with passion is that many of us are multi-passion-people.
I radically changed my family’s dietary lifestyle 6 years ago, and therefore am passionate about nutrition.
I homeschool my 4 children, which has created a passion for informing people on their option to educate at home.
I am a moderately crunchy-mommy who birthed two of her four babies at home and have thus developed a passion for prenatal and pregnancy knowledge.
Although I am passionate about all of those things, nothing gets me fired up the way good parenting does. And, nothing can turn my stomach in knots quite like this topic.
Which is how I know, without a doubt, it’s the message I must share.
This is such a stumbling block for new bloggers. It certainly was for me!
With advice to niche down bombarding you one moment and write what you want the next, it’s utterly confusing.
Here’s the thing… when you start with what makes you mad, you are going to attract people.
Writing all the thoughts swirling around inside your head on the subject that gets you all fired up, will repel the people you don’t want and draw those you do!
Some folks call this niching down, I call it being smart.
Think of it as a bullseye. The more often you hit dead center of that bullseye in the beginning of your blog, the more of your ideal readers you’ll attract.
Once that center is full of darts, you can move on, working your way outward, one bullseye section at a time.
Alternately, should you start your blog by hitting random spots throughout the target, it’s going to be difficult for your reader to see you as an authority in any one area.
The beauty of approaching your blog this way is that you can both niche-down and write what you want. It just takes some time. Eventually, your target fills up. However, it won’t happen in a day. Or a month. Or a year.
Take your time!
Alright, let’s recap, shall we?
Formula for Finding Your Distinct Blogging Voice.
Who You Are + Your Own Style + What Makes You Mad = Your Distinct Blogging Voice!
When you embrace who you are, put your style to use, and write what you are truly, truly passionate (fired up) about… magic happens!
If I could look into your future, I’d see years of writing that unfolds one common underlying theme in everything you write.
But if you’re anything like me, you’d rather it not take years to discover your mojo! Am I right?
I’m not trying to waste a bunch of time and resources blogging in a voice that is anything less than distinctly my own!
Don’t waste your precious moments being someone you’re not or someone you think others want you to be. It’s like trying to slice bread with an ax! It might, sorta work a little, but not really at all!
An ax was created to cut down a tree and you were created with a message to share.
Shelley Jefsen is a lover of Jesus, wife, homeschooling mother of 4, and author of 5 Steps to Raising A Well-Behaved Child Ebook as well as the Raise Good Kids 28 Day Parenting Devotional. She is the CEO and Founder of A Family Meeting Blog. Her passion is providing moms with good parenting for raising great kids, so they can feel confident in their efforts to build a strong family dynamic! Shelley and her family can typically be found outside working on their mini-farm, with a hodge-podge of farm animals and happily playing in the dirt of the Tennessee foot-hills.