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What’s Your Blogging Voice?

Just lately the term ‘blogging voice’ seems to be popping up everywhere. What on earth does it mean?

A new technology? Audio blogging?

Actually no. It’s much simpler than that in concept, but quite tough to get in practice.

But you do need to get it, because it forms part of your branding.

Here’s what I think ‘blogging voice’ means:

I recently read one of Jeremy Clarkson’s books and it was written in exactly the same way that he talks.

As I read the book I could ‘hear’ him saying the words. I could ‘hear’ him talking.

It wasn’t grammatically correct in the way you were taught at school, or at any of those writing for business courses.

He used one word sentences. And started others with conjunctions (and, but, because, etc).

But I could definitely ‘hear’ him talking to me as I read the book, so that (to me) was his writing voice.

I did not have a blogging voice when I started out, and I’m still only developing it now.

After years of writing reports and presentations in the corporate world I’d become great at writing ‘corporate speak’ – constant use of the passive voice and making sure I never committed to anything.

But that doesn’t work online, and it particularly doesn’t work for the informal world of blogging.

To stand out, to be noticed, you need to be identifiable. And to be identifiable you need to have a personality.

Your blogging voice is one of the ways you express your personality online.

Compare your blog to your home. Is your home nicely decorated, well laid out and are you friendly and welcoming when people drop in?

Make your blog the same. It will encourage people to come back.

Think about how you say things when you talk to your friends. And then write the same way on your blog.

For people coming from the legal or academic worlds, or the corporate world, this is not easy. It goes against everything you were taught about written communication.

But you do need to do it.

So here are a few pointers to get you started:

  1. Use the active, not the passive voice. “The team is writing a blog” is much sharper than “a blog is being written by the team” (which is typical corporate speak).
  2. Use short sentences covering only one point in each.
  3. Use short paragraphs – no more than 2 sentences to a paragraph.
  4. Write the same way as you speak.
  5. After you’ve written your post leave it for a few hours then come back and edit it. Ruthlessly.

With your editing, aim to reduce the length of your article by 25%. Cut out unnecessary descriptions and duplications

Writing as you speak can be quite tough, and you have to be ruthless in your editing!

Read your article out loud to yourself. Is that how you’d say it if you were telling a friend? No? Re-write it.

Developing your voice takes time. It won’t happen overnight. But stick with it and you’ll start to develop your unique blogging voice.

For more on writing for the web I seriously suggest you subscribe to Brian Clark’s CopyBlogger feed.

Wealthy Affiliate will teach you how to build a long term business

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Brad Harmon 19 October, 2009, 1:58 pm

    Ouch Martin! This post really hurt. As a former certified public accountant, I can tell you it is hard to stop writing this way. The non-committing language of the corporate world is deeply ingrained into my head. I thought I was free from the passive voice in college, but somehow I slipped back into it naturally.

    I can live with shorter paragraphs (mainly because my blog theme forces it), but I LOVE to write long sentences. Why not use parenthical statements, hyphenated clauses, introductory phrases, and don’t even get me started on conjuctions? I know the answer, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

    The largest difference between the way I speak and the way I write is the use of “for whom, to whom, for which, in which” etc. I never do it when I speak, but I do it religiously in writing – even in emails.

    In all seriousness, really great points. I am so far away from doing this though. Perhaps it would be easier for me to learn to speak the way I write? 😉

    Brad
    .-= Brad Harmon´s last blog ..Featured Video: Zig Ziglar on Setting Goals (3 of 3) =-.

    • WealthyDragon 19 October, 2009, 9:10 pm

      Learning to speak the way you write – that would probably make you sound like Alan Shaw from Boston Legal..! 🙂 (And there’s nothing wrong with that, by the way!).

      Seriously, it’s a difficult balance to achieve because changing your writing style is likely to make you seem stilted, at least at first. And that’s likely to have a negative impact in the short term.

      However, I do think short sentences are important. I know if I’m faced with long sentences I feel instantly tired. Only if sentences are really well constructed do I enjoy reading long ones.

      Unfortunately many articles that contain long sentences do so because the author wasn’t sufficiently disciplined to focus on the specific points they were making. That results in long sentences making multiple points, and that completely loses me.

      Cheers,

      Martin.

      • Brad Harmon 20 October, 2009, 12:34 am

        Martin,

        That is the only role that James Spader played where I actually liked him, and I did not even relate to his character. I miss Denny Crane! 🙁

        After reading your reply, I am starting to think that my long sentences are an accurate reflection of the way I talk (with just a little more thought and grammar). I can imagine that one would quickly get tired and lost by both reading and listening to my words. Why? Because it happens all the time.

        I have a tendency to chase all the chickens out of the coop, but I usually manage to bring them all back home to roost. The apostle Paul writes this way too. He is my favorite Biblical author yet it is quite tiring to read him for a long period of time, and I often find myself having to re-read passages. What great stuff is in his chickens though!

        Being nowhere near the level of Paul, I must confess that I am not very disciplined when it comes to my writing. I can clearly see the benefit in SEO by staying completely focused on topic. It would also help me to get down to the 500 to 700 word limit that most readers require for blog posts. It seems many of my comments are longer than some blogger’s posts!

        I’m afraid that social media is just driving attention spans down further with their 140 characters or less dictates and the invention of micro-blogging. Ugh! I feel myself talking me into the need for shorter sentences as I write this reply. Best to end it now before I am completely sold. 😉

        Brad
        .-= Brad Harmon´s last blog ..Featured Video: Zig Ziglar on Setting Goals (3 of 3) =-.

        • WealthyDragon 20 October, 2009, 7:33 am

          Brad, hi,

          Do they write Denny Crane out of the show..? That’s a shame – he’s great..! Here in Hong Kong we’re always several series behind, so Denny’s still with us 🙂

          Whether it’s the social media or just the incredible overflow of information, people increasingly expect instant information/results/gratification or whatever.

          As in anything to do with persuading people, if you talk in their terms you’re more likely to see success. Hence my preference for short sentences, paragraphs and a ‘write as I speak’ style.

          Martin.