This article originally appeared on PR Daily in November of 2017. The voice and tone of your blog posts matter.
As with search engine optimization, keyword research, building an editorial calendar and content strategy elements, there are rules you should follow to ensure your content is found and read—and that it boosts engagement.
Finding your writing voice isn’t choosing active or passive voice. Instead, it’s selecting the personality (voice) and mood (tone) which culminate in what you can call your writing style.
Some brand managers’ brand voices are colloquial and conversational. Others are more formal.
Why your writing voice matters
Two people with the same references, resources, and context stand a strong chance of writing like-minded posts, but their unique voice and style will set them apart from each other.
A particular voice can grab readers’ attention. As with an engaging narrative in a good novel, a unique and compelling authorial voice can draw you in. In the case of blog posts, authenticity and authority tend to cut through the clutter. Humor might also do the trick.
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Your brand voice isn’t set in stone. It will grow as you do, and adapt based on what you’re writing. Remember that a casual voice and comedic tone aren’t always appropriate.
Follow these three rules to find your voice:
1. Be authentic.
Your audience will pick up on an affected voice-something which doesn’t reflect who you are or what you do. As with your messaging, your writing voice must be authentic and true to you.
Jeff Goins, a prolific blogger and writing instructor, says the voice of your blog should tie-in with your goals:
- If you’re selling real estate online, your blog voice might be personal, professional and attentive to customers.
- Writing technology reviews, your voice might be snarky, clever and terse.
- Penning a personal blog, your voice might be sincere, passionate and vulnerable.
However, don’t become so locked into a particular writing voice that you lose sight of what entices your audience.
2. Know your audience.
Knowing your audience isn’t just about knowing what interests them. It includes being mindful of their expectations and limits.
If your voice incorporates an abundance of industry acronyms and insider terminology, ask yourself: Does it serve them well? Would you enjoy a post chock full of terms you have to Google?
If you pen a lot of research papers or teach courses, your voice is probably more formal and educational. A well-researched post that teaches us something new is compelling, but a lecture can sometimes be condescending. Make sure you’re mindful of the (fine) line between expertise and preachiness.
How can we be mindful of what our audience can manage? You can’t always know what your audience is thinking, but asking the following questions can provide a barometer:
- Who is my ideal reader?
- Will they find what I’m talking about valuable?
- Would I read this?
- What are some of my favorite blogs to read?
3. Read and write.
You ultimately find your voice by reading and writing. It’s the culmination of every word you consume and share, and it will emerge as you grow as a writer.
You have to write a lot to find, develop and hone your writing voice. As a beginner, don’t worry too much about your style, because it will come as you pen copy. Ultimately, a good rule of thumb is to write something you would want to read. Pay attention to your voice and note of what works—along with what doesn’t.
Once you’ve conducted keyword research and developed a content map—and crafted outstanding, SEO-optimized headlines—make the content behind your headline amazing.
Sonia Simone, chief marketing officer of CopyBlogger, told Orbit Media:
Put some love (and work) into it, to make it compelling and genuinely useful. Bring your own unique writing voice and sincere care for the topic into your written, audio, and video content.
Don’t forget to read, either, and take notes on what you consume. Notice what you like about your favorite blogs and podcasts, what drives you to share posts and what you would do differently.
Above all, embrace what makes you comfortable as you pen copy. Trust in your voice and your style.