This is an excerpt from the full PDF on finding your voice, written by journalist and professional blogger Leigh Robshaw.
You can find the full report in The Blogger”s Guide to Winning with WordPress, a complete bloggers guide for WordPress beginners.
Finding Your Voice
There are two main aspects to finding your blogging voice:
- knowing what you want to say, and
- knowing how you want to say it.
Sounds simple enough, but these two questions can have people screaming “who am I?!” as they make a run for the loony bin, their tenth cup of coffee for the morning left undrunk next to the computer.
If that sounds like you, don’t fret.
Great writers, artists and musicians throughout time have grappled with the age-old dilemma of finding one’s voice.
It strikes at the very core of our humanity, because it’s really about finding ourselves.
Who the hell knows how to do that?
It’s a constantly evolving process, but you have to start somewhere, especially if you want to begin a blog.
It’s absolutely crucial to the success of your blog to find your voice, because it’s what makes you stand out from the crowd.
Your voice is the personality you inject into your writing.
Your voice won’t appeal to everyone, and it’s blogging suicide to even entertain that notion, so don’t even try.
But if you really nail your voice, your blog will appeal to those people who share your mindset and your passion, and can relate to what you’re about.
While the writers and artists of history have struggled with that existential question — who am I? — you don’t have to.
Finding your voice is not some wanky abstract, arty concept, and it’s not as difficult as people make out.
It’s just about getting to know yourself.
Your voice is YOU — so finding it is about knowing yourself and accepting who you are, not being afraid to share that with the world.
It’s not about trying to sound like someone else, no matter how cool you think they are.
Modeling is not copying
When you find a writer you like, it’s tempting to want to emulate them. Similarly, for musicians, it can be difficult to create a unique sound without copying the music that has inspired them.
The trick is in allowing yourself to be inspired by what you like, without being overly influenced by it.
To do that, you may need to distance yourself from all the other stuff out there for a little while, especially the blogs you really love.
You can use them as inspiration to guide you towards the feeling you want to create, or the quality of work you are aiming for, but the worst thing you can do is to try to copy someone else’s voice.
It’s ripping them off, and ripping yourself off.
The first thing to do is create enough space between their work and your work, so you can connect with your own voice.
It could take you days, weeks or months. Observe the way you talk, the language you use, the phrases you use.
Write them down. Try your hand at automatic writing, or stream of consciousness writing, where you write for at least three pages without editing yourself.
Just write whatever comes into your head, exactly as it comes out, without altering it.
Write the way you speak
Many blogging guides advise people to write like they talk. You can’t help but talk in your own voice, right?
That’s OK if the way you talk is interesting and engaging. Your speaking voice might translate effortlessly to your blog.
But not everyone talks in a way that sounds interesting in written form, so while your blog needs to sound natural, chances are your written voice will differ somewhat from your spoken voice.
If you’re new to blogging, it’s going to seem like all the cool voices have already been taken.
There’s that funny blogger with the acerbic wit that you love; there’s the poetic one; the philosophical one; the intellectual one; the edgy one. There are as many blogging voices as there are people in the world.
But — there is always room for one more:
The most successful bloggers are those who are the most authentic.
Why people love blogs
People are sick of the falsity of the mainstream media, the overly polished and glossy TV presenters, the sound bytes, the superficiality.
That’s one reason why reality TV has been so popular — people are looking for what is real and don’t want to be lied to.
When you hit on this authentic voice and combine it with your unbridled passion for the subject of your blog, you will:
- Attract like-minded readers
- Be automatically engaging
- Build trust with your readers
- Be able to turn readers into customers
- Have a lot of fun!
What do you want to say?
This brings us to the subject of your blog:
- What do you want to say to people?
- Why do you want to write a blog?
If you can answer these two questions you are well on the way to finding your voice.
To a large extent, the subject of your blog will inform the voice of your blog.
- Are you a passionate music fan?
- An avid reader who wants to review books?
- Are you a keen social commentator?
- Do you want to teach people how to knit on your blog, or how to improve their relationships?
Whatever subject you are passionate about, you need to funnel that passion through your writing.
Don’t worry about writing perfectly, perfecting your grammar or letting the odd typo through. Blog readers care about that stuff less than they care about your enthusiasm for the subject.
Your enthusiasm fires up their enthusiasm, and that is a match made in heaven when you’re dealing with the accessibility and immediacy of the blogging format.
Tips from Stephen R. Covey on finding your voice
The late author and educator Stephen R. Covey defined ‘voice’ as the overlapping of the four parts of our nature: our body, our mind, our heart and our spirit. If you’re having trouble finding your voice, Covey suggests asking yourself these questions:
- What are you good at? That’s your mind.
- What do you love doing? That’s your heart.
- What need can you serve? That’s your body.
- What is life asking of you?
- What gives your life meaning and purpose?
- What do you feel like you should be doing?
- In short, what is your conscience directing you to do?
That is your spirit.
If you can connect with these four aspects of yourself and pour them into your blog with passion, you’ll have a winning formula.
People will be attracted to your voice combined with your subject matter, and as long as you stay true to yourself, they will keep coming back for more.
When you find yourself becoming lost in the creative process of writing your blog, they keyboard is on fire and the words are flowing effortlessly, then you’ll know you’ve found your voice.
Stephen Covey – Find Your Voice
This guide is a part of The Blogger’s Guide to Winning with WordPress, a total beginners guide to making WordPress rock.
How could you experiment with some of these ideas to find your unique writing voice?