Do you ever feel like you spend all of your writing energy pandering to people?
We all fall into this trap sometimes. Some of the trap is created by good advice and the rest of the trap is created by our own writing insecurities.
The only way to establish your own voice is to WRITE WITH YOUR OWN VOICE! (sorry for the shouting)
Most of my readers run or contribute significantly to the online content of their business. It’s very easy to think of writing for your business as a formula but this will not serve you well. Do you know why?
Everyone is using the same formula.
Using the same formula as everyone else does not make you stand out. It also makes you feel like you aren’t being true to yourself. Your conscience notices and you just don’t feel great about your writing.
Am I saying to be different than the traditional formula? Sort of. Don’t be different just to be different. Be you.
There is something unique about your business that you want others to know about. There is also something unique about your writing that will help you convey that wonderfully unique aspect of your business.
Here are four tips to help you break out of the same boring formula used by everyone else:
Tip #1 Ignore Word Counts
Well-intentioned SEO experts have suggested word counts in order to please the Google gods. They know more about SEO than I will forget but I know the word counts have changed over time as Google changes so maybe they aren’t so concrete.
I also know the best writing advice I ever received:
Cut the fat.
“Cut the fat” is the enemy of word counts. Write, then cut the unnecessary stuff. The remainder is better than whatever you started with, guaranteed.
Tip #2 Write Like You Speak, Not To A Grade Level
Ever since people started studying the newspaper business, they have been trying to figure out the average reading grade level of their audience. The idea being that if you write to that level, you will appeal to the most possible people.
At least one of today’s self-titled social media experts has rehashed this concept and suggested the same for blogging.
Do not listen to this advice.
First, you have better things to do with your time than run your writing through a program that will give you this information.
Second, your writing likely appeals to exactly the customer that you seek. I sometimes use words that might be unfamiliar to fourth-graders. None of my customers are fourth-graders. Perfect.
Tip #3 Stop Trying To Be An Insider
Mentors are great. I happen to really admire the writing of a number of bloggers.
However, mimicking a mentor or popular blogger will not automatically launch you into the insider stratosphere. Many business blogs want to be popular and get into the “in” crowd. There is nothing wrong with goals, promotion or the desire to grow.
Just be careful that you are writing for your readers first. They are the crowd you really want to please. If you run a business, one paying customer beats a 100-person focus group every day of the week. Right?
Success tends to catch the attention of insiders. They will be much more curious about what you are doing if it is actually working. At that point, they might even help you grow your true target audience.
Tip #4 Don’t Use Profanity To Seem Edgy
Profanity is a great shortcut of comedy and the reason I don’t use it is that I am concerned about the joke quality suffering.
- Jerry Seinfeld
Limiting your use of profanity is not meant to be a moral judgment. You might feel like business etiquette demands limiting its use and that would be fair.
Just like in comedy, profanity often diminishes the quality of your message. And using profanity simply to seem edgy is a tired trick.
Some bloggers have successfully built a brand that requires a more profane writing voice. For many, it just seems like a gimmick or a crutch.
Some people are naturally profane and funny. It’s just who they are.
I would suggest that, particularly for business bloggers, you resist the urge to be profane. Improve the quality of your writing before relying on shortcuts.
Hopefully these four tips have given you some freedom to write with your own voice. Get outside of the formula and skip the shortcuts.
What tips have helped you establish your writing voice?