It’s unavoidable. The moment you start blogging, your self-confidence and assurance will go out the window. It’s true. All that authority you have? Your experience? It won’t matter. There’s just something about publishing to the Web and that awful white screen that turns people into mumbling zombies. But you can re-find yourself and your voice on the Web. You’ll need if you plan not to suck and want to connect with anyone. You can do it. I’ll hold your hand.

One of the biggest struggles people face when writing content for the Web is working to develop a unique voice. If you’re a blogger, you’ve felt it and it may be your personal hell. If you’re not a blogger, you’ve read something on the Web and thought to yourself, “hmm, they’re trying too hard to be X”. It’s not an uncommon occurrence; however, it is something you can kill.

I have quite a bit of experience creating Web voices for clients and even in my own personal projects. Here are some tips that have always helped me find myself, my voice and, in the end, a paying audience.

Be brave

If you follow me on Twitter, you may know that last week I wrapped up an 8 week writing class I was taking through the Arts Center here in Troy, NY. The biggest lesson my professor stressed to us – Be Brave. A lot of other people will tell you the first rule of blogging is “don’t be boring”, but I think calling it bravery is actually a better term. Writers who are brave take risks with language, they allow themselves to try new things, and they grab a sword when others grab a filter. And you know what your brave voice sounds like. It’s you on Friday night when you’re a little tipsy – either on alcohol, love or life. It’s when you’re YOU without the filter you apply to everyday life in order to look or appear a certain way. Honing in on that ballsier version of yourself is what allows you to create your character and form that naked superhero– which, to me, is one of the most important aspects to blogging.

Be simple

When you write, use the same voice that you’d use to talk to someone. It sounds…simple, but it actually takes some practice if you’re not used to it. Most people can’t write like they speak, which is why they’re as riveting to read as the phone book and nothing ever sounds like them. If you wouldn’t throw big words and jargon in your everyday language (oh, and if you would, please don’t talk to me. Ever.), then don’t use it in your blog posts either. Read your posts out loud and ask yourself, “does that sound like me?” If it doesn’t, don’t publish it. Go have a drink, go for a run, or maybe go do some more research. Because if you can’t explain something simply, then it’s a sign you don’t really understand it. While I’m sure you’re a very complex and interesting person, the core of you is simple. It’s the you that exists when you’re not trying too hard to be anything else. That’s what people want.

Identify an emotional need in the market place

If you’re blogging about crocheting because you love crocheting and you want to share that love with the rest of the world. That’s awesome. Now please move to the left.

Okay, everyone ELSE is blogging for money. That means you need to blend that whole authenticity thing with the ability to sell to people. The most powerful way to do that? Take a look at your market, identify what’s missing, and then be that, loudly. Sometimes finding the space between who you want to be and what will make you a lot of money help you connect with people is hard, but it’s out there if you look for it. Plot the “important” people in your industry and trend out where they’re moving. Figure out what you can bring that’s different and a need that already exists. Maybe you’re the whistleblower, maybe you’re the apologist, maybe you’re the cynic, maybe you’re the bitch. Figure out who you need to be.

Try a range of tools

I found my voice through blogging. This medium gives me a freedom I don’t always have and it’s what feels natural and authentic to me. But that doesn’t mean it’s that way for you. Some bloggers feel more comfortable talking to their community via video because it allows people to see them and it’s easier to gather their thoughts that way than to sit in front of a blinking cursor. Other people use podcasts so that they can simply talk and their audience can download the content and take it for the road. Others prefer to use a hybrid approach. The availability of free content publishing tools means it doesn’t matter what your preferred way of communicating with people is – because there’s a way to do that. If you’ve had a hard time sounding like “you” via text, try some different tools to switch it up. It could be a medium problem that’s preventing you from being able to express who you are.

Understand how people will perceive you

When you land on this blog, your expectations are different based on the author name associated with the post. You expect different types of content from me than you do from Rae, than you do from Rhea, than you do from Dawn, etc. We all carry different brands and perceptions and that’s something to remember and consider if you’re blogging for money. When you start to find your voice, people will start to carry perceptions of who you are what you meant to say, even if it’s not really what you said. Understand how that may affect your writing and your business if you’re projecting a different perception than you mean to. Either decide to change the perception by changing your action or be okay with the consequences of the brand you hold, good or bad.

Those are some of the most important things that have allowed me to find myself in blogging in order to attract an audience. What’s worked for you?


About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.


21 thoughts on “How To Find Yourself…On Your Blog


  • Sage Lewis on said:

    You are muy cool, Lisa.

    I’m pretty sure you are my current favorite blogger right now for all the reasons you mention above.

    Just keep on with your brave self!
    Sage


  • Lisa Keller on said:

    I think this is harder than people who don’t blog realize. As a copywriter, I have found that it’s always been an issue that people who don’t write think it’s so easy to do. Writing with a consistent, interesting and authentic voice is even more difficult.

    I attended an Unmarketing event last week and I think he had some great advice to help bloggers Be Brave– which is, Ignore the Trolls. Those online haters that are just trashing you to get a rise out of you. I think once you realize that it’s impossible to please/impress/inspire everyone, you’re on your way to finding your voice.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      That’s a good point about trolls. I think bloggers also have to ignore their INNER troll, who’s often a lot more dangerous and nasty. :) We all come equipped with all this self doubt that makes it nearly impossible to write or say anything. It’s gotta go.

      Thanks for commenting. :)


  • Brendan Schneider on said:

    Lisa,
    Thank you for sharing.

    The more I blog – the more I realize how little I know and the advice of Being Brave is a very helpful.

    Thanks again and keep on Twittering!
    Thanks,
    Brendan


  • William Stites on said:

    I have found some great freedom with blogging and has help me understand my own thinking and meta-cognitive process. It’s also given me an opportunity to share with my community and those outside of it. Amazing stuff for sure.


  • Todd Mintz on said:

    Of course, some of us blog because we’re lousy speakers…

    The one piece of advice I would add is that reading a lot of diverse material, online and offline, will help someone find their blogging voice. No disrespect to anyone here, but I’m much more inspired by folks like John Updike and Norman Mailer than anyone in my RSS Feed.


  • Brian Harnish on said:

    I always enjoy reading the posts on Outspoken Media, especially from you Lisa. You provide a very unique spin on topics related to marketing that include great food for thought as well. This article ranks up there with the best I’ve read from you. You’ve hit the nail right on the head. Well done (as usual)!!


  • bluephoenixnyc on said:

    Great post–it likens the whole social media dialogue to one giant cocktail party: Corporations with social media presences are able to banter freely, exchange gossip and jokes; corporations without said presences–or worse, the ones who think automating a Twitter stream as the lion’s share of their outreach–end up looking like boring wallflowers.

    No one wants to do business with a wallflower.


  • Chris Miller on said:

    To kick off my first time participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I downloaded Chris Baty’s “No Plot? No Problem!” to gear up for it. This inspired me to take my NaNoWriMo story online with a fictional blog, TheSeattleReview.com. Most of what Baty had to say was about having fun with your character, and to not take things so seriously. I learned three things in this process:

    1) Being brave is a lot easier when you’re writing someone else’s life

    2) If you love your character (or voice), you’ll love writing for / about them.

    3) Blog as yourself, blog as a fictional character, but whatever you do, blog honestly (and be brave). If you blog as a corporate clone, product pimp, or mass marketer, you won’t be happy – and neither will your readers.


  • Steve Crowley on said:

    This is excellent advice. Thank you. Brian and the others pretty much cover my comments.

    Regarding being brave, I agree, but think some can be braver than others. Most of you are cool young people in the emerging industry of internet marketing. That’s not me. If you are in a more staid field (or, more staid, period), you run the risk of being branded a hot dog by your peers, to your possible detriment. As I see it, it would unwise for me to cut loose online. Can I and should I do better writing like I talk? Yes.

    Follow this advice, but don’t force a square cllent into a round hole.


  • Sue on said:

    This is awesome, and very helpful. When I started blogging, I started reading – a lot. Books, news and of course, other blogs. I’m still working on things, but that has helped a lot.


  • Gabriele Maidecchi on said:

    Maybe it’s silly but I think a good way to understand if you are on the right way is to let someone close to you read what you wrote. We aren’t good judgers of ourselves, but if someone close enough to know you recognize your imprint on what you write, you’ll at least know you’re completely off track.
    It’s very hard to be yourself while blogging after having read so many other sources of information, the – even not conscious – temptation to “be someone else” is always lurking.


  • Kristina Summers on said:

    Great post as always Lisa. I feel lucky that I have always been able to write/blog the way that I speak and even if I don’t have a large following, those who follow my writings (whether on my blog or through my job)are always telling me that is what they love most about my writing style – how genuine it is.
    However, I don’t make money from my blog(s). I have always felt that I was writing because I wanted to give back, that I was writing for me and that if in the process I was helping others, then that was enough.
    I have been reading and following you for some time however though and I am beginning to realize that it wouldn’t hurt to make a little dough doing the thing I love so now I plan to start putting more effort into the business end of things, following much of your advice.
    Just wanted to share that with you.
    Thanks for being you.


  • Jessica Nunemaker on said:

    I’ve been incorporating video into my blog — people like to actually SEE where I am and what I’m doing on my travels (other than photos).

    For some reason, I seem to forget my name as soon as the camera starts rolling. Lots of outtakes.

    I’m working on that one. ;) Mixing it up is a good thing and as long as my voice is consistent, I’ll stick with it.


  • Sydney Shore on said:

    I quite agree that with so many people vying to be called gurus in their own field, their individuality is muddled through the jargon and technical terms of whatever it is they’re trying to sell, and that’s a pity. The very first thing you should start working on is trying to map out what your blog is all about and then write from both your heart and your mind. It sounds easy, but there are so few who actually has achieved this.


  • Anonymous on said:

    Hi Lisa!
    Being a reader i can’t say more on “what a blogger should be like”…
    but what i felt is that blogs vary on the basis of the leadership behind them.and what mental structure a blogger has, can be seen in the blog..
    but Lisa what you have written shows you are cool and confident..
    want your readers to keep informed in an entertaining manner
    thats great…..


  • Soham on said:

    When I asked someone how should I choose the topics for my blog, he asked me to list my problems, passions,and phobias (fears) thats 3Ps. He said this is the only way to sustain in your interest and grow your knowlegde eventually ending up with a good useful blog.


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