Your blog should feel like home to your ideal readers. If you’re an online business owner, it should be the hub of the community you’ve created for yourself in the online space. That’s because the more time readers spend on your website and the more they engage with you through comments and social shares, the more likely they’ll also recommend you to others or even purchase an item or service from you. That’s because they feel like they know you, that they like you, and that they trust you.
Plus, we know that it takes around 7 “touches” for people to invest in something. The longer they’re on your website, and the happier they are about it, the more likely they’ll become raving fans and loyal clients. So how can you create this community atmosphere on your blog?
Your blog is an extension of you
As of 2019, some estimates claimed there were over 500 million different blogs on the internet. With a number that big (and counting), how can you ensure your blog stands out? What’s your unique value proposition?
If you’re an online business owner – especially in the personal development space – I believe the easiest, most authentic, and only surefire way to set your blog apart is to put yourself at the heart of it. You are your blog’s unique value proposition. There’s no one else quite like you, with your unique mix of experience, knowledge, and perspective.
Think about the huge number of life coaches in the online space in 2020. Why is there space for so many, especially when there’s a limited number of schools that offer this training and that means many coaches’ skill sets overlap? It’s because each of them is a unique person, and their ideal clients are going to connect not just with their credentials or experience, but most importantly, their personality. It’s the connection that creates fans and makes the sale.
Of course, your niche matters too and so do your specific content pillars. Your use of SEO best practices also makes a massive difference in terms of how many people can find you on the web. But in all these cases, what makes a reader stay with you, sign up as part of your email list, and even interact in the comments and purchase, is that they like you.
And absolutely, your PR moves make a big difference in getting attention on your blog and business. But what will score you that life-changing interview with your role model on a popular podcast? It’s that your business is meaningful and different from the rest. And what makes it different is essentially you.
If you’re a solopreneur, your voice must shine through in each piece of content and on each post. Your blog should resonate with your reader and make them think, “This person knows exactly what my problems are. It’s like they’re talking to me. This is my kind of person.” Your blog voice is the easy foundation underpinning it all.
Your blog voice is something you get to have 100% control over from Day One, and it’s what’s going to make your reader feel, on an intuitive level, that this is the place for them.
What is your blog voice?
Your blog voice is essentially a combination of your tone of voice, your writing style, and the language you use.
When I work on blog voice with clients who are in their first year of business, we use an easy guide similar to the one below. Simply choose one out of each set of options. At the end, you’ll have a 7-point guide to refer back to whenever you’re in doubt about how to express yourself on your blog, in emails, on social media, or in interviews. It’s your stylistic guard rail, keeping you centered and consistent – and thereby making your audience feel safe and taken care of. The surprises should come from your unique perspective and novel experiences – not from an inconsistent voice – for them to continuously resonate with you and feel that you’ve been your authentic self all along.
I’d encourage you to put your Blog Voice Stylistic Guard Rail on the wall by your desk for easy reference.
Keep in mind that if you ever host featured writers on your blog, and more importantly, if you ever get a ghostwriter, it’ll make the hiring process so much smoother as well because you can shortcut their research on your voice. But perhaps that’s a topic for another day!
Your Blog Voice Stylistic Guard Rail
Click here to download the free, 2-page worksheet that you can print and fill in!
- Casual vs. formal language
Casual language includes contractions (like can’t instead of cannot), the everyday version of words (like bruise instead of hematoma), popular slang, and reflects spoken language (like “Hey, guys!”). Casual language is the most common stylistic choice online and essential for some types of brands like influencers, and most digital product sales.
Formal language never includes contractions or slang, and may include industry jargon and scientific words, and reflects the distanced, proper language that you see in traditional business writing. It is generally only used on blogs for very formal banks, educational institutions, and blogs at large companies where no single person has a byline (ie. no one gets their name credited for writing the piece.)
- Polite vs. colorful language/cursing
If you do choose to go ahead with colourful language, I’d encourage you to do so thoughtfully, and keeping in mind what your reader is comfortable with. Otherwise, you could pass into gratuitous fairly quickly.
- Personal anecdotes vs. reporting on events, stats, or what you learned from a book/course
You can certainly mix these once in a while, but having one go-to is helpful to create consistency in your blog.
- Keeping it real (but w/ a polished thought process) vs. sleek and aspirational
- Personal vs. professional persona
A personal persona is essential for influencers, and preferable for many online businesses where an individual is the face of the brand. This is especially true for personal development solopreneurs like life coaches, yoga teachers, tarot readers, etc.
A professional persona is better for blogs that have multiple contributors like most large businesses, a traditionally professional audience such as lawyers or professors, or when your target audience is big businesses and corporations.
- Second person singular (you) vs. second person plural (folks, y’all, all of you, everyone/everybody)
- Summary (descriptive words that describe your voice):
Eg. casual, vulnerable, relatable, fanciful, approachable, aspirational, etc.
Remember you can download the complete worksheet right here!
And that’s it for the basics of blog voice! Let me know what questions you have in the comments. I’m happy to help you work through some of these choices as well!