When I first started blogging years ago, I found that writing was one of the toughest parts about it. According to my grades in high school, I was never a strong writer and just sort of chalked it up to that—it simply wasn’t my strength. I was good at other things, so I just let it go.
But years later, I found myself in a career where writing is a big part of the pie. Who would have guessed? I found that being able to write clearly and concisely, while also letting my personality shine through was a serious challenge for me. So, last year I did some soul-searching of sorts. I asked myself questions, thought about who was reading my site and why they were coming back each day. What did they want to see and how was the best way to talk to them? I even got serious about my writing abilities and took a class, though I’ve found there’s nothing like practice to really hone your skills.
Because of all of those questions, this past year I’ve truly felt like I’ve found my voice. Or at least have a better sense of it than I did the year before. Sure, it falters at times, I occasionally lose focus, and it’s always evolving, but I’ve found a few things to be especially helpful in not only finding your voice, but keeping your voice consistent over time.
Know Your Reader
Part of finding your voice is knowing who your audience is. How old are they? Where do they live? Are they married, single? Do they have kids? What do they like to do for fun? How do they spend money? Figuring out exactly who you’re creating content for is key in creating the right content, and talking to your readers in a way that makes sense to them.
If you’ve been blogging for a while, take a look at your Google Analytics to get more in-depth information on who is already reading your site. Sometimes you’ll come across data that may be a surprise to you and help you shape your content moving forward.
Create a character who embodies all the traits of your “ideal” reader. Write it down! It might be something like this:
“Jane is a 20-something year old gal who is newly married and living in the city. She works full-time at a public relations firm that keeps her very busy, and while she’s interested in fashion and travel, the city is expensive! So, she’s always on the lookout for great deals, sales and inexpensive ways to look stylish and travel on a budget. Unfortunately, with her busy job, she’s too tired at the end of the day to hunt for all those deals herself and she appreciates that someone else can simply tell her when and where to find them!”
This doesn’t mean that no one who falls outside these things will read your blog, but it’ll help you stay consistent if you’re writing for that one person.
This was something I struggled with in the beginning. Who was I? What did I stand for? I tried being so many different things and at the end of the day found that just being my real, honest and true self was not only much easier, but more well-received than my attempts at trying to be someone else.
If you’re not into designer fashion, don’t try to fake it. If you hate cooking, don’t force yourself to create recipe posts because you think your readers will like it. If you’re sarcastic and funny, don’t try to pretend to have a super cheery personality. Faking it is hard. Stick to who you are, what you know and what you’re passionate about and the rest will fall into place.
Create a Mission Statement
I know, it sounds sort of silly, but I’ve actually found it helpful. Writing a mission statement helps define the goal and purpose of your blog in one quick sentence. It doesn’t even have to be something that you publicly publish! Just something for yourself, to help you remember what your goals are when you feel like you’re losing focus.
I’ll stick to the same theme as the above “ideal” reader and create a mission statement.
“A stylish and budget-friendly blog highlighting the best sales, steals and deals on fashion and travel.”
It sort of sounds like a tagline, right? It’s one quick way to remember what you’re all about.
So, think about it! What do you want people to take away from your blog? Maybe you want them to find inspiration for living a simpler life or budget-friendly ways to look stylish. Maybe your goal is to encourage new moms or teach people how to DIY their first home!
Set Time Aside to Write
Even though writing is one of the biggest parts of my job, it used to be the thing I dedicated the least amount of time to. But the past year, I’ve learned that my voice is what makes me unique and makes my content different, so I set aside time to write during the week. Typically, I’ll schedule 1.5-3 hours of writing time in a single setting and do that once or twice during the week. It sounds like a lot, but I promise it goes by fast and you’ll be proud of what you accomplish when it’s done!
When the time starts, I turn off my phone, my music, close all browser windows and basically go off the reservation for a bit. The quiet time allows me to focus on one thing and one thing only—writing. Find more productivity tips in this post.
Instead of writing within WordPress, I just pull up a blank Text document (Microsoft Word or Pages would work perfectly) and just start writing. The reason for this is because when I write in WordPress, I feel the need to finish my post—add links, pictures, etc. which defeats the purpose of my writing time, so a blank document is ideal for me.
Guys, I can’t tell you how much this helps. After a few hours of uninterrupted silence I usually find that I’ve written content that I’m proud of and excited about—and, I’ve written a lot. Sometimes I can get 3-5 posts written in that timeframe—crazy, right?! That’s a whole week’s worth! Of course I still have to go back and add links, photos, etc. but the writing is done!
Another added benefit of writing this way is that I usually come up with other great post ideas in the process. It’s seriously amazing what a little peace and quiet can do for your creativity.
Have you found your voice? What helped you or what are you still struggling with?2