Nine Tips to Blog With Personality
This won't be a tutorial on using buzzwords and common copywriting tricks, it's a tutorial in being relaxed and comfortable when presenting yourself to the world!
This is something I'm big on a small business owner. Because unless you're a government website, you're allowed to have a personality. In fact, it's encouraged to separate yourself from the pack. When there are thousands of other small businesses offering the same services, what distinguishes you from your competition is, well, you!
Blogging is one of our foremost opportunities to build the know-like-trust factor with our readers. This is how you can take your biz from "existing" to "unforgettable". You don't need to be the most bubbly and vivacious character on the Internet and you don't need to be a laugh riot. You should just strive to be authentic, reliable and relatable. Let your readers walk away feeling as if they know you a little better after each post.
You're busy so here we go, straight into it:
1. Write like you talk
Use words and phrases you already genuinely use in conversation. Not only will it be easier for you to write, your work will flow naturally and you'll be presenting a more realistic view of yourself to your reader, letting them get to know you. While I am a stickler for the English language and I love to explore the fringes of my vocabulary, I'm also still an Australian 20-something. As such, words like "dope" and "rad" find their way into my writing. It's who I am, so I don't want to dull my own shine!
2. Have an opinion
If you're going to speak, say something! You're a person that thinks and feels, you've got a personality and something to say. Nothing is as dull as reading a piece of writing that leaves you feeling completely void of a reaction. You're allowed to express your likes and dislikes and you're allowed to take a side on issues. If comparing products, don't toe the line too closely. You're not any less of a professional for having personal preferences.
3. Use strong, affirmative language
In partnership with point no. 2, be confident in what you are saying. Don't umm and ahh over whether you're committing to your point. Say it and be done with it! Like something? Commit to that opinion! You love this product, it changed your life! Quit the wishy-washy language and avoid words like "probably" and "maybe". Swap out words like "very good". Use some real adjectives, dammit!
So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys - to woo women - and, in that endeavour, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.
- N.H. Kleinbaum, Dead Poets Society
4. Be succinct and specific
Keep it short and to the point. Be brutal in deciding what to backspace. Cut out anything that doesn't serve your overall point. Break compound sentences down into easily digestible shorter sentences. Use bullet points if appropriate. Don't try to reach your word count by adding useless filler. Keep it snappy and fill it only with value, value, value!
5. Speak in active voice
Always write in active rather than passive voice. Active voice means the subject of the sentence performs the action. For a simple example, if you were describing a dinner you'd cooked instead of saying "The dinner was prepared by me" in a passive voice, you could rephrase this in an active voice and say "I prepared the dinner". It seems straightforward but is effective in keeping your copy easy to read. Nobody likes long-winded sentences where the reader has to wait to the end to find out who performed the action. The subject should be mentioned early in the sentence structure. In conversation, we don't always speak in an active voice so it takes a bit of time and practice to ensure you avoid it in your writing.
6. Be flexible in grammar
I am harsh about grammar, but I still happily bend and ignore some rules when it's necessary to maximise blog readability. (Something you're more at liberty to do in your own work than a client's.) Does the sentence look kind of stiff and boring the way it is, perhaps because it's not the way you'd say it verbally? Eh, just break the rules! I won't judge, we're all friends here.
7. Refer to your own experiences
No matter how little business experience you may have, you do have one leg up over your competitors. Your own unique lived experience! You have stories and perspectives nobody else has. You have your own unique view on any topic because your view of the world is shaped by your personal reality. Share your stories and how you have come to have the knowledge and opinions you have today. For lessons you've learned, is there an interesting story of failure behind them that led to your newfound enlightenment? Speak about your own journey through business and life and we'll all be enthralled because gossip is interesting!
8. Speak to the reader as if they could respond
You're talking to the reader, so write like it. Create content for them. Imagine the person sitting at their laptop reading your words. Picture them as your ideal client, the one you wish you could snag. Now go, tailor the reading experience to them! Treat your web writing as if you're instant messaging a single prospective client at a time and you'll find your copy becomes very easy to read.
9. Have fun
Don't forget to find some pleasure in the process! Write how you want to write. Choose when and where to write that will make you happy. Enjoy the experience. Your enjoyment will show in the writing. If I'm stressed or tired I write like crap. But when I'm caffeinated and writing about something enjoyable (basically everything you'll find on this blog), I hope you can tell that I'm interested in what I'm saying.
Personality is important in your personal brand. It's what distinguishes you from others in your niche, let's your potential clients learn more about you and your process, and it makes your job enjoyable.
By acknowledging your blog as a means of interpersonal connection you will open a channel of communication between yourself and the reader.
Be natural, confident, direct and authentic, and just have with it! You will definitely find clients this way, but you may also end up with a friend or two on your hands.