I recently wrote a post about what I learned in three months of blogging and in it I stressed the importance of writing in your own voice.
When I first started blogging I didn’t even consider my ‘niche’. I just wrote about what I was doing, my current situation, things that were of interest to me at that time, etc. I quickly discovered that to promote and connect with fellow bloggers my blog needed to have some type of niche in order to reach like-minded bloggers. I struggled with this definition for the first month. I was Irish, newly married and recently emigrated to the US. I liked fashion, food and travel but didn’t want my blog to be categorized so narrowly under any of these things. Getting my head around that mish-mash of interests and circumstances was hard for me and I found it difficult to, as the saying now goes, ‘find my tribe’. I came to accept that my blog is a lifestyle blog that focuses on a healthy mix of all of the above. But what’s more important is that I stopped worrying about fitting in and just continued writing. You will read a billion articles online, all telling you the importance of sticking to your niche and while that is necessary in business, if you are blogging for fun then my response to that is, “who said so?!”
After publishing posts consistently and learning what my viewers liked the most I started to settle into my own blog and became more confident when hitting ‘publish’. I was never overly confident that the content was good but happy with what I was saying and HOW I was saying it. Although you strive to give your readers what they want, it is of the utmost importance to write what YOU want, too. Your viewers have come to your site because they like you and your content, they will return if they love it. If they leave, so be it. More will come.
As I said in my last post, I have seen people switch niches a lot. There’s many reasons for going beyond the limits of your niche. Perhaps you are after getting bogged down in an area you no longer have anything to write about due to changes in life circumstances. For example, you had a travel blog but are now settling down into motherhood and want to focus on writing articles on parenting. Or you have been blogging about college life but are now entering the working world. There’s an array of reasons to re-brand your blog but there is NEVER a reason to not be true to yourself in your writing.
Which brings me back from my tangential rambling to the idea of writing in your ‘voice’. Of course I don’t mean ‘voice’ in the traditional sense but the portrayal of your personality through the words you write. You are unique and your writing style should be too. If you are a really funny and bubbly person but write in a monotonous tone with none of the humor you possess naturally then your content will not be authentic. And although we live in a world where we can fake happiness, good fortune and popularity quite easily via social media, your blog will expose a greater portion of yourself to the world. Make that section of your life that is on show, honest. Writing is powerful and people are perceptive beings. Posts repeatedly written in any voice but your own will be transparent and shallow. Your readers will not trust you or your content and won’t engage.
The first thing I notice when reading blog posts, or any piece of writing for that matter, is the writing style. Now I’m not saying mine is good. I’m a serial user of cliches and slang which is considered vulgarity and terrible writing by some (or most). In the world of professional writing I would more than likely be be condemned! I do strive to improve my writing skills and blogging refreshes a great deal of lessons already learned about writing but when it comes to writing posts I often skip the rules and mechanics of composing the perfect piece of literature as I try to write them as an exact reflection of myself and what I might say in a discussion with a real life person! The wit, sarcasm, humor – whatever you want to label it – is exactly how I converse with people. That is who I am. I’m sure there are people who like my posts, those who can take or leave them and others who’d rather poke out their eyes than read to the bottom. I’m totally ok with that! Well I’d prefer if you held onto your eyes but I’m fine with you leaving. Not everyone shares the same interests and opinions.
The way that I write, is genuine. The feelings I express, are genuine. My sentiments when I comment on your posts, are genuine. Being a genuine person is what I respect the most in any human being. I have no time for any single trait that is a fraction less than honest.
When I borderline stalk every social media platform you use, I love your blog! When I ‘like’ your pictures, I genuinely like your pictures. When I share your content, I really do think you have a message worth sending out. I like all of these things about you because you have probably won me over by writing in your own voice.
For those of you starting out, who maybe haven’t found your blogging voice yet, ask yourself before publishing – is this for the glory of a spike in views, free products, money, etc.? If the answer is yes to any of the above, then I suggest you save your draft and go back to the drawing board.
For those of you pouring your heart and soul into your blog and feeling like you need to start writing as someone else to fit in – stop it! Explore the boundaries of your niche, find new forums to join, freshen up your content but for the love of God, keep writing in your own voice!
If you struggle with finding your voice, what is it about blogging that limits your authenticity?