Why Honesty is Critical for Developing Your Authentic Voice
If you've just started thinking about how to grow your blog, or you're thinking about retooling one, you've probably seen a million different "experts" offering a lot of advice. There is now a whole discipline in marketing leveraging the expertise of influencers. Some of those experts rock. They really do. They're great at blogging, phenomenal at social media, fantastic at content marketing—heck, maybe some of them even juggle knives without losing fingers. The experts are fantastic. They'll give you tips on how to grow your blog, build your readership and even market your blog. Use them for your source on learning new techniques, handling the technological end of things, and even ideas about writing. But what they can't help you with is that age-old existential question—who am I? They can't tell you who you are as a blogger. They can't tell you what you offer that no one else does.
Some of them, the good ones, will tell you that you need to figure this out. The experts can give you all of the best information on blogging, what the conversion rates are, and theories on how to create more shareable content. All of this information is important. But following even the best blueprint for a successful blog will not address one thing—who you are. Your blog is an extension of you. It might not be a blog about your personal life, but it should feel like a conversation with a real, fleshed out, fully dimensional person. The difference between a great blog and a mediocre one is in the blogger. Is your blog an Academy Award Winner at the top of its game? Or is it a B-List Actor, doing the job but completely forgettable?
How to Grow Your Blog—Voice Is Important
Your voice in blogging is an important factor in how well your audience relates to you. And your voice should aid your purpose. The old standard of blogging was once, "be an expert". The problem with that lovely little ditty was that no one really cared if you were an expert. They were selling lessons or books or other services related to writing or blogging and the thing that they honed in on was expertise. People want to follow experts. They want to be taught.
Yes and no. Of course, you don't want to wade through hundreds or thousands of words of content on underwater basket weaving written by someone who's afraid of water. You don't need content written by someone who knows nothing about the subject. So, yes, you want to write to your expertise. At the same time though, that whole "be an expert" thing was misleading. It basically gave the impression that everyone can be an expert. The reality is that a lot of people following that advice were really just faking it.
So don't be an expert. Be honest. Be vulnerable. Be human. And most of all—have a point of view.
There can be 72 thousand blogs on the same topic. Finding content in the cacophony of the myriad of self-publishers on the internet today isn't as easy as it sounds. There's so much out there that it's hard to find something great and easy to get lost in the shuffle. Tips and tricks to up your search ranking work. Other marketing efforts work. But what works by leaps and bounds? Building a loyal following of people who not only likes what you have to say and shares your content, but also connects with "you" as a real person behind the writing.
Getting back to the subject of voice for a second—the term "voice" is writing jargon, but there is honestly no better word to describe a writing persona that is uniquely your own. Your writing voice needs to be authentic. For fiction writers, voice is not only authentic to the writer themselves but also to the voice of their characters. Why is this important to someone building a blog for business purposes? Because blogging may ultimately be content marketing, but it is first and foremost writing. Adopting professional writing habits will help propel your blog success, even if you don't consider yourself a writer.
Your voice, the way you say things, and the format you use in your content becomes a signature to your blog. Make them uniquely you—your own branding. Your own voice.
Don't Forget the Design When Building Your Blog
Your blog's design aesthetic is as much a signature as your writing style. You can have the best content on the planet, but if it's not readable or if the site is impossible to load, people will get annoyed or stop trying. People expect your website to load immediately, if not sooner. They expect it to be easy to navigate and read. Offering a clean design means they can get to the content without any hassle.
In your visual decisions, make sure your header and colors showcase the atmosphere you want to convey. Images should all be the highest quality possible. Light backgrounds work best behind any written content. When words are hard to read, people tend to skip the content. Think of a website as a prospective date—the content is the personality and intelligence, but the web design is the reason they caught your interest in the first place.
Your blog offers an ambiance. It's not just the way you say things—it's how interactive you are, how responsive, and how fantastic you look when you're just being you. Your readers will come to know your blog the same way people know their friends. Really, think of your blog like a person, because that's exactly how your readers will respond to it. They'll come to know you as someone they can count on to post 5 times a week. If you never keep to a schedule, they'll start expecting that, too. They'll come to know your thoughts before you say them. They'll expect a set amount of conversation in the comment section. They'll want you to stop back at their blog to return the visit. So the question is, what does your audience want? That's the whole secret to becoming an Academy Award Winner. Figure out who you are as a blogger. Then deliver the authentic you that your audience wants on a regular basis.