I find one question often trips up new clients. In fact, most of the disconnect I see with first draft expectations boils down to an inaccurate understanding of voice. Whether writing it yourself or outsourcing to a team, you must have a clear understanding of your blog voice to create a cohesive brand.
What is voice in writing?
Voice is tricky. When we read, the words take on a personality. This “personality” is formed from the grammar, rhythm, and word choices writers make. Writers use character adjectives to explain voice. For example, if I said, “this article sounds like it was written by a professor,” that likely means the writing is bogged down by jargon, complex sentence construction, and advanced vocabulary.
Why the voice disconnect?
During initial client consults, I’ve had people say they want an informal or casual tone. The first draft is delivered, and in the reviewing remarks, it becomes clear they wanted something else entirely. A response might be that the content seems too basic, delivers a surface-level grasp of content, or needs more data. What the client is really expressing a desire for a different voice. They would like something more business casual, like discussing the industry during a conference panel. Their audience is familiar with the industrial jargon and trends; these can be used casually during the writing.
When coming up with your content marketing program or when getting ready to draft your blog, really put some thought behind what you want your blog to sounds like. You may have heard of the content marketing term “persona.” I find creating personas a viable exercise, especially if more than one person will be working on your marketing. Having a document that gives a clear understanding of the company voice is invaluable. I particularly remember reading one detail from a “Social Media Persona” document: “The individual is in with the latest trends; they are likely to buy Warby Parker and Bonobos.”
Advice for understanding your blog voice
I recommend giving some solid thought to your blog voice. Create a persona. While you don’t necessarily need to go so far as to describe where your content marketing character is going to shop, don’t boil it down to just one or two words. Describe the person behind the blog. Determine if it will be in first or third person. If you would like to be more formal, how formal do you want to be? Are you looking for a more scientific blog devoid of opinions?
If you want your blog to position you as a thought leader, your voice might be:
- Professorial. Shown through data and research.
- Positive. Upbeat language showing excitement for new developments.
- Confident. Self-assured opinions about industry directions backed with research.
If you want your blog to appeal to a luxury audience, your voice might be:
- Formal. Likely third person.
- Sophisticated. Write naturally with advanced, but not obnoxious, vocabulary.
- Confident. No wishy-washy suggestive language like “should be” or “might.”
If you want to appeal to a millennial audience, your voice might be:
- Business casual. Discussing the industry without showing off jargon.
- Fun. Use clichés or pop culture references.
- Informal. A first-person that addresses the reader.
For one of my clients, I think, “upbeat, cheery, positive” when I write. They want their content to be knowledgeable, but in person they are extremely friendly and easy to talk to. Their excitement is palpable. Their blog combines a deep knowledge of the local residential real estate industry with an approachable personality. It’s what is most natural for them.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into understanding your blog voice. My final word of caution: don’t try to be something you are not. If you’re trying to adopt a bubbly, youthful persona when that’s just not you, your marketing effort will fail. Make the blog voice natural to your brand and business.
Need some help finding your voice? Schedule some time to chat with us!