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You've probably heard this advice over and over and over again since the moment you decided to try to make money by blogging: make sure you add your voice and personality into your blog posts.
And for good reason: it's good advice.
Unfortunately, it doesn't really do a good job of explaining what that means. You're writing your blog posts - wouldn't your voice and personality automatically be included in that?
You'd be surprised at how many amazing speakers, authors, and conversationalists write the most boring blog posts ever.
It's hard to explain, but everything that makes them them just disappears when they start writing blog posts. You can almost picture them standing at the front of the class hiding behind a stack of index cards and quietly reading their presentation notes word for word without glancing up even once to see if the rest of us were listening.
I don't remember all the different teachers I had in my life, but there are a few that stand out. And do you want to know which ones?
Exactly! The ones who were different. The ones who threw desks out of their way to demonstrate a principle, or who started dancing like Elvis to make a point. We remember the teachers who stood up on their desks because they were passionate about the information they were passing on to us.
They brought their personality to the lessons.
We do not really remember the teachers who read from the book, wrote a few sentences up onto their blackboards, or (worse) read long silently while they had students take turns reading from the books.
The same holds true for blog posts.
I can't count how many different blog posts I've read about certain subjects. I've probably read several dozen on productivity alone. And most of them were really good. But do you know which articles I bookmarked and remember?
Yea, the ones that made me laugh and nod along with them because they were funny and filled with personality. Or like Briana Morgaine over at Bidsketch who hooked me right at the beginning with her all-too-relateable intro:
Every conversation goes something like this:
“Wow, you work from home? That’s so awesome, I’m so jealous. I wish I worked from home!
I bet you can just work in your pajamas all day if you want, huh?”Briana Morgaine, Bidsketch
Because you know what? I have had that exact conversation a bajillion times. I've heard that question so many times I could see Briana's eyes roll while recounting some of them.
Her article showed the perfect amount of her personality so the article could stand out.
But the ones that just droned on and listed a bunch of tips? Meh. They were good, but not very memorable. I'm sure I learned productivity tips from each one, but exactly which ones? I honestly don't know.
But I remember the article Briana wrote.
And, if marketing is all about creating a sustained impact on our community over a period of time, then knowing how to add your voice and personality into your blog posts is the best way to do it.
How to Find your Voice
It probably goes without saying that if you want to add your voice and personality into your blog posts, you have to know what that voice is.
But sometimes defining that voice can be a little tricky. Especially because who you are as a blogger and who you are as a business owner may not be the same person. Who you are as a blogger may not be who you are as a teacher, a friend, or speaker.
And it's not that any of these people are fake - but we tend to wear different hats in different situations depending on our comfort levels, how well we know everyone, and what message we're trying to get across. We don't talk to our parents the same way we talk to our best friends, right? But (unless you're lying to one of them) that doesn't make you fake or any less genuine for changing your voice.
So, to figure out who you are as a blogger, start with your story - the moment you decided you wanted to be a blogger. Try to remember everything about that moment: what triggered it, how excited you were, what your fears were, what hopes you had.
With that story fresh in your mind, think about some of the inspiration you've had along the way between that moment and now. Who are other bloggers you look up to and why? How have they influenced you?
Then get comfortable. Whoever said "great things never come from inside your comfort zone" definitely wasn't a writer because your best writing voice happens when you are at your most comfortable. So take your stories and your inspiration and dig deep into your comfort zone to pull your writing voice out.
And use that voice when you write your blog posts.
I have an entire lesson that goes into much more detail on how to find your writing voice inside my course, Speedy Freelancer: How to Write Faster (because knowing your voice can help you double or even triple your writing speed).
How to Add Your Voice and Personality into Your Blog Posts
Start by talking to one person.
This might seem weird. You're writing a blog post, right? So hopefully more than just one person is going to be reading it.
Right. But you aren't speaking to every reader. You're speaking to the reader who is on your site right now.
Just like I am talking to you right now.
Have others come to read this post before you? Sure. And will others come and read this post after you've gone (and hopefully after you've shared this post).
But right now, those other readers don't matter. I'm talking to you. You asked a question about adding personality into your blog posts, and I am giving the answer to you.
So, I've written this post with you in mind: I thought about a question you might be asking, and I worked out an answer for you.
This piece is going to bleed a bit into the next point, but the other way to write a blog post (and what a lot of companies do) is to start with the keyword in mind and work back to the reader. They want to reach everyone -- I just wanted to reach you.
Write for the reader first, then optimize for SEO.
This overlaps just a bit with speaking to one person: by keeping you in my mind while I write this post out, I am able to talk to you just as I would if we were emailing each other or messaging each other over the phone.
And hopefully, if I've done a good enough job on this article, you won't even be able to tell that I've also gone through and optimized it for search engines after.
There's a reason I do this: yes I want the search engines to be able to find my post. But it's even more important that if you are reading this post that you actually enjoy reading the post -- that it answers your questions or provides some value to you.
You can usually tell when someone is writing a blog post with a search engine in mind instead of their reader because the blog post ends up sounding as dry and lacking in personality as a search engine is. It becomes all about catching those keywords rather than portraying any sort of personality.
Now, this doesn't mean I want you to just write things down willy-nilly without making sense. Keyword research is still important for bloggers. And you will want to at least have an idea of the keywords you want to be found on as you write. But the time for optimization is after you've written the blog post -- not before.
Share your Story
Your story, more than anything is, is what's going to make an impact on your readers.
You can have all the research, all the facts, everything beautifully written and well-organized... but the fact of the matter is that people learn best when they hear a story. If they get to your website, read a list of facts, then leave, a day or two later they may not remember what they read. Or where they read it from.
I cannot count how many times I have gone to look something up, then a few months later I wanted to go back to the same article because I wanted to quote it in another blog post or share it with a group online, and I couldn't find it. I couldn't remember who wrote it or what the title of the post was or even what the exact keywords were that I had searched for when I found it.
And it's so frustrating when that happens because, generally speaking, the information in that post was good - certainly good enough for me to want to share again. But there was nothing else remarkable about the post that makes it easy for me to get back to it later on.
Stories just stick in our minds better. They give us something to relate to in a way that facts just don't. That's why the best history teachers don't just make us memorize different dates, but talk about the impact that events had on the evolution of humankind. That's why math books and algebra classes are filled with word problems: stories help us learn.
Don't forget to include yours in your blog post. It doesn't have to take up the entire blog post, and it doesn't have to be deeply personal. Just relatable.
Make sure Each Blog Post Covers a Complete Thought
One of the questions I am asked most often by new bloggers is "how long does a blog post have to be?"
And the answer sounds more like a riddle than a real answer: "as long as it needs to be."
No, I know that there are guidelines to go by:
- According to Yoast, a blog post should be at least 3000 words.
- According to Julia McCoy over at Express Writers, the search engines actually prefer content that is more like 1,890-2,400 words long.
- And according to Joe Bunting over at The Write Practice, shorter blog posts under 300 words are best for generating discussion.
So what does all this mean? Basically -- tell your story. Use as many words as you need to use to deliver your value and not one word more. Don't pump in a lot of fluff to try to make it longer or more interesting and don't short-change the reader by leaving a lot of things out.
Make sure your blog post covers one complete thought from beginning to end. Any tangents that might come up along the way can be addressed but then moved over into another blog post so they don't distract from the one you're writing (and so they give the reader something to read when they're done).
Even if you're writing a series, each post within the series should deliver the value of a complete thought so they can be read and understood on their own merit as well as together.
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