On Sunday, I checked out the popular #blogchat Tweetchat. The discussion was about “how to create your blog’s voice”. As usual, the smart folks were digging into the topic with gusto. I watched a few minutes and realized that we tend to make the whole “blog voice” exercise harder than it should be.
In fact, your blog’s Voice can be boiled down to one thought.
You blog’s voice is an expression of your core principles.
Your core principles are your fundamental approach to your subject, your “rules of engagement” if you will.
For example, at Pushing Social I adhere to these Ten Principles:
1. Optimism is irresistible.
2. Celebrate the best in people
3. Problem solving is sexy
4. Invest in imagination
5. We are not growing unless readers are learning
6. Practical advice beats theory
7. Swing for the fences
8. Hang with the Winners
9. Inspiration is trained not found
10. Data beats assumptions
Everything I write and teach has to toe this line. These principles have saved me from writing useless rants, aiming the microscope at people’s faults, and digressing into theory and fluff.
The biggest benefit however, is that consistently observing these principles has given Pushing Social it’s distinct voice.
The Authenticity Thing
I often see voice equated with authenticity. People say that your blog’s voice needs to be authentic. This sounds good, but the problem is that authenticity isn’t an ingredient for Voice it’s the attribute assigned to bloggers who follow their principles.
Sadly, you can be authentically misguided.
When people point out a fearlessly authentic organization or blog, they often are describing a person who doggedly holds to their principles. Zappos is authentic. Amazon is authentic. Both companies (and others) can quickly point to the core principles embraced by their organization.
You don’t have to be a multibillion dollar company to have principles. In fact, the best time to write your list of principles is now. The sooner you can anchor your approach the faster you will hear your blogging voice strengthen and resonate with your readers.
Voice vs. Style
It’s easy to confuse your voice with your style. I define your voice as what you believe and style as the tools you use to express your beliefs.
This means that your voice should stay steady while your style adapts to the audience. Some bloggers have a provocative way of expressing their point of view. That’s cool. Others logically and dispassionately detail their principles. Again, that’s fine. One person can have a specific style on their blog and completely change it when they write a guest post for another blog. Not only does this make sense, it’s also pretty darn smart.
On the other hand, if you change your core principles from week to week you will confuse and scare off readers. Imagine if I decided to write rants and starting whining about my blog and readers? Yep, you would drop me like a bad habit.
Changing your style to enchant and/or suit your audience makes sense. Changing your voice is suicide.
Why Voice Matters
I’ve helped many bloggers accelerate their blog’s growth. In every situation, I’ve recommended that the blogger write down their core principles the begin writing based on what they believe. It’s fascinating to see how their new focus on voice transforms their posts into powerfully persuasive tools for building their business.