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How to Develop Your Blogging Voice in 3 Simple Steps

inbound marketing
How to Develop Your Blogging Voice in 3 Simple Steps

Are you about to embark on a journey deep into the blogosphere? Perhaps you’re not certain how to develop a voice - an individualized tone, tempo, and medium of expression that cements your brand. Call it fate, karma, or kismet - you’re in the right place. 

Media Junction develops websites (and has for well over 25 years). In addition to helping over 1,500 HubSpot customers as a HubSpot partner, we assist businesses in developing engaging copy, crystal clear customer journeys, and that unique, personalized blog voice. 

Blogs, a digital soapbox, prove the perfect medium to cover your company’s products and services. 

Blogs bolster Search Engine Optimization (SEO), cultivate and qualify leads, and introduce your brand to the world. Blogs also offer immediate value via education, solidifying brand trust. And, voice…voice is the heartbeat of it all.      

By the end of this article, you will have the basic building blocks necessary to begin crafting and finetuning your own idiosyncratic blogging voice. We cover three simple steps to clarify and cultivate your voice: Know Thyself, Know Thy Audience, and Adopt the Appropriate Blog Diction.    


What is blog voice? 

Blog voice is a dynamic blend of diction (word choice), syntax (word arrangement), and an inherent logical rhythm that culminates into an on page personality.   

 

1. Know Thyself  

 

It doesn’t matter if you are a new, greener-than-green writer or a seasoned wordsmith - all writing comes from the inside out. When you know yourself, your message, and your medium, the writing will fall into place - it becomes an intuitive expression. 

Know thyself is a purple way of saying: know what you, your brand, or your company is all about. 

Questions That Help Solidify “Self”: 

  • What morals, truths, and ideals do I hold dear and want reflected in my writing? 
  • What is the goal, the aim, and the purpose of putting pen to paper? 
  • Is my writing a true and accurate representation of me and/or my company? 
  • Does my writing reflect empathy? Is it pointing long-lost travelers toward a solution?  
  • Do I wish to come across as authoritative, likable, or academic?    

Another way to think about voice (though perhaps a simplification) is personality. We bring our person and, by default, our personality with us wherever we go - including into the woods of words. 

Outside of the virtual world and the page, your personality is reflected in the way you speak (volume, cadence, accent, etc.), the way you dress (sweats and a baggy T or slightly choked by an ugly paisley tie), and the way you maneuver through the world (body language). 

Believe it or not, words have just as much power (if not more so) than your physical self. 

Personality in your writing should reflect your passion and gusto - we are the keepers of the fire. 

Good writers are personal. Great writers imbue themselves into their work, sharing their reality.  

The good news is that you don’t have to start from scratch when developing a blog voice. You have a baseline personality to work with. There is no need to completely reinvent the wheel. 

So, play to your strengths: 

  • If you’re naturally a logical a-then-b-then-c thinker, showcase it 
  • If you’re a comedian, make ‘em roar 
  • If you’re passionate about your products/services, shout it from the rooftops (metaphorically, please)   

2. Know Thy Audience

Extraordinary writers know their target audience intimately. Deeply. Past skin and bone and that bad toupee. They know what makes their audience tick.   

Know your scene. Know your crowd. 

If you’re writing a business blog, defining your audience is simple - the could-be, would-be, and should-be customers. Your readers have a problem - well, technically, a whole slew of arduous and perplexing issues that boil down simply and neatly into a want or a need

You offer a solution: a product and/or service. Bad toupee, you say? We offer the best hair pieces this side of Wichita. And, low and behold, we have a long litany of articles detailing proper hair care. 

In short, the solutions (products/services) your company provides dictate your target audience, which, in turn, dictates diction. And, yes, I love alliteration.

Questions to ask yourself if you’re unsure about your target audience: 

  • Who would benefit most from this product or service? 
  • What is the average age/gender of the demographic? 
  • What is the average level of education? (specifically, for highly specialized fields)
  • What common interests (music, hobbies, sports, etc.) is this demographic likely to have that I can tap into and build rapport? 

The key is to connect with your audience by saying I see you. To say, I understand the problems you’re facing, I speak your language, and I have insight into how your mind works. We are kindred spirits. 

Yes, if Ann of Green Gables were a blogger today, she would no doubt host a riotous and rambling blog praising Alfred, Lord Tennyson.   

Different audiences speak different languages - even if those languages are English. 

For example, a blog dedicated to highlighting the latest chic fashion would (and should) feel remarkably different in tone than a blog devoted to the art of fly fishing. Arbor knots vs. A-lines.   

Know your audience. Speak their language. Guide them to the solutions they seek.         

3. Adopt the Appropriate Blog Diction 

If your blog was an album, what genre would it be? Would it be a cool blue syncopated jazz record or a Doc-Martens-stick-it-to-the-man punk vibe? Genres have distinct flavors, themes, and inherent internal structures - blogs do too.

Your job, as the writer, is to develop your own sound - a sound that is appropriate and fits within the context of the genre and discourse community you’re writing for, whether it’s a business blog, personal blog, or blog dedicated to the supposed musings of fluffy the hairless feline. 

Different genres and discourse communities require different voices and diction. 

Diction, boiled down, refers to word choice. Is your writing easy to understand, or is it chock-full of convoluted polysyllabic terminology which proves exceedingly difficult to decipher? 

Often, when it comes to blog posts - simpler is better.   

For the general public, it’s best to keep your diction between a 6th and 9th-grade level. This allows you to express relevant, complex ideas without bordering on the pedantic. 

Diction is generally broken down into nine categories - as demonstrated in Grammarly’s article The 9 Types of Diction in Writing, With Examples

  1. Formal - academic, suit-and-tie business lingo 
  2. Informal - a personal, drinking-coffee-on-the-back-porch chat vibe 
  3. Pedantic - abstruse, unnecessarily stuffy language (think sophistry)  
  4. Pedestrian - language tailored to be understood by the masses  
  5. Slang - a type of informal diction that utilizes jargon or industry-specific shorthand
  6. Colloquial - words or phrases primarily used in specific geographical locales 
  7. Abstract - exploring the intangible aspects of life, e.g., love, hatred, joy, etc. 
  8. Concrete - forward, tangible, easy-to-navigate language 
  9. Poetic - alliteration, rhyme, rhythm, puns, etc.    

Although blogs may utilize all nine categories of diction, this post will focus on formal, informal, slang, and colloquial blog voices. 

Formal Blog Voice

Formal diction is the medium of gravitas. There is a certain poise and sobriety embedded within formal diction that lends itself well to serious subjects (the type of topic where a joke or two may be received in bad taste). 

Types of businesses that might utilize formal language for their blog include:  

  • Mortuaries 
  • Medical equipment providers / medical services 
  • Mental health services
  • Law firms 
  • Any enterprise revolving around health, death, disease, or legal matters

Formal diction is the go-to for “serious” blogs and businesses where the goal is primarily centered on education rather than entertainment. Formal diction fits the bill if your business is a no-nonsense, gives-it-to-you-straight kind of company.  

Pros of formal blog voice: 

  • Builds self/company ethos (trustworthiness and respectability)  
  • Conveys messages in a direct, concise fashion 
  • Lends itself well to virtually any kind of business or personal blog 

Cons of formal blog voice:  

  • Runs the risk of sounding stuffy, generic, and boring 
  • Feels less personal than other forms of diction
  • Tends to lack what most readers define as “personality” 

Developing a formal blog voice is probably the easiest to nail down, based on years of academic training and stylistic osmosis of newspapers, informative websites, and so on.  

Informal Blog Voice   

Informal blog voices reveal “the self” of the writer and/or company on a more intimate, personal note. While it’s easy to hide behind formal diction, informal blog voices pull back the curtain, so to speak. They’re conversational, generally lighthearted, and tend to implement a smart wisecrack here and there

Characteristics of an informal blog voice include: 

  • They tend to be anecdotal in nature (the writer shares personal stories that are relevant to the topic)
  • Humor is regularly integrated (a cool, dry wit or overstated hyperbole)
  • There is a revealing of the self (hobbies, favorite literature, films, music, cuisine, etc.)  

Types of businesses that might implement an informal blog voice include: 

  • Family-oriented/run businesses (to showcase personality) 
  • Restaurants/cafes/coffee-shops/breweries 
  • Hobby businesses (comic book stores, frisbee golf outfits, and so on)
  • Dog groomers/barber shops/nail salons
  • Any business that considers itself a fun, quirky enterprise 

Informal blog voices are akin to a stiff fruity drink garnished with a miniature pink umbrella. The goal is twofold - to educate and entertain. Here is the message, and here is some azúcar to help that medicine go down.  

Pros of informal blog voice: 

  • Showcases personality (with the option of significant variation) 
  • Endears the writer/business to the reader 
  • Creates a fanbase (if they love your voice, they’re gonna come back for more…hit that subscribe button)

Cons of informal blog voice: 

  • May turn your reader off (not everyone will jive with your personality) 
  • Runs the risk of being personality-heavy, muddling your intended message

Slang in Blog Voice 

Slang is a type of informal diction that integrates lexical pep and zest into your writing. Think shorthand. Think cultural/career jargon. Think shared vernacular that builds trust and rapport between you and your people. 

If you speak their language and know the secret handshake, your readers will trust you.         

Using insider language is implemented for B2B blogs or blogs dedicated to the enthusiasts or acolytes (depending on the level of manic fixation) of a product, service, or hobby.

Language reveals the self. Slang reveals the self in context. So, using highly-specific insider terminology for your hobbies, favorite literature, music, and cuisine offers a window into your psyche. 

For example, poets understand the terminology anapest, assonance, and blank verse. Surfers understand the frustration of ankle slappers when they’re amped to ride hella surf - it ain’t bitchin’.     

Slang allows you to seamlessly mesh the soul of a culture/subculture into your work, further defining your personality via association. In rhetorical terms, this solidifies ethos (aka credibility) by using the shared language of your specific audience, people, and discourse community.       

Pros of slang in blog voice: 

  • Quickly delineates your people
  • It is generally fun to read

Cons of slang in blog voice: 

  • It can act as a “gatekeeping” ploy, potentially alienating readers
  • It can potentially dampen trust in your credibility if you’re readers prefer a more formal tone

In short, slang is an effective linguistic tool that makes your informal blog voice snap, crackle, and pop (which can be an issue if your audience doesn’t enjoy slangy 90’s cereal references). 

Colloquial Blog Voice              

Colloquial diction also falls under informal blog voice. It is similar to jargon but focuses on geographical language tendencies for diction and syntax. Now, see here, I say this blog is a trying to get your brain over yonder that there hill of workin’ out a blog voice.

Writers in the deep south surrounded by dense mangroves and drowning in sweet tea will write differently than a caffeine-addled coffee purist pounding out paragraphs in Seattle. 

There is no right or wrong when it comes to colloquial voice - as long as it’s an accurate representation of you and/or your company. Like slang, too much colloquial language can alienate your readers.

The goal here is not to create a caricature of a region but to employ some fun wordplay that helps solidify your business or self in a geographical context.

Writing an entire article based on colloquialisms is not recommended. It’s best when peppered lightly throughout the text.

Blogs, through the advent of the internet, are accessible across the globe. If you are striving for international reach, use colloquialisms sparingly. It is, at the crux, a great balancing act.   

Pros of a colloquial blog voice: 

  • It adds regional flavor and personality to your work
  • It endears readers to your story

Cons of colloquial blog voice:

  • It can come across as caustic, particularly if used sarcastically or to poke fun
  • Much can be lost in interpretation or the lack thereof 

Uffda, you betcha; that’s a lot of information to consider. And, yes, Media Junction is based out of Minn-e-sota don’t ya know? As a form of informal diction, colloquial language clearly and quickly helps define a blogging voice.

The Big Blog Diction Takeaway 

Blogs are flexible. Different posts will require different diction and/or mixture of diction. Don’t be afraid to experiment, particularly at the beginning of your blogging journey.  

How to Solidify a Blogging Voice       

Consistency is everything - consistency in voice, tone, structure, and delivery. For instance, do you plan on writing primarily in first, second, or third person? Be consistent. Develop and stick to a style guide to ensure a level of familiarity and continuity for your reader.  

Your blog voice needs to be natural to you, the writer, so that it can be easily replicated. This coalesces into process - the physical art of writing that evolves from repetition into ritual.    

The biggest question to consider when solidifying a blogging voice is: 

  • What writers and writing styles inspire you? Is it easy for you to adopt/mimic/emulate? 

Great writers are great borrowers. 

Joseph Epstein, a previous editor for The American Scholar (a journal by the Phi Beta Kappa Society, of which I’m a member) said, “Every writer is a thief. Some of us are more clever at disguising our robberies.”   

Go out and steal - become a professional burglar. Read writers you enjoy and take note of what they do well and what you want to kipe. Pilfer ideas from writers x, y, and z and combine them. Channel these strategies through your own unique voice.

Experiment. Revise. Abandon. Write. 

Voice is developed through constant practice. It is a skill. It is by no means an easy journey; however, the reward is great: increased blog traffic, an influx in conversions, and expanded monetary opportunity. 

The goal is to cultivate a blog voice that is so distinctive, so intrinsically you, that if your name were struck from the proverbial masthead, the habitual reader would say, “Ah, yes, this is {your} voice. Hello old friend.”

Need Further Help Developing Your Blog Voice? 

In this article, you learned how to develop a unique blog voice by knowing thyself, knowing thy audience, and cultivating the appropriate blog diction (formal or informal) that fits your personal or business brand needs.  

Blogging is no easy task - regardless of what seasoned, haughty keyboard warriors claim. Do you need more guidance on how, exactly, to implement a business blog? Perhaps you’re not sure where to even begin?   

Media Junction enables marketing teams across the globe to pump out ever-green, well-researched, well-executed, voice-driven blog articles that get results. We are an IMPACT partner and have been trained in their inbound marketing best practices - including utilizing the They Ask, We Answer blogging framework. 

To learn more about how your company can dramatically improve your SEO, bring in more qualified leads, and convert the masses via our tried-and-true They Ask, We Answer strategy, click the link below. 

Schedule a meeting with us right now!