Writing Online: Don’t Lose Your Personality
You’ve learned all the techniques for writing online. You know how to craft a killer headline, infuse your post with keywords and optimize content for SEO strategies. But… your writing’s a little, well, dull. A bit lifeless and dry, with none of your sparkling personality shining through. Which isn’t a really great incentive for new readers to stick around, is it? So, just how do you write with personality? How do you infuse your wonderful content with a bit of personal spice to catch someone’s eye with?
It’s a common area of concern for the relatively new writer. Trying too hard to be an authority can squeeze the personality right out of your writing. We think that by taking on a formal tone, we’ll sound more business-like, but often end up sounding like a dullard or out of touch.
However, you can still establish your position as an expert without coming across as being stifled. Letting your personality shine through will make your writing more interesting, which will attract and engage readers. And the following techniques will help you to do just that.
Write As You Speak
One of the easiest ways to keep your personality in the written word is to write as you speak. And a very practical way to do this is to record a conversation with a friend or peer on a topic you’re interested in writing about. Set up a meeting and have them ask you pertinent questions on your topic. Most smartphones have a recording function, or you can download a free program such as Audacity to record and edit with.
Trim out the pauses and irrelevant information as well as the many umm’s and uhh’s you’ll find, then transcribe your recording or have someone do it for you. What you’re left with is rich material for a blog post that not only shows your personality, but also your passion and enthusiasm for the subject.
Look for the patterns in your speech that can be transferred to your writing – downhome sayings, clichés, accents and even swearing can all lend themselves to developing your online writing voice.
Become a Prolific Tweeter
It seems a bit counterintuitive, but learning how to tweet effectively is an excellent way to convey your ideas in a clear and concise manner. With its limited character usage, Twitter compels the brevity that reveals a kernel of truth at the heart of our message. This microblogging platform helps to strip away the unnecessary verbiage and wordiness new writers like to hide behind in order to appear expert.
Be Consistent With Your Voice
Whatever voice you develop for your blog posts, carry it through in all of your writing. Newsletters, ebooks, mini-courses etc. should all have the same tone, word selection and style. Otherwise, your readers will get confused if your posts are written in an informal manner but your newsletters are written in an overly formal, business-like language.
Tell a Personal Story
Allow your readers some personal insights by sharing snippets of mistakes made, lessons learned, victories and triumphs. You’ll connect on a deeper emotional level with your audience if you share your own vulnerabilities – those characteristics we instinctively want to hide, but others immediately identify with. And paradoxically, with this sharing we develop greater confidence and courage as we start to “own” our emerging voice (іee Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly).
It doesn’t have to be over-the-top drama, nor epic in nature. We all share the same basic fears, so a bit of honesty and integrity will go a long way in developing a trustworthy persona your readers can relate with.
Use Analogies, Anecdotes and Metaphors
- An analogy is a comparison tool, used to explain unknown elements by using ones that are known. They can be applied successfully to create Aha! moments of understanding as they create a link to the unfamiliar by comparing it to something familiar when describing a process, person, idea or event.
- An anecdote is a little story told to place emphasis on a certain point or to lead your readers to contemplate the specifics of an idea contained within your post or point.
- A metaphor is first cousin to the analogy. The main difference being that with a metaphor, the comparison being drawn is between two unrelated things, giving the reader a fresh perspective. A metaphor is an implied or figurative comparison, as opposed to a direct comparison. With metaphors, the first element isn’t like or as the second one, it is the second element. The well-placed metaphor corrals a reader’s attention by intentionally funneling their focus through down the path of a chosen topic.
Write To One Person
Invest some time in developing a profile of your ideal customer, and write to that person. The benefit of knowing who you’re writing for is that it generates a narrower focus, so you can get really specific and detailed in the message you’re conveying. This creates a more intimate style, as you feature the exact information you know your client is looking for and shows your commitment to your product or service.
Add a Dash of Hyperbole
A little exaggeration, used with discretion and discernment, can add a splash of dramatic flair to your writing. Hyperbole is a tool used to convey emotional tone with theatrical impact, so less rather than more is better here.
When you start out using some of these techniques to develop your online voice it may seem a bit awkward at first, but incorporating them into your posts will add depth, personality and liveliness to your writing.
And as you reveal your personality with these practices, they’ll build a strong bridge of loyalty and reader engagement between you and your audience. It’s like building a new friendship – it might take a bit of work to develop, but in the long run, well worth the effort.