There are thousands... no...millions of bloggers out there.
And yet, they all sound the same.
Kinda boring, don't you think? As a reader, take a look at what blogs you spend the most time on and the places where you leave the quickest.
If you were interested in healthy foods, would you spend more time reading someone who wrote like this:
" I made these a couple of weeks ago because I had a wicked craving for fish tacos and all I had on hand was shrimp. So I made a command decision: I made shrimp tacos.
It’s called troubleshooting! I’m good at it, but only if it involves food.
Put me in the desert and tell me I have to find my way out using my awesome sense of direction? Goodbye forever. Ain’t happening.
Did you know I can spin Marlboro Man around a thousand times with his eyes closed and with his eyes still closed he can point in any direction and determine whether it’s north, south, east, or west simply because it’s so embedded in his being?
Did you know I can spin around a thousand times with my eyes closed and throw up?I digress. Let’s move ahead with the tacos, okay? "
From The Pioneer Woman
Or would you like to hang out at this blog:
"...First off, I would like to discuss the proposed theories that coffee has been affiliated with. Coffee has been believed to cause an increased risk of chronic diseases such as hypertension, stroke, cancer, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (1). Coffee has been thought to increase mortality in cardiovascular disease (CVD) patients (2). Also, the consumption of coffee may cause adverse effects with people who have hypertension (3). Lastly, many people believe that coffee is a diuretic..."
Taken from the American Society of Nutrition
Huge difference, isn't it?
Ernest Hemingway had said famously - “Write drunk; edit sober.”
As writers, we find that to be the best piece of advice that any writer can have in creating their masterpiece. But, how does being a borderline alcoholic help with your blog? What Hemingway meant was that after your initial burst of creativity, be ruthless in your editing. Because it's the editing process where you develop your tone and also where all the hard work is done.
So, the next time you start writing your blog, make sure that you spend the time to develop your writing style that will make your readers connect with you. Keep in mind that the writing style you use meets these two criteria:
- Your tone should match the type of content you create
- Matches the expectations of the audience that you write for
You don't want to write with teenage angst if your audience are IT Managers... with LOL, OMFG and other acronymns which would only bring down your credibility.
But, don't also write in a dry, academic tone that would make War and Peace a light, frothy read in comparison.
So how do you develop your writing voice?
Hemingway had his own style that evolved from his time as a war journalist - short, clear sentences that was boiled down to the bare essence. His philosophy was - if you can communicate a concept in three sentences instead of five, do it. He once won a bet that he could write a story in six words. On a napkin, he wrote - For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.
However, there isn't really a strict set of rules in creating your writing style. There’s no “right” style that you have to follow. Your own writing style is really a combination of your personality, how you view the world and most importantly, how you speak.
Some people communicate in a very flowing writing style. Others write in short bursts of thought and focus entirely on the main points of what they write. What matters isn’t learning a style, but finding your own style and developing it.
The more you write, the more you will get better at it. And your writing style will evolve over time. At first, it may seem difficult and slow, however, as you keep writing, you'll notice that you become more efficient.
Here are some tips to develop your writing style:
1. Be a voracious reader.
Read every book that you can lay your hands on. Read blogs and magazines. Newsletters. Novels.. By reading more, you will understand the type of writing styles that you resonate with. But reaDiscover how articles are put together, understand how good writers create interest and engagement. You'll start learning what makes for uninteresting blogs and what really grabs your attention.
Your blogging too will naturally improve and evolve, especially if you are making the effort to study and learn technical skills such as grammar, the mechanics of the writing process itself, and certainly, the art of storytelling.
2. Write as much as possible.
Practice makes perfect. On top of reading as much as possible you have to write as much as possible. Play writing games with yourself... a good one is picking one word around a theme and writing for ten minutes - answering questions such as what memories does it bring for you, what emotional pull does it have, why is it interesting for you... Don't stop and don't correct until the ten minutes are up.
Other techniques that you can use are:
- Write on topics that make you push your boundaries. By allowing yourself to ignore your inner censor, you can start focusing on letting your writing flow. Putting yourself into an uncomfortable topic makes you focus on the topic and not editing your writing.
- Write about your passions. Start writing about topics that get you excited. Let your inner child out and play with the words.
3. Learn from the top bloggers/copywriters
Although, we did mention that finding your own style is unique to you... learning the fundamentals of blogging from the masters can help you. Learn from top bloggers, such as:
- Brian Clark of Copyblogger.com
- Darren Rowse of Problogger.com
- Nick Thacker from Livehacked.com
- Ann Handley from Marketingprofs.com and her own personal website
- Catherine Caine from CashandJoy.com
- Jeffrey Thorpe at ColdSplinters.com
By using them as a foundation for your own writing, you get a feel for how they communicate. Analyze their writing style, understand how they craft their headlines and how they create a compelling story that grabs the readers' attention immediately.
4. Learn copywriting
Although copywriting is used in direct mail pieces, landing pages and websites, to persuade a target audience to take action, the lessons that you learn from copywriting techniques can help you immeasurably with your writing. Some of the best bloggers are also copywriters. As mentioned earlier, they know how to craft a great headline and how to create a compelling post that grabs the attention of the reader immediately and keep them reading until the end.
5. Read your writing out loud
It's not the writing that is important - but the editing. As Hemingway mentioned - it's not the creative act of writing that is important, but the hard work of editing. One of the best tips that we've received in regards to editing, is reading your work out loud. You will pick up some nuances that may not come up when you're reading to yourself. Mistakes such as repetitive words, or tone of voice that sounds too casual, too formal, stiff or even dry can become evident to your ear.
Most importantly never stop learning.
Although Hemingway was known as a hard-drinking, big-game hunting, prize winning writer, he always took the time to help out others with their writing. Much of his wisdom was taken from a lifetime of writing and in spite of the years, it still can be applied to the art of blog writing today.
Like Hemingway, the best strategy is to keep an open mind with regards to your writing style. Learn from the pros, learn from your friends and peers, and learn from yourself.
If you persistently work and focus on writing.. your style will begin to meld and take shape. With millions of other writers out there all competing for eye balls… a unique style and perspective is the best tool to get them glued to your page.
Before writing a post, get your creative juices flowing. Have a glass of wine, drink a beer, take a nap or go for a run.. whatever it takes.
Write fast. Until you are out of ideas.. and then revisit in the morning for some cold sober editing.