Something a little different for the blog today – I’m going to attempt to give my tips on the actual writing of a blog, focusing on finding your ‘voice’ i.e. writing so that it sounds like you. It’s mostly based on my own experience as a beauty/lifestyle blogger, but I hope that the tips might be able to help bloggers and writers of all kind – provided they actually make any sense.
I’ll start off with a disclaimer: some people literally do not care about grammar, punctuation or tone in a blog whatsoever. That is 100% perfectly fine for them – however this post is aimed at the few of us who are a little more pedantic in our ways. In no way do I want this post to come across as putting people down, nor am I saying that it is crucial to have a blog that reads well. But if you’re interested in those things and would maybe like to improve on them, maybe this post will help!
Disclaimer number two is: I definitely don’t claim to be the Almighty Voice of well-written blogs – nobody is perfect after all. But I like to think I’ve picked up a few things that might be helpful to others as an English Student/Journalist.
“Great, now get on with it!” I hear you say. Alright, alright! Here we go.
1. Read. A lot.
Wait, wait, hear me out. I’m not suggesting you go and crack open War & Peace (though I’ve heard it’s a good read). But reading around the subject/tone that you want for your own blog can do wonders. Personally, I’ve been reading magazines since forever ago, and doing so has taught me what to expect from that kind of publication – I like that friendly, helpful tone of voice, so I’ve tried to adapt it into my own writing. If you’re writing a blog on something technical for example, it helps to read technical publications so that you can know the ‘conventions of the genre’, or basically, what kind of things you can expect to see from them. For example, you’d never expect to read a joke in the dictionary, nor would you expect to see swearing in a children’s book. See what kind of thing you like – maybe even from other blogs – and read as much as possible. You’ll definitely pick up a trick or two!
2. Know your audience
It’s sometimes helpful to know who you might be trying to ‘grab’ with your writing. It might even be a good idea to imagine your audience as someone specific, and write your blog how you would speak to that person. If it’s an academic blog, write it as though you were talking to a professor. If it’s a more casual blog, it’s a great idea to write as though speaking to one of your friends. That last point is definitely something to remember for lifestyle/beauty bloggers, where often the posts are meant purely for entertainment purposes. It’s fun to read something lively, casual, and on the same level as the reader: stick in a few jokes, some slang, whatever floats your boat. Have fun with it!
3. Read posts out loud
The number one killer of a well-written piece of writing in my opinion, is when it hasn’t been read aloud first. Trust me – no matter how well you think you’ve done (and I’m sure you have), you’ll notice some errors with the ‘flow’ of it the moment you read it out loud. ‘Flow’ is literally how well your piece reads – too much punctuation, for example, can make a post sound robotic and broken-up; too little can make it sound a bit like a hyperactive ten-year-old. A post should read on-screen how it would be said out loud as naturally as possible. Give it a go, and once you get over the fact that you might sound a teensy bit mental, you’ll definitely see the difference.
4. Proofread, proofread, proofread!
When writing posts, the aim is always to keep people engaged. You want them to read the whole thing, don’t you? What typos do is bring people out of the post and back to the real world – they break a reader’s concentration. Example; “Don’t worry if you can grow a beard.” What’s wrong with that sentence? The word should be ‘can’t’ and you notice it instantly, meaning your brain had to stop and correct it so that it makes sense. That interrupts the flow and disrupts concentration, making a piece less engaging – and all because of a simple typo! However these things really are easy enough to avoid: try writing the post in a Word document and spell-checking, or getting a friend to read it over before you publish. If you really want to commit, it’s scientifically proven that we can spot more simple errors if we print things out onto paper!
5. Be yourself
Similar to knowing your audience, you also have to know yourself. Next time you’re in a conversation, try listening to yourself speak a little bit – provided the topic isn’t complex like nuclear physics or perhaps a sensitive subject. I’m not saying you should ignore the person you’re speaking to – not at all – but sometimes we speak and forget to listen to what we are actually saying. Try and notice things you do, like perhaps a particular phrase you seem to use a lot, or how long or short your sentences are. Do you ask a lot of questions? Do you ramble on and on? Try and write how only you would speak. Writing in a unique and personal way lets readers get to know you, little by little, and can build a stronger and more loyal readership. Let your readers see your true personality! And especially don’t try and be someone who you’re not. If you’re a little dorky, put that in. If you’re more serious, stick to your guns! At the end of the day, a blog is a personal thing – let a little bit of yourself shine through in your writing.
These are my top five tips on really finding your voice when it comes to your blog. I hope they made enough sense and might help someone who maybe feels like they’re struggling. Again, I’m definitely not some kind of all-knowing being on this topic – I just wanted to offer my own ideas. If anyone thinks maybe they’d like some more help I’d be happy to try, so please don’t hesitate.
So what are your tips for writing? What makes your ‘voice’ yours? Let me know in the comments!
Until then, happy writing.