Finding Your Brand's Voice: Part 2
The more regularly you practice writing, the easier it will get and the more defined your brand's voice will become. You'll start by mimicking others, but over time, your true voice will emerge as you learn to get cozy in your own brand's skin. My weekly blog posts have been priceless for helping my own growth in this area.
Since blogging is a longer form of writing, it can seem pretty daunting and it's hard to know where to begin. What's helped me is to follow the same steps each time, which makes the writing process a whole lot smoother. I'm sharing these steps with you in the hopes that it will help you jump in and start honing your own voice. Now let's dig in!
1. DECIDE ON A TOPIC
Without a topic in mind, you won't get very far. I like to keep a list of potential topics that I can choose from when writing time comes. These ideas often come to me at random times when I'm designing, working out, or trying to fall asleep (this one happens constantly).
Although I do schedule some of my posts out in advance, it's essential for me to write what I'm passionate about at the time. If I'm not excited about the topic at hand, my readers probably won't be either.
2. OUTLINE WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY
Next I create an outline of what I want to say, because when my writing has no direction—believe me—I can ramble for days. That just makes for a post that's hard to follow, and is normally saying not enough or way too much. I end up spinning myself in circles and writing parts of four different posts instead of focussing on one.
Instead, my advice is to start with an outline to keep your writing clear and focused. This ensures that you'll convey your message properly instead of just rambling incoherently. Plus, there's the added bonus that this initial outline is the first hint at your post structure, calling out the headings that will make your writing even more engaging and easy to follow.
3. FILL IN THE GAPS
Once your outline is set and you know what you want to say, then you can start fleshing out the sections of your post. Writing blindly makes it hard to know when you're done, while this method takes the guesswork out of the equation. It's a bit like connecting the dots and makes the writing process far less daunting. I just comb through sequentially, filling in the gaps and making sure the content flows from one idea to the next.
4. REREAD & INFUSE YOUR VOICE
Once I've filled out each section of my post, it's time to start reviewing. The first time I read the post aloud to myself. I listen for tone and to see if my voice is coming through.
Your true voice will emerge as you learn to get cozy in your own brand's skin.
Does the post sound too sterile? Am I using big words that aren't really necessary? Can I infuse more personality into the post and add some entertaining asides? Could it sound more like me? The answer to all of these is usually yes the first time around, and that's why I proof before I post.
It's an evolution. Your first priority is to make sure you're communicating clearly. Once you're sure you've said what you want to say, you can work on saying it the way you want to say it.
5. REREAD FOR SMOOTHNESS & TYPOS
Once I've infused my voice into the post—guess what—it's time to review again! This time, I look for typos. I check to make sure I didn't go overboard in the tone department and that I'm still making my point concisely.
It's a fine art adding just the right amount of flourish to your writing, and most times there are places I need to pull back. I try not to not be too precious with my writing, even if I love the way something sounds. If it doesn't serve the greater purpose of the post, it's gotta go.
6. REREAD, reread, reread
That's right—rinse and repeat, again and again. I read my posts several times, and even have my husband proof them each week before they go out. It's always helpful to get another set of eyes on your work. Granted, sometimes errors still make it out, but I try to avoid that as much as I possibly can.
You may think typos don't threaten your credibility, but they absolutely do. Your audience will grace you with a few occasional hiccups, but posts riddled with errors show carelessness and a lack of attention to detail. If you're careless with your writing, they'll come to wonder what else in your brand you're careless with.
7. HIGHLIGHT THE GEMS
We live in an age where most of us have the attention span of a goldfish—only a few precious seconds. We're always yearning for more time in our days and I fully recognize that most people won't sit down and read each of my posts in their entirety. That's where headings come in.
I use formatting to highlight the structure of my post and call out those especially helpful nuggets. I make my posts as scannable as I possibly can. That way, even if you only have a few minutes to peruse one, you'll still get a ton of value. It also doesn't hurt that search engines like it too.
8. SHARE YOUR WISDOM WITH THE WORLD!
This blogging process may seem a little bit like overkill, but it gives me such great peace of mind when I finally schedule my post to publish. I've reviewed it enough that I know it reads clearly and will speak truth to my audience in a way that will resonate with them.
Of course the voice isn't always perfect and every post isn't a home run, but each one is an essential stepping stone. Iterating in public is a vulnerable thing for sure, but it also allows your audience to see your evolution. When you allow them to share in the struggles as well as the victories of your brand, that kind of engagement can't be bought.