As a communications consultant, I sometimes feel like a rock band roadie.
My job is to understand what my client is trying to get across to their audience and then figure out how to do that in their voice. I craft the message, set up the equipment, attract a crowd, and crank things up to 11. (And, of course, my clients are all rock stars.)
But, when Smith launched its social media strategy in 2016, I was asked to share my thoughts, my experiences and my knowledge — all in my own voice. The mic was suddenly shoved into my face, and I froze.
It took a year of battling self-doubt before I could stop hiding behind endless revisions and actually publish my first article. That’s a strange thing to admit given that I write all the time and the content I’ve created for clients has been read by millions of people. But writing under a by-line is different than writing under someone else’s logo. When social media is about me, I don’t do so well.
Here are a few things that I did to shake off the stage fright and write articles more regularly. If your goal is to publish more of your own original content online, maybe you’ll find some of these tips helpful.
Describe Your Audience
Knowing your audience will answer a lot of questions regarding what you write about and how. It will give you clarity and focus. Even if you’re publishing on a platform that gives near global access to your content, you are not writing for everyone. Choose who you’re speaking to. Your audience might be a demographic, a group or just one person. For me, I write like I’m writing to my best client, not my friends and not an anonymous “HR professional.” That puts me in a state of mind from which the words flow more easily.
State Your Goal
For some bloggers, the goal is to keep readers scrolling through ads. For others, it’s to sell a product or service. For others, it’s a form of activism. Know why you’re spending time on your blog — and write it down. Having a clear purpose will prod you forward.
Write from a Place of Authority
Whenever I start typing, this nagging voice in my head asks, “Why would anyone listen to you on this topic?” To silence this inner critic, I focus on things I know about and things that I’ve done. I avoid making unsupported generalizations and back claims with data or links to authoritative sources. This not only sharpens my copy, it builds trust with readers.
Give Away Something Valuable
That nagging voice I mentioned above has another favorite question: “Why should anyone take the time to read this?”
I think the answer is in one of my previous posts:
“The phrase “pay attention” tells you what you need to know. Attention is like money. It’s our cognitive currency. We only have so much of it to spend, and when we spend it, we expect something in return.”From “People Don’t Read.”
What you give away will depend on your goal, but try to make it tangible and/or practical. It could be product samples, discounts, recipes, tips, checklists, instructions, recommendations, etc. Your readers will appreciate and remember you for it.
Don’t Not Be You
Finding a unique voice is something many, if not all, writers struggle with. For me, a more authentic voice began to emerge in my posts when I wrote regularly in this format, stuck to things I cared about, and let my personality shine through.
There is one thing each of us has to offer that no one else does: our unique perspective and life experience. With that in mind I simply do my best to share personal experiences that I think my clients could benefit from. Maybe not everyone sees an obvious link between guitar tablature and employee communication, but I do. And maybe sharing that idea will give a client a different perspective, or at least amuse them intellectually for a few minutes. Your peculiarities will help you hone your voice and find an audience.
Sharing Is Caring
As that big purple dinosaur Barney says, Sharing is caring. That’s a handy way to sum up the advice above. Share what you care about, and care about your audience’s time and needs. Let your content flow from there.
Do you have any lessons you’ve learned from writing a blog? Are you looking for help getting your ideas into words? We’d love to hear from you.More Ideas