There are blogs about everything and for everyone. No. Really. There’s a blog entirely devoted to Tina Fey’s scar. Meaning if you think you have some awesome idea for a blog and you’ll become ridiculously successful and have a movie starring some hot actor to play you, you probably won’t.
Seriously, I’m pretty sure all the great ideas are taken.
Alright, I jest, but in reality your experiences traveling the world may be brilliant and make an incredible blog, but you need to keep in mind there are others out there. You will never be the only one. You will never be the smartest. But if you have the smarts and the uniqueness and can develop your own writing style by being you? Well, then you have a fighting chance.
My favorite bloggers of all time have developed “cult” (not my word) followings for a reason. Penelope Trunk has come great career and life advice, but so did my college career counselor. Penelope, however, is controversial just for funsies and that works for her. Love of my life, The Bloggess, is so hilariously self-deprecating and absurd and because of her wacky sense of humor she’s one of the most successful bloggers out there.
So writing in your authentic voice pays off. Not a writer? Try video. Or talking out loud first, that’s one thing I find insanely helpful when I have writer’s block. As for the rest of you budding journo-bloggers…
Tips for developing your writing style:
1. Don’t try too hard to impress. Write how you would normally say things and, for God’s sake, avoid the thesaurus on a semi-regular basis. If you wouldn’t say it in your head, you shouldn’t write it down. Remember, unless your a New York Times blogger, blogging isn’t necessarily about being a journalist or the best writer out there (though there are some amazing bloggers who are both). People read blogs for niche information written by experts. And the experts people choose are interesting/funny/frank/eloquent (choose a word that fits you).
2. Ignore that blogger rule about being concise. Don’t ramble on forever, that’s boring, but if you have something to say, say it and stop worrying about the word count.
3. Write all the time and don’t publish it. Keep a journal, write test posts, anything that gets those writer juices flowing. This way you’re not paranoid about who might see it, and reading over your writing might help you pinpoint your unique style.
4. Think about your audience. This can get a little tricky so I don’t want you to over-think it. Honestly, I don’t know who the hell my audience is and I don’t stress about targeting a specific demographic. If you’re into what I have to say, awesome, I’m beyond ecstatic that you’re here. I love feedback and want to know how I can help you (which is where this blog post came from, thanks DeFacto!). HOWEVER. I will write how I write and if you don’t like it you can leave. But if you don’t have that mindset, if you’re trying to attack potential employers at a Fortune 500, maybe refrain from using profanity. If you have a specific audience in mind, read similar blogs and try to emulate that style while keeping your own voice.
5. Make a tweet cloud. This one’s my favorite, but it’s only for you guys on Twitter (duh). What’s a tweet cloud, you ask? Only the coolest thing ever! Basically it makes a funky cloud of the words most used in your tweets. Here’s mine: Alright, so let’s do a little breakdown of what this means about my own style —
- My use of the words awesome, seriously, friends and guys shows my tweets are relatively casual.
- My (obscene) use of the word thanks means I communicate directly with people.
- Feel, love, hate and actually = opinionated.
- And it looks like I tweet about publishing, blogs, tips, books and marketing.
So have a look at what you tweet about. Does it illustrate anything about your personality? Things that interest you? Can you translate that over to your writing?
I can’t stress enough the importance of having a distinct writing style and it’s even more important with blogging than with any other writing form. We read blogs because there are people behind them, people we trust and people whose style fits our reading preferences. Don’t try to please everyone and – for God’s sake – be your brilliant, fabulous and unapologetic self!