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How to Blog With ‘Voice’ and Increase Community and Readership

This post has been submitted by Glen Stansberry.

Most bloggers have a great advantage over traditional media: there’s no stingy editorial process to whittle away at our writing. We can say what we want, however we want. Yet many bloggers fail to take advantage of this fact, afraid to voice an opinion or use an entertaining writing style for whatever reason. If you don’t write with voice or opinion, you’re completely tossing away some of the best aspects of blogging.

Anybody can copy and paste. I’m pretty sure they’ve even trained monkeys to do it. If your blogging style consists of “Michael Arrington wrote about X today” and link to his story, theoretically you’re in the same skill category as the primate. Last time I checked, monkeys are still flinging poo at zoo attendees. You don’t want to be compared with that, do you?

Many bloggers will justify not using voice by wanting to take the route of a more traditional media. But to me this is the exact reason why we should be using these tools in our writing: to distinguish ourselves from traditional media. The Daily Show is in one of the most traditional of markets: Televised News. This niche has for years been reserved for standards like bad hair, non-regional diction and terrible puns. Yet the Daily Show’s off-beat, humorous approach has made their show the de-facto news source for many. People are starting to realize that using voice and humor works pretty well for holding an audience.

Let’s touch on two of natural and easy ways to inject some voice into your blog, and get noticed in an already saturated blogosphere:

1. Opinions

Your opinion matters. No really, it does. If you have no opinion, than what is the point of blogging? Whatever the niche, a blog without opinion is like a movie without a storyline: the actors can be awesome, but without a storyline the movie will still suck. And nobody likes watching a crappy movie.

Opinions are fantastic for blogging because your views spark discussions, which means your blog is alive. The real learning takes place when people contribute to your writing by participating in the discussions. When a reader contributes to a discussion, he/she is now invested in the blog, and most likely will become a regular reader. This community is yet another leg up that blogs have on traditional media.

2. Humor

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” – Victor Borge

Writing with humor is (in my opinion) the most severely under-utilized aspect in blogging today. (Well, maybe second to spelling and grammer checking. But who needs that?) If you can make someone laugh, you have just found an incredibly effective way to gain a faithful subscriber to your content. Why? Because you’ve made the reader respond physically to what you’ve written. A hearty guffaw generated from a motionless piece of text on a screen is something very special. Laughter can even boost your reader’s health!

Also, one of the best forms of viral marketing is laughter. Think about it. How many videos have been emailed to you because they were sooo stinkin’ funny? I know I don’t need to tell smart bloggers like you that viral content is priceless for your blog (IE. Digg, Del.icio.us popular, Reddit). Wherever laughter goes, links always follow.

Wrapping It Up

One word of caution for writers wanting to add a little pizazz to their writing, either with humor or opinions: don’t overdo it. Think of these devices as literal spices in your blogging. A little can go a long way. You don’t want to overuse them.

If you’ve decided to start incorporating some voice to your blogging, my advice is to start small. This ensures that you and your readers both will comfortably adjust to your improved writing style.

Getting noticed as a blogger is all about being unique. That’s what draws readers to a blog in an already-cluttered niche. Personal voice in your writing will make the reader look to you for the things that a newspaper can’t give them: personality and opinions.

This is the second part in the series Cutting Above the Rest, a series focusing on how to use creativity, productivity and organization to improve your blogging skills. Part 1 was here. Check out Glen Stansberry’s blog LifeDev (feed) for more tips to improve your creativity.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Chris B. says:

    This is great advice for a new blogger like me. I have a lot of useful information to tell the world, but I feel like my writing skills are lacking at times. I am going to try and consciencly put humor in one post per week. Thanks.

  2. The best blogs are those that have voice.

    Look at dooce and others.

  3. Thanks for this piece, Glen. Though I’ve been blogging on and off for a couple of years, I’m only now trying to get really serious about it. Being newly retired, I have the time for it, but I don’t want to waste a lot of time in figuring things out. I’m hoping that articles like yours will help me figure all of this out.

  4. Rory says:

    A very encouraging post, Glen. It is motivating to be told not to hold back.

    I’m still undecided on the question of whether your opinion matters. We might have an opinion and, as they say, everyone is entitled to one – but, whether it matters? Hmm…

    But it certainly is good to think so.

  5. Those are excellent pointers, and when you add the element of attention grabbing headlines, it’s a powerful combination.

    My humor’s never been great, but everyone’s got opinions. The threshold is to voice them without fearing criticism. I hope you enjoy the article I wrote today on my blog.

  6. Glen says:

    Rory,

    I definitely think your opinion matters. This is what makes the blogosphere something to talk about. Opinions drive everything we do.

    Not only does having an opinion give you some “cannon fodder” for your blog, it also endears you to your audience. If you’re seen as a person (not just a reporter), your blog will start to generate a more faithful audience too.

    Win/Win/Win ;)

  7. Anthony C says:

    I agree with all the above statements. Very nice article, I strongly agree with the opinion point because with out opinion your just boring.

  8. nice article …great points you touched on in their! :)

  9. Armen says:

    I’ve just started a new blogging project and I’m not really sure if I knew that adding ‘voice’ was what I was trying to do, if you know what I mean. I was trying to add my character in my writting – in essence this is my voice.

    Nice one Glen!

  10. Anthony C says:

    Armen, I’m right there with you bud. I recently just started my blog that I actually working on. I agree that is actually the last thing that I thought of…

  11. John says:

    Clearly I must point at out that we are, in fact, primates. :( …and not only is the blogosphere rife with fecal-matter-flinging, such antics are acknowledged as a good way to attract readers. >:D

    I fully concur with your main point, though; monkeys have personality — many blogs, sadly, do not.

  12. Michael says:

    All I need now is a funny opinion!

    Perhaps inspiration for your next post?! :)

  13. I’m enjoying your posts Glen, and your advice is really encouraging.

    BTW–I’ve really taken to heart the advice you gave in your last post about getting content from unexpected sources and then adapting it to fit your mantra. It was tough at first, but I’m starting to get the hang of it. It definitely makes writing the posts more fun! And it’s a thrill to start getting compliments on the writing quality at my blog now. Your advice works!

  14. Ashish Mohta says:

    I had been trying to do this from couple of days.Rather than making the article like another newspaper article, its better to make it more interactive, asking questions in between, I hope I will be improving from your tips

  15. Cage says:

    Great tips! I’ve only been blogging for a short time and recently began to realize that my blog lacked personality. It just felt to straightforward and to the point, nothing more nothing less. I’m now working on adding my own voice to my post.

  16. Andy says:

    Great advice as always. Keep practicing :)

  17. Jay Wilson says:

    I’ve written for a major blog in the past that had a certain snarky style, so when I started my own blog, I found myself writing in that blog’s style, not my own. It took a while, but I’ve finally shook the monkey of that old blog and my voice is shining through and I’m having a blast. As someone who works in the magazine field, it’s great to not have the censor.

  18. What do you think about including podcasting as part of the blog?

    I ask because I just networked with a podcaster in the same field as I and we recorded a podcast that can now be downloaded. I have to admit, I was slightly nervous so I can’t really objectively tell if I sounded good or bad on it.

    Do you think it actually has an affect on increasing or decreasing readership? Gives the blog more personality, etc.

    I mean, do people REALLY download those mp3s and actually listen to them? and come back for more?

  19. Jen says:

    There’s no question that, all other things being equal, a blog whose ‘voice’ permits the personality of the blogger to shine through is often more readable than the blog impersonal reportage or mere ‘poo-flinging’ linkage. The trick lies in finding and maintaining your voice as a writer, and Jay Wilson’s wee cautionary tale reflects my own experience. Whatever my most recent copywriting job, the client’s tone has a tendency to colour the tone of my blog… Yet another monkey of which to be aware!

  20. I’ve been weblogging for over seven years. Still haven’t gotten anywhere close to the big time, but I toil on because writing is deep in my DNA.

    I think part of my problem is I get too safe. I offer opinion but sometimes if I don’t think I have the stuff (links mostly) to support it I back off and not be as bold as I could be. I’ll have to try to be more on the edge.

    It goes to show weblogging is a constant-learning process.

  21. ourman says:

    Funny that when you look at websites about how to blog so many of them actually forget the writing part of it.

    My biggest bugbear (and excuse me for saying this in this context) is just how many blogs there are about blogging. I mean, when did you last read a book about books.

    Anyway, for me personally my last blog which documented overseas volunteer work and fundraising in Vietnam was very much writing and experience driven (www.ourmaninhanoi.com).

    However as I move to Granada, Nicaragua I do want to branch out and drive more traffic to the site. I am more aware, for example, that quantity is almost as important as quality. It’s more little and often now as opposed to a big spiel once a week.

    Again though, after the success of the Hanoi blog I will be using it to help fundraise. In the end I think OMIH helped raise over $10,000 USD as part of a larger fundraising driver of nearly $100,000.

    Any comments and assistance welcome (www.ourmaningranada.com)

  22. Sameer says:

    i have recently started my blog and thankfully it’s getting good comments..

    all thanks to ProBlogger..

    BTW it’s not necessary that if you have a good sense of humor you would be a nice blogger..POOR PUNS AND HAlF BAKED GAGS are something which are often seen on blogs..

  23. Leah Jewel says:

    This is so interesting. I’m new to blogging, but a lifetime journalist, author, and publicist. There are so many niches in the blog arena, as with any writing-sphere, so to speak. I can learn a lot here. I’d like to join if it’s okay.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Unique thought – no “look what Blogger X did here” much less (and god forbid) a verbatim copy-paste from Blogger X. At the very least, these copycat posts need to be in addition to those three unique posts a week. More about why the regurgitation post is such a bad idea, and how to cure the impulse, from ProBlogger here. [...]

  2. [...] How to Blog with “Voice” and Increase Community and Readership [...]

  3. [...] How to Blog With ‘Voice’ and Increase Community and Readership (tags: seo) [...]

  4. [...] How to Blog With “Voice” and Increase Community and Readership by Glen Stansberry (guesting on ProBlogger)… Glen gives us a couple of ways to inject your own voice on your Blog to get noticed in the blogosphere. [...]

  5. [...] Lately people have been saying nice things about my writing style. Thank you I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I do feel I’ve finally settled into my own ‘voice’ and that this is partly what makes people seem to like Bright Meadow. (I am fully prepared for y’all to correct me here!) If you want help finding your own ‘voice’ all I can say is be true to yourself and read this article for some pointers. [...]