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Stop Looking for Your Blog’s Voice

This guest post is by Matthew Setter of Malt Blue.

Recently I read a post by Jeff Goins on ProBlogger, called Finding Your Blog’s Unique Voice, which talked about having a distinct voice for your blog. Something that is uniquely you, original, and distinct.

That post resonated loudly with me, because for some time I’ve been working to achieve that on my blog. I’ve been forever reviewing the tag line, writing style, and writing frequency in a continuous attempt to get the right voice and sound for it.

Then I read another post, How to Prevent Blah Blah Blogging, about overcoming writers’ block. That resonated with me as well because of my feelings of being yet another blog in the tech sector; that I’m just another voice in an over-crowded space.

For some time I’ve been trying to find where I fit in, and what I bring that’s original and fresh—something I’m sure you have felt more than once as well. Nobody wants to be a “me too” kind of blog. That’s not interesting to anyone! Wouldn’t you agree?

Your greatest asset right by your side

During the reading of these posts I remembered reading a great book, Acres of Diamonds, by Russell Conwell. In it, the author related a series of short stories about a series of people, all in a similar predicament.

They all sought success, whether that was money, fame, or wealth. Yet each made the all-too-common mistake of looking everywhere for what they sought, except at the source of that thing. They all went out and expended energy, money, and time, only to find that the reward they sought was right in front of their faces. How shocking is that?

As I read both these blogs and book, it struck me that there’s a simple way of writing in a voice that’s completely all your own. And each of us can start right now, without delay.

Remember the child inside

Consider this scenario: as we grow up we learn so much, whether in school, from our parents or guardians, on the job, and with friends and partners. We take that learning and we apply it day by day as we grow as people. Now a lot of the time, it works just fine; but occasionally we make mistakes—sometimes embarrassing or painful ones.

Maybe we ask out a girl we’d admired for months, to the school formal, only to be unceremoniously turned down. Maybe we did something at a job, which for all the best of intentions seemed right, but was a poor decision to make.

Sometimes we take these experiences on as battle scars that we wear with pride … but sometimes we wish they’d never happened. I’m not sure about you, but there have been times over the years where I’ve wanted to be able to talk to that younger self of mine, first-hand, to give him the wisdom I have now, to give him clues about how to do things better, and in so doing, to speed up time. Maybe you’ve felt the same?

Would I listen to me?

Well, what if you could talk to your younger self? What if you could share some of your life’s accomplishments, share some of your wisdom and experience? What would you say? What would you tell them? How would you talk with them? In what voice or style would you communicate with them for maximum affect?

I’m sure it would be different from how you write now.

If you’re struggling to find your voice, your sound, or your approach, then I encourage your to forget everyone else! Forget trying to picture your ideal audience and trying to anticipate what they want to hear or not hear. Make your audience one person—your younger self. Write as though you could talk to them, guide them, and teach them.

As you’re writing that way, ask yourself these questions:

  • Would I take this on board?
  • Would I listen to me?
  • Have I communicated worthwhile knowledge/experience/wisdom with true passion and conviction?
  • Would I learn and grow from what I’ve just written?
  • Would I be left confused or wondering by the post?

Through taking on this approach, I’m confident you’ll see the following changes in your writing:

  • You’ll take more care with what you put out.
  • You’ll pay more attention.
  • You’ll write with more genuine passion and conviction.

Finding your voice

I’m confident that in taking this approach, your enthusiasm cannot help but show in every facet of your work—not only your writing, but your promotional activities as well. I believe that you will develop a tone that resonates with a much richer and more vibrant note. Through that, you will attract an audience to you for the new-found quality and depth of your material and conviction.

So if you’re stuck, desperately trying to find your voice, trying to find your audience, stop! The only person that matters is all too ready to listen and they’re right here. No go, write, teach and inspire them!

Matthew Setter is a passionate writer, passionate Australian and software developer. He’s also the founder of Malt Blue, dedicated to educating PHP professionals. You can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook anytime.

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Comments

  1. Alecia says:

    Thank you for this! I’ve been struggling for the longest time with what my blog should be ABOUT, and who my target audience should be, how I should structure things so “THEY” will read it, blah blah flah… it really does suck all the fun out of it, you know? Lately I’ve been letting it be what it is. I’m a person who has multiple interests… if I want to talk about food one day, I will. If feel like talking about learning a new language, I do that. And it just flows from there. I kept feeling as though that was “wrong” somehow but I found that if I’m passionate about what I’m saying, it shows, and my writing is better.

    • admin says:

      I’ve constantly questioned regarding this topic and I’m happy to see that you just simply covered it well. might your propose the other blogs to read that may have much more facts on this topic? Thanks.

    • Hey Alecia,

      glad that you liked the post. My blog’s tech-based, but I know what you mean. There’s so much you want to talk about, but what’s the right, the consistent approach.

      My own concern was of what my peers might think – not that I’ve actually had them leave nasty feedback or anything like that. But it’s all too familiar, those feelings of “what is my blog all about”, “is it good enough”, “how do I write so people will like it and read it”. Those kinds of feelings block passion and creativity and you just being you.

      I hope the post helps.

      Matt

  2. Yvonne Laine says:

    Thank you so much for this timely article. As a new blogger, I have tried a few different approaches, without much success or satisfaction on my part, but my gut kept telling me to “just be me” and keep my blog what I originally intended it to be. Thank you for validating what I felt all along.

    • I felt awkward when I was a new blogger too and as a result, many posts I wrote were never published. It just didn’t feel like me; it wasn’t genuine. It also was harder to write back then too. That was probably because I was struggling to find words that didn’t sound like me; my writing wouldn’t flow.

      Now I publish with greater frequency, it’s easier to write, and I never seem to run out of ideas. The opposite is true actually; I have more writing ideas than time to spend writing!

      I took the Field of Dreams approach: If I built it (my blog), they (readers) would come. Probably a naive approach, but it worked!

      I also have a little inner voice that tells me when a post is ready to publish. Sometimes I am angry at that voice because I need to publish, but I realize it isn’t quite complete. If you also have that voice, listen to it!

      GREAT post! Thanks for sharing.

    • Naked Girl/Yvonne,

      thanks folks. Blogging for real definitely reminded me of what a good friend shared with me once. I asked him should I play stock market games to learn about shares. He said, unequivocally, no! The reason being, that you’re not truly invested and you think totally differently when it’s real to when it’s a game.

      My point here, is that you have all these ideas about what you want to say, when you’re going to say it, how you’re going to say it – and it’s wonderful; then your finger hovers over the publish button and your work’s about to go out for the world to potentially see and timidity and self-doubts set in from nowhere.

      Being honest, open and yourself makes your work your own. You are you, expressing a refreshing, original idea, or take on an idea. You’re not rehashing marketing material or a sales pitch. Plus expression is so therapeutic.

      Thanks for the encouraging feedback,

      Matt

  3. Jeff says:

    I think that’s good advice. Your voice changes over time anyway. You learn new things. You find out what doesn’t work for you. You find out what works really well. You have to let your voice evolve and the best way to do that is by going with your own instincts.

    What works for someone else won’t necessarily work for you. Ultimately, you have to be the authority for your business and/or your life. Well said.

  4. Brad says:

    I’d just end up cussing at my younger self for being so stupid. On top of that, my younger self would probably teach the present me some things that I have forgotten like, stop worrying about tomorrow and enjoy today. You know, the things us adults get to caught up in.

    Nice post Matt.

    Ohh, on another note, do you have a recommendation for a nice php login script that has remember me and forgot password feature?

    **Sorry for the off topic replay Darren**

    • Brad,

      good point. I admit that I looked at my younger self, in this context, with a subjective perspective. I’d not thought of it as a two-way communication of sorts. Thanks for that.

      As for the PHP login script, I’ll send you a tweet.

      cheers,

      Matt

  5. Andy says:

    This article came at the perfect time for me. I am a new writer and those questions you’ve listed are great to ask myself after scribbling down an article.

    “would I listen to me?”

    Great stuff.

  6. Marie Noelle says:

    Great article! I never felt comfortable with the “your voice” thing… Much easier by following your tips!

  7. Nice post.
    It took me a while to find my voice but also to find my writing style.
    People told me to just be myself, but who wants to read nicey nice posts?
    There’s so many out there already.
    So I chose a more direct approach to blogging which works for me and so it seems for others.
    So for all those new bloggers out there, when you are told to “just be yourself” you need to ask yourself “would I want to listen to me?” as Matt suggests. You don’t have to be someone different, but blogging allows you to be a different version of you if you so wish ;-)

    Thanks Matt for the valuable insight!

    • David,

      thanks for the feedback. You’re right, bringing out a particular segment of yourself, playing with it and refining it a bit seems a good way to be you, yet at the same time, augment yourself in a particular aspect.

      Can you share some tips and advice on how you refined your voice over your blogging career so far?

      Matt

  8. I used to have the casette tape Acres of Diamonds and I listened to it in my car on the way to work and back. I believe it was narrated by Earl Nightengale. What a great story. It was full of good advice.

  9. Hey Matthew,
    I like the idea of being able to go back and talk to your younger self to give some words of wisdom. Would we listen, probably not.

    My voice is my own, that is what portrays through my blog. If someone doesn’t like what I have to say then that is fine with me. A blog is a great way to get our own unique voice heard.

    • Yeah, I don’t know if I would listen to me, but it was always a burning desire to be able to impart some wisdom, some of the “school of hard knocks” knowledge I’d acquired. Would I/We have turned out better if we could have done this – who’s to say.

      But I’d like to think we’d take some of it on board. I agree about the uniqueness of blogs. That’s what makes them an exceptional medium for quality and diversity, when applied properly.

      Matt

  10. Wow, what a great post!

    I’ve found myself writing like this recently. I’m starting to convey what really matters to me, and I’m doing so with more style and charm. It really works.

  11. patrick says:

    Finding your voice can be very challenging for any new blogger. It takes time, practice, confidence and enough education to write about you topic comfortably. This article really resonates with some of the challenges I faced in the beginning. Thanks for the post.

    • Patrick,

      thanks for the vote of confidence. It’s really encouraging to know that it’s a good path and that, in time, with practice, the road will become smoother. If I may ask, what are some of the other ways that you refined your voice in your early days?

      Matt

  12. You’re so right. When the pressure is off to be everything you’re not only then will the inner you will shine. When you’re not worried about being a people pleaser, words will come out with a raw tug, a tug that will inspire greatness not only within yourself but others as well.

    Great post!

    • Ahlam,

      thanks kindly. It’s hard at times when putting out content in to the wide open world, always the thought of what may be said about what’s just been written. But if you’re going to do it, may as well be the best you can be and just do it.

      Matt

  13. hament says:

    What a blog. A real clean blog I have ever seen and with real content for all who really want to make some online. Thanks alot for sharing your knowledge.

  14. Not only am I a new blogger, but my focus is on fashion – so I am obviously not doing anything “new.”

    This is definitely great advice and sometimes it’s the simplest things, like asking if we would listen to ourselves, that can make the biggest difference.

    Thanks so much!

  15. Anni says:

    Nice strategy, Matthew. I think I’d like to slap my younger self, and direct myself to act more, think less.
    Too much thinking can paralyse.

    • Analysis Paralysis – that’s a dead-set killer at times. I always thought, growing-up, that when I was educated enough, I’d make the best decisions. But then you can know too much and second/third/fourth guess yourself (not saying that it will or will always happen).

      I think Tony Robbins said it best. Make a decision about doing something, then make a second decision, straight after, that you’re going to commit to taking the action on the decision you just made.

  16. AstroGremlin says:

    Being a writer, even in the age of the blog is about soul stuff. It’s good to see an article that imagines an interview with your younger self. If I could talk with my younger writer self I would say, “You feel as though you are paying dues and you are. But you have no idea how well those dues are going to pay off. Follow your heart and you brain as I did. My only message to you is that the outcome is better than you can imagine now.” I also would say, “You got me here, you are on track, keep it up. You are scared. You should be. Making your way through this world as a writer is hard. You are brave to even try it. And that woman you will meet in a few days. She likes you. Go with them. Or not. But keep up the writing. I expect great things from you.”

    • AstroGremlin,

      Good words of wisdom. It sure feels tough from time to time. But there’s such a great community around, especially here on Problogger. Always good to have such a supportive community around to help bring out your best and give you a kick when you’re feeling low.

      Matt

  17. AstroGremlin says:

    I have a question: How does one get their thumbnail picture up on here? Leave a comment anywhere on http://blogsnewsreviews.com Sorry to distract.

  18. Daniel says:

    Well, we can only really be ourselves as all the other positions have been taken(Are occupied).
    As for asking the opinion of my younger self, I only need to ask for my teenage sons opinion.
    The rolling of the eyes, the ” Yeah, great. ” and the ” Dad is that all you want”?

  19. Just being yourself without being too influenced by others is the best way to find your own voice. It takes time, of course.

  20. The “ideal audience” thing is really a show stopper.

    If you (me) wait for finding this audience, you never get started. It’s really important to just be yourself and focus on what you know best. I think you made this point very clearly. The challenge is consistently doing this. It takes discipline, focus, and consistency. It’s very hard to do at the beginning, but seeing others doing it is very encouraging.

    Thanks for the insights!

  21. Melvin says:

    Great post Matthew!

    I’ve been trying for a couple of days now but I only thought of my audience as myself and not my younger self. That alone added a new page on how bloggers can write with freedom and contentment.

    With what stated above can really help new bloggers like me.

    Cheers!
    Melvin

    • Melvin,

      I’m not that old at blogging myself – only been doing it for a few months now. Glad that the article’s of help and all the best with your new adventure.

      Matt

  22. WOW. This REALLY resonated with me.

    I like to think of finding your voice in terms of ego and self-esteem. Our self-esteem becomes wounded at an early age from (like you mentioned) a rejection from a person we admired, some sort of betrayal, or, my favorite, advertising.

    Then comes the ego. The countless comparisons between you and other people to see WHO’S BETTER and WHY. In the blogging world, this manifests itself as, “my blog is better because I have better content,” or, “my blog must not be as good as theirs because they have a stronger voice.”

    I think blogging to your younger self is an EXCELLENT technique for re-connecting with your self-esteem and letting it shine :]

    Thanks for the excellent post!

    Tucker

    • Thanks kindly. My Mum always said that when you compare yourself to someone else, you will always come off second-best. Something about our conditioning seems to get us to build them up and put ourselves down, even if just a little more than we should.

      Honesty, creativity and as you well said it Tucker, true self-esteem – letting it shine through to give people tangible reasons to read your work and stick with you. A mutual win-win.

      Matt

  23. I resonate with the last paragraph of your post big TIME! “So if you’re stuck, desperately trying to find your voice, trying to find your audience, stop! ” It resonates with me because there is nothing to “FIND.” You can not be lost. You are right there all along the journey. Becoming who you are, expressing your unique voice is a subtractive process, not additive, it’s the process of letting go of what you are not and embracing what you are. One way to begin that peeling + release is definitely to awaken that child like magic and listen deep from within – being to discern your voice from those “other” voices inside. great post!

    • Well said. Subtractive, not additive. Refining until nothing unecessary is left – yet not too much is taken out. A healthy, continual, growth and refinement. Am really glad it gave so much.

      Matt

  24. Such a great topic and all good points, especially since I was just recently saying “I’m trying to find my (blogging) voice”.

  25. TheMoneyBog says:

    Thank you for this article. This will be a helpful addition to my blogging efforts in the near future. I really enjoy the content from this site. Have a blessed day!

  26. Wonderful advice for writers and bloggers, but this technique is far more than that: It’s a great motivational tool to help you gain perspective on life regardless of your occupation. I’ve often practiced a variation of this as I navigate life’s challenges – I envision a conversation with my “future self” and imagine what he’d tell me and what advice he’d offer to weather the storm.

    Though I’ve been writing for years, I’m new to the blogosphere, and have been searching for the right way to express myself through the medium. Your strategy may be just what I need. Thank you.

  27. Bob Lennart says:

    Beautiful. I think I am on the right track then. I’ve been “talking to myself” for years now.

  28. Jeff Goins says:

    Great thoughts, Matt. We strive so hard to follow others’ success patterns and often come up empty-handed and frustrated. The best strategy we can adopt is to be ourselves. It looks like you’re doing that nicely.