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:
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.
“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.