Just over a month ago I detailed 10 things to do before launching your blog. That post covered how to generate initial buzz, getting your social accounts in order and how to begin promoting content before you really even have any. It was all the technical stuff you want to have in place before you start blogging. However, there was one important thing that post didn’t cover. It didn’t talk about how to define the tone or “voice” of your blog. Your blog voice is what defines you in your industry and in the blogosphere. So how do you know what kind of tone or writing style is right for you?
Well, here are 5 things to consider when determining “your sound”.
Who’s your audience?
Your audience and their wants, needs and interests are really what will determine the appropriate tone for you to take on your blog. But to know that, you need to know who they are. Are they male or female? What age group do they fall into? Where are they located? How Web savvy are they? Are they comfortable with blogs and engaging or are you going to have to show them the ropes? What kind of language do they naturally use?
You want to not only pinpoint the type of information they’re interested in, but how they want it delivered. Are they more visual than text-based? Will they want long, informative How Tos or are they coming for debate? The clearer the image you can paint of your audience, the better the better you’ll be able to target your content.
Who are you?
Or better yet, who do you want to be? If you want to be a thought leader in your industry you’re going to take a very different tone than if you want to be the “Internet fire cracker” [a curious term recently applied to my own blogging...] If you’re not sure who you want to be, take some time to consider why you’re starting this blog. Are you doing it to build authority in your niche? Are you doing it to build word of mouth and get people talking about you? Are you using it as a customer retention tool? Or maybe to draw attention and controversy to your corner of the Web? Being able to identify who YOU are in all this will help you to create a blueprint for your own style and voice and what’s going to be best to help you meet your goals..
What’s everyone else doing?
Go out and read some of the other popular blogs in your industry and see how your competitors are using their blogs. What’s working for them and where are they leaving an opportunity open? Do some competitive intelligence. Is there a style of blogging that you’re particularly drawn to or that you think your audience would respond well to? What are the bloggers in your niche doing wrong? Are they talking at people instead of engaging them? Could you be the first videoblogger or podcaster? Is there an opportunity for you to grab the people their blatantly forgetting? Study the blogs related to your industry to get a good feel for what everyone else is doing and to find ways to set yourself apart.
Once you know happening in your industry’s bubble, leave it. Don’t get boxed in. Get out of your own industry and look at some of the blogs of Technorati’s Top 100. These blogs already have massive audiences. Get a feel for how they connect with those audiences and how people interact. Find out what’s working for them and how you could authentically implement it on your own blog.
What are you good at?
This is something a lot of bloggers fail to take advantage of. As a small business owner, you probably have a lot of natural talents that make you perfect for blogging. Some SMB owners are exceptional at breaking down complicated concepts and making them easy to understand. They’re good at it because they had to do it for themselves first! Other SMBs are excellent story tellers. Some have incredible wit and cleverness. Others have amazing from-the-trenches lessons they can share. We’re all good at something. Find ways to work whatever you’re good at into your blog and to let it set you apart from everyone else. It’s the little idiosyncrasies and bits of personality that will win you an audience and loyal readers.
Where are you most comfortable?
Just because you really like brazen bloggers doesn’t mean you should fire up your Thesaurus for potty mouth words and never look back. Create filters for your blog persona or lines that know you won’t cross to help you stay within your blogging comfort zone. For example, ,I won’t make personal attacks. I don’t go after individuals and always make my gripes about a product or service. For yourself, you may want to stay away from hot button subjects all together or maybe you’re going to stay clear of sponsored blog posts and all the controversy surrounding that. I recommend creating a guide book for where you will and will not go in your blog. It’s a helpful road map to have handy when the waters get a little muddy.
There are few things as important as the “voice” or tone that your blog will take. Make sure you spend some time outlining who you want to be in the blogosphere, who your audience is, and the techniques and strategies you’ll use to help get you there.