You Don’t Have To Be A Professional Writer. Just Be Yourself.
Have you ever written a blog post and read it back only to find it sounds nothing like your style or voice?
A lot of new bloggers create a frame in their mind about how they think they need to present themselves to the world. This is especially true when starting a blog is the first time you have ever published any content publicly.
This frame affects your writing style, making you feel like you need to present a certain image with your words.
It’s a false image placed on top of who you really are, often applied because you believe it’s necessary to ensure you come across as professional.
Because you want to make the ‘right’ impression.
Chances are, you’re doing this right now when you write content for your blog without even realizing it.
Drop Your Preconceptions: Be Yourself
Most of us, as we go through the schooling system, secondary education and employment, are taught ‘how to write’ following specific guidelines.
As an academic, you’re told you should write with a certain style, reference your ideas and conform to set standards. Journalists also have their own set of standards, as do professionals in all kinds of industries from doctors to accountants.
Bloggers, however, aren’t taught how to write.
The most common piece of advice we are given is to use your own voice when you publish content.
This is good advice, but it’s not easy to implement and takes practice to master.
The challenge is not learning how to write in a certain style as a blogger; rather, it’s to drop any preconditioning you’ve adopted that impacts how you write.
Bloggers rarely begin as professional writers. We’re just every-day people who decide to share our ideas about a certain subject.
As a result, when you start your blog, it’s quite possibly the first time you’ve ever written for a public forum.
The idea that people will read your words immediately causes you to put up a shield, a conditioning over your writing, causing you to self-censor and alter how you express yourself.
Selective self-censoring is necessary because your blog should have focus and stay on topic, although you can be very liberal with how much personal information you share.
It’s up to you of course how much you share, but in my experience, most people are overly concerned with what they talk about on their blog because they are driven by fear:
- Fear of what people will say in response to your writing
- Fear of what they can do to you if they know certain things about you
- Fear of standing up and saying what you actually think
These are all major roadblocks to authentic expression.
Once you drop the preconditioning, you will find it much easier to write.
Creating content that people love becomes fluid because you’re not filtering what you say through a false image. The same goes for becoming fully engaged with your work – a concept I talked about a few years ago in an article about flow state.
Your expression is clear because you’re writing in your true voice.
How To Drop False Frames
The first challenge is identifying the frames you’ve applied to your writing.
Your natural writing style is going to change, especially early on when you first begin blogging.
Practice does make a difference, so the more you write, the easier it becomes and you will start to gain a better feel for who you are as a writer.
In my case, I began writing my blog using what I considered my true voice, taking what was in my head and putting it into words. This has served me well for a long time, and largely, my writing style hasn’t changed over the years.
I’ve been told on many occasions that people enjoy reading this blog because it’s as if I’m there talking to them in person like a casual conversation.
This, in many ways, is my strength. My ability to clearly express myself based on what I am really thinking.
However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had to adjust how I write over the years.
I’ve definitely noticed, especially as my audience has grown, that my writing and topic choices have changed.
Knowing that thousands of people read your words is at times daunting. It’s a big responsibility to have influence, and yet at the same time, you want to be true to who you are.
Even when your audience is small at the start of blogging, I recommend you ask yourself if you are writing within a frame.
While it’s not always appropriate to write how you speak, as a general rule of thumb, if your writing is very divergent from how you speak, then you’re likely off the mark and over-conditioning yourself to fit some kind of preconceived notion about what is acceptable.
Authentic blogging works because people come to like you for your ideas, your opinion and how you express these things through your writing.
If you’re not being authentic, people will pick up on it and you will know because building a repeat audience will be difficult.
While you practice being yourself with your writing, don’t forget the rules of good blog content. If you need a reminder, go read over my classic articles on Pillar Content and Pillar Content 2.0 – a concept I coined at the beginning of my blogging journey and a strategy which is still used by bloggers today.
Controversy, teaching people how to do things, presenting strong opinions, offering thought-leadership in your industry – all of these formats are good structures for quality blog content. What matters most is your ability to use your authentic voice while using these formats.
I can’t teach you how to be yourself, but I can explain some triggers I’ve applied to my writing. These are filters and techniques I use that I believe improve the quality of my content. Not all of this is about my style, but even if it’s just basic grammar changes, it can help.
- Talk to one person when you write. When I started blogging I imagined a crowd of people I was writing to (all my subscribers). Today I write to just one person – you.
- Write in active voice. I still have to edit my content for this all the time. I tend to default to “have” and “will be”, and other passive voice phrases, rather than present tense like, “I am” and “are”.
- Tell stories. My entire blog is based on this principle. I tell stories from my life, from other people’s lives and use stories as triggers for ideas.
- Read over your writing and if anything sounds funny to you, change it. Your intuition is a great barometer for what is working and what is not. I find it very helpful to read my writing at different times of the day, as how I feel can dramatically impact how I write.
- Don’t change too much. Editing is good, perpetual fussing over every phrase is not.
- Drop the perfectionist hat. I publish mistakes all the time, yet people still read my words. Enough said.
- Don’t try to cover too many ideas in one article. I tend to ignore this advice and as a result, write long articles, but that doesn’t suit most people. In general, if your content focuses on one main point that you can explain in 1,000 to 2,000 words, you’re doing great.
What I’m teaching here is not a science. It’s an art.
So even giving you a list of dot points to follow and some ideas that might help you self-analyze your writing, is not enough.
This is something that is unique to you that I can’t teach. You have to feel your way to what works, and you will know it when it does. Simply put, it will be more fun to write once you find your true voice.
Enjoy your writing.
P.S. Being authentic is absolutely vital when it comes to blogging.
But without a solid platform in place, you’ll struggle to reach people and connect with them.
I’m holding a live workshop that will teach you how to build an audience and make your blog profitable at the same time.
I call it the ‘Platform Launch Plan‘, and it’s 100% free to attend.