Finding Your Blogging Voice

Find your blogging voice | The Blog Maven To truly connect with your readers and build a community around your blog, you’ll need to do it with your own voice, your own style, in your own way…and with your readers in mind.

If you’ve been blogging for awhile, chances are, your writing has taken lots of twists and turns.  But now is the best time to refocus your writing and build a solid foundation for the long-term growth of your blog.

In this post, I’ll share how you can start blogging your passion with clarity, purpose, and your own blogging voice.

A Question for You

If you were blogging for just one person, who would it be?

Now, don’t say, “for myself!”  If you were honestly writing “just for you,” you wouldn’t be concerned about growing your blog, and you wouldn’t be reading my blog.

Gotcha.

So let’s say you’re writing for just one non-self person.  Who is she?

Take a minute and write it down.  No, you won’t be graded.  But this is an exercise in developing a mission for your blog.  Because once you have this “ideal reader” in mind, you’ll be able to come to your blog each day with a purpose, and you won’t waste so much time figuring out what you’re trying to say or what you want to sound like.  Here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. Is your ideal reader male or female?  What age?  Give her a name. (yes, really)
  2. What is your ideal reader’s age?  Marital status?  Does she have kids?
  3. Does she have free time?  If so, what does she do with it?
  4. What is this reader’s biggest challenge in life?
  5. What are her goals and desires?

Are you starting to develop a picture here?  This process can take you from something generic like “My audience is women between 25 and 40 years old with kids” to “I know who I’m writing to.  I know what matters to her.  And here she is.”

When you know your one reader, you can write with her in mind.

Here. I’ll give you an example of my ideal reader:

Sarah is a 30 year old mom with two young children and a two-year-old blog (which she’s starting to feel is more like a third child).  She loves how her blog connects her to other people, but she’s worried that her blog is going nowhere…because after the first six months of blogging, she hasn’t gotten many new readers.  She doesn’t have much time to devote to blogging but wants to make the most of her time when she does.  Her husband appreciates the creative outlet Sarah has through blogging, but he wishes it would do something to help the family out financially – since it takes up so much of her time.

Now, you may be reading this and think, “Well, I’m not Jeni’s ideal reader, but I still read her blog!”  And honestly, as far as I can tell from the emails I get, the comments people leave, and the statistics Quantcast delivers for me, only about 40% of my readership actually looks like Sarah, my “ideal” reader.

But the purpose of this exercise isn’t to weed out people who aren’t your “ideal”; it’s to help you focus on a single message and deliver it with clarity…so all the people who read your blog can sense some actual purpose in your writing and connect to the person behind the blog.

But this brings us to another point: who are you, the writer-in-residence at your blog?

Be an Original.

If you sit down to write a post and you leave your personality at the door, you’re selling yourself – and your readers – short.  But there’s also a danger in trying to have a certain blogging voice: if you focus too much on what you sound like, you’ll end up trying to sound like someone else.  Case in point:

I’ve been reading A Holy Experience for about three years now.  I read every grace-muddled word.  Ann (without an e) encourages me, inspires me, and reminds me to look to God in a continuous breath-cycle of thanksgiving.  I love it.

But since she took the Christian community by storm with her book One Thousand Gifts, there have been hundreds – thousands, even – of bloggers who have started to sound…just like Ann.  (and if you’ve read Ann’s work, you know just how unique her voice is.)  It’s not a bad thing to sound like Ann, but

Why would I read those bloggers, when I can read the original?

If you’re going to develop your own style – your own blogging voice – you can’t just take another person’s voice.  You have to take everything, everyone that influences you and filter it through your own personality.

So how do I find my blogging voice?

Now, there’s not just one way to write a blog post, but here’s what I do:

Pretend you’re writing an email instead of a post.  And you’re not writing to the world at large – you’re writing to just your one ideal reader.  Don’t try to sound like the person you want to be – sound like who you are, right now.

That’s it.  No magic formula, just “be yourself” and write to a single person.  By doing this, you’ll cut out all the pretense (because people can see straight through someone who’s faking it) and find authenticity for your writing.

Your Turn

  1. Sit down for 5 minutes and describe your one ideal reader.
  2. In your next blog post, whether you’re teaching people how to tie a sailor’s knot or describing your day in Romper Room, do it as yourself.  Write to your one ideal reader and let your true voice shine through.

Because as Dr. Seuss so aptly put it,

Find your blogging voice | The Blog Maven

Please leave a comment below | theblogmaven.com

56 Comments • Leave yours below!

  1. says

    Great things to think about. Thanks for the post! I sometimes doubt myself in blogging because I write about several different things, all of which make up who I am (my brand). None of these alone make up who I am, but the combination of all of them does. Make sense? I just hold onto who I’m trying to reach and invite everyone else along for the ride!
    Marty Walden recently posted..In Honor of my SisterMy Profile
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    • says

      You know, I write to myself as much as anybody. Too many people play the comparison game and try to sound like a blogger they admire, in hopes of having the same success. But over time, it’s hard to keep the momentum going when you’re not being yourself…and people can get trapped in it. Much better to be yourself. :)
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  2. says

    Great writing direction, Jeni. After I followed your suggestions, I read over the description of my ideal reader and I realized, she is my real-life friend, Starr. This makes it so easy to compose my posts now — I simply write as if I were talking to my dear friend. Thanks for the advice!
    Lisa McK recently posted..Endless AutumnMy Profile

  3. says

    This question really had me stumped. I always focus on one person when I write about a specific topic but not every article. It is a curious question, as even as I write about something related to marriage – I wonder to myself what the single people who read my blog feel. But actually if I do that I am maybe not being true to my true audience. Maybe I should stop worrying about those that don’t quite fit in, because they will stay if they want to anyway. Great post. I can already see that even in this comment I am reflecting – sorry for the ramble.
    Melanie Grant recently posted..Homeschool Rooms Part 2: On PinterestMy Profile
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    • says

      Hi Melanie, I think that as women bloggers, we feel a need to include everyone. But you’re right: if your content works for people, they’ll stick around. Definitely some things to think about – for me as well. :)
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  4. says

    I did this exercise a while back when it was suggested by Darren Rowse and it really did help for me to see who I’m trying to reach and give her a identity. And you are spot on about Ann Voskamp…you can see it so easily when a blogger tries to be just like another blogger, but especially in this case. I’ve even seen such similarities down the same colors and use of the tree. I suppose imitation is the highest form of flattery, but hopefully, these bloggers will find their own voice eventually. :)
    Amy recently posted..Home Management for the Homeschool Mom SeriesMy Profile
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    • says

      Agreed. I think everyone goes through an evolution in their blogging voice, but it’s hard to “keep up” something that’s not genuine over the long haul. I’m sure (or, I’m hoping?) that after awhile, these folks start to sound more like themselves. :)
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  5. says

    I am all about saying thank you, so I decided to comeback to this the first post I read on your blog. The day I read it I spent hours reading posts, thinking carefully about the ways we had gone wrong and making a new plan for my pinterest boards, facebook usage, and preparing to do link-ups for the first time. Thanks for absolutely changing the way we promote our blog. By the numbers we just had the best week we’ve ever had.

    • says

      Hi Helene, what a joy to hear you’ve had a great week! I feel like this topic is one of the “fundamentals” – and I had the good fortune to learn about this principle before I started my blog. But it’s something everyone can revisit, and hopefully it can ground you in “what you’re about” and give new life to your blogging. I appreciate you taking the time to stop back by to leave a comment. Hope you have a great week!
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  6. says

    Jeni,
    Thank’s so much for the great advise! I’m a new blogger and it always helps to start a new project with a strong foundation. In finding my voice, I am actually talking to someone like myself, a middle age, divorced/widowed woman, alone. I have learned a lot in life and want to share it with like women who have not yet arrived at their “aha” moment. I think I can help them find their way and be happy with the journey. Guess my voice can be my lost twin. lol. Appreciate you sharing. SouthernDell
    Dell Lauren recently posted..Lost Puppy Knocks At DoorMy Profile

  7. says

    I’ve been blogging for a few months now and still feel like I’m finding my own voice. I’ve never done the “describe your reader” exercise before, and it was fairly insightful. I think all of our readers are similar to ourselves though; I know mine is. I have my husband proof read all of my posts (twice on any guest post!) and one of the questions I always ask him is if it sounds like me. I know I’m doing something right if he starts laughing during the post and trying to respond directly to me.
    Andrea Anderson recently posted..Labeling is Cool! Literally!My Profile
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  8. says

    Wow, this was very inspiring. I’ve been blogging since about July and I’ve found that lately I think too much about who I know is reading like family and friends when I write a post and I was trying to sound a certain way. “Act like your writing an email” is really what did it for me! Thanks for the great advice!!
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    • says

      Glad to hear it’s helpful, Ashley. It’s something that comes easier with time, for sure. I think that the key to sounding “natural” is to stop being self conscious and just write. Thanks for your note!
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  9. says

    I noticed this Ann (without an e) phenomenon. Bloggers whom I used to enjoy have transformed themselves into little Anns (without e’s), and they lost my readership in the process. I liked them better when they were Amy and Rachel and Sara (without an h). I like Ann for Ann, but I don’t like Amy and Rachel and Sara (without an h) for Ann. Thank you for encouraging us to find our voices, be ourselves, and seek world domination. Well, you may not have said that last part out loud, but I like to read between the lines. 😉
    Christy, The Simple Homemake recently posted..Your Votes Are In – Top 12 Posts of 2012My Profile
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  10. Sarah - Crafts from the Cwtch says

    So funny! Apart from being a few years older, I am your PERFECT reader, right down to the name and having grown my readership steadily.

    Loving your work!!! Thank you.
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  11. says

    Thanks for the post. Lots of great, helpful info! But, I have a question. I have just recently started a blog, inspired for the most part by personal goals. That’s not to say that I would not like to have readers to join me in my journey. And that us what brought me to your post. Am I looking for “my voice” or am I looking for my niche? Confused? Me, too!
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    • says

      I think your “niche” is a personal journey blog. So you have that covered. You should probably focus on the “voice” part of deciding who is the one “ideal” person you’d be sharing that journey with, and then write to her. Even if you already have a voice, it will help you maintain the same tone throughout your blog. Hope this helps!
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  12. says

    This was SUCH a helpful post, Jeni. Thanks for writing in such a concise, friendly style. I perfectly fit your “ideal reader” (other than the age of my blog), and I immediately did the “describe your ideal reader” exercise and found it extremely helpful. I’m off to write more posts. Thank you again. ~M
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  13. says

    Great article!I love the tips and realized that I was already doing some of this…writing as if I was writing an email to a good friend that I do not talk to as often as I liked. I am going to describe my ideal reader specifically.
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  14. says

    Just stumbled across this post. What an interesting read! I guess my case is slightly different in that I blog for businesses in several niches. Over time I”ve found that I’ve developed a different blogging voice depending upon my target audience. The trouble is that sometimes after reading a post back (especially if i’ve written in several niches and for several clients that day) I find myself kind of switching from one voice to the other (Mid-blog) and that’s what I’ve been struggling with So your point about focusing on the ‘ideal reader’ and simply ‘being yourself’ really hit home. Great post and thanks for sharing.
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  15. says

    This was such a helpful exercise for me! I’ve been blogging for 3 years and even though I have a pretty authentic voice, this rally inspired me further. My ideal blogger is Kate, a new(ish) mom who adores her young children and is overwhelmed by all she wants to do as a mom. She wants to give her kids everything but is so tired a lot of the time (as all new moms are). I’m writing to offer her simple solutions to planning activities with her family, making healthy meals, and staying organized.
    Tracy Gibb recently posted..March 2014 Blogging Income ReportMy Profile
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  16. Iman says

    Absolutely loved this article. I’m in the process of building my own style and lifestyle blog, and with so many of those around I don’t quite see the point of spending time and money in a copy-cat. On the other hand, it seems so hard to think out of the box in this field, and I felt like all the ideas of originality I could think of I got from other people’s blog. Back into the copy-cat issue.
    So the straightforward and practical advice from this post really helped me start from a clean slate and not focus on what is around.
    Amazing post !
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  17. says

    I really enjoyed this post. If there’s one thing I told myself is to always be myself when I blog. All the really big, famous blogs I aspire towards are all different from each other even though they technically all blog about the same thing (fashion).
    I also avoid spending way too much time on similar blogs to mine. I KNOW myself and I do not want to get influenced. If I really need inspiration I use pinterest.
    Else Victoria H. recently posted..Ankara SkirtMy Profile
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  18. Chin Yee says

    Love the way you give practical examples to every important point you made. When I read “Pretend you’re writing an email instead of a post. And you’re not writing to the world at large – you’re writing to just your one ideal reader”, I heard myself saying “ok, I can do this” Thanks for this great post :)

  19. says

    I just had to say that, as I was reading your post I was creating my ideal customer and her name is Sarah too :) I’m loving your blog and your voice! Great articles! Thank you!

  20. says

    I’m currently on the journey of transitioning from writing a personal blog to a company brand. Changing perspectives is tougher than it seems. I’m encouraged by your tips! Thanks.

  21. says

    I feel like I have found my own voice, as I write mostly like I speak. I write a little more formally than I speak and try my best to come across as intelligent and articulate. I have been described as both, so I feel this is authentic. Would you agree? Or disagree? (that writing like I speak, but more formally – and trying to come across intelligent and articulate gives an authentic voice to my writing.) What is your perspective on this?

    • says

      Hi Jasmin, thanks for your thoughtful comment here! As long as the style matches how you personally talk, that’s the most important thing. There are a lot of bloggers who are intentionally trying to look smart with their word choice, but the words they’re using aren’t things people use in normal conversation. It’s a sobering fact, but the average American reads at an 8th grade level…so intentionally choosing big, flowery words might just not connect with what readers find accessible. But as long as you’re being authentic in your speech and are focused on genuinely helping your readers, they’ll connect with your style. Hope that helps!
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      • says

        Thank you. I live in Australia and my target audience is the entire world. However, my ideal reader would be someone facing schizophrenia who has lost hope. Someone whom I can hopefully persuade to find hope again, in the fact that people with schizophrenia can and often do get on with their lives and can and do live happy normal ones at that. Since the onset of schizophrenia for young men is in their teens and for young women is up to the age of 26, although people sometimes do get it outside these age brackets, often their education has been disturbed. They may have been acutely or chronically unwell during their education and may have missed a lot of it – especially the young men. So, I am guessing that I need to write for people who have missed big chunks of their education, but also for those who HAVE obtained a full education, as there would be some of those – particularly in Australia where we have to go to school until the age of 16. This may have raised recently up to 18, I am not sure. I will need to do some research on my target audience. Thank you for helping me to realise this fact. :)
        Jasmin recently posted..Perfect Rice & Turmeric RiceMy Profile

    • says

      Glad you found it helpful, Lisa. It takes a lot of energy to bring your readers into a conversation, but once you start reaching them and they understand you want a relationship, it goes a long way! I appreciate you reaching out with your comment. :)
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  22. Jeni says

    Hi Jeni from another Jeni. :) It’s not a common name spelling!
    I am about to start a blog for my online store where I sell guitar straps. I’m still trying to decide if I my reader is female (whom I can relate to best!), or male (who make up the majority of guitarists). I don’t want to alienate the men for that reason. It’s also fair to say that I’m a beginning guitarist myself. Thoughts?

    • says

      Hi Jeni, the thing is, MOST websites are targeted at male guitarists. How cool would it to be branded as a site specifically for women guitarists? If you decide to write for male guitarists, you’d have to dig really deep to figure out how to position yourself – what makes your blog unlike other ones out there? What value are readers going to get out of subscribing to the blog? And why are you the person to sell them the guitar straps? I can’t answer your question – you’re the business owner; you know your customers. But just make sure you’re trying to appeal to a specific person, not “all guitarists in the world.” :) I appreciate you taking the time to leave your first comment here! Hope to see you lots in the future.
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      • Jeni says

        It’s so nice to see your reply! It definitely gives me something to think about. I’m just wondering if cool = profitable. Is it okay to write to female guitarists on my blog, and then have a website that sells merchandise to both men + women? Is it okay to ignore the potential majority of my market? So many questions. :)

        • says

          Well, here’s a thought for you, Jeni. Ever heard of Dollar Shave Club? Their market is clearly men. Just look at their About page, or watch any of their (hilarious) videos. There’s nothing feminine about it at all, but I’m still a member myself. Or check out Nerd Fitness – which is clearly in a very specific niche (it was marketed exclusively to self-proclaimed nerds, at least until it got traction). If you do decide to write “to everyone,” you need to make it clear why your site is different from the thousands of other sites out there for guitarists. Branding is everything.
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  23. says

    I like the way you have explained the blogging strategies. I find these strategies are truly important to make a blog and make it successful. Without finding your own voice/way of writing, it is hard to be unique as who you are. However, I think it needs lot pf practice till new bloggers would come to the point to build their own voice.

  24. says

    Fabulous =D really enjoyed this as it’s REAL. I have found myself tied up in knots about what to write, what people want to know, will they read it, what does my voice sound like, who am I etc .. and you’re right; I am me and that’s all I need to be xx
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