The Media140 DigitalMe day took place last Friday and I spoke in the afternoon – and I have to admit that before I showed up I was a little nervous about speaking at the Northbridge Piazza. I don’t know why it felt any different from a lecture theatre or conference hall but being outdoors with a giant screen above my head seemed to change things! Of course, once I arrived and discovered 99% of the audience were sitting on beanbags, I relaxed. The only bad thing was that as a presenter, I had to stand on stage rather than sit in a beanbag. They should look at that for next time round 😉
Anyway, I wanted to reiterate some of the main points I made in the presentation – all about putting voice into your blog. The title, to be accurate, was “Let’s blug: Putting the “u” into blogging”; I wanted to talk about how it’s not just enough to have a cool design and post regularly, but that also the way you write is still a really vital part of blogging. I’m a “words girl” at heart, and the words of a blog are important to me, and I want them to be important to other bloggers, too.
My minimalist slides below will give you an overview of what I spoke about … more details underneath.
Basically, the most important point that I hoped people would take away from seeing the examples I gave was that bloggers who people really take notice of and keep going back to are the ones that have figured out their blog’s voice – they’ve managed to inject their personality into their blog in such a way that readers feel they have a trusted relationship with the blogger, they want to keep reading them and they want to tell their friends about them. When I explain it as putting “you” into your blog, I certainly don’t mean that you need to divulge personal or private details, but that you need to write in such a way that readers feel they know you, and they can recognise your writing style, too. The examples I gave came from varied niches, and I also mentioned during the talk that the public-outdoor-venue G-rated nature of the conference meant I’d had to exclude a number of my favourite blogs! This is not to say that I’m usually a reader of Adult-Only blogs, but G-rating is a pretty big restriction. Some of the blogs that lay on my cutting room floor because of that are on this list – the first five are the ones I featured in my talk:
- Edenland – particular Eden’s posts on her World Vision sponsored visit to Niger, Africa – lots of honesty (a good way to have “you” in your blog, but not the only way)
- Life in a Pink Fibro – from multi-talented freelance writer Allison Tait, and I must admit to calling her the Seinfeld of blogging because some posts are kind of about nothing but I am utterly compelled to read them – that’s voice!
- Why Evolution is True – recommended by a male friend when I realised the target demographic of all the blogs I’d chosen was women – but I agree thoroughly with his recommendation.
- Aussie on the Road – one of many travel blogs that sound like someone’s just having a chat with you – a good way to develop a voice.
- Styling You an award-winning blog in Australia and actually makes me want to read about fashion despite having no interest in the topic – that’s voice, too!
- Parenting, with Crappy Pictures (I wonder if Amber realised that using “crappy” would mean people would have to exclude her from G-rated days?) – one of the “voiciest” blogs I know!
- Jeff Goins, Writer – Jeff writes a lot about blogging and even includes some great posts on voice now and again.
- Free-Range Kids – I’ve seen a few videos of Lenore speaking and she writes exactly like she talks – and gets her (important) point across.
- Blog for yourself – not trying to impress, and don’t expect everybody to like you – thinking it’s a popularity contest will severely limit your ability to have a natural voice
- Write what you’d like to read – if I read over my post the next day and actually enjoy it and want to keep reading, I figure I’m doing OK
- Blog like you talk – without the ums and aahs – but if you are stuck writing too formally then try to imagine you are just on the phone telling a friend all about the topic, then write it down like that
- Break grammar rules (but know them first) – a good rule of thumb for many kinds of writing but works especially well for blogs
- Read your posts out loud – this will help you catch posts that sound too stilted or formal
- Don’t be too slang, and don’t be too formal – don’t write like it’s a text message, but it’s not a business report either
- Be honest, be daring, be a little afraid – if you’re anxious when you hit publish you’re probably on a winner
- Have your own style (format, word choice) – make an effort to be consistent with how you write so that it sounds like “you”
- Write from the heart, no matter what topic – you can be passionate about dishwashers if you want to be!
Anyway, the presentation went well and generated a bit of talk on Twitter, and some of that’s below:
If you’ve got any examples of your own of blogs with great voice then I’d love to hear about them, so please leave the URLs in the comments below.