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Finding Your Unique Blogging Voice

What’s the sign that something is wrong with a blog? Does a lack of comments mean we’re writing boring posts? Can a drop in traffic mean that we’re not doing enough to make our blogs appealing?

Author Mike Duran recently wrote a post, “One Reason Your Blog Sucks.” And the post got me thinking, as most of Mike’s posts do (thanks, Mike!). He said this, “Like it or not, one gauge of a blog’s reach is the number of comments it consistently generates.” Mike says that a lot of writer blogs end up “parroting the mainstream, defending turf and rebutting dissent, rather than encouraging discussion.”

While I don’t agree completely with everything in Mike’s post, I do agree that many of our blogs end up parroting one another. There are a lot of writer blogs that sound and look very similar. Whether we do it intentionally or not, we often end up copying one another.

For example, if I tried to pattern my blog posts after Mike’s “hot button issues” that “generate buzz” then I run the risk of mimicking him. If you try to write your posts to replicate my style, you risk sounding like me. Blogging like Mike won’t guarantee that I’ll generate more comments anymore than blogging like me will give you more.

Instead of trying to mimic what others are doing, we would be wise to look at our individual uniquenesses and strengths. Isn’t that what we’re trying to accomplish in our books anyway? We’re hoping to craft stories that stand out from others, stories that bring forth the sound of our unique writer voices.

If we’re using our voices in our books, why not on our blogs too? Why would we want our posts to parrot others? Shouldn’t we aim to give our writing (no matter the medium) our particular texture, flavor, and sound?

In other words, I don’t need to blog like you, and you don’t need to blog like me. Instead we have to look at what makes our writing stand apart from others and let our individual writer voices shine forth in our posts.

With that said, I do think there are some common blogging basics for any writer hoping to use their blog to develop a platform. Just as there are basic fiction writing techniques that will help us craft our stories so our voices are even more distinct and appealing, there are some common principles that can help in blogging.

1. Engage the Reader: Ultimately, whether in our books or our posts, we want to make a connection to our readers in some way. Perhaps we won’t stir up a controversial discussion or dish out enlightening information with each post, but we can still write with our readers in mind, rather than making our posts all about us.

2. Maintain a professional appearance: I’ve already discussed this in other posts: Maintaining a Professional Blog and 3 Blogging Blunders. Remember if we’re pursing publication, then we’re hoping to be seen as professionals by industry personnel. Whether we write humor or horror (or whatever), we don’t have to compromise our uniquenesses by maintaining a level of professionalism.

3. Blog with consistency: I like what author Kristen Lamb recently said about blogging, “You need to blog (minimum) once a week. If you are blogging once a month or when the fancy strikes you, that’s just wasted effort toward building a platform. Readers need to be able to count on you/your blog.” Check out her blog for more witty social media advice.

4. Participate in the blogging community. Blogging is a form of social media, and for our posts to generate traffic and get comments, we have to socialize with others. We can’t publish a post, sit back, and wait for masses of adoring fans to flock to our site to read our brilliant words. Most of us who’ve been blogging a while have had to work really hard to develop our followings.

Yes, there are blogging basics that can help all of us improve our blogs, generate more traffic, and increase our comments. However, through it all, we need to be mindful of our uniquenesses. Copying someone else who seems to have a successful blog is no way to bring ourselves success anymore than copying the writing of Rowlings or King will make our books hit the bestseller lists.

So, have you struggled with trying to find your unique blogging voice? Have you been trying to copy others, thinking that would bring you success? Or are you working at making your posts stand out in your own unique way and if so, how?

39 comments:

  1. I think it's difficult for every writer starting their blog to find their blogging voice. It often takes time and practice, but you're right. Every writer should be striving to find their unique voice and their unique way of attracting readers to their blog.

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  2. Jody, I definitely don't want to be misunderstood as suggesting bloggers should be intentionally provocative just to garner comments. I think your post here is more to the point of where I was going (and much more nice!). My blog IS reflective of me -- over-thinking things, grousing, armchair philosophizing, debating, talking straight, etc. I tend to think that many authors in their quest for publication forfeit who they are in an attempt to be part of "the group." Anyway, thanks for the mention and... I love your blog!

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  3. Excellent thoughts, Jody! Yes, I've struggled to find my unique blogging voice, as we all do.

    It helped my find what my followers wanted by putting a survey on my sidebar. I was surprised by the results.

    This is why I post more humor pieces and devos than I did at first. My readers want those, and I'm here for my readers, not my own pleasure.

    Also, I noticed that so much of what I wrote about the writing life was being said by a lot of others, most of them better writers and more experienced than I.

    So, I focus on what I do best: ditzy, silly, nutty with a dash of meat.

    Love you!
    Jen

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  4. I have kept a blog for over a year, but did nothing to promote it until recently. It was more of a public diary and I was definitely guilty of only blogging when the mood struck.

    Starting in January, I am making a commitment to blogging Tuesdays and Thursdays. I hope this will help draw in more consistent readers.

    It is a struggle to keep posting when I only have a few followers and hardly ever get comments, but I realize patience and persistence are both important to the process.

    Good post today!
    Merry Christmas!

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  5. Great post, Jody! I definitley still struggle with my blog voice and finding that one area that makes me stand out, rather than trying to copy the other writer blogs out there.

    It's difficult with all the great info that other people already put out there to find something that will engage readers and keep them coming back for more. These are all really great tips to help with that!

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  6. I struggle with putting regular posts on my blog. Your advice to post M, W, and F is very good. Do I feel a New Year's Resolution coming on? Hmmm....

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  7. This really struck a chord with me. Not just with blogging. Sometimes I try to write in the voice that doesn't come naturally to me because I love books like that. It helps to look back and see which blog post drew the most attention and figure out why.

    But honestly, I think successful authors could blog about anything and it wouldn't matter. They could talk about their cats and people would find it interesting. So, I think we have to take into consideration our content as a no name. :)

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  8. I think it's very hard in the beginning to find your blogging voice, just as it is to find your writing voice with a novel. It's hard to take a topic that's being covered by everyone and their mom and create your own unique spin. Like a previous commenter said, it takes loads of practice and trial and error (which I'm going through right now with my blog)

    Thanks for sharing these awesome tips!

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  9. As an author I allow the brilliance of others influence my inspiration. That is what I do as a blogger as well. I've learned that we can all say the same thing in a different way...however the experiences that we share and the delivery of that information is what sets us apart.

    Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that parroting is ok...however I am saying that brilliance should be shared.

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  10. When I first started blogging, I thought I was supposed to have a "writer's blog" just like all the other writer blogs. I tried to write like they were writing. Of course, that didn't work. At all. That's not me.

    Now, I've found my blog voice, but I'm not convinced there are many out there that are interested in reading what I've got to say. Is self-confidence the hurdle that follows the voice hurdle?

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  11. Goodmorning everyone! Am enjoying all of your comments!

    Mike, I hope I didn't misrepresent your post. Was not my intent! I actually really liked your thoughts. You accomplished what you set out to do--generate discussion! And I really think you're good at that.

    And everyone, for a REALLY great example of a writer who is using her voice in her blog, Jeannette Levelie is doing an excellent job of that. I get a laugh or smile almost every time I visit her blog.

    And as a couple of others of you have alluded to, it takes a little bit of time to discover our voice in our writing, and it will be the same in our blogging too. I think the key is that we're actively looking to make ourselves distinct in our unique way! :-)

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  12. Thanks for the shout-out and wonderful blog as always :D. One of the reasons I highly recommend for writers to start blogging early is that it gives us a safe bubble of time to find our blogging voice without damaging a platform. We get time to find the style that works. Are we inspirational? Funny? Sarcastic? Whimsical? What topics work? What turned out to be bad ideas? What topics generated more discussion? What worked? What flopped?

    Blogging is a lot of fun and a great exercise for all writers. Thanks for the information you gave in today's post. I always come away from your works feeling refreshed and inspired.

    Kristen

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  13. This is such great advice. I think, just as with our novels, voice is paramount.

    I didn't start off planning to blog about writing, it just happened because it's what was always on my mind, lol. But I think my voice was there from the beginning--even if I didn't realize it--and that's what's helped me build a blog following. There are tons of writing blogs out there, so the only thing that makes mine (and yours) unique is our individual styles and voices. In fact, I think our two blogs are great examples of doing the same but different. Both of us talk about writing and our journey but our voices are very different so I think readers probably get different things from each of us. :)

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  14. vvdenman asked: Is self-confidence the hurdle that follows the voice hurdle?

    My thoughts: I think ultimately in blogging we have to find the same balance that we find in our stories. We have to be able to know what people want to read and write for them, BUT still be able to write in a way that expresses what what we're passionate about in our unique voice. So, I do think we grow in self-confidence when we hear back from readers that we are indeed on track with giving them what they like. Hope that partly answers your question!

    And Roni, great point. Our blogs are the same "genre." :-) But we've both learned to express our posts with our own unique voices. Kristen Lamb also has a writer blog, and she does a great job expressing her posts in a very unique and fun voice.

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  15. Great post as always, Jody. I finally took the blog plunge this fall, and I did pattern the blog in the style of blogs that I enjoy reading. However, I also chose to use my unique voice in my posts. I am an encourager, and my Monday Muse posts are words of encouragement so they don't necessarily generate a lot of comments. I also love promoting other people, I guess it's the encourager in me, so I also do author spotlights and book spotlights. To promote the blog, I created a facebook page to notify my friends and associates when a blog has been posted. It also helps by showing how many people actually visited the link. I also have an on-going announcement in the free community section of the local newspaper. Overall, I enjoy blogging whether anyone is commenting or not.

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  16. This is definitely important!

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Jody!

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  17. I've noticed that if I get out and comment on others' blogs, I get comments. If I don't, I get little to no comments. I'm always the one who makes the first move, so to speak. I've also noticed another pattern. If a writer lands an agent, her blog will suddenly go from a small number of followers to a hundred or more. If an agented writer lands a publishing contract, the sky's the limit for followers after that. Recently, I watched a blogger who had about five followers and no regular comments nab an agent. Her followers went from five to over eighty in less than a week. I admit that there are many bloggers out there who are successful w/o these things. But they have something else--they are very friendly, follow numerous blogs, and/or have distinctive content. I'm sorry to be cynical, but blogging is a social game like any other. Some successful bloggers are great at developing their image, while the rest simply have something that we want--success. People flock to success.

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  18. I've been thinking of my own blog lately, so this is a timely post. When I go away from standard "writing advice," I lose commenters and my readership goes down. But I feel that every bit of writer advice I throw out there, someone else is throwing out there too. It's tough to find the right formula for blogging!

    And in response to Jill's comment above mine, I've gained less than ten followers since landing an agent. Every blogger has to work for new followers--every blogger!

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  19. Unique blogging is a definite positive. These are great tips, Jody - as always! :-)

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  20. Blogging is almost like a small business. In order to get more traffic to your site, you have to play the business game and comment on others. However, once you've played the game, your writing and site should be unique enough to get readers to return. It's a venture, one that I highly enjoy. Thanks for this post!

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  21. Wow, some great discussion today, everyone!

    As far as our blogs getting a boost when we get an agent or book contract--hmmm . . . perhaps there's a slight growth factor. I personally didn't notice that my blog grew by leaps and bounds during either of those momentuous occassions. I've seen a steady growth over the past couple of years, with times of the greatest growth occuring when I have a post that seems to resonate really well with others. All that to say, blog growth happens in a lot of ways and for various reasons.

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  22. Great tips, Jodi! My blog has only been up a month, but I already feel I'm developing a voice and a modest readership. I think being a blog READER and commenter for a long time before starting my own really helped. It's kind of like when writers write but never read . . . doesn't really work, does it?

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  23. Very intriguing topic. I don't agree with everything that Mike said either, but I do think our blogs need to be interesting and not mimic other posts. Sorry if I've ever done that to anyone.

    I do find that the posts that generate the most comments are ones that come from what I personally think or what I've gone through.

    Thanks for the great blog.

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  24. Always, always great advice found here. Post after post. Brilliant, Jody!

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  25. Thought provoking post, Jody. I've found that my blog has evolved from when I began, growing more toward topics I enjoy writing about and that hopefully benefit my readers. If I'm not doing that, I'm wasting everyone's time).

    As far as copying, if there's anything I tend to "copy" it's more of visiting blogs and seeing how they are designed. I pick out the various features and functions that I like and use them. I don't really call that copying, but more discovering new tools and designs to improve my own blog.

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  26. Another excellent and thought provoking post. Obviously, you're doing something right!

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  27. Lots of food for thought here. I don't really think about what other post about, or how they do it. I just do what feels right for me, and try to find things that maybe aren't discussed as much, to fit a need.

    I suppose if I struggle with anything, it's that my blog had become quite educational focused, and perhaps I don't inject enough personality as I should in posts, in an effort to keep it perfessional. I'd like to find a better balance in that area, for sure.

    Happy Christmas--thanks so much for a wonderful blog.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  28. Great thoughts, once again!

    I think blogging is a separate talent from novel-writing. Some authors are gifted in one or the other. Some, like you, are gifted in both.

    I've decided to stop worrying about whether I'm getting "enough" comments and just enjoy the twenty or so people who currently comment on my blog regularly. They are wonderful people, and I am happy to have them as my blogging buddies. I'm also very loyal, and I will not forget friends.

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  29. Thanks for the encouragement, everyone.

    Some of you have alluded to copying techniques and other things from blogs you've liked. And I think that's part of the process of learning from one another. Just like we read novels to study the techniques of other writers and try to implement some of what they do. But I think in the process we have to make it our own and still let our unique voices come through, which takes time.

    And Rosslyn, that's a great perspective. Blogging and writing are definitely two different types of writing. I'm not sure that I'm gifted in it so much as that I've been doing it for so long, that through trial and error I've found my niche and blogging voice? I'll have to think about that. Thank you for getting me thinking. Love that! :-)

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  30. I came over to wish you a Merry Christmas and was delighted to read this post.
    I love when a blogger's blog is unique to them--that's who I warm up to --their own voice. When I write mine, it's me. No one else--hopefully my friends can see that:)

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  31. Excellent post, Jody - as usual! Have a Merry Christmas. :)

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  32. I'm getting deeper into the blogging process, learning more every day. Every so often I need a reminder like this post. Basics, basics, basics.

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  33. Hi Jody -

    Thanks for the refresher course.

    I need to work on re-igniting my blog fires. I've noticed many bloggers have curtailed their activities due to "life hitting," being contracted, under deadline, and any number of other scenarios.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  34. Thanks you for the great pointers. It is sometimes easy to forget that your blog is also a representative of who you are to those visiting your site.

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  35. I have really been struggling with my blog as well. I have been making posts as often as I can, but am struggling to garner more followers. Sigh. I don't know what I'm doing wrong really :(

    Must practice more though, I suppose

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  36. Hi Jody!

    Great post. Interesting that my friend Rosslyn mentioned how different blogging and fiction writing are because I've been thinking the same thing. For me, it's easier to write fiction (maybe because I just started blogging.) What helps me is that the blog I started is a joined effort with three other writers who each have their own styles and ideas. I think it's easier for a writer to start this way as you don't have the full responsibility of blogging every week. My partners are so talented and fun that blogging has become a true pleasure for me. I still have a long way to go, but I am looking forward to learning and practicing more in this coming year.

    Lorena

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  37. Great post. Yep, finding a blogging voice is important. I'm a newly agented author, and I blogged for a long time beforehand, mostly just for friends and family who checked it. I've been working to create a more 'professional' blog, reviewing other books, but also talking about writing, and all the while, trying to figure out how to 'voice' this blog now that it's an aspect of my professional life! Not sure I've got it down yet, but I'm working on it!

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  38. Consistency is my goal for 2011. I started out being a blogging maniac! Then life happened and I went AWOL. I have two blogs and plan on alternating between them every week.

    I finally got around to posting about my wonderful Christmas gifts for my oldest granddaughter. You helped make it so special! (Now if she'll only let ME read the book...)

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  39. Finding My own unique blogging voice is something I Have struggled with! I want readers to find my blog interesting a worth reading. My goal for 2011 is Just thins. To find my own unique voice.

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