By Gemma Storey.
There’s no shortage of expert advice out there. Blogs, podcasts, thought leaders – we’re constantly bombarded by people who want us to listen to them for a moment and consider what they have to say.
But our attention spans are dwindling, and many of us have pandemic brain. (Anyone else still finding it excruciatingly difficult to even think these days?)
When it comes to writing, one of the most important tools is your voice. I’m reading your blog or article because I want to know what you think about a subject. Backing up your words with research and expertise is important, but they aren’t enough to make me want to read your words over the thousands of other blog posts out there.
Authority helps. If you’re widely known as an expert in your field, then I’ll be more inclined to seek your advice. But I’ll tune out quickly if you don’t hold my interest.
And then there’s the question of how you build that authority. What makes us listen to expert A over expert B?
A lot of it is down to personal branding and tone of voice.
What is Personal Branding?
A few years ago, I used to shudder when I saw the phrase “personal brand”. Bleugh. It’s such a buzz phrase. What is it anyway?
It’s actually not outrageously silly.
I would say it’s just:
- Knowing who you are and what you value and stand for
- Establishing what you want to be known for
- Being comfortable with being your authentic self – which may include things like sharing the passion you have for your hobbies, interests and causes
- Finding a way to communicate that appeals to you
It does mean you need the insight to know your strengths and weaknesses and have the security and confidence to express yourself.
Your personal brand matters because it helps you emphasise your personality and develop your voice. You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but – I believe – by expressing your true personality, you’ll attract people who engage with what you say at a deeper level.
It’s much safer to present facts and research in an impartial, more corporate way (and there may be places where this tone is necessary) but for things like blog posts, podcasts and even some longer thought leadership articles, you’ll get more engagement if you let your personality shine through.
A great way to practise expressing yourself in a more natural way is through social media. That means taking social beyond liking and sharing and making it more conversational. Start chatting to people, reply to responses rather than just hitting ‘fave’.
Try to talk naturally, explaining concepts in plain English and without using too many industry-specific phrases. It also helps you appear more approachable to people who need your expertise but don’t have deep knowledge of your industry.
Working with External Copywriters
You might want to outsource your blog and article writing so that you can focus on other work. But you can still ensure that any content that’s published with your name on it is written in your voice:
- Written briefs used to be essential when asking someone else to write for you. While they’re still important, I think a briefing call is even more helpful. The copywriter doesn’t just need to know what subject you want them to cover – they need to know the subject from your point of view to make the post truly personal.
- A phone call also helps the writer become familiar with your voice. Often, the writer will have several clients – sometimes they’ll write for multiple people who work for each client – this makes briefing calls essential reminders of what you sound like, how you phrase things etc.
You can have the best SEO and AdWords setup in your sector, but if people don’t connect with what you write, and if they can’t find a way to relate to you as a person, your writing isn’t going to be as effective.
Some people will still seek out your expertise, but if we’re going to work with someone closely, we often want to get some insight into the kind of person they are.
Developing your personal brand and tone of voice can help you build connections more effectively.
Gemma Storey is a content specialist at Carrot Communications.