How to Find Your Authentic Blogging Voice

Opening my Google Reader in the morning feels like walking into a big party packed with interesting, engaging people. Even if a quick headline scan shows several bloggers are discussing the same topic, I’m always eager to hear their varied and unique perspectives.

I’ve noticed that fascinating party guests and successful bloggers share one essential trait. They all speak with a clear, authentic voice. Whether conversing amidst a cluster of cocktail-drinkers or blogging in a crowded niche, they’re not going to be mistaken for someone else.

What is “authentic voice” in blogging? To me, it’s putting yourself on paper. It’s your personality, perspective, and style shining through the words you write. When you’re blogging with an authentic voice, you might be talking about the same topic as someone else, but it’s going to sound completely different.

For example, compare this post from Penelope Trunk on time management with this one from Chris Brogan. Think you’d ever confuse these two in a blog post?

You’d think blogging in an authentic voice would come naturally, but it usually doesn’t. A lot of us come from backgrounds where we were encouraged to quiet down, stifle ourselves, and be like those around us. Being different, creative, or a bit on the loud side earned us red marks on papers, pointed stares, and trips to the
woodshed. Over time, we learned we got more goodies by staying inside the lines, walking with the herd, and blending in.

Thank God those days are over! And now that they are, it’s time to get on with the business of being ourselves because blending in just doesn’t cut it in the blogging world.

Find Your Voice by Journaling

Like with most other things, the only way to become skilled at blogging with an authentic voice is through practice. And in this case, practice means writing, writing, and writing some more. For me, the best writing practice comes by journaling, and I highly recommend it to you too. When you let yourself write about anything you want with no intention of ever showing your words to another living soul, it feels safe to be real. And the more you let your authentic voice come out in your private journal, the easier it will get to bring it out for your readers.

Evict Your Inner Critic

To coax your authentic voice into your blog posts, give yourself permission to write really crappy first drafts with the promise you’ll dress things up later. What I do is write about my post’s topic for 10-15 minutes without stopping and without any self-censoring. I keep my fingers moving on the keyboard and don’t worry about punctuation, how things sound, or what anyone else might think. When I’m done, the results aren’t pretty, but my authentic voice has been captured on the page and tends to stick around throughout the revision process.

Raise Your Voice

As you develop your blogging voice, be aware that some days it might be a whisper and some days it will be a roar. You might even cover the whole vocal range in a single post, such as starting a post with instructions on baking the perfect cheesecake and ending with the true story of your Rottweiler devouring that perfect cheesecake while it cooled on the counter.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on my voice and you keep working on yours. I look forward to seeing you in my Google Reader!

Got anything to add or share? Leave a comment!

10 Responses to How to Find Your Authentic Blogging Voice

  1. Trece April 1, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Jean, this is my first read of your blog – impressive, falls right in line with what I was journalling last night! I “found” you thru your comment on David Risley's blog yesterday. Have a great day!

  2. virginbloggernotes April 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    Welcome, Trece, and thank you for your kind comment. I sent you an email in reply to your message, so if it doesn't appear in your inbox, give me a holler.

  3. Walter April 2, 2010 at 4:31 am #

    Indeed, being authentic is necessary for a blogger to be distinct among the rest. Let us not be afraid to express our difference, otherwise, it will be hard for us to get noticed. :-)

  4. virginbloggernotes April 2, 2010 at 4:40 am #

    Thanks for stopping by, Walter. I love it when people follow their own unique path, whether in blogging or in life. It makes things so much more interesting :)

  5. Christie April 3, 2010 at 6:02 am #

    Speaking of blogging voices…I love yours! Great blog, good topic, refreshing writing style. I'm enjoying what you've written so far, and I do hope you continue!

  6. virginbloggernotes April 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    Thank you, Christie. I really do love to write, and I love the interaction that blogging offers readers and writers. Feel free to let me know if there are specific topics you'd like to see covered.

  7. Cristina August 20, 2010 at 4:27 am #

    Hi Jean, I’m a bit late on this but I’m quite new to your blog, and I’m trying to catch up :)

    ‘You’d think blogging in an authentic voice would come naturally, but it usually doesn’t. A lot of us come from backgrounds where we were encouraged to quiet down, stifle ourselves, and be like those around us.’

    This resonates so much, and knowing that others struggle to find their voice, too, gives me the confidence to keep trying. Thanks for sharing and for the great tips – I do the “Evict your critic” thing too, and it works! I’ll have to consider journaling…
    Cristina recently posted..Browsing Kilkenny Arts Festival

    • Jean Sarauer August 20, 2010 at 10:27 am #

      Hi Cristina. Journaling helps me a lot, especially when that inner critic is really on a roll. Lately I’ve had to spend more time offline too. I love reading blogs, but sometimes the voices of others are so strong that it’s hard for me to quiet them when I sit down to do my own writing.

      Have fun catching up on things :) Sorry the comments are in a bit of a scramble on the older posts. I swiched from Disqus to CommentLuv, which was a great move overall, but it did make a mess of the comment flow.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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