I’m Glad You Asked: Voice

What’s acceptable in blogging in terms of proper grammar and formal writing vs. “write it like you’d say it?” I find when I write informal emails I use a lot of dashes, ellipses, and commas for cadence. When writing a blog post I find I’m more formal. In that formality I feel like I lose “my” voice. – Christi B. in Pennsylvania

Today I’ll address the “voice” part of this question, and I’ll get to the grammar part next time.

I’m a big proponent of voice. In the most essential aspect of communication contest, voice and messaging are tied for first. And they’re both tickled about it because they work so well together. Grammar is not in first, and is kinda pissed about it. Aw, poor grammar.

If your writing lacks voice, then you’re probably writing something that no one actually wants to read. Voice belongs in writing. Voice is not synonymous with bias or lazy writing. Voice has more to do with style than opinion. In some cases, your voice will be louder, more distinct, and drawing more definitive lines. In other cases it will be more subtle. In the case of blogs for entrepreneurs, voice is especially important.

How to decide what’s what?

The question to ask yourself, I think, is Why am I writing this blog? (And underneath that question is What is a blog? but that may be a question for another day.)

So, really. Why are you bothering to put the time into blogging? Most people and businesses write blogs to keep their sites up-to-date, to stay in touch with their clients, to build readership, credibility, and SEO.

(Some do it because they think they’re supposed to… which is a good reason to stop doing something. If you’re blogging because you think you’re supposed to, quit. Hire someone else to do it, or find another way to build your online presence.)

A blog is all those abovementioned things, and it’s also a chance to connect with people. Actual people. These people are your customers and your potential customers. The people who couldn’t care less about your message are not your people. You’re not writing for them. But the people who want to hear your message, who need your services really want to engage. They want something interesting.

Christi is a CPA. How casual or formal she goes depends on who she’s talking to. Is she writing the blog to impress her colleagues? To get admitted into a journal? Is she submitting these articles to the WSJ? If so, then her writing will be sprinkled with jargon and served along a side of industry-standard stiffness.

But I’m pretty sure that’s not her audience. Christi’s site states, “We are not your typical bean counters.” Her blog is an opportunity to reinforce that statement, and her voice is one of her best assets to assist her in that goal.

Shine on,
•••MBH Signature

Have a question?
I’d love to answer your questions about writing, communication, grammar, messaging, branding… and whatever else you toss my way!
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cropped-mb-outdoor-headshotI’m Mary Beth Huwe, content strategist. I help entrepreneurs identify, articulate, and translate their most essential messages into kickin’ content that is engaging, communicative, and practical.

These essays are forays into the art and essence of communication. They have not been subjected to the full scrutiny of my editor’s eye(s), and may contain typos. (But you’ll probably never find apostrophe abuse, because that’s just cruel.)