There’s so much about writing that seems uncertain, fluid, and changeable. Especially when it comes to questions about your blog writing style, or the unique voice you want to use to address your readers. You know it’s important, because Google says your articles must be unique. But is your blog meant to be chatty and conversational? Or should it reflect your serious, responsible, scientific side? Is a blog post meant to read like an essay? Or half-like an essay, half-like something else?
You can see how easy it is to get tied up before you start. Especially if you’re one of those perfectionist personalities who is drawn to healthcare. But before you get hit by analysis paralysis, understand what a unique writing style really is.
What is your ‘voice’?
I can’t remember the first time I read about the importance of a writer finding their unique writing voice. But I’ve heard about it my whole career. And I could see it in things I read. My favourite writers, like Dave Barry or P.J O’Rourke or Hunter S. Thompson, all had clearly recognisable writing voices. I could read an article by one of them and know it was theirs straight away.
It’s like your unique writing voice is a precious glowing orb you discover hidden somewhere in the house. As you cradle it in your hands, lifting it from where it’s buried, the magic glow infuses your body and…
If it doesn’t sound too harsh, I’d like to call bullshit on this whole ‘finding your voice’ myth. Your writing voice, like your speaking voice, is automatically unique because you are a unique person.
That is a wonderful thing. You are a special flower, and I congratulate you for it.
Google does give a weighting to your unique voice among the various other ways it determines the originality of your content. But it is not the only criteria. So it’s best not to get too hung up about the uniqueness of the words you choose.
Beyond your individual specialness, the thing that will make your writing unique is the subject matter you cover. Hunter S. Thompson’s writing was a great example of this. If you read: “We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold”, you recognise it as him immediately. Even if you don’t recognise the book (Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, just for the record). But the voice of his first book, Hell’s Angels, is different … a bit more Tom Wolfe-ish, with its long sentences built up of stacked phrases jammed together with ellipses … kinda like a cake of cinematic images, each layer built around a single sensual experience … the intensity growing with each disconnected phrase …
It’s the combination of the subject matter and his relationship to that subject matter that makes what we call his “voice”.
Do you need to find your style?
You don’t have to look for that unique voice. It will find you, as you find your subject. The more you write, the more it will develop. So the challenge is less about finding your voice, and more about finding what to write about.
That’s easy, you’ll say. I’m writing this blog about what I do, about my practice or my business. I do implant dentistry, and I’m really good at it, so I’ll write about that.
So you sit down and write your blog post about implants. You are proud of your post.
You might also offer some other services—whitening, perhaps, or orthodontics, or foot massages.
Once you’ve done that, what’s the next article you’re going to write? Because the whole idea of writing your business blog is to write it regularly.
There is no point at all in developing a writing voice if you run out of things to write.
Ask yourself: Why am I writing this blog?
Few people get over that existential hump when they run out of stuff to say. It’s a horrible feeling—like slinking out of a conversation at a party as the gap closes around where you used to be.
It’s depressing for readers to look at the dateline beneath your last blog post, and realise it’s been six months since you last blogged. And the primary reason so many abandoned blogs litter the internet is the authors have said all they have to say. But there’s a way over that hump.
Go back to why you are writing the blog in the first place. It’s not to show off what a great writer you are. It’s not to dazzle the world with your witty bon mots.
It’s to build an audience for your practice.
Your blog writing style, your unique writing voice, your subject matter, the frequency with which you post, and everything else, are all just tools you’re using to this end. If you are missing one or two tools, you find a work-around. Or you create the tools as you go along. But never lose sight of that end-game.
Bonus: the one trick to writing well that no-one ever tells you
I could just leave this article at that. But there is one secret to developing a blogging style, and to helping you fill out all those posts you’re going to have to do to build your audience.
That trick involves listening.
To listen, you have to learn how to ask questions rather than make statements.
How you choose to ask questions is up to you. But remember that what you’re doing is asking questions of individuals. Don’t think you can go on Survey Monkey and blast a questionnaire out to everyone on your database, and end up with a whole pile of articles as a result. You might get one article out of that.
Far more effective is to seek out your audience, and ask them what they know. It’s frequently interesting to ask them why they’ve used your services (the answers can sometimes be surprising). If you are blogging with a view to building your professional reputation (rather than building your patient base), then seek out the people you want to influence, and interview them.
Just keep asking questions. The more questions you ask the more data you gather. The more data you gather, the more raw material you have for writing. It’s that simple.
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About the author: Rob Johnson
Rob Johnson is a director of Engage Content. When not writing about all aspects of content marketing, he leads a team of talented and good-looking writers and editors all living a Gen-X fantasy existence in a top secret headquarters in Pyrmont, on Sydney’s fashionable western side.