Blogging 101 Blogging Compass

Following Your Blogging Compass: Writing with Your Unique Voice

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Greetings my jelly bean honey bunny bears and welcome to another installement of Following Your Blogging Compass.  And I’ve got to tell you, last week was amazing! All of the comments and discussion about defining True North, was wonderful! It was just what I was hoping for when I dreamed up this series.  Check back to read the comments of last week’s post by going here.

Today I wanted to talk to you about an idea that goes hand-in-hand with your True North: writing in your voice.  And guys, I will admit it…this is tough, and I myself struggled with this idea of writing with my personality {rather than following other bloggers I wanted to mimick} for months.  In fact, if you scroll through my archives you’ll find that my voice is bland and a bit too formal, and you know what? That is not how I am in real life.

So, how did I shake things up? How did I get out of my own head? I approached writing my posts differently.  For the longest time, I plodded through posts without heart or energy. The posts just didn’t sound like me.  You see, I was getting my feet wet in a new blogging category, as an expat, and I struggled with what to share and what to hold back.  I was holding back my personality afraid that my readers {yes you!} would think of me as silly or too bubbly.  Yup, you read that right: I was afraid to write in my own voice. Then I had a moment and  I stopped guessing myself. I stopped doubting my writing abilities and I stopped wondering if my readers would like what I had to say.  Once I stopped second guessing, my voice came forward and authentic me.  {In case you are wondering, that moment was when I wrote a post honestly and openly, straight from my heart about having honest and tough expat feelings. You can read that post here.}

To kick-start that authentic voice, I had to imagine writing to my besties or my sisters back home. If we were sitting down for a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine…how would I tell them about my day, our adventure or my story? What would they want to know? What pictures would my Mom want to see, or details to share? For weeks, I thought about them as I drafted posts that sounded and felt like me.  My confidence began to build, slowly but surely and  I began to think about my readers as I drafted my posts. And now, after about 6 months of continuous adjusting, I feel like I am writing to friends {many of whom I have never met}, and it’s great. Mwah.

So, my question to you: How did you define your blogging voice? Are you still adjusting your voice? Is there something that’s holding you back from writing in your true voice? Let’s cheerlead and encourage one another in the comments to help eachother find {and maybe refine} our  blogging voices. Can’t wait to see what you have to say!

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{And in case you are wondering, I use my silly greetings in real life.  To Neal, to Freddy and even to my British co-workers.  See? I really do write in my voice!}

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  • This was/is hard for me because I have different peoples voices in my head when I am writing. (At one point my dad said my spelling and grammar sucked. And for me as a past reading/writing tutor that was really hard to get past.) I feel like for me every post is different- a lot of posts have a different voice depending on what I am trying to get across. But I always try to find my inner voice regardless of what it is (funny, serious, informative, etc.) At the end of the day, my blog is mine and as long as I am happy with it that’s okay. Everyone is unique and as a writer that’s what I want to be. Sometimes you have to get the voices out of your head and go with what you are feeling.

    I love reading your posts and I love how bubbly you are. Every time I click on a post, I wonder what greeting you will say today. Thank you so much for bringing up this topic. Much love, Alex

    • Hi Alex!

      I agree with you that different posts may call for a different energy or tone, depending on the subject for sure. I’ve found that the more I blog, the more I am able to define my voice that fits that type of post that I am writing.

      And thank you for saying that! I love my fun quirky greetings, glad you do too! Happy Weekend!

  • SO this kinda strikes a chord with me and I am kinda of in your shoes. I guess its the marketing degree in me, but with certain posts I can be very formal (especially with my Living Your Passionate Life series). However, if I’m sharing a recipe or say I’m expressing my creativity with fun posts about *N Sync – I can be completely myself as if I were holding a conversation. And I’m okay with this! I want people to take me seriously in that professional manner, yet still see the down to earth, normal side of me when writing posts about my hobbies and life moments.

    This reflects me in my real life as well. In certain situations I use proper English, but if I’m around my family (especially the ones from the Big Island) or really close friends I will let out a whole bunch of Hawaiian slang (pidgeon) and you’d never guess I went to private schools my entire schooling life (grade through college).

    Great post!!! You’re first one definitely rang a bell to what I’m talking about in my Living Your Passionate Life series – great minds think alike!! Have a happy Saturday 🙂

    • Great minds do think alike! I think you and @disqus_2JDsjOHIsh:disqus bring up a great point: it all depends on the type of voice… just like a real-life conversation or discussion, it can adjust on the topic. On your blog, do you use Hawaiian slang? That would be a fun element to include, what a great way to get to know you better and the amazing Hawaiian culture! Hmmm…. just an idea! 🙂

      • I haven’t used it. I’ve shared some words we use (like shoyu for soy sauce) but not really – I’m not sure people would understand. For instance (just for you).

        au pau (I’m done)
        kau kau (food)
        kanak attack (refers to a “food induced coma”)
        ho’ Brah (Hey bro)
        ono (delicious)
        moi moi (sleep)

        Brah, you like beef? (Dude, you wanna fight?)
        Honeygirl, you bettah not talk to me lidat before I pa’i your okole (Daughter/Niece etc, the next time you talk to me with that tone you will get a spanking on your butt.

        🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Kele! I love both kinds of posts you have — the NSYNC ones and the living your passion.

      Actually, what you said brings up this thing I read about in one of my college classes/a book around that time and it’s this phenomenon called “Switching.” Women do it a lot depending on the various social groups they are around… it’s like having a professional persona vs. a comfortable, laid-back persona. It can be difficult to reconcile the two online but I feel like you do it really well! 🙂

      • Oh thanks lady!!!! 🙂 You know, cause that hits it right on the nose and it’s so me. Even – I’m not much of a competitive person, but you get me around my cousins?? Especially a few special ones and it is non-stop trash talk (all in fun and love) when we play cards or board games, lol.

  • After 5 and a half years of blogging I am still struggling with this. I think I am finally writing in my real voice, but the problem is….I’m boring. Yep. My inner voice is just bland and boring. I’d like to spice it up but well…my inner voice is boring and bland. It’s all a work in progress I suppose. We need some exercises for finding your true writing voice. Got any?

    • That is a really interesting comment Mary, about having a bland/boring inner voice…. I always think that everyone has a story to tell, sometimes we just get to the story in a different direction. Hmmm…

      I have some writing exercises, maybe I can dig something up for you. I have a few writing prompt books I dive to for inspiration… Maybe I can extract one or two.

    • So I haven’t read your blog, but i just opened my 20th tab in my browser to go and take a look. I just wanted to say that your comment reminded me of Bones in the TV Series Bones (do that have that series in Scotland?? Are you from the US? – if not, just Netflix it!). She is so “dull/boring” and “dense” and “literal/bland” and she CRACKS ME UP! So thats that! You just may be cracking other people up too… Embrace it! And so now I’m off to read le blog.

  • I know what you mean! I think my true blogging voice comes and goes so some posts read more like me than others. Funnily enough, I think my first ever post was most ‘me’.

    • Oh, that is really interesting! Your first post being the closest to your voice… Sometimes, we get into our own heads and begin to question. Sometimes we just need to let go of doubt, and just hit publish! 😉

  • Love this series!!! Oh YES blogging in your own voice – so important and I think that’s what is making it fun to read other people’s blogs – if their personality shines through their writing! There are bloggers out there that I would LOVE to meet for coffee because they seem like a real person with quirks and everything! Big YAY for this post!

    • Lisa! Your comments are always so vibrant and so happy! I am right there with you! There are bloggers out there, that I feel like I know so well, because they write in such true and authentic voices. It’s something to aspire to for sure!

    • Lisa, I feel like you are the poster child for authentic blogging voice! I feel like your voice always come through loud and clear to me! You are joyous in such a beautiful way and I’m always so happy to see your little icon pop up or to hear anything from you! What you said about other people can be said about you! 🙂

      • Gosh!! I just woke up to this and you literally made me cry a little! I feel so LOVED right now it’s AWESOME! Thank you Erika 😀

        • Lisa, this makes ME happy to the point of tearing up! I wish I had more words besides I LOVE YOU but those just are always the ones that pop up!!!

          ** lots of blog love happening in Belinda’s comments, haha **

  • Chantal

    You know what, sometimes when I write posts that feel like how I talk/sound during the day, I don’t get as good a reaction as when I write posts a little more… fancy? Better spoken? Maybe my readers are just used to my “bloggers voice” more than my actually speech. Though my content is 100% me!

    • That happens to me too Chantal! Sometimes I get in my head too much and question my phrases or wording, and when I take a step back it doesn’t sound like me anymore. I have to make it sound less refined to be true to my voice sometimes.

  • Blogging in your own voice is very important. I am still searching, but I think that after posting a very intimate post next week it will start getting easier. I am keeping the brakes on my posts, and it’s time to take them off…
    Great post and great series!

    • Yes girl, take off those breaks! The moment you do, you’ll take your blog into a whole new place! Excited for you!

  • Being so new to blogging, I’m almost afraid to let my “true voice” come out in my blogs. I’ve tried forcing the issue a bit in a couple of blogs, but I think I’m afraid that my regular style of speaking won’t go over well in the blogosphere. I am trying to remind myself that my blog is for ME, to be a creative outlet, to be my platform to share what truly gets me excited. I feel like I’m in third grade again, hiding in the jungle gym at recess because I’m afraid of not fitting in. I think I just need to dive in head first and see what happens.

    • From Casinos To Castles

      Wow Megan….I have felt the exact same way and am still new as well. I think it’s important we be true to ourselves and our inner voice like Belinda so eloquently states. I think by trying to write as our most authentic self we will gain readership for those audiences we truly capture. I love Belinda’s idea to write as if she is writing to close friends and family back home! Now, I just have to take my own advice! 🙂 In all honesty, I find that the posts I write that are truest to me are the ones I get the most comments on.

    • Hello Megan! I love what @susanneisme:disqus said in her comment, about taking the breaks off…and just go for it! As long as you have something to say, and say it from your heart…hit publish and then stand behind it. Everytime I have written a heartfelt post, I have been greeted with such wonderful and positive response. The blogging world will support you!

  • From Casinos To Castles

    Can’t say enough how much I love this series! You capture the process so well and articulate it in a way that is very thought provoking. 🙂

    • Thank you for saying that!! I am so glad that this series is helpful to fellow bloggers! Yippee! Thanks for contributing to the convo!

  • I am still unsure of what my voice is or if I even have one at this point. I have only been writing my blog for 3.5 months, so I’m sure I have a ways to go. The trouble, I find, is that in real life, I can be either eloquent or ridiculous. In the past, I have been asked by professors if I was a literature major because of the way I tended to write (not a literature major, but I do enjoy reading- and love 19th c. English lit). But then there are times when I get a bit silly and talk a bit more like I did as a kid (I used to have a slight accent from spending time with my Ohio relatives). I actually feel more self-conscious about my more eloquent side because I fear people find it inauthentic, even though it is actually very, very me. But, it’s all a learning process!

    And again, thank you for this series! It is very thoughtful and helps me to consider what I am doing with my blog, especially since I am still in early days.

    • Hi-ya Rachel! First off, I am so glad that this series is helpful to you…. hearing that makes smile from ear to ear.

      Now, don’t fear your eloquent writing style… if that is who you are, then embrace it. Maybe nod to it in a post, or your About Me page? Let readers know that a perfectly polish style is how you are, and then the silly/goofy days highlight it and enjoy it!! It’s all about balance and doing what makes you happy. {Easier said than done, I know…}

      • That is a good point, and something I will have to mull over. I like the idea of bringing it up on my About Me page- thank you for the tip!

    • Okay, I am about to get all creepy/nerdy on this comment, but just allow me to talk about this in my creep voice please… hehehee

      So, we’ve discussed Myers-Briggs and I’ve read that ENFPs and INFPs have what’s called a “silly switch.” We can be so serious, so introspective, so eloquent, so deep. But then, in the right mood, we can be off-the-wall goofy and cray cray. Haha. So this is totally fitting for you, my dear twin!

      But another thing that I was discussing up there in the comments with KC is that as humans, we have more than one authentic voice. It sounds a little padded-cell, but hear me out: we have different things that bring out different sides of us. I think maybe that’s also why niche blogging is so popular — because it’s easier for people to focus on one aspect of their personality, rather than feeling all over the place. In terms of reading or digesting people’s personality, it can throw people off when they constantly get two different sides of the same coin.

      Not sure I have any answers, but maybe it’s good to think of blogging voices as “primary” and “secondary” ??? Hmm, food for thought!

      • Okay, I love that you bring up the personality profile. It’s true- there is a switch, and I like to be able to flip it whenever I want.

        You bring up a good point about niche blogging- that is precisely why I stopped niche blogging (I had a food blog). I am a human, I have different facets to my personality, and I need to be able to express them all. It’s harder to put into a package, but I don’t care. I’m in this for me, and fif I am to write honestly, then all parts of me must be represented.

        • :))) Silly switches!

          And also — yes, I think people think of niche blogging a little too concretely. I think we should all find our niches, but organically (more like “uncovering our niches”). And I also think that it doesn’t have to be “ONE” thing. Our niche, our thing, can be a whole bunch of things tied together with a bow. I think of Sarah from Yes and Yes and she epitomizes someone who said, “Okay, I’m not going to do this niche stuff — I’m just going to write about what i like.” And she’s extremely successful with it! 🙂

          I love your blog and all the things you share! I’m glad you’re not ONLY talking about food because I’m most interested in the Rachel bits! 🙂

          • I love Yes and Yes, and Sarah is one of my blogging role models- I love the variety on her blog.

            And thank you so much! I appreciate all of your encouragement as I wade my way through this blogging thing. 🙂

    • Seems like a bunch of us are experiencing that! Different situations calling for different voices – of course not in a schizophrenic (I’m sure I spelled that wrong) way!

      • And if that came out weird – I commented on the same type of thing down down down below! lol 🙂

      • Yeah, it’s so difficult- different voices for different topics.

  • Lix Hewett

    I’m definitely still adjusting. I’ve been writing online for a long, long time, and I like to think I’ve developed a writing style that’s 100% me and genuine, but I’m also the kind of person who subconsciously adapts her writing a little to match that of the person she’s talking to or the situation she’s in (which I consider a good thing – it’s just me in different contexts! I don’t sound exactly the same on my pro twitter account and my personal one; I don’t sound exactly the same when messaging my best friend or when writing fiction; etc., but it’s all me), and blogging “seriously” (so to speak) has been a process.

    I think in large part what’s made it harder is coming up with content – whenever I want to start something new (stories too), I can get a little caught up in what’s worth sharing – and find myself not sharing anything at all. If I force a post, I tend to sound really dull and almost trite reporter-like (which I consider a bad thing). I think my writing voice is slowly relaxing as I become more comfortable posting things.

  • kcsaling

    Thank you so much for starting up this series! I’ve been struggling a lot with finding my voice and finding a direction for blogging, and now I think I finally have a direction but I’m still trying to find my voice. I think it’s hard because there’s such a huge difference between my professional and personal voices. As a professional woman, I feel like it’s acceptable for me to like certain things, but I feel pressured to be “in the closet” so to speak with my “girly” tendencies, so I speak very differently about motivation and leadership vs. fashion, cooking, and event planning. It’s weird, I know, but that’s one of many reasons blogging really is therapy to me.

    • KC — this was one of the things that really intrigued me about your blog — that your professional world seems so much of a juxtaposition to your personal world (things like fashion and Disney). Even though I don’t necessarily get this struggle when I read your blog, I can totally see how it would be difficult to balance the two.

      I think it sounds a little “out there” but it’s true that we have more than one voice, depending on what it is (I feel like your comment brings up a good point). We oftentimes think being authentic means one thing, but it’s so complex. Both of your tones are completely you — but they just bring out different sides. Reconciling those through writing is definitely a challenge!

      • kcsaling

        I think we NEED to write in totally different tones depending on subject and audience – I already know I’m a lot different when I’m giving a professional speech or lecture vs. when I’m talking to friends. I try to write my blog in the latter voice.

        Personality-wise, what you’re seeing on the blog is just kind of who I’ve always been since I was a kid. My Barbies had fashion shows, but they also rode He-Man’s Battle-Cat and kicked Cobra Commander’s ass. It was never a choice between being a girly-girl or a tomboy – it was “I want to play with ALL the things!” 🙂

        • I love this — that it never seemed to need to be a choice for you. That you saw all of those things just as who you are!

          And I think you bring up a good point, too! The need for different tones depending on the information we’re communicating or the audience at hand. Certain information requires a different level of authority and even sentiment for sure! I guess it’s that whole thing of “know your audience.” And like you’ve established, your blog is more for an audience of friends… 🙂

  • Yay! I am geeked about this series, Belinda! I am loving what you are bringing to the table!

    As for your question: sometimes I still struggle with my voice, too. I think sometimes it happens when we put too many expectations on ourselves or feel like we have to “be” something instead of ourselves. Actually, an example was this past week with a recent entry of mine called Confessions of a Reluctant Vegetarian… I really struggled with writing it at first because it didn’t seem to be in the same sort of thing that I typically write about. I wondered if I was veering too far off course. It seemed like it was really hard to get the words out, but then I told that critical inner-voice to just shut up and said that this is what I felt like writing about right now and just let it flow. I let go of feeling like it might be too long or “too anything.” And I just spoke as myself. And the funny thing is it has ended up being one of my most popular/well-received posts, surprisingly! So I am learning that sometimes it’s not so much about what we’re writing about, but the way we’re writing about it and just being ourselves. That’s what people want from us and that’s the best thing we have to give. We’ll always be a crappier version of someone else if we’re trying to be someone else — it’s just nature. 🙂

    And by the way, when I first came across your blog, it was that post — the honest expat moment — that hooked me and kept me coming back for more! 🙂 (And I haven’t been disappointed!!!)

    • *LIKE* (sorry, no like button) but you get the drift! hehe

      • Hahaha. 🙂 I do, I do!

    • Erika, I’m so glad you told that inner-voice to shut up! That post was so beautifully written and it was an honor to get a glimpse into that part of you. It’s hard to feel that something so dear is not “on point enough” for a blog post but your remind me that if it is important to you, then being “on point” doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Readers go back to blogs like yours and Belinda’s again and again because of your authentic voices–regardless of the subject matter!

      • Wow Amy — this comment is THE STUFF! Seriously — thank you for this, for real. Even though we can constantly try to be our own cheerleaders and I think that’s awesome, it’s always great to hear encouraging words from someone else and reinforcement that our own true voice is heard and embraced. So thank you Amy. And honestly, the same thing can be said about your super fun and uplifting blog as well! 🙂 I am not much of a clubbing person, but if I could pick one club to go to, it would be Club Narwhal! 🙂

  • I am still defining my blogging voice now! It’s definitely improved over time but sometimes I find myself using a variety of 2 or 3 different ones that reflect different aspects of my personality… I think over time I’m hoping they will all merge into one. Or maybe it’s ok to have a variety depending on the topic you are covering?
    For example, with travel I tend to use humour a little more and speak in a very personal, friendly tone. Whereas with health and/or weight loss posts I tend to get a little more formal as sometimes it’s like “educating” readers.

    Like I said, I’m hoping my balance will fall into place the more I write!

  • I think I’m still trying to define my own voice at the moment and I’m still not sure how the whole blogging thing is going for me. I’m still worrying about numbers when really I should be blogging for myself to enjoy it whole heartedly. I think the problem is that I’m also still trying to identify what it is I want to say, narrowing my topics down so that the blog doesn’t seem to sporadic and more unified in to what I want to talk about. Lol I don;t even know if this comment makes sense!
    I think I still have a long way to go, but I hope I’m on the right track.
    I’m loving this series Belinda it truly is thought provoking for me and really enjoyable 🙂

    • I think it totally makes sense. I kind of went through something similar recently. I decided to write down all things I could possibly think of that I would write about or want to – on my blog. Then I tried to group them down to 7 categories (I think). That way when I’m writing all types of “random” posts, they aren’t really random and they belong to a big category but may have sub categories as well. Once I finish up the current series I’m doing I’ll be sitting down to thoroughly write that post out. Hope that helps in the mean time.

      • Thanks Aukele, I think my 2 biggest problems are that I’m too focused on what others are doing and that I’m putting waaaaay to much pressure on myself about content and how good it has to be. It’s got to the point where I’m throwing out a whole load of ideas because they aren’t interesting enough or aren’t as good as other bigger blogs. I think I just need to chill out a bit brainstorm ideas, like you said and focus on my writing in my own voice. I started with big plans a few months ago and I’ve just let them take over without leaving any time to breathe.

        • Hey lady – I think we’ve all been there before. I was the same way when I thought my blog was going to dominantly be a party blog. I think you’re on the right track. Another thing you can consider is finding readers in other places that you think would be interested. Facebook groups, or blogging communities and the like?? Just another thought. YOU GOT THIS!

    • I’m chiming in before I read Kele’s comment (which I am sure is probably fantastic!!!) but I just want to say: sometimes it takes a while to find your blogging groove. Like I wouldn’t worry about numbers because that’s a surefire way to NOT see them grow, you know? I think you writing about what you love — regardless of how you think people will receive it — is the kind of thing that keeps people coming back and fosters genuine friendships and participation.

      I know for me, I’ve really loved when you’ve opened up. For example, when you shared about how you became a tattoo designer and the process for it. I’d love to hear more stories about specific processes for specific tattoos you’ve done. That’s so unique and so you. Or even with the Rocky post or your nerdy type of stuff. I think you could almost be a geek translator of sorts… so of helping people to understand the reasons why so many of those things have such a cult following. I know this is stereotypical, but as a “girl” I’ve never been into Batman or superheroes. I think you helping with being a cool, fun female who is into those things can offer (1) a level of support to people who feel alone as women liking that stuff and (2) let other women know that it’s not just stuff that’s for boys — that there are real stories in there that they could possibly fall in love with.

      Anyway, that’s just how I see it. But I’d say be patient with yourself and try out new things. A lot of times blogging advice says to define your niche, but I think it’s something that you don’t define, but that exists already. It’s more like “uncovering your niche” organically. Just try out some new things, see what feels the best, and then let that guide you. All the other stuff will come eventually! 🙂

  • I think I write in my true voice, but I know the style of writing my blog has changed a little bit. I am a fairly formal, English speaker (being a teacher), but also have a more relaxed voice with friends etc, and as I have felt more comfortable within the blogging community, I think I have shared my ‘relaxed voice’ more readily. I am also (this is going to sound more desperate) writing in a more relaxed way as I was writing about things that were really hard, and as I was waiting for good news and my life to start, I think I was more reserved. Now the good news has arrrived, I feel a little freer! And happy!

  • Happyeverafter_Bride

    Great series as usual B. I like your bubbly voice and I know what you mean. I get a little conscious sometimes about myblog voice. I like to throw around words that I think read beautiful but I can’t pronounce in real life. I don’t think it’s my true speaking voice, but I have found that I like my writing voice anyways. It’s less conscious of how people would find it, more real to what I am truly feeling. so that would be my compass I’d say.

  • Pinja

    This series is totally coming up at the right time. I’m a new blogger myself and having this series to help me jumpstart my blog is just… great! So, Thank You! Now I just have to find my own blogging voice..

    Pinja @ doozy.me

  • Belinda, it is so good to hear about your journey towards finding an authentic voice! This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot, especially as I try to identify how to bring meaningful conversations into my blog. It has been hard because I want my blog to be a place of creativity and positivity where I can escape from the trials of everyday life–but I also don’t want it to become a place that feels fake. A difficult thing to negotiate for sure. I am excited to read through the comments to see how other people are dealing with this issue.

  • I love this, I also fear being to perky or bubbly but that is just me. I add tons of exclamation points which I know drives some bonkers but that is how I talk, loud and excited!

  • This is hard for me, just because I swear like a sailor in real life. And my poor Grandmother loves to read my blog. Eek!

    But so far, I think I’ve gotten the hang of it, at least enough that reading my posts isn’t drone-y and boring. Usually. Ongoing challenge. 🙂