The Extreme Importance of Balance and Mindfulness in the Blogging Community
A majority of the biggest questions in our community sound a lot like this:
How do I write engaging content?
What do I need to do to make my blog exciting?
How can I expand my audience?
Part 1 of the 7 Habits of Extremely Engaging Bloggers began with a head-first dive into the best practices of blogging and how—in order to engage our audience—we must answer specific questions and always bring attention to blog post layout and organization in a way that makes sense for you and the topics you explore.
But this is just the beginning. And the next habit, habit 3, is probably the most difficult to practice of all 7 habits combined.
Why? Habit 3 is exposes the fine line between content creation and marketing that no one really likes to talk about: voice.
The 7 Habits of Extremely Engaging Bloggers
Habit 3: Claim Your Voice (But Stay Mindful of Others)
As writers, our voice is our signature: we are the comic reliefs, we are the analytic buffs, we are the exposers, we are the soapbox revolutionaries, we are the impassioned communication dorks (Hi!), we are the sharing specialists, we are the thought-filled advocates, and we are anything and everything we’ve ever been and will become every day.
Capturing Your Writing Voice
When all is said and done, your voice is always, always, always you. And while there are a good number of resources out there that define and explore what your voice is comprised of and how to refine it, you must be willing to let go of the notion that your writing voice is finite (Henneke Duistermaat, Enchanting Marketing).
You are forever changing, growing, and learning. The more content you capture, the more your voice will change with you: it will gain opinions, confidence, idea-doubt, curiosity, and the burning need to explain itself.
In order to fully realize your voice as a content marketer, blogger, and writer you must always be looking to capture information.
“Some of your ideas will be total garbage. Not a problem. Capture them anyway. A few of the really stupid ideas will turn out to be the seeds of something interesting. And the rest won’t do any harm sitting there in your system.” – Sonia Simone
The action of seeking ideas, and capturing them, will give you opinions. They will range from excitement to ennui to absolute dissent. Within that collection of ideas and experience and thoughts and feelings and opinions, your voice is made. It will be uncomfortable sometimes. It will be difficult, but as you continue to write through the rough patches, you will come out the other end with more clarity on who you are and what your voice stands for.
Being a Writer in the Marketing World and the Need for Balance
Here’s the issue: there is a fine line between writing with your voice, and how you need to write for your clients in the digital marketing industry. In our world, we pride ourselves on our mastery of multiple subjects (including our own related subjects). But, when it comes down to how blog topics and queries and examples of our “mastery” are portrayed in the SERPs—no matter if we write for a client or our own companies—a bizarre pattern becomes clear.
We all appear to be coping one another.
But, why does this happen, you ask? Duplications in topic and form tend to be directly linked to industry best practices or client preferences—this is to be expected. But tone and execution?
That is all on us.
As marketing professionals, we need to present clearly defined, researched, and well-structured voices—embodying each and every client who signs up for on-going SEO or blogging. In tandem with that client-brand-focused voice, we also have the pressure to assert our other voices in order to be effective and engaging to our digital audiences:
- Our Creative Voice
- Our Logical Voice
- Our Sales Voice
- Our Customer Service Voice
- Our Expert of All Things Voice
When you break a blog post down into its components, the sections housing tone and execution (transitions, syntax, adjectives, adverbs, word choice, punctuation, etc.) are filled with micro-instances of voice—the blending of an infinite number of voices to form that singular, complete voice of the blog post.
Writing is a complicated artistry—we must blend our voice with the expectations and limitations and opportunities of our topics in order to create something truly engaging.
Creating Content with Personality: An Artistic Process
You begin with a blank canvas (your topic).
You have a palette of different colors:
- Analytics/Research You Conduct
- Your Knowledge and Life Experiences
- Your Professional (Personal) Writing Voice
- Your Audience’s Questions/Concerns
- Your Company’s Goals
- Your Call to Action
You bring life to the canvas: you assert your knowledge on the subject, add in research, sprinkle in data or statistics, add a touch of your voice (for suspense or intrigue), highlight your audience’s questions about the topic, and mix in the company’s relationship to the topic.
The Importance of Perspective Blending and Balance
Writing that both stays true to your voice and all of the requirements of successful digital marketing is made possible with perspective blending: you assert your voice and view on the topic as a writer, but stay mindful of your audience, their expectations and questions, and how the topic applies back to the company you are writing for. Writing openly in your own voice allows you to be creative, but being mindful allows you to be effective with the task at hand.
This is why writing feels impossible at times.
So…what happens when you don’t find the balance? Writer’s block. Self-doubt. Missed blogs. Double drafts. Rabbit holes. Those nonproductive, ever-frustrating, days where no content is good and the recycling bin is your BFFL. Don’t give me that look, it happens to everyone. In fact, it happened with this very post!
Questions to Ask Yourself to Get in the Habit:
- What can my personal experiences and knowledge as a writer, SEO specialist, social media ninja, or marketing guru bring to the topic I’m writing about in this particular blog?
- What is the perspective of the company I’m writing for, and what do they have at stake in this blog, or what is their end goal that I’m aiming for?
- What does my audience need from this particular topic, what have they already seen across the internet, and what have the other people (my competition) already said about this topic and what do I have to make clear in order to be useful to my audience?
All of these questions, will be discussed at length in The Deep End Podcast on this subject in due time, but it’s imperative to share my answer on Question 3 with you, right now.
Why Writing Professionally Still Requires Your Actual Writing Voice
We are living in a world of information, and quite often that information is being recycled across domains and across companies with slight variances to make sure that the content is “unique.” Everyone has already proclaimed the importance of unique content in regards to your Google ranking, your audience engagement, and your overall success as a professional SEO content writer.
But, what they haven’t made clear to you, my dear reader, is precisely why we are saying “unique”—this word is repeated to the nth degree in the marketing world—it is a staple buzzword that makes other writers feel that they are saying something to you that is thought-provoking and action-forward. But, this is not the case in my opinion. When I do back research and find nearly 90% of the articles on the first page of the SERPs are recycled blog topics with nothing original to say, it doesn’t tell me that we are all unique in the same way—it is telling me that we are all assuming that the other’s perspective on a particular topic is the only perspective possible or useful.
This is not the case.
What is happening, in that instance, is a pure refusal to give the topic about which you are writing its due diligence. We must stop standardizing our methods into a blogging schedule that is measured and finite. Sit on your topics. Think about them. Read about what others are saying. Ask yourself if you agree with them, and why. Wonder about what they’re missing. Jot down things they are missing. Think about why they leave out some information and focus on others.
We will cease to be truly engaging if we continue to rely on the other voices in our communities and nix our own. The main reason there are multiple opinions out there is because we each have a unique fire that burns within us—be it more logical or emotional or somewhere in between.
No matter your professional resume or experience level, you as a member of this community have more to offer than just the repetition of other standards and facts—use the research to emphasize the ideas you create and think and believe. Do not be afraid to use your voice to give topics something new for people to read. Do not be afraid to be wrong. Instead, welcome the opposition and think about it, sit on it, and continue the conversation.