Hands up… did you start a business blog without any real plan? My hand is up too… you’re not alone. Many businesses start their blog without a real plan.
As marketing goes blogging is cheap and easy to set up and then all you need to do is add some great writing, which is another blog post entirely.
The reality though, is different, if you want seriously good results then there’s some serious planning involved and one of the major decisions to make is the voice of your business blog.
A good blog needs a clear and consistent voice that is communicated on every single page. Consistency helps you create a brand and is part of what builds trust with your customers.
The Elements of a Business Blog’s Voice
What does ‘blog voice’ mean? It sounds simple, but it’s made up of a number of different elements including personality, beliefs, tone, style, and type of content. Some questions to ask include:
- Is your blog going to be strictly factual or opinionated?
- What values will it speak to?
- Who will it attract?
- Is the tone going to be casual / friendly or more professional?
- Will you use humour?
- Are you going to focus on recent news items, write reviews or offer how-to information?
Grab a pen and paper, and draw six big circles. In each circle write a few words that answers the questions in the bullet points. This will help you identify your own strengths.
Personality is an especially important consideration because your blog shouldn’t be dull and formal, I say shouldn’t be but there are certain types of consumer that respond to that type of content, and you need to know if that’s your customer. If it is, then know that when you write for them, and don’t let anyone, even me, sway you otherwise.
The human aspect of your business blog has to come through.
You need to show you are human beings as people respond better to other people, they don’t respond to logos until they know what that logo stands for. Imagine the Golden Arches of McDonalds, you may think cheap, fast food or you may think greasy fast food as you visualise those arches, but you know the logo and you know what it means to you, and that’s because you see them everywhere. Your blog’s reader is different, they don’t know you or your logo just yet. Human beings are conditioned to respond to other human beings, so make your business blog human.
It needs to be engaging and speak to emotions as well as simply giving the reader information, you may want to tell stories and share other people’s stories, again this is a great way to build connections. If you get comments surrounding your how-to information such as “great advice” then you will be on the right track and over time you’ll start to get emails from your readers as well as comments. Your voice has built trust and respect.
Your Ideal Reader
The best way to determine all the elements of your voice is to visualise your perfect reader. Who do you expect to become an avid reader of your blog? If you can imagine this person clearly, you can write posts to them that resonate perfectly, the reader thinks you are reading their mind when they read your posts. This part is so important that I have a Kindle guide dedicated to working this out – Zero to Targeted Marketing.
Your ideal reader will take some market research.
- Find out which demographics are important parts of your niche.
- Find out what they like and dislike.
- Learn about how they feel, what they want out of life, and how they see themselves.
- Some people even draw a physical picture of their ideal reader and look at it whenever they write!
I write each blog post as a love letter to my ideal reader. In this post the ideal reader is someone with a business blog that isn’t getting results, they want to know what’s wrong with their blog, they want to generate more leads, but they don’t want to invest in blog mentoring sessions just yet… They may consider investing in a Social Media marketing guide to getting things right, as they realise how important it is to get their blog marketing them and their business right.
If I don’t write for the ideal reader then I write for a secondary reader, and that may be you. You would be someone who understands the value of the information I share, and you share my content with your audience, and on occasion you recommend me and my services as we’ve got to know each other really well. Your secondary readers are just as valuable as your ideal customers, they need some love too.
Your Blog’s Image
Now that you’ve got a clear image of your blog’s reader in mind, the next step is to create an image for your blog that appeals to them.
Consider not only your reader but also your business’s unique selling proposition.
The key question to ask yourself here is – ‘How is my blog different than other similar blogs in my industry?’
The answer to this question lies in the specific niche you choose for your blog. I write for smart business people, that don’t micromanage and are not afraid to invest in themselves. Often my clients are coaches and other social media marketers who wish to sharpen their skills. 50% of them are recommended to me by readers of this blog.
One of the biggest mistakes business bloggers makes is trying to be everything to everyone. I have a client that insists that everyone is her potential client, because of this she’s constantly looking for new clients. She’s a generalist rather than a specialist. She doesn’t decline clients that don’t fit her business philosophy. It seems like her criteria is warm and with a pulse. And even though we are in the same niche, I don’t have the same ideal clients and don’t have the same readers to our blogs. It would shock her to know that I have the same traffic as she does (often more) and I don’t have as many social shares, and the reason for this is simple; I know whom I am talking to and why; I’m a specialist.
The truth is that no niche is too specific unless it’s a market of one person. You need to carve out a unique place for yourself in the blogosphere that will set your blog apart. Being the only one in your industry is no longer enough, you have to have more.
Finding Your Voice
Finding a voice for your writing is something all writers must do. If you’re going to blog, you’ve got to consider yourself a writer, even if you don’t have the training, experience or writing chops. Repeat this mantra after me…
A writer is a person that writes. I am a writer because I write.
Take some time to read different blogs to see how the voice differs. Some write in a very personal style, some are humorous or slightly outrageous, some write posts that are short and to the point.
Find your own way of writing that you enjoy and the way that resonates with your readers.
Don’t be afraid to get advice, because forming your business blog’s voice is tough, and it may not be your carrying that voice in the future, it may be someone else. When it’s planned and noted down, others in your business will be able to contribute with ease.