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Great things to think about. Thanks for the post! I sometimes doubt myself in blogging because I write about several different things, all of which make up who I am (my brand). None of these alone make up who I am, but the combination of all of them does. Make sense? I just hold onto who I’m trying to reach and invite everyone else along for the ride!Reply
I love the Dr. Seuss quote and this whole post is a great reminder.Reply
You know, I write to myself as much as anybody. Too many people play the comparison game and try to sound like a blogger they admire, in hopes of having the same success. But over time, it’s hard to keep the momentum going when you’re not being yourself…and people can get trapped in it. Much better to be yourself. 🙂Reply
One of the challenges to blogging “in my own voice” is reading too many other blogs. I do best when I write first, read afterward.Reply
Great writing direction, Jeni. After I followed your suggestions, I read over the description of my ideal reader and I realized, she is my real-life friend, Starr. This makes it so easy to compose my posts now — I simply write as if I were talking to my dear friend. Thanks for the advice!Reply
This post is spot on for me, thank you! My ideal reader is a mom kinda like me. She has real life issues to deal with, and isn’t afraid to share them with the world. I also do better when I blog first and read later.Reply
This question really had me stumped. I always focus on one person when I write about a specific topic but not every article. It is a curious question, as even as I write about something related to marriage – I wonder to myself what the single people who read my blog feel. But actually if I do that I am maybe not being true to my true audience. Maybe I should stop worrying about those that don’t quite fit in, because they will stay if they want to anyway. Great post. I can already see that even in this comment I am reflecting – sorry for the ramble.Reply
I did this exercise a while back when it was suggested by Darren Rowse and it really did help for me to see who I’m trying to reach and give her a identity. And you are spot on about Ann Voskamp…you can see it so easily when a blogger tries to be just like another blogger, but especially in this case. I’ve even seen such similarities down the same colors and use of the tree. I suppose imitation is the highest form of flattery, but hopefully, these bloggers will find their own voice eventually. 🙂Reply
I am all about saying thank you, so I decided to comeback to this the first post I read on your blog. The day I read it I spent hours reading posts, thinking carefully about the ways we had gone wrong and making a new plan for my pinterest boards, facebook usage, and preparing to do link-ups for the first time. Thanks for absolutely changing the way we promote our blog. By the numbers we just had the best week we’ve ever had.Reply
Hi Helene, what a joy to hear you’ve had a great week! I feel like this topic is one of the “fundamentals” – and I had the good fortune to learn about this principle before I started my blog. But it’s something everyone can revisit, and hopefully it can ground you in “what you’re about” and give new life to your blogging. I appreciate you taking the time to stop back by to leave a comment. Hope you have a great week!Reply
Love it! So well written and clear to follow! It’s a great idea- thank you so much!Reply
Thank’s so much for the great advise! I’m a new blogger and it always helps to start a new project with a strong foundation. In finding my voice, I am actually talking to someone like myself, a middle age, divorced/widowed woman, alone. I have learned a lot in life and want to share it with like women who have not yet arrived at their “aha” moment. I think I can help them find their way and be happy with the journey. Guess my voice can be my lost twin. lol. Appreciate you sharing. SouthernDell
I’ve been blogging for a few months now and still feel like I’m finding my own voice. I’ve never done the “describe your reader” exercise before, and it was fairly insightful. I think all of our readers are similar to ourselves though; I know mine is. I have my husband proof read all of my posts (twice on any guest post!) and one of the questions I always ask him is if it sounds like me. I know I’m doing something right if he starts laughing during the post and trying to respond directly to me.Reply
Wow, this was very inspiring. I’ve been blogging since about July and I’ve found that lately I think too much about who I know is reading like family and friends when I write a post and I was trying to sound a certain way. “Act like your writing an email” is really what did it for me! Thanks for the great advice!!Reply
I noticed this Ann (without an e) phenomenon. Bloggers whom I used to enjoy have transformed themselves into little Anns (without e’s), and they lost my readership in the process. I liked them better when they were Amy and Rachel and Sara (without an h). I like Ann for Ann, but I don’t like Amy and Rachel and Sara (without an h) for Ann. Thank you for encouraging us to find our voices, be ourselves, and seek world domination. Well, you may not have said that last part out loud, but I like to read between the lines. 😉Reply
So funny! Apart from being a few years older, I am your PERFECT reader, right down to the name and having grown my readership steadily.
Loving your work!!! Thank you.Reply
Thanks for the post. Lots of great, helpful info! But, I have a question. I have just recently started a blog, inspired for the most part by personal goals. That’s not to say that I would not like to have readers to join me in my journey. And that us what brought me to your post. Am I looking for “my voice” or am I looking for my niche? Confused? Me, too!Reply
I think your “niche” is a personal journey blog. So you have that covered. You should probably focus on the “voice” part of deciding who is the one “ideal” person you’d be sharing that journey with, and then write to her. Even if you already have a voice, it will help you maintain the same tone throughout your blog. Hope this helps!Reply
This was SUCH a helpful post, Jeni. Thanks for writing in such a concise, friendly style. I perfectly fit your “ideal reader” (other than the age of my blog), and I immediately did the “describe your ideal reader” exercise and found it extremely helpful. I’m off to write more posts. Thank you again. ~MReply
Just stumbled across this post. What an interesting read! I guess my case is slightly different in that I blog for businesses in several niches. Over time I”ve found that I’ve developed a different blogging voice depending upon my target audience. The trouble is that sometimes after reading a post back (especially if i’ve written in several niches and for several clients that day) I find myself kind of switching from one voice to the other (Mid-blog) and that’s what I’ve been struggling with So your point about focusing on the ‘ideal reader’ and simply ‘being yourself’ really hit home. Great post and thanks for sharing.Reply
This was such a helpful exercise for me! I’ve been blogging for 3 years and even though I have a pretty authentic voice, this rally inspired me further. My ideal blogger is Kate, a new(ish) mom who adores her young children and is overwhelmed by all she wants to do as a mom. She wants to give her kids everything but is so tired a lot of the time (as all new moms are). I’m writing to offer her simple solutions to planning activities with her family, making healthy meals, and staying organized.Reply
Absolutely loved this article. I’m in the process of building my own style and lifestyle blog, and with so many of those around I don’t quite see the point of spending time and money in a copy-cat. On the other hand, it seems so hard to think out of the box in this field, and I felt like all the ideas of originality I could think of I got from other people’s blog. Back into the copy-cat issue.
So the straightforward and practical advice from this post really helped me start from a clean slate and not focus on what is around.
Amazing post !
I really enjoyed this post. If there’s one thing I told myself is to always be myself when I blog. All the really big, famous blogs I aspire towards are all different from each other even though they technically all blog about the same thing (fashion).
I also avoid spending way too much time on similar blogs to mine. I KNOW myself and I do not want to get influenced. If I really need inspiration I use pinterest.
Love the way you give practical examples to every important point you made. When I read “Pretend you’re writing an email instead of a post. And you’re not writing to the world at large – you’re writing to just your one ideal reader”, I heard myself saying “ok, I can do this” Thanks for this great post 🙂Reply
The posts I always enjoy the most are the ones that are full of personality, I always find so many bloggers sell themselves short on that.Reply
I feel like I have found my own voice, as I write mostly like I speak. I write a little more formally than I speak and try my best to come across as intelligent and articulate. I have been described as both, so I feel this is authentic. Would you agree? Or disagree? (that writing like I speak, but more formally – and trying to come across intelligent and articulate gives an authentic voice to my writing.) What is your perspective on this?Reply
Hi Jasmin, thanks for your thoughtful comment here! As long as the style matches how you personally talk, that’s the most important thing. There are a lot of bloggers who are intentionally trying to look smart with their word choice, but the words they’re using aren’t things people use in normal conversation. It’s a sobering fact, but the average American reads at an 8th grade level…so intentionally choosing big, flowery words might just not connect with what readers find accessible. But as long as you’re being authentic in your speech and are focused on genuinely helping your readers, they’ll connect with your style. Hope that helps!Reply
Thank you. I live in Australia and my target audience is the entire world. However, my ideal reader would be someone facing schizophrenia who has lost hope. Someone whom I can hopefully persuade to find hope again, in the fact that people with schizophrenia can and often do get on with their lives and can and do live happy normal ones at that. Since the onset of schizophrenia for young men is in their teens and for young women is up to the age of 26, although people sometimes do get it outside these age brackets, often their education has been disturbed. They may have been acutely or chronically unwell during their education and may have missed a lot of it – especially the young men. So, I am guessing that I need to write for people who have missed big chunks of their education, but also for those who HAVE obtained a full education, as there would be some of those – particularly in Australia where we have to go to school until the age of 16. This may have raised recently up to 18, I am not sure. I will need to do some research on my target audience. Thank you for helping me to realise this fact. 🙂Reply
What a helpful post! I have only been blogging for a few months now and I am still trying to find my voice. I suppose more than anything, I am still learning how to talk to my readers…and not at them.Reply
Glad you found it helpful, Lisa. It takes a lot of energy to bring your readers into a conversation, but once you start reaching them and they understand you want a relationship, it goes a long way! I appreciate you reaching out with your comment. 🙂Reply
Hi Jeni from another Jeni. 🙂 It’s not a common name spelling!
I am about to start a blog for my online store where I sell guitar straps. I’m still trying to decide if I my reader is female (whom I can relate to best!), or male (who make up the majority of guitarists). I don’t want to alienate the men for that reason. It’s also fair to say that I’m a beginning guitarist myself. Thoughts?
Hi Jeni, the thing is, MOST websites are targeted at male guitarists. How cool would it to be branded as a site specifically for women guitarists? If you decide to write for male guitarists, you’d have to dig really deep to figure out how to position yourself – what makes your blog unlike other ones out there? What value are readers going to get out of subscribing to the blog? And why are you the person to sell them the guitar straps? I can’t answer your question – you’re the business owner; you know your customers. But just make sure you’re trying to appeal to a specific person, not “all guitarists in the world.” 🙂 I appreciate you taking the time to leave your first comment here! Hope to see you lots in the future.Reply
It’s so nice to see your reply! It definitely gives me something to think about. I’m just wondering if cool = profitable. Is it okay to write to female guitarists on my blog, and then have a website that sells merchandise to both men + women? Is it okay to ignore the potential majority of my market? So many questions. 🙂Reply
Well, here’s a thought for you, Jeni. Ever heard of Dollar Shave Club? Their market is clearly men. Just look at their About page, or watch any of their (hilarious) videos. There’s nothing feminine about it at all, but I’m still a member myself. Or check out Nerd Fitness – which is clearly in a very specific niche (it was marketed exclusively to self-proclaimed nerds, at least until it got traction). If you do decide to write “to everyone,” you need to make it clear why your site is different from the thousands of other sites out there for guitarists. Branding is everything.Reply
I like the way you have explained the blogging strategies. I find these strategies are truly important to make a blog and make it successful. Without finding your own voice/way of writing, it is hard to be unique as who you are. However, I think it needs lot pf practice till new bloggers would come to the point to build their own voice.Reply
Glad you found it helpful, Kerry. 🙂 So glad you reached out and said hi!Reply
Pretty funny that your described ideal reader is me to a T! Right down to the hubby wishing I wouldn’t spend so much time blogging. Anyway, thank you, this was very helpful. I have found that over the past 2 years my blogging voice seems to change with each post. Trying to write to just 1 person makes me feel like I could finally come up with something consistent. Putting this to the test tomorrow.Reply
Well, you’re more than welcome here, Misha, especially if you’re my ideal reader. 😉 xoReply
Wow, thank you. You explained it perfectly. I couldn’t put my finger on how to come up with my voice and I read another blog about coming up with your voice, but you put it perfectly. “Write it as if you were writing an email to someone.” I love that advice.Reply
Glad it’s helpful, Brad. You already have the voice – it’s just a matter of unearthing it. 🙂Reply
Loved this post so much we decided to link through to it on our own post: How to Start a Blog That Makes a Difference. Thanks for the inspiration and enjoy:
Well I’m your ideal reader inclusive of name ;). Except that I’m slightly older and I have never had the patience to actually stick it out with a blog. I’ve started about 8 though all with great ideas but just didn’t stick with it. I think alot of it was that I really was clueless about what I was doing and didn’t have time to learn. I have amazing ideas but you can ask my husband, I’m terrible at executing them! This time though there isn’t room for it not to work. I know writing is essential to me and I haven’t really been writing for almost 10 years now. And because of personal and family goals my husband and I both need work from home jobs that can travel. I’m new to your blog and podcast but I’m finding so much to help me as I get started.Reply
Well said! I love when I come across a blog that is truly original.Reply