Much is said of the great content that is required to become a great blogger.
None of it matters if you don’t have a great voice.
Great bloggers don’t settle for great content. Great bloggers understand that how you deliver your message is just as important as the message itself. Your voice has to resonate through a sea of white noise before its message will reach the market. You have to be memorable.
The opposite of being memorable is being forgettable. And unfortunately, many bloggers have this down to a fine art. They lack a voice that lends authenticity to their words.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If you pen the world’s greatest article and no one cares enough to read it, does it make an impression?
You may think that what you have to say is special. So special that the world should stand and marvel, but it won’t. It never will. Your voice—the charisma and authenticity that oozes from your words—is the difference between a reader that is engaged in your brand and a reader that nods at your post before disappearing never to be seen again.
Great bloggers lend identity to their work.
It’s the voice that readers fall in love with. Some bloggers have the knack of writing about anything and making it exhilarating on our eyeballs. That is because they’re in sync with their brand. We can hear their words as if spoken to us personally.
Position your brand correctly
How consistent is your voice? How easily can somebody, who may simply be passing through your blog, get a sense of your character, your position in the industry, and your value to the scarce few minutes in their day?
Oscar Wilde once wrote, “The first duty in life is to form a pose.”
We all create a mask, an identity in our heads that embodies what we hope to become, what we aspire to be. If you haven’t got this far, and if you haven’t assumed a pose, how can you expect your readers to remember what you stand for?
Great bloggers form a pose!
Your first job is to answer that pivotal question: “What do I stand for?” Once you know what you stand for, you must transmute those principles in to your writing.
How can we turn a blog in to a glowing beacon that relays our message to any passing mortal who stumbles across it? Well, there are four poses we can form that make this association easy for the reader.
- The industry expert
- The industry commentator
- The industry fun-poker
- The average industry joe.
Positioning your brand correctly means knowing the difference between each pose. I’m sure we’ve all seen plenty of examples of brand positioning gone wrong.
Have you seen the “expert” who can barely spell? He who takes more pleasure in bragging about his playboy lifestyle than in lending any information of credit to his chosen industry?
Or how about the comedian who tries to entertain readers with endless quips that are never funny? You can visit this author’s blog for plenty of that.
I’m sure some readers will object to the idea that their shtick needs to be pigeonholed. I hear it time and time again. “There’s no category for what I write about! It’s the noise that occupies my imagination! I can’t be stereotyped!” Well, no offence, but that’s just stupid. Stupid and wrong.
It’s not a crime to write about the unmoderated wackiness of your imagination (although I suggest you confine such brainfarts to a journal). But it certainly is a crime to expect somebody else to stumble across your erratic collection of thoughts and come away with a lasting opinion that isn’t, “Damn, what happened to the last 15 minutes? How do I get them back?”
Failing to moderate your own content is the fast lane to mediocrity. Your mother may still read it, of course. Whose doesn’t? But the rest of us? I’m afraid we’re too busy—busy watching paint dry.
If you want people to remember you, better yet to save a moment in their busy packed schedules to listen out for your voice, you must optimize your memorability. Now there’s a new industry!
Let me introduce you to four characters that are time-proven assistants to your readers. They help every reader that ever passes through your blog to make a snap decision about whether you are worth following.
The industry expert
The blogosphere would be a much better place if every fledgling writer didn’t attempt to achieve expert status from day one.
I’ve noticed that many new bloggers just love to brand themselves as experts. Nine times out of ten, it is completely without merit. Some of the worst offenders are music bloggers.
Take Pitchfork as an example. Pitchfork is considered to be an industry expert for the alternative music scene. It has a very distinctive voice.
Have you ever read a Pitchfork album review? It’s like a scrabble contest to see who can pluck the most pretentious sounding adverb out of his backside. Somehow it works because Pitchfork—for better or worse—has carved a reputation as an authority source. The writers are qualified to deliver what we expect of them: fluffy, metaphorical nonsense.
However, take your typical unwashed 17 year-old kid who thinks his English C grade qualifies him to preach to the music industry from a holier than thou pedestal, and it’s not going to be pretty. It’s going to get downright “LiveJournal” in here, and fast.
Posing as an expert in a field where you are quite clearly just a fan is not going to win you any blogging awards. You will instead become a living, breathing case study of Mr. His Own Biggest Fan, the pompous know-it-all. That guy we read from time to time to laugh at, but never with.
Let me give you a tip. The secret to posing as an industry expert is to have some bloody credentials to begin with. You don’t need to be the smartest mind in your industry. But you do need to know more than 95% of your readers, which is surprisingly easy if you dedicate time to your craft.
The best tool for the industry expert, besides promotable credentials, is social proofing. Has your writing been featured on major sites that you can slap under a banner labeled “As seen on…”? Are you making any radio or podcast appearances that can be crowbarred in to a Media section to suggest noteworthiness?
The industry expert must leverage the psychological tools at his disposal to make us look up to him. Before we ever subscribe to an industry expert’s blog, we must respect him. Without respect, his pose is worthless.