Blogging Step 2: Find Your Voice

I started blogging in 1999, before the term “weblog” had been coined. This was a blessing, because no could tell me I was doing it wrong.

The page was buried in the alumni section of a primitive school website, and I had already been at the school for 23 years, so I figured, “These readers know me!” and I wrote with a very distinct voice. I was edgy, and funny, personal, irreverent, and iconoclastic. Rather than writing about close student-faculty relationships, I demonstrated those relationships, using lots of candid, highly imperfect photographs. I wrote as a naive adult...amused by the silly, brilliant, funny, fascinating teenagers surrounding me. I knew I was taking a risk, but I was always honest, and no one dared stop me. When blogging, honesty always prevails.

As my readership grew and became more universal, I allowed my voice to evolve...to be more adult and less the naive, bewildered wanderer, but my voice remained my own: personal, opinionated, loving.

Communications professionals have a challenge transitioning to blogging because we’ve been taught to write in a style that satisfies an editorial review committee. Writing for brochures, magazines, newsletters, and other media suffering the curse of shelf life, we write to everyone, and therefore write to no one.

Blogging is different, and if you don’t recognize this, your text will not compete with those of us who are taking the risk of being human in our voice. Each blog post exists in the present. It is free of the curse of shelf life, and as a blogger, you are free to stake your claim…to be real, with opinions, likes, dislikes, your own observations, and humor. We succeed when we spawn conversations, so be conversational!

I am only advising that you be yourself as a blogger. You’re a living, breathing human being…no longer a magazine editor driven to extol the virtues of your school and its extraordinary values. Editors have always sounded alike; their voices have been distant, formal, and terribly careful. Step down from the institutional perch. Write the way you talk. Entertain us with your unique perspectives and invite conversations. Now you’re blogging!  

Next Up: Blogging Step 3: Less is More