What does it mean to write with a voice, say for a corporate blog?
If you run your own blog, it’s easy. You write as you please. Why not? You answer to no one.
If you write for a company, a real business, it’s gets more complicated. Instead of writing to please an audience of possibly one, you may have thousands of readers, or at least potential readers.
Of course, you have to make it
Maybe these sound like clichés. But let’s look at one of them. What does it mean to be remarkable?
It means that others make remarks about it. That’s all. Either on Facebook, Twitter, or somewhere. But it leaves an impression on them. And if the impression is strong enough, they save it, share it, and champion it. Maybe that’s ambitious, but think about it. Isn’t that what you do when you find something really different?
- You have to share it.
- You want others to know.
Why? You feel compelled.
One thread that links all of this is when the writer has an interesting voice. I don’t mean nice to listen to. Rather, their angle on the world makes you sit up and pay attention.
- Breaking Bad
- True Detective
- The Wire
- Hill Street Blues
Now, the same thing happens online or at least it should.
By the way, notice the way you keep scrolling down this page? How easy it is to read?
That’s not an accident.
Writing for the web means adjusting. As a web writer, you need to consider:
- Why do people read on their phones, as opposed to a newspaper?
- How much do they read?
- Do they read every word?
Instead I scan, hunting for information that connects to what I’m searching for. Maybe you do too.
But let’s look at voice.
How do you develop a voice for a corporate blog?
Your voice has to dovetail into other corporate communications, at least to some degree. Don’t go rogue. See if the Marketing Dept has guidelines for corp writing.
Now, can you adapt these to the web?
- Go to where your readers hang out, say your Facebook page. Ask questions. Get a sense of what drives them.
- Who do you plan to reach? What do they read? Why?
- Look at your competitors. Get their newsletters. Make a list of what you like, what works, and where you can do better.
- Be objective if possible. Circulate examples to your team and see which writing style works best. Build on this.
- Create examples for other writers. Assume that others will take over you’re role at some point.
- Test it. Setup a blog and see what’s the reaction, or write some ‘guest’ articles on your current corp blog.
- Test it. Send out newsletters and examine the response.
- Test it. Adjust what you’ve written and see if you can refine the voice.
Look for specific characteristics in other writers you admire.
What is it that works? Sometimes its small things like the way they quote specific writers, or references to pop culture, or maybe a distinctive rhythm to their text.
See if you can adapt this, then go one better.
Finally, you’re allowed to develop your voice. Keep an eye on the results. Listen to the feedback. Don’t take it personally if others aren’t pleased.
Keep chipping away until you’ve found a voice that yours.
It’s worth the effort.