This is a guest post from Terra Dawn, my amazing and dorktastic mastermind partner! Check the bottom of the post for her bio!
First off, I am SOOOO excited to be chilling on Brittany’s blog with you crazies today!! I’ve been a fan and friend of hers for a few months now, so this REALLY does make me ridiculously giddy.
We were chatting it up recently and Brittany mentioned her new focus on “unicorn content.” When I mentioned that I was really focusing the next few weeks of my own business on helping bloggers find their own voice and unique style…this blog post seemed like a match made in digital heaven!
So, I think we’ll just jump right in!!
Why is a unique voice important for creating content?
I know…dumb question. I’m going to answer it anyways since the answer MIGHT surprise you!
Being different means breaking the mold.
I’ve NEVER thought of the phrase “She definitely broke the mold,” as being an insult. When someone says “You’re weird,” it just makes my grin wider…and as a fellow blogger, I’m betting your grin gets JUST as wide.
Being different means you’re making SOME sort of an imprint.
Whether it’s on your reader, on a friend or even on a random passerby…you or your actions are something they will remember.
And remember, human beings are Judgy McJudgersons.
When someone lands on your website, it takes them milliseconds to know know whether they want to stick around and even read your first sentence. You HAVE to make it spicy, people!! You have to make them want more, both in what you say and how you say it!
I’m willing to bet a buck that a lot of you have competition.
Some of you may have 10,000 competitors (*cough* wedding photographers *cough*) and some of you may have only 10…but no matter how saturated your niche, you’ll want to make a lasting impression on the readers that make their way to your posts and products.
Below, I’m going to go through the top seven steps you need to take in order to start your journey towards “weird”. Take your time and REALLY think about the answers to these!
Step 1: Figure out what you value
I know…I know. This one sounds all woo-woo. But it’s a SUPER important step!!
What you value on the daily is GOING to come out in your writing style and eventually in your customer base. If you’re of the religious type, your values might be providing a spiritual direction to your customers, a daily form of thankfulness, and a giving writing style.
If your values are more in line with being loud, proud, and outspoken, your writing style might be less reserved, more candid and perhaps just…well…uncorked. 😉
Your writing style is going to represent your OWN personality and how you interact with people in your life on a daily basis. Your goal is not to find a voice that works for you…but learn to write in YOUR voice.
It’s harder than it sounds, but if you can help your readers to believe that they’re conversing with you directly as they’re reading your content…you are golden!
Step 2: Get your creep on (people watch!)
This one sounds a little creeptastic…but it’s TOTALLY legal, I promise!
Let’s leave Peeping Tom in the closet, thank you very much. You can actually do this in public AND on your couch. I recommend carrying around a cheap little notebook (or the always ready, “notes” app in your cell) to jot down notes!
The key to this one is to pay attention to REAL people. This means, you can watch the news, watch folks outside your window, or watch people as they walk by in the mall or in the park. This exercise is simply to get you in the habit of watching and taking note of what you observe.
Describe the person you see in 2-3 sentences. Write down what they’re struggling with…and what solution you think they might be looking for. What’s their most consistent emotion on a daily basis? And finally, what drew you to pay attention to this person in the first place? This could be a physical trait, an action they were in the middle of taking, something they said…whatever!
Paying attention to your surroundings and the people IN those surroundings will help you write your stories. Where, at one time “a red headed girl sipped some coffee,” now “an auburn haired reed of a woman, beadily eyeing the crowd as they hurry past in a Christmas frenzy.” (CHEESE FACTOR: 10!!!!!!!!)
Step 3: Practice and set your deadlines
Guess what? YOU, my friend, are the new “starving artist”. Yep! Although you use new fangled tech, like computers and websites, at the heart of it, YOU are a writer. You create content from the heart. You spread your message like peanut butter on the world of readers.
You…are the new Shakespeare. (Ok…maybe not Shakespeare. Maybe Nora Roberts…but she makes BANK!!)
My point is, when you’re creating any content, stop thinking of yourself as a business person for one sec. What you’re doing, in that moment, is one of the oldest arts of humanity.
You’ll be writing posts, pages, sales pages, emails, sales letters, and tweets. It goes without saying that learning to write with style is NOT optional.
Writing is as simple as practicing. Even if writing’s not your thing (I totally get that…for me, math can suck it), it’s something you’ll have to schedule into your daily routine.
Set aside just 30 minutes every day to write anything. Write observations from your people watching. Write a description of a product or new post that you can re-use on sales pages. Write a bio for your about page. Or write something that has nothing to do with business at all!!
A ton of successful business people keep a private blog pinned to the top of their Chrome browser, a notepad in their laptop cases, or a file in the cloud to simply jot down how their day went before hitting the hay at night. You NEED to get in the routine of getting your thoughts on digital paper.
Step 4: Find and tell your stories
This one is HUUUUUUUUUUGE. (That’s what she said.)
I would gather that 95% of businesses out there are failing in this category…and so, failing in business. No matter how often you hear, “you can choose your own customers,” the bottom line is…in the end, they will still choose you.
What do I mean by that? You are NOT the only one doing what you do, so what it boils down to is the quality and discernibility of your message.
Can your reader connect with YOU?
Sure, I’m talking about your personal story here…but I’m REALLY talking about the story of everything! What is the story of your business? What is the story behind a particular product? What is the story behind what the hell you did today?
A GREAT way to get your practice in for this, is create an Instagram account! (Didn’t see me going THERE, did you?)
Everytime you post an image…tell a story.
Don’t just post an image with 50 hashtags…pull your viewer in with emotions, lessons, and stories! What’s great about this method of story collecting, is that you can use these stories in other areas of your business as well!
Post a picture of your new product…and use the story on your sales page! Post a picture of a closed laptop with a football game on in the background, and tell the story of WHY you thought it was important to take a day off.
Every moment of your day and every business decision you make has a story behind it. Start becoming cognizant of those stories and be willing to share them with your followers!
Step 5: For God’s sake, read!
Good writers read.
Why is this a truth? Because whether it’s fiction, biography, self-help, or even blog posts, reading helps the reader to tap into their empathy and knowledge of a world they DON’T know.
We can connect with characters and actually feel the turmoil and elation they feel…which in turn helps us feel the turmoil and elation our OWN readers feel…which in turn helps us to tap into those emotions when writing and creating for them.
Reading helps us develop an internal library of solutions for various problems…whether we’ve used those solutions ourselves or not.
Reading helps us understand how the written word can be translated into the internalized word.
And…as any grammar nerd will tell you…reading helps writers to understand grammar, punctuation, basic and complex sentence structure, and writing with pizazz.
So? For God’s sake, READ!!!! I don’t care WHAT it is! Just read something every day!
Step 6: Tap into your inner feels
I first heard this word from Audrey Hepburn in “Funny Face.” She was pulling books from the tops of bookshelves…stoutly ignoring the snide comments of Fred Astaire, and lecturing him on the importance of “empathy.” It took me a hot second to figure out the difference between sympathy and empathy, but as I grew up…the difference became apparent.
Sympathy is feeling sorry or feeling giving to another living thing. (Or sometimes not living…but that’s weird.)
Empathy, on the other hand, is TRULY feeling what another person feels.
Ever bawl your bum off when Old Yeller kicks the bucket? Yep…that’s you FEELING what Travis is feeling. In that moment, you understand the immense loss that little boy is going through…and you’ve never even had to go through it yourself! (Dear God, I pray you haven’t! 0_0 )
So where does empathy come into play for your business? It’s not enough to SYMPATHIZE with your customer…you need to REALLY feel their frustrations and excitements and use those in your writing! Before you write a blog post, sales page or email…jot down what problems you plan on solving for you reader and what they’ve been FEELING as they’ve tried to work through those problems on their own.
Step 7: Figure out who or what inspires you
Finally, pay attention to inspiration. We’ve talked a lot in this article about how to be inspired by what is right in front of you (articles, books, weird people on the street), but we haven’t tapped into the “inspiration well” which you’ve been creating since you were born.
Who inspires you in your life? Your mom? (I know mine does.) Your spouse? Another blogger? A business person who has nothing to do with what YOU do? Whatever the case may be…start taking note of them!!
I have a little folder that sits in my notes section FULL of inspiration reminders, and this file grows on a daily basis! It’s full of phrases that awe me, screenshots, brands that I love, emails from my family, messages from my readers and customers…ANYTHING THAT KEEPS ME MOVING!
Getting stuck is a common affliction with even the most seasoned writers…and sometimes, it simply takes a reminder of what keeps you going and who you are writing FOR to get you back on track.
Whew! Now THAT was a lot of writing on writing! Look…NONE of what I said above is magic.
Writing is not about rules or strict structures. Writing is all about you and YOUR unique voice. It takes practice, patience and openness (that’s the hardest one). BUT, based on the fact that you are probably as weird as your next door neighbor, I know you can do it.
About the Author
Terra Dawn is a writer and owner of Uncork Your Dork, a blog dedicated to helping the average business owner be “not so average”. She launches monthly free blog challenges ALL about finding your unique voice, generating traffic AND will help you to create challenges for your OWN audience. (She also thinks that writing about herself in the third person makes her feel a little like Kanye West.)