A few years ago, I entered the National Novel Writing Month and one of the characteristics I found was that the people in my story built their own personality. The story may have come from my own mind but it was the characters that wrote themselves into each element of the story. They built their own personality, expressed their desires, fears etc. My role: simply to note their actions, as if I was watching the story unfold in front of me. The fly on the wall.
A blog is not simply a mirror of your own personality, it develops and grows on its own. It has some similarities to nurturing a child.
Relating to Readers
“By sharing stories, you help your readers relate to you.” says Daniela Uslan of Twelveskip. Yet it is my belief that, given time, blogs develop their own personality. The words come from you. In part your writing style defines that personality. But, it also relates to the subject matter of the site. You do not have free rein. Blogs are specific in nature. A blog about a focused business subject cannot carry an article about knitting and the pleasure it gives.
Relevance to the specific audience needs consideration for all articles published. It may mean your soft-side will not show itself to this audience.
Of course people have wide interests. There is nothing stopping a business guru and CEO of a fortune 500 company from having an interest in knitting. Some people would encourage it. Trouble is you cannot write about knitting on your business blog. Blogs are focused, talking about one speciality. Thus the need to be specific. Two diverse interests may have trouble mixing
It is possible to have multiple blogs. Following this example, the writer could have a specific business blog and a knitting one.
You should know the themes and topics you will cover over the next period. Create a publication plan. Also, you must realise that priorities do change and issues that were not on the horizon a month ago are now the most important thing in the world.
I have a sheet of paper on my desk listing the priorities for upcoming articles. That sheet lists everything I intend to publish. It breaks the working articles down into the following groups:
Next 6 weeks,
6 Weeks to 3 months,
3 to 6 months,
6 months to 1 year, and
I printed my list and cross out completed items. Most of the first block is now complete. Simply, waiting for approval for one piece, written for a client. It also has new items pencilled in.
This process allows me time to look at all the notes collected, assess each, either based on how complete it was of on sub-topic importance. Then fit it into one of the groups. I have tried to ensure all categories (or main blog topics) are covered. This ensures each of the themes get covered over time. I typically repeat the process every couple of months.
What is your perspective on the subject?Make it clear, almost from the first article. One of the challenges of blogging is finding a unique perspective. On some sub-topics your views are very different to many other writers, this is good. Encourage your individuality and try to bring this out, it should contribute to a uniqueness about your blog.
Chandra Clarke from Business to Community says “it can be easy to get caught up in your ego and assume that your blog is the best on the subject. However, keeping your ‘enemies’ close by checking other blogs that share the same followers as yours will help you find ways to differentiate your content and brew up new angles and ideas”.
In most cases, your site is not the only source of information available to the reader. You may have the best information, but the prospective reader doesn’t know that when encountering your site on their search results. In most specialist areas there is a common camaraderie. You should get to know other people in your specialist area, seek ways to collaborate with them. Even working together you can distinguish yourself. Share your ideas.
Don’t be Afraid to Show Personality
“Show your emotion,” someone once advised me about my writing. I was writing a business report, so I tried for a long time to understand how emotion comes into play. What they meant, I needed to show which options I had reasoned were best. Be more enthusiastic, then prove why they required support. It wasn’t necessarily emotion, but a cold, calculated, logical reason for doing something, perhaps a combination. Readers often need a nudge to do something.
When you are writing a blog you need to ensure your writing is not flat. Business writing has a tendency to be flat, it shows little emotion. After all, logic should drive decisions, they should be logical or based on money. Is that true? Even at the highest levels level of business human emotions drive decisions. A CEO of a Fortune 500 company once told me he approved of the software product we had selected because it looked good with his company logo.
Decisions are often based on some sense of morality. That morality or emotion becomes a personality trait of your blog. The anniversary of its creation is a special date, as are other milestones you meet along the way. Chris Brecheen talked about the need to celebrate. This is all a part of building the blog’s personality.
Knowing your Audience
Do you get comments? I have been on blogs where hundreds of comments are left. When someone writes In part I am jealous — wishing I had as many comments. One of the things I have learned about comments is that they bring an opportunity to develop your thoughts further.
One piece of advice that is constantly paraded by experts, is “know your audience”. One of the best ways of knowing your audience is to listen to what they write in their comments. Normally comments show one of four things: appreciation for your words, agreement, disagreement, or suggest areas for future consideration.
Of this set it is the last two that give you opportunities for growth. Despite all the research, you can never think of everything. Those items for future consideration may, or, may not, be topics you have already considered. Perhaps it is time to change your priorities and publish something underway sooner.
It is how you handle dissenting views that can tell most about the blog’s personality. You could certainly ignore them or you could regard them as a challenge that needs answering. Which will you do?
Tell Stories and Anecdotes
“Telling stories to each other is what makes us human. They help us understand the forces at work in our lives. Stories have a beginning, middle and end” ~ Heidi Cohen
Everyone loves a story. This may be a well worn cliché, but it is true. Readers tend to pay attention more to stories than pure commentary. Stories must have a purpose, they should tell a personal experience (not necessarily yours). They should fit the broader context. Within the confines of a blog they need to be short, one paragraph, perhaps two. Most of all stories provide personality, but they can also make the point.
This is where the bravery of an explorer has relevance to a business blog. You put the audience into the shoes of the explorer, showing the bravery, tenacity, and the need to take one more step when all seems lost. The story is there to help the reader understand your point.
To the Point
We all love to tell stories. Of that we can all agree. Trouble is it is too easy to tell one that goes on and on, then misses the point. The challenge with your blog is telling the right ones and make sure they illustrate the point.
You must avoid those well trodden stories taken from famous books. It is likely that every other blogger who has written on this subject has made that connection before you. The story should generally support your view.
Quotes are another thing to avoid. In my view 95% of all quotes are wrongly used or taken out of context. In one, rare, instance I have seen a quote be used the oppose the very view the originator supported his whole life.
Style of Writing
Many blogs come from personal experience and tend to follow the essay style of writing. There is nothing wrong with this, except, perhaps, overemphasis of your personal preferences. Essay writing is often in first person. It is true that first person is the one most often poorly executed by inexperienced writers. This involves repeated use of “I”, arguably overuse.
One positive aspect about first person is that it pulls a person into the story being told. You add personality when personal experience dictates the stories told. This makes its use perfect, and a lesson the author learned. It will not work for something the writer has no direct experience of. Likely the reason most experts advise writers to avoid first person.
When writing for a business audience there is a tendency to write in the language of your speciality. The accountant and computer programmer each have their own jargon. Yet, it is not always appropriate to use. The language of your speciality is best reserved for the most technical of conversations. A blog can, in part, be ideal for a discussion using jargon, but the audience must be the correct one, e.g. all members of your profession. The accountant speaking with a fellow accountant for example.
Even here it is better to use normal English rather than jargon whenever possible. The audience will appreciate you as a person. It will develop a personality for your blog.
If the blog offers specialist advice then the language used must be detailed and precise. For example a computer programmer discussing a specific problem using the Java programming language will need to give specific examples, in Java. Then such a post would appeal only to a specific audience and would not be for the general public.
Personality? — A Conclusion
All of the characteristics discussed here come together to give your blog a distinct personality. That needs to be nurtured and allowed to grow. How you publicise the site and the readers you have also impact the blog’s personality. Pictures also add to personality, they help convey meaning and help the reader consider your words more, the fact they also break up the text adds to the personality.
Other Related Items
There are other pages on GobbledeGoox covering relate topics that may interest you, including:
If you like this post then make a donation to the upkeep of GobbledeGoox . What are your thoughts on developing the personality of your blog? Something to contribute? Please leave a comment. The images here were either created or owned by Peter Giblett or have been sourced from a public domain location, such as Pixabay.