You know what your voice sounds like. You write in it every day, after all. (Haha, just kidding. Did I make you feel inadequate by implying everyone else in the world writes every day?) The trouble is, this is a business you’re running here. And you need your voice to come out the same every time you write. You know, so you look consistent and professional. You don’t want to come across as a scatterbrained, temperamental idiot on your blog, after all.
So what do you do when your mood changes all the god damn time? Here’s something somebody asked me on Twitter recently:
— Wailana Kalama (@Whylana) April 26, 2017
Oh Wailana, I hear you. I’ve fretted over this exact issue myself.
My writing comes out different at different times of day. I’m much more serious in the mornings. I don’t know why, but I am. Sometimes when I write in the mornings I’m like UGH WHY AM I SO BORING?
You know how it is. I wake up feeling like I’m going to do some damn fine adulting today. I’m all, I will be super productive! I will make a LIST! And I will actually DO the things on it! Then by the time evening rolls around, my good intentions have vaporised and my mischievous, rebellious side is on the prowl again.
So how do you combat this when you’re trying to write in a consistent tone of voice for your personal-branded business? I HAVE SOME THOUGHTS ON THE MATTER, AS YOU MAY HAVE GUESSED.
Figure Out What Your Personal Brand’s TOV Even IS
This is a tough one, because it can take a while for your voice to emerge when you first start writing. But it’s also easier than you’d expect, because the beauty of running a personal brand is that you are the face of it. So if you’d say it in real life, you’re probably onto something.
My writing style’s changed a lot over the years (I’ve been writing online since I was 15, so it would be pretty tragic if it hadn’t). Even since I began Untamed Writing, my style’s changed.
But my voice hasn’t really changed. I’m still me, after all. I have not had a personality transplant. And my core traits remain the same, too: I swear sometimes, but in a casual way, like your mum probably wouldn’t notice if I did it in front of her. I’m irreverent and playful. I tell it like it is and my bullshit monitor is always on high alert. I’m funny and entertaining (I HAVE THIS ON GOOD AUTHORITY FROM OTHER HIGHLY INTELLIGENT PEOPLE WITH GREAT SENSES OF HUMOUR, OKAY?).
It’s okay if your style changes over time, so long as it still feels like you. But if you write something and you’re like, uh, I would never actually say that, you should probably delete it and start again. Protip: reading it out loud helps when you’re not sure.
Know That It’s Oh-Fucking-Kay If Your Voice Comes Out Different Sometimes
Riddle me this: in the morning, you’re slouching around in your PJs at home with your sexy lover. In the evening, you go out to dinner with them. Do you behave exactly the same way in both scenarios?
I’m guessing not, because it would be super fucking weird to clamber onto your partner and fart on them in a restaurant. Equally, at 10am you’re less likely to crack open a bottle of red and whisper what you’re going to do to each other later. (Although, you know… Sundays exist for a reason.)
Here’s the important part: you’re still the same person in each instance. And, not only that, you’re talking to exactly the same person each time. (This is a metaphor for talking to your target audience, in case you missed it.)
All that to say, if you’re running a personal brand, it’s okay if your voice comes out different sometimes. It’s still you. And that works for a personal brand. In fact, by showing different sides to yourself, your customers and clients might feel they get to know you that little bit better.
Take me, for instance: you probably think of me as someone who doesn’t take life too seriously. Knows how to have a laugh. Swears a bit more than you’d be comfortable with if your mum was in the room (although as we’ve established, I’m so good at it that she probably wouldn’t notice).
But you also might know me as the person who gets irate about corporate jargon, ebooks that aren’t edited properly, and when people walk too close behind me in loud shoes. Subject matter makes a difference, and so it should.
Your voice isn’t just about how you sound. It’s about what you say – it’s about your ideas and your opinions and your values and what you think is wrong and right in the world. My voice comes out different when I’m talking about something that pisses me off than it does when I’m talking about something that inspires me. But it’s all still me. And you’d know it was still me.
You’re not a boring, two-dimensional waiting-room of a person, are you? So you shouldn’t try to come across that way in your business either.
Try to Edit When You’re in the ‘Right’ Mood
Sometimes you have an idea you absolutely must get down right this minute. But you’re not in the mood required to write in the usual tone of voice you use for your business. You’re too serious, or too angry, or too sad, or too whatever. Whatever it is, it’s not how you want to appear as the face of your business. How shitting annoying, eh?
But you needn’t worry. The important thing here is to capture the idea while you’ve got it, otherwise you’ll never bloody write about it, will you? Then, later, when you’re in the right frame of mind? Get in there and edit it, injecting your personality as you go.
The opposite of this also works, by the way. If you’re anything like me, your writing comes out less inhibited later in the day. But, annoyingly, that’s also when you’re more tired and more prone to make mistakes.
For me, this means I will either be too lazy to edit properly, or that I simply won’t even bother trying to shape my writing into something coherent, polished and publishable. So then I’ve got the voice down, but not the finished piece. SIGH. Fortunately, you can just edit the next morning, when your brain’s refreshed, and your ideal tone of voice will be sat there waiting for you. SCORE.
Learn Your Writing Patterns
If you want to be able to skip the above step and just write in your preferred tone of voice at all times, learn your writing patterns. As I said: I know my own writing comes out more serious in the mornings and more mischievous at night, and that the latter works better with Untamed Writing’s branding.
You probably won’t figure this out if you don’t actually test it though. Try conducting an experiment where you write at different times of day. You could try a different time of day each week, and track your results for a month. If you’re consistent with it, you’ll learn a lot.
Just Keep Writing
Something magical might happen as you begin to write no matter what time of day you do it: your voice might start to re-emerge as you get that idea down. This often happens to me.
Suppose I’m writing a blog post: at the start, it’ll just be straightforward information, nothing too entertaining (as we’ve discussed: my morning-writer brain). But the longer I write, the more my mischievous voice takes over. It’s as if it wakes up: OH, HEY! WE WRITING SOMETHING? COOL, I’M HERE FOR THAT. LEMME AT IT.
The writing brain can take a while to get warmed up, I guess.
Reread Something You Wrote in the Voice You’re Trying to Recapture
Naturally, I’ve saved the best till last. Maybe I should’ve lead with it to keep you reading, but whatever. Here we are. This is easily my most effective tip for recapturing the right voice for your brand each time you write.
If there’s something you’ve written for your business that you LOVE and that makes you go, YES, THIS IS IT. THIS IS HOW I WANT TO SOUND ALL THE TIME! well, I’ve got some good news for you: it’s surprisingly easy to get back into the right frame of mind to write the way you want just by reading something you’ve already written in that voice.