when your writing voice matches your actual voice…
…that’s when the magic happens :)
For the first few years of my photography business, I thought I was creating rock solid content that was truly getting the message across to those I serve.
I was creating social media content several times a week, and was creating around 2-4 blogs per month.
I felt like I was kicking major ass…
…and then I hired a consultant to take a look at my work.
“Your content is very surface level. It sounds like every generic photographer post out there. There is no John in these pieces.”
Admittedly, it was a punch to the solar plexus to hear this unflattering assessment, but facts are facts, and, in hindsight, he was right on the money.
I was producing content that in no way, shape or form sounded like me. My writing voice consisted of merely parroting the style and insights shared by other photographers that I was following online.
I had no idea what it meant to have an authentic writing voice and was too afraid to explore the possibility in fear of saying something that would piss off a potential client.
No bueno, folks.
When looking to create a memorable and referable photography business, it’s important to remember that although the expertise that you share is critical, the way in which you communicate that expertise through your writing voice is just as, if not more, important.
In addition to educating and inspiring, you’re also creating familiarity, connection and rapport with those you serve through your content.
When you share these valuable insights in your own voice, it affords your audience the chance to truly get a sense of who you are as a person, and whether or not your personality meshes with theirs…
…which motivates them to want to work with you if it’s a match.
For anyone who has ever attempted to write more in their own voice, they quickly realize that it’s not a snap-your-fingers-and-it-happens-by-magic type of process.
Quite frankly, it’s a pain in the ass.
I became aware of this immense challenge the moment my consultant instructed me to do so.
But, through consistent effort and being mindful of the ultimate goal, I eventually was able to position my writing voice in a way that clearly reflected the way I think, the motivation behind those thoughts, and the way they were communicated through my words.
So, how can you position your writing in a way that’s a clear and direct representation of who you are, how you think and how you communicate?
This is the first, and most challenging hurdle to overcome by far.
As I mentioned earlier, I was fearful of incorporating my personality into the content I was sharing because I didn’t want to turn off potential clients.
During that time in the early stages of my business, I wanted to be liked by everyone because I wanted everyone to hire me, regardless of the personality fit.
And then, I niched my business to serve the speaker, author and coach community exclusively, and that completely changed my mindset regarding the way I approached my online presence. I no longer wanted to serve everyone – not even everyone in the community I served.
I was looking to attract those within the speaker, author, coach community that would not only benefit from the photographic services I provided, but also would respond positively to the way in which I inspire them to be themselves in front of the camera.
That meant that they’d have to be receptive and appreciative of the way that I communicate. This inspired me to offer them a preview, of sorts, of how I think and act in order for them to determine if I was fit to work with them. As a result, I took the bold step of injecting me into the content I shared. That compelled me to leverage my tone, pacing, language and humor into the mix.
At first, it was a scary proposition because I am, at times, over-the-top, curse like a dirty sailor, love to be sarcastic and witty, speak in metaphors and share a ton of tough love, and felt that I would turn everyone off from what I do behind the camera.
I was merging my personality with my business…oh boy, this could be bad…
In that moment of vulnerability, clarity shone through the clouds of doubt. I realized that’s exactly the way that I direct clients during a shoot, so, why should the content that attracts them to book a session be any different than the experience that they’d get in front of the camera?
I was sold, and haven’t looked back since, :)
Long story short, honor your personality and the way you approach your work by infusing it into the content that you share with those you serve. If you communicate in frenetic bursts or are deliberate and methodical, own it through the way you write your content. Same goes for humor; be funny in the way that you are with your friends and family, and don’t be any more or less than that. And, use the words that come natural to you – slang or otherwise. It will read much more fluidly and position you in a more accurate and consistent light to your audience. Those who appreciate what you bring to the table will show up and ask for more.
TIE IN PERSONAL STORIES THAT SETS UP THE LESSONS YOU SHARE
Notice how I started off this article with a story about my own experience with creating content in my own voice?
When you leverage storytelling in a way that ties in your experiences, that naturally compels you to shape and frame the story in a way that is unique and in your own voice.
Think of it this way: when you’re sitting at the bar with a friend, sharing a story that happened in your life, business or whatever, you frame it with a rhythm and pace in order to present the story in a compelling way that’s unique to you. We all do it, and we all have our own way of doing it.
Honor the way you tell stories in person with your written content, and that will go a long way to developing and strengthening the way your voice translates to the written word. In addition, sharing personal stories are also a great way to be more relatable to your audience overall.
This offers your audience a real-life, frame of reference to the lessons that you’re sharing through storytelling, which transforms this piece of content into a more personal and powerful experience for them.
These stories, in general, also provides your audience a deeper sense of who you are through your life experiences, which is a foundational element to building connection, rapport and trust.
Start taking note of all the interesting moments, conversations and insights that pop up throughout your business and life, and weave them into your content.
When you do, your voice reaches its way to the surface.
One of the oldest, and most effective, ways to determine whether your voice and style of communication is inherent in your writing is by simply reading it out loud and hearing how it sounds.
This might sound like a gross oversimplification, but, believe it or not, it really does help. When we write, there oftentimes is a compulsion to elevate the conversation through words that you wouldn’t necessarily use in conversation. Face it – we all go through periods where we want to sound like a smarty pants.
When you do this, however, you’re not being true to yourself and your process – this is not your voice – you’re putting on a show for an audience of one – YOU. Resist the temptation – who you are and what you do behind the camera is more than enough for those you serve, :)
Every now and again, I’ll run one of my posts, or a section of a post, through the “ear test,” and, in many cases, that short exercise will compel me to change up the structure, word choice and tone of what I put on paper.
I catch myself putting on an unnecessary song and dance, and nip it in the bud before I post.
Although running your posts through your set of ears is an important step, take it to the next level by sharing the article or post with a trusted colleague who is familiar with your expertise and how you communicate in real life.
We, oftentimes, are too close to our own work, but when someone who knows us well gives it a read, they will give it to us straight and share whether or not this sounds like us.
To this day, I share my content with colleagues before I post for this exact reason. (For example, I sent this post to two colleagues to check for tone and consistency of my message).
And, on several occasions, I’ve re-written sections of my articles and posts based on their critiques.
At the end of the day, when your writing voice parallels your actual voice, you’re declaring to those you serve who you are, and that will qualify in those who love the way you think, which goes a long way to inspiring them to click the BOOK NOW button on your website.
Don’t ever be afraid to be you – ever! Those who you serve will thank you for it.