4 questions to clarify your brand's voice

When you know you need a brand voice, but you're not sure how it's going, let me say I know exactly how you feel! I have been blogging for a long time - on blogs that no longer exist and for myself - with very little feedback on how my voice is progressing.

Voice covers everything you say about your brand - from a content blog to product descriptions. Each should reflect who you are, what you want to say, and what you wan the customer to feel. But this doesn't all get baked in overnight. It can take time to develop the HOW behind your WHAT. That's alright, anything worth doing takes time!

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Just get started.

This is the biggest piece of advice to offer. I had started a blog about my professional experiences and realized I wasn't really interested in what I was writing about and lacked material. I also wasn't interested in re-hashing my own day, so I stopped blogging within a couple posts.

If I hadn't just gotten started, I never would have ended up with Orange Slice and the posts I've created now. I had someone ask - what would I enjoy writing about that I am interested in professionally? I got the Orange Slice blog from that question. It may have just been a topic, but it was a topic that gave me time to work on my voice.

If you go back, not all of my posts are super amazing pieces of content. They started short. They were mostly a thought I fleshed out with some videos. They were about marketing concepts, but lacked some of the application portion to really help businesses. I wasn't sure if I was being too formal, too informal, not sharing enough of myself, or too self-indulgent. Sound familiar?

 So if you're struggling to develop your voice, think about:

Are you interested in what you're reading?

If you're writing for a brand, especially when it's your own, think about if you would read your own post. If you're not interested in your own writing, how can you expect others to be?

Maybe you're excited sometimes, but not all the time. Go back to the pieces that really got you excited about your product or business. Is there anything that they have in common? It could be data, use of quotes, memes, lists, etc. Maybe it had a similar message, one that you think really resonates. See if you can create on that theme.

Look at blogs you admire - is there anything from their content you really enjoy? Is there a way that they present information that you find really effective? While by no means should you copy and paste what they do, look at what types of formatting really resonated with you.

Who can give you honest feedback?

After writing, post and then seek feedback. This can be done through comments, solicited feedback from other professionals, or through friends. Beware: Don't ask someone that you think will try to please you by telling you everything is "Amazing!" Find someone who can give real feedback.

I have posted in professional Facebook groups to see what opinions were sparked. While generally positive, you may not receive a lot of responses through Facebook. Reaching out to individuals you know can yield more insightful results.

I reached out to another writer in the area and asked him to take a look - I was trying to hone my craft but wanted something to go off of before building a large amount of posts. His feedback was helpful because it helped me to build in more visuals, extra editing, and more confidence into my process.

Family and friends might be too busy to give you a lot of feedback, but sometimes that glance over will let you know what people are drawn to. I just installed Hotjar for this, but family and friends care about how you are doing and can be a good source of inspiration for future content.

Are you promoting yourself?

Your blog exists in a vacuum if you aren't putting yourself out there. It's ok if no one subscribes or listens, but actually promoting yourself and your content could change that! You may notice this is the biggest gap in your blog strategy.

I was especially afraid of this particular step, despite my background being in marketing. I had never promoted my previous blogs and was weirded out by trying to put myself out there on the internet. What if only creepy people responded? Or no one responded?

The fear of failing really kicked in here. Because if you didn't push out your content and no one paid attention that was ok. But if I tried by promoting and no one was interested, that was even worse. One day, I had enough of this catch 22 and started posting to Facebook and LinkedIn.

My goal: Do at least one thing that frightens me. For whatever reason, that seems to be posting on LinkedIn.

When promoting:

  • Connect with others in your industry. They may have some great pieces of advice for you. I listen to Being Boss and have learned a lot about trying to make things work for myself and how to connect with other entrepreneurs.
  • Meet people in person. A personal connection is invaluable. Don't forget about this method of meeting people, you can be surprised by how many great results this one tactic can create!
  • Do one thing that makes you afraid (both of that nothing will happen and that everyone will pay attention). Post online about your piece. Actually try to get people to stop and listen. Even if it's once a week, those self-promotions (even when they feel a little sales-y) can help get people to pay attention.

What do you want people to feel after they read?

Your content should be geared toward the reaction you want people to have. Do you want them to feel inspired? Do you want them to feel a sense of community? Do you want them to feel motivated?

Start with the reaction you want to garner and then build content around your messaging and end goal (purchase, subscribe, etc.). By understanding where you want your customer to end up, it can make the process of starting much easier.

My goal is to inspire in most posts - I'm also going through the same struggles and I wanted to share what I did to get passed them. I also have a secondary goal of education - I want people to come away having learned something. A lot of my posts are geared toward these two things with a goal of subscribing so I can help more people through some of the hurdles I've seen.