How the right ‘tone of voice’ helps readers connect with your blog posts

 Blogging, Marketing, Writing  Comments Off on How the right ‘tone of voice’ helps readers connect with your blog posts
Oct 252016
 

Duplo

If you’ve ever watched a toddler getting to grips with interlocking bricks, you’ll understand the difference between something hitting home or connecting and something utterly not hitting the spot. The child will push one block onto another, often with some force. If the inter-connecting studs and shafts are not lined up, the blocks don’t stick together. Not just that, they often fall apart, back into two separate pieces. Finding the space where the pieces inter-lock often happens more by luck than judgment. When a toddler first makes two bricks ‘lock’ together, there is a look of mystified joy. Unsure how it happened, the child nonetheless, sees two blocks become one right before her eyes.

That connection happens when the pieces line up. Writing for a business blog is also about connection. Connecting the essence of your post to a corresponding feeling in the reader. That feeling might be curiosity, aspiration or need. One of the tools we have as writers to help that message connect, is so called ‘tone of voice’.

What is tone of voice?

In speaking, tone refers to the modulation of the voice which conveys different emotion. So a stern tone would be used when issuing warnings, a reassuring tone when trying to calm a panicky crowd, you get the idea.

In writing, we don’t have the benefit of audio so we rely on choosing words, phrases and sentence construction to convey different feelings or emotions. Before we can do this, we need to consider what ‘tone of voice’ we want to use.

You may not have thought about this before. Yet in every day life, you naturally and easily adapt your tone of voice depending on the situation and the audience and crucially what you want to achieve.

Take for example the tone of voice we use when talking to a cat. Usually we want to express our love and appreciation for the cat so we use a warm, caressing tone. Compare that with the tone we might use if pulled over for speeding by a police officer. Not wanting a ticket, we will use a deferential, polite tone (usually), hoping to flatter the policeman’s ego, appeal to her better nature and avoid attracting a harsh penalty.

In the same way, reflecting on what feeling you want to convey can help you refine your ‘tone of voice’. This list gives you an idea of different ‘tones’ you can give your writing:-

  • Confident
  • Authoritarian
  • Safe pair of hands
  • Integrity
  • Power
  • Influence
  • Appreciation
  • Understanding
  • Leadership
  • Conspiratorial
  • Confidante
  • Guide
  • Person next door
  • Trailblazer
  • Exciting
  • Funny

As you can see from the list, the tone of voice also injects some personality into your blog. What kind of personality you aim for will depend on what kind of content you offer.

At heart your business blog aims to bring traffic to your sales pages and ultimately bring opportunities and sales into your business. Generally a business blog aspires to build relationships with prospects and customers by becoming a trusted resource for one or more of the following:-

  • Information
  • Advice
  • Entertainment
  • Tips
  • Innovation
  • Insider news
  • Connections
  • News
  • Guidance
  • Behind the scenes

Consider what tone of voice suits each type of content

For example if you pick up a newspaper or listen to news bulletins you’ll notice the tone used is confident and authoritative. This is achieved by a pared down style where every word contributes to conveying the details of the story. News stories don’t encourage reflection in the listener/reader. They are all about ‘who, what, where, when and how’. Reflection can come later. The sentences are crisp and brisk demanding that you pay attention and listen carefully. Think of the war time families gathered around the radio listening avidly to news bulletins.

Isn’t it rather contrived to ‘create’ a tone of voice?

Your writing will have a tone of voice whether you consciously ‘create’ one or not. If you understand the impact tone of voice has then you get to play and have fun exploring different approaches to writing your blog. Adopting a tone of voice and even a persona for your blog can turn blog writing from a chore to a joy. There’s no need to worry about adopting an inauthentic tone of voice.

If you can’t, pull off the stern school mistress tone, then it won’t ever get off the drawing board. However giving yourself permission to let go of a so-called business-like tone will allow more freedom and self-expression. What emerges may surprise you.

Just as the toddler discovers the joy of connection when the building blocks stick together, you too can add more fun to your writing (and more engagement for your reader) when you find a tone of voice that connects you, your message and your audience.

Tone of voice is only one of several devices you can use to convey a particular feeling to your writing. If you’d like help with writing skills please contact me.

3 ways article writing boosts your credibility and your business

 Article writing, Blogging, Writing  Comments Off on 3 ways article writing boosts your credibility and your business
Sep 212016
 

When I visit a new town, I love to explore on foot. Getting off the main drag, seeking out the quieter streets. Sure, it takes more time than just going directly from A to B but I’m rewarded with a much richer experience. I get a sense of the layout of the town, some impression of its size, affluence and history. Its uniqueness is more obvious away from the crowds and high street stores. Oftentimes I come across charming scenes, far from the madding crowd.

In the same way, investing time article writing, may feel like a circuitous way to get sales but it offers both you and your customers a richer experience of your business which in turn leads to more pleasure and profit in doing business. In this article, we’ll look at just 3 of the ways writing articles boosts your credibility and your business

1) Showcases your expertise or passion
2) Makes you visible
3) Dramatically extends your reach

Let’s look at each in more detail

1) Showcases your expertise or passion

Whatever your business, there will be something only you can write about. Something that will impress, educate, delight or amuse your customers and potential customers. Something that combines your expertise with what you offer. For business to business services this can be fairly straight foward. A business consultant would have an endless supply of topics they can write on about improving your business.  Article writing showcases your expertise, demonstrating skills, confidence and a willingness to share information before you’re paid for it. This tends to suggest there is even more where that came from. It also indicates a passion for what you do.

Where you are selling to consumers, there is usually even greater scope for topics for articles. For example: a heritage railway can have a series of different articles: some following the work of a project, such as restoration of a locomotive; others showcasing the volunteer opportunities available and still others giving a behind-the-scenes look at running the heritage trains. Not only does it reveal your passion or expertise beyond what you can convey in a static web page, it also helps bring people to your website.

2) Makes you visible

Not instantly, but regularly publishing well-written, well-tagged articles on a blog or website, builds a body of work which you can point new contacts too. Regular articles show a website is loved and updated. Fresh content improves traffic to your site. Sharing your articles on social media sites such as LinkedIN, Twitter, Medium and Facebook and sending them to your email list, raises your profile as an expert and will bring people to check out your product and services pages on your website.

Beyond the opens and clicks of each campaign, article writing has a further benefit.

3) Dramatically extends your reach

Once you start writing about what you know and love, and publishing those articles through social media, opportunities as yet unimagined, can come your way. You may be asked to write for someone else’s blog. You may get an enquiry for your site to be used as a location for filming, or to collaborate with someone on a new venture. This is because you are establishing a confident and knowledgeable presence on the internet. You become visible and people get a much richer sense of what you and your business offers.

So if you want to showcase your expertise or passion, make your business or organisation more visible on and offline and dramatically extend your reach for, as yet unknown, opportunities then start writing articles for your blog or website.

Not confident about your writing skills?

There are heaps of online courses to help improve your writing skills. Writing skills can be learnt and improved but more importantly, begin to explore topics and angles you can write about with confidence. Look at your business from the point of view of your customers. How can you educate, inspire, amuse or delight them?

If you’d like to book a one off or regular sessions with me, Juliet Fay to help generate creative ideas or for help with writing skills, do get in touch.

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My 7 takeaways from Just WordPress: A Totally Practical Day

 Blogging, Wordpress  Comments Off on My 7 takeaways from Just WordPress: A Totally Practical Day
Nov 092013
 
Wordpress Users Wales and Software Alliance Wales event

Right to left: Pippa Davies, Andrea Morgan, Helen Reynolds and me

Photo taken by @HelenA_CadwynHA

Today I attended the WordPress Users Wales and Software Alliance Wales event: Just WordPress: A Totally Practical Day at The Village Hotel Cardiff.

As anticipated it was a relaxed and informal day where the air positively crackled with ideas and inspiration. Here’s what I took away:-

My 7 big takeaways

1. Focus on content (rather than get too distracted by technology) – haven’t we all done that?

2. Get obsessive about your subject area. Really, really obsessive.

3. JUST DO IT, whether that’s publishing your first post or turning your blog posts into an e-book, there’s no time like now!

4. Find leaders in your field on Twitter and send them links to your content (be bold!)

5. Think about what makes you different and make sure that difference echoes through all your content (being good value, efficient and excellent at customer service doesn’t make you different).

6. Be consistent in design, fonts, colours and tone (2 fonts and 3 colours are enough).

7. Stay focused so your content builds on the reputation and brand you’ve built (challenging for magpies like me).

All these fine speakers are on Twitter. Go find them.

  • How your WordPress blog can get big – fast (Andrea Morgan, @rightmoveaddict)
  • Should you format your blog writing? ( Helen Reynolds, @helreynolds and Chris Bolton @whatsthepont)
  • E books and E commerce with WordPress ( Philippa Davies @mindhiver)
  • Branding and Art Directing Your WordPress site (RussellBritton @brandnatter)
  • Themes and Plug Ins We Love (@wordpresswales)
  • Fear, Loathing and WordPress: Blogging in the 3rd and public sector (Tanwen Haf @tanwen_haf and Dyfrig Williams @dyfrigwilliams)
  • Why WordPress.com May Be All You Need (Joel Hughes@joel_hughes)

Thanks to all involved, these are such fantastic events, definitely worth coming down from my hill.

Writing content for WordPress sites

If you’re interested learning how to write for your WordPress site or blog, add a comment.

May 142013
 

The Perfect Facebook Post: What The Experts Know | Social Media Today.

Some great advice here that is also relevant to bloggers. Regarding images, Social Media today suggests,

“When originally saving your image to the desktop, utilize keywords and location within the image. For example, if you are selling Arginine Supplements in Phoenix, Arizona, your image needs to be saved as exactly that – “arginine supplements_Phoenix, Arizona.” Drop of the “.jpg” or “.png” as well. In my experience, it also benefits your website to save the image as the actual URL of your website. For example, if Linwright Design were saving an image, I’d save it as “LinwrightDesign.com_Gilbert, Arizona.”

It’s easy to think of images as just icing on your posts or status updates. This good advice from Social Media Today, reminds us to make their backsides (as it were) appeal to those lovely search engine robots. It’s not just what’s in the image, but it’s vital statistics that matter.