It is often said that there is a role for every actor. How many times have you seen your favorite actor and thought to yourself, “His/her performance in such-and-such was so amazing. That role defined who he/she is as an actor.” Possibly there is not a limitation of one role, but multiple roles that define the actor.
In the same way, there’s an audience for every tone in copywriting. Think about that for a moment. It is about the audience, and yet it is about the synergy between the performer and the audience and that has a lot to do with the performer finding his or her “voice.” That is what we are here today to discuss. Finding your voice to improve your copywriting.
Part of the process of developing your specific “voice,” is to find an effective balance between natural and audience-appropriate.
Throughout the day, it is natural that a person morphs. It is a hop from one situation to another. Your writing tone can do that too, as you get comfortable with your voice and realize the flexibility that your voice has.
First, before we evaluate ourselves in this capacity, we need to understand the industry tendencies and where we may fall prey to them ourselves. There are also many industry standards that we want to understand and actually study so that we understand the complexity of what lies before us.
Finding our voice is key, but there are also many “rooms” that we have to go through, first, to ensure that we are well integrated when we have arrived at that place where we can declare, “I have found my voice!”
Start with SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
One example of something that we want to do is becoming a student of the art and science of search engine optimization (SEO). To truly master SEO and, more importantly, to understand it and know how to apply it, is the enviable position of all professionals who intersect with the use of the Internet. When you have “arrived,” as an SEO expert, that skill set will benefit you in spades.
You don’t necessarily need to comprehend the most technical details and statistics, but a working knowledge of the concepts related to SERPs (search engine results page), keywords, and the long-term impact of consistently relevant, high-quality content, should be studied. That would be the minimum goal that you should set for yourself. A good place to start is with “SEO Basics: 8 Essentials When Optimizing Your Site.”
The Marketing Focus
Writing for marketing purposes will, of course, influence your style. But you still want to distinguish your content in order to elicit interest from your audience. With experience, over time, you may develop a personal formula for finding an effective tone for different clients. This is not unusual, and in fact, is desirable.
I have an assignment for you…
Research your audience and start noting the tone in your competitors’ content. This is likely what your target audience most relates to when they read your article. Doesn’t make sense? Ok, let’s assume that you are “new” to a particular blog. In that case, it is not a matter of you being the best or not. It isn’t even a case of you being good or not. It is a case of being known or unknown.
If you are completely unknown, and yet find that the audience is drawn to you, it may be because there is something that reminds them of one of your competitor writers, even on the same blog/site. That is an excellent opportunity! It allows you to research your competitor and truly analyze what it is that draws the audience in and where you may already be emulating that effective. Now, build on it!
Once you have spent time researching your competitor and what appears to be working and drawing that audience, it is time to move on to the next step. You can begin the process of finding the best way to bring your own voice into that tone that you have defined. This concept, as well as many more concepts like it (successful strategies), is inspired by the course and material at “Kopywriting Kourse: Learn Copywriting That Sells.”
Keep in mind that not all industries are created equal in regards to what is defined as the target audience and what causes them to respond to the author.
Consider the following points when developing a suitable tone for different types of businesses or individuals:
- Innovative and professional for business-to-business content.
- Exclusive and decoratively descriptive for a higher-end and women’s audience.
- Energetic and hip for youth, trendy social media, and fitness related content.
- Irreverent and hip for young boys.
- Dependable and sentimental for service businesses like insurance or schools.
Do you see some patterns there? What do you see? Can you add to that list, with other “tones” that appeal to certain audiences? If you need inspiration for your list, return back to the previous assignment/exercise and observe other writers, speakers, performers, and the audiences that they draw.
Your Personal Style > Your Voice
There is an excellent article that walks you through the exercise of finding your own voice, step-by-step: Want a Unique Tone-of-Voice Like Nike and Innocent Smoothies? Here’s How. This article starts by helping you to understand what “tone” and “voice” really mean, how that applies to you, and how you can find your own “voice.” This is very important, especially in branding who you are as a person/brand and the brand/company that you may represent.
These are general guidelines to encourage you to develop an awareness of possible tones for your content. There are also less industry specific rules of thumb for producing the most usable and interesting content. Her are some examples, inspired/adapted from CopyHackers.com. While there, check out the exceptional “The Ultimate Guide to No-Pain Copywriting.”
- Sound authentic, not forced.
- Avoid obviously forced humor.
- Keep headlines tonal and follow with plain, supporting content.
- Sometimes being straightforward instead of tonal is refreshing to the reader(s).
- Prioritize usability before tone.
- Be consistent with your tone, throughout your article.
- Let yourself be a likable expert.
The following tips are common and regurgitated throughout the Internet. There is a question of who the tips belong to, originally, and so there is a feeling of gratitude to the following sites, for their contribution to this list: justjasonjones.com; lingaureca.com; and copyhackers.com. Obviously, with a line-up like that, the tips have been vetted. Those tips, to help you improve as a professional copywriter, are:
- Practice self-awareness exercises as recommended at goinswriter.com.
- Favor a short and clear sentence construction style (versus the “overly-wordy” style).
- Always write with a single, specific purpose for your article (example: “Get them to subscribe”).
- Avoid the stiff, forced tone. Most readers sense it and will not trust it as much.
- Listen to and survey your audience.
- Write for one reader.
- Write in the same manner that you speak.
Time and Place
Remember, boring generally does not encourage or find, a following. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a time for a sort of toned-down voice. The toned-down, when properly placed, can sometimes support certain factual content, and some people will be more comfortable with that style. Also, most consumer decisions are influenced more by emotion than pure (or strict) logic. This means that you will want to inspire desirable emotional responses. A good way to look at this is that there is a time for different tones. Your job is to understand that and know when to use what voice.
In closing, we will leave you with some real life inspiration that sort of pulls it all together. Granted, in this case, the performance is live (and sometimes musical), but the general precepts still apply. What can you draw from watching these videos? Do you see some of the same methods of study apply? What can you learn and apply to your own situation and finding YOUR voice?
TEDxBerkeley – Charles Holt – Finding Your Voice
Charles Holt, a talented actor, and musician shares the essence of Charles Holt and how he is able to embrace who he is in a humble, yet confident manner. One doesn’t need to get lost in the performance aspect, but rather, hear who Mr. Holt is and how he is able to embrace himself and represent himself in that quiet, gentle confidence that is appealing. He does this without being offensive in any way. He inspires while sharing his own “voice,” in more ways than one.
Kevin Rogers on Finding Your Voice
Kevin, a master storyteller, demonstrates how one can turn a story, any story, into something that causes the audience to sit on the edge of their seat, unable to move but for the next word that comes out of the storyteller’s mouth. What is it that draws the audience in, when listening to this orator speak? Like Charles Holt, he knows who he is and understands what his “voice” is and where the limits are. He knows how to dance up to the edge of the boundaries, and in his case, cross over those limitations for his own personal style. Warning: Some language may offend some listeners. Please listen/watch with caution if you are easily offended.
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