“Are you the same person who wrote content for your own website?” recently a client asked when he didn’t like what I had written, and I must admit even I wasn’t very proud of what I had delivered and was already contemplating revising it. “I hired you because I wanted my content in your style,” he continued.
It happens quite often that my clients hire me when they are impressed with what I have written and how I have written on my website. Even when new writers approach me I focus less on their writing prowess and more on their unique style. I believe that every content writer must have a unique voice, a distinct style of writing. Can it be possible, especially when you are writing for different businesses? After all, why would a particular business want YOUR voice rather than its CEO’s? A valid question.
When I say unique voice I don’t mean you get typecast. A professional content writer must be able to write on behalf of the business he or she is writing for and I will never dispute that. Voice means enlivening your writing. It must feel alive. When it is alive it engages your readers and when your readers are engaged they’re more open to doing business with you. Interestingly, your writing feels alive when you write in your own, distinct style. You simply let yourself lose and grow completely comfortable with your art. Of course before that you should be totally comfortable with the tool you are using, in this case, your command over the language. If you want to feel creative and authentic you must know your language inside out. I don’t mean you should be a walking thesaurus but you should be able to articulate yourself compellingly and convincingly. It is like, if you want to walk on a rope first you should be able to walk on the ground.
So how can you develop a unique voice as a content writer?
- Keep improving. Keep honing your skill — this is most important. Never think that you have learned all. People all over the world write beautifully and you can learn from everybody. You don’t have to be perfect. More than being perfect you have to be fluent and you must be totally at ease with words and sentence formation. Amazingly, 80% of writers who approach me for assignments cannot even write a single paragraph without mistakes. I am not saying you have to be perfect or should have a PhD in language, but it really alarms me when someone says, “I would like to wrote web writing for you.”
- Write every day. My classical vocal guruji (teacher) used to say that even the maestros begin to fumble when they haven’t practiced for a few days. So practice has to be regular, everyday. Write at the smallest pretext. Write at every opportunity. Even when you’re not getting paid assignments, keep writing. Maintain a blog or an online journal. Participate on online debates over social media and networking websites. Write for news websites. Have illuminating e-mail conversations with your friends and relatives even if they don’t reciprocate. Write as much as you can. The more you write the better you get at it. Of course this needs be combined with learning.
- Have daily dose of reading. By reading I don’t mean visiting your favorite blogs (although there is nothing wrong in it), read the newspapers, read well-known columnists, read literary giants and whatever quality literature you can come across. You can sound as “cool” in your writing as you want later on but first you must get your fundamentals right. Only then you will be able to feel comfortable in your art.
- Develop an opinion. Unless you have an opinion you cannot develop a unique voice as a professional content writer. Opinion gives you an attitude. It also gives you a direction. It gives you confidence (although overconfidence can be detrimental to your professional and personal life).
- Develop an expertise. Merely being a better writer is of no value. You need some knowledge in specific fields. For instance, I am good at Internet marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing strategy and a little bit of web design and PHP programming. You might be good at math, interpersonal skills, Scientology, extraterrestrial life or biology. An expertise may not help you in your day-to-day content writing profession but it will give you a basic idea of what all it takes to properly know something. It gets you used to learning and acquiring knowledge. It also inculcates maturity in your writing and other communications.
I have seen people writing pretty well without having a unique voice but they are mostly copying styles. They seem great until you stumble upon the writing of a person they are trying to imitate.