Your authentic Self?
Sounds easy, right? You are authentic, & authenticity builds trust over time.
Not so easy when you think in terms of your various roles in life - doting mother, challenging daughter, supportive friend, sensual lover, sexy significant other, competitive sister, goal-oriented femtrepreneur, creative tornado, angry volatile volcano ... these are all aspects of authentic You.
Think about the role you want to fulfil for your readers. What is the point of your blog? The crux of it? Do you inform, do you educate, raise awareness, do you entertain, do your entice your readers?
Is your blog a portfolio of your products and creative efforts, or is it a dynamic addition to your primary website?
Here are some great guidelines with commentary:
- Write the way you talk - This is easy enough, unless you're a Grammar Nazi as I am.
- Share your story - careful with this one; one of my best stories is centred around my Persian cats, and not really appropriate for this context.
- Select your level of formality, and be consistent - Not such great advice for me; the more passionate I am about a topic, the more vigorous my writing becomes, and the more polysyllabic words creep in; with other topics where I am more factual & relaxed, my tone gets calmer, more chilled, with simpler wording.
- Share photos of your behind-the-scenes life - great plan, provided you use discretion in your selection; also consider how your readers will use those photos to build their idea of your persona.
- Express your personality through your website design - could work, as long as it gels with your blog topic(s) and content.
How about integrating your approach?
- Define your Ideal Customer (gender / age / geographic location / preferences). What do they want to know? Why are they reading your blog? Are they already in a similar mind-set as you, or do you need to convince them of something? How educated are they? How tech-savvy are they? Do they want to learn, or do they want to be entertained?
- Review your niche and target market (clearly define these, as you want to present yourself so that your readers can relate to you, connect with you.) Ensure that you drill down to the viable lowest grouping, for example: "women" = too vague; "divorced women" = still too vague. Keep refining until you have a grouping which is so specific, so exacting in its criteria, that it can actually be called a niche, e.g. "divorced women with children between the ages of 5 and 10 years, who work full-time and live in the greater London area". You need to be that specific.
- Decide on the emotions and nuances you want your blog to evoke; what do you want your followers to experience, to feel?
- Pick your fonts, your colours, your images, layouts, etc. so that the "look and feel" of your blog works seamlessly to support your goals for your blog.
- Now that you have clarity on the foundation, you're equipped to choose which aspects of your authentic Self to express.
General Blogging Guidelines
- Make it easy for your readers to follow your ideas; make the flow logical
- Match your headline to your content
- Use Headings & Sub-headings
- Use short paragraphs
- Use bullet points or numbered lists where appropriate
- Use a small set of fonts - 3 at the most
- Use a limited set of colours, consistently
- Make your navigation simple, clear, & easy to follow
- Keep your Search button in the same location on every page
- Locate your social media sharing buttons in an obvious location
- Use appropriate & relevant images
- Place you Call-To-Action buttons in logical places.
Many experienced bloggers would add to this list; some would disagree with some items. Test, keep what works, change the rest, test again.
How to create a Blog Style Guide
Yet another task, when all you want to do is get on with your writing! Do this - it will save you so much time later.
Once you have your integrated approach sorted, create your detailed style guide; this becomes your reference document for every blog entry. It is the DNA of your blog - it leaves you free to concentrate on the content, rather than figuring out what goes where & what colours to choose, every time you want to write a post.
- Your colour choices, 2 to 4. Write down the Hex Codes for them so that you can use the exact same colours every time. Try Colour Lovers - they have over a million colour palettes.
- Your font choices, 2 to 3. Font A for your logo, post titles, headings, text above images. Font B for your sub-headings, widgets. Font C for the body of your text in posts, and wherever else you have multiple lines of text.
- Your image choices are ongoing. What general types of images do you plan to use that fits with your blog? What would work with your content & for your audience? Rich, baroque style, or bright & light, or dark & broody, or simple with solid colour backgrounds? List what you'll be going for. Also list what you won't be using, e.g. cute animals, large groups of people, animations, or vivid multi-colour images.
- Choose your Writing Voice - consists of your tone, diction, and voice.
- Your tone: objective or subjective, logical or emotional, intimate or distant, serious or humorous; and if humorous, will it be dark, or light, or mean, or hilarious? Your tone is the mood you want to create.
- Your diction: choose between formal, casual, or very informal (slang).
- Your voice: the unique way in which you express yourself, which shows your individual thoughts. This is the personality you want to show to your readers.
Don't over-think this. Words are one of the vehicles we use for communication. You control what you write, but you can never control what you reader understands. Note: don't feed the trolls.