As humans, one of the most vulnerable things we can do is put our writing out into the world. And as marketers, our writing heavily influences the success of our businesses.
It’s no wonder why writing our own copy sends so many of us into a tailspin.
But these days, running a business requires the ability to produce multiple forms of content in our brand voice. Many of us have developed our own personal brands (I’m a brand, he’s a brand, she’s a brand, we’re all brands! HEY! #ShamelessGoodburgerReference) that equate to a conceptual mashup of our product/service, our personality, and a style that makes us (and our clients) happy.
In the end, we’re all after one thing: drawing attention to our brands. And we can raise our chances of success by writing like ourselves.
So how do we do that?
Worry Less About the Rules…and Other Brands
I’ve lost count of how many times I have heard marketers call online marketing the “Wild West”. The thing is, they’re not wrong. There’s a great deal of room for bending, breaking, and even roundhouse-kicking the rules Chuck Norris style.
Many marketers find it difficult to nail their own brand voices because we’re constantly oversaturated with content and brand messages coming at us from every direction. You might worry that your own brand voice won’t measure up, and get stuck overanalyzing what other brands are doing.
If your copy is generic or looks, sounds, and feels too much like another brand’s, you’re less likely to stand out. And if you follow the same set of brand voice rules as every other marketer, you won’t attract the right kind of attention (or worse, any at all).
Free-Write With No Filter
Part of shedding rules is learning how to shut off your inner monologue. And a benefit of quieting the voice in your head is being able to dump your thoughts into a blank document without worrying whether they make any sense.
Remember: nobody’s going to read this. Just go bananas on the keyboard (a la the GIF of Kermit the Frog at his typewriter)–write about your business, what you love about it, and why you’re offering your product or service. What’s special about your work? What’s special about YOU?
How long should you free-write? As long as you feel like it, or as many times as it takes to wrap your mind around your voice.
Does every detail of your brain-dump matter to your brand voice? Nope. And that doesn’t matter. From the heap of words you produce, you’ll start to see repeating patterns, phrases, and themes that light you up. Pay close attention to those.
Use Your Voice…Literally
If you really want to capture your voice, grab your cell phone, switch on your audio recording app, and just start talking about your business. Pretend you’re doing a Facebook Live and tell your audience what you do, who you help, and why you love what you do. Then, listen back.
I know most of us don’t like to listen to ourselves talk, but hear me out. (See what I did there?) When I work with copywriting clients, one of the most effective ways for me to capture their brand voice is to interview them, record the call, and then pay close attention to the way they speak. (I also take copious notes because I’m a nerd.)
If you’re a personal brand and you don’t normally write your own copy, don’t skip this step. It’s really important to understand how you come across to others. If you can get a feel for the way you speak–then get that onto the screen–that’s going to make it much easier to infuse your energy and personality into your writing.
And, if you’re having a visceral reaction to the idea of recording your own voice, try voice dictation instead. Google Docs has a nifty Voice Typing tool that works pretty well, and you won’t have to listen to the recording afterward.
This exercise could help whether you want to pinpoint the signature “catch-phrases” you use, or just want to voice-dictate a blog post. It’ll help you get more familiar with your cadence, tone, and rhythm; the more comfortable you are with your voice, the easier it will be to write like yourself.
Remember, Everything’s Connected
Part of breaking the rules and infusing your personality into your copy is incorporating personal connections where you can. Can you drop a favorite pop culture reference or two into your blog post? Tweet about something nostalgic from your childhood? Publish an article on LinkedIn that ties your work together with a piece of current business news that interests you?
For example, I’ve written about how emulating other brand voices is a lot like acting or martial arts (which, for me, is like switching on an alter-ego). I like acting and martial arts; those things are a part of my personality. They also happen to play a hand in my copywriting techniques. (Who cares if it’s weird? It is what it is.)
Incorporate personal interests where they fit in your copy not only gives your audience a glimpse of who you are, it opens up an opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level. You’ll be more likely to reach people who love the same things you do, understand your weird humor, and want to do business with you because of it.
And that’s what this whole personal brand thing is about anyway, right? Connecting with our people.
If Your Personality Doesn’t Fit Your Brand…
There are certain circumstances in which your personal voice doesn’t match with your brand voice. Maybe you’re a hilarious, fun person, but your work is incredibly serious and your brand’s credibility rides on maintaining a solemn tone.
In those cases, it’s important to get intimately familiar with the brand and how it is different from you. Then, tap into the part of your personality that you put front and center when you’re at work.
This is the version of yourself you’ll want to stay in touch with when you write for your brand.
Time to Get Crackin’
As you can probably guess by now, writing like yourself is less about mechanics and technique, and more about capturing your energy and communication style. It’s also about embracing the quirky things that make you different and working those into your writing.
Give these tips a try, but if you’re struggling, don’t struggle alone. Don’t be afraid to outsource your copy if you need to. Either, you’ll be armed with a deep knowledge of your own voice that you can pass on to your team–a win-win all around.
Good luck, and happy writing!
Haley Walden is a brand copywriter & editor who helps brands articulate their distinctive voices through authentic connection, creative mimicry, and the magic of intuitive editing. She’s the author of the upcoming novel Defender of Histories (October 2019), book one of The Witness Tree Chronicles trilogy. She is also a massive geek who’s obsessed with Star Wars and many other fun fandoms. Haley lives in Northwest Alabama with her husband, Grant, and their children.