By Shelley Widhalm
To get noticed in the crowded blogosphere, how can bloggers get attention and keep that attention?
One way is through their voice, or how they use language and display their written personality. Readers become fans of a particular blog when they know what to expect—the voice is consistent and recognizable and the content has a clear purpose, such as providing information, entertainment or motivation.
Bloggers set themselves apart by having something original to say and a unique way of saying it. They’re not just blogging to grow their audiences, get clicks and drive traffic to their websites. Instead, their content is authentic and real and doesn’t read like a mishmash of sentences saturated in SEO-heavy language.
The Sound and Appearance of Writing
Voice, at the simplest level, is how bloggers or writers sound and appear on the page. It’s their style, or the way they use words to describe things. It’s how they handle language, the words they choose and their techniques for putting together sentences and paragraphs. It’s a matter of their word choice, syntax and phrasing and options for structuring sentences and paragraphs.
Alternatively, the way the writing sounds can be thought of in physical speaking styles. Is the writing conversational or formal, or is it humorous or academic? Is it fun and trendy? Or cute and quirky? Is it snarky, condescending or longwinded? Or is it accessible and helpful?
Another way to look at it is does the writer sound like a computer manual, a thesaurus or a grammar book? Or does the writer offer up jargon or slang? Does the writer sound like an instrument, harsh or melodious?
Voice goes beyond sound to the appearance on the page. Is there a lot of white space or dense paragraphs with few breaks? Are caps or ellipses used to show casualness, or is there a heavy use of long words and scientific terms? Is there variation of sentence length and structure, such as subject, verb and noun interspersed with questions and partial thoughts?
Other Components of Voice
Voice also can be about story. Do the writers start in the middle and get sidetracked, or are they clear and concise, getting to the main point with just the right amount of detail not to bore the listener or induce interruption?
Voice can be about worldviews. It’s the way writers see the world and interpret events. It involves the feeling and tone or mood of what they write.
Overall, voice is:
- The writer’s attitude toward the subject.
- The writer’s way of telling a story.
- The writer’s use of language.
- The words and phrases the writer uses frequently.
- The writer’s ways of engaging with the audience.
From the reader’s side, it’s:
- The adjectives used to describe the voice.
- The incentive to read in the first place.
- The reason to continue to read down the page.
- The connection with the writer.
Voice is the writer on the page. It is the reason they write. It’s what they choose to write about, revealing what they notice, what they care about, what matters in the world they’ve created.
And it’s what makes readers care and want to read more.