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How to Steal, Swipe and Imitate to Create Your Own Unique Blogging Voice

Singer Of course you don’t write stuffy, boring essays.

You don’t want to sound like a corporation. You want to sound human. You want to sound like you.

You avoid gobbledygook. You write short sentences. You include stories to keep your readers awake. You write with passion.

When you write with a strong voice, it’s so much easier to connect and engage with your audience; and to write blog posts that get shared and commented on.

But does creating your own blogging voice seem hard?

It shouldn’t be so difficult. You just have to know how to steal from different blogging styles and blend them together to create your own unique voice.

Let me explain…

Last Saturday it was a raining

It was cold, grey, and windy. A miserable day.

Instead of going on a bike ride, I decided to prepare my favorite curry.

It takes me about five hours to prepare and cook Beef Rendang; and it fills the house with a wonderful aroma that reminds me of holidaying in the Far East. Forget the dreary weather. Relax and think of colorful food markets; long, lavish lunches; and cycling through plantations. I could almost feel the sun warming my skin.

The first time I made Beef Rendang was about 11 years ago. I found a recipe in a rather bland-looking paperback. I’m not good at following orders, so I cooked my own interpretation – fewer chilies, more coriander and cumin, no potatoes.

When you develop your blogging voice, you follow a similar process.

Nobody is born with a style or a voice. We don’t come out of the womb knowing who we are. In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes. We learn by copying. ~ Austin Kleon (tweet this)

Find a blogger you like. Don’t outright copy what he (or she) is writing, but study his copywriting techniques:

  • Why do his opening paragraphs entice you to read a post?
  • How do subheadings compel you to read on?
  • What’s the overall tone of his blog posts? Why does he speak so strongly to you?
  • What makes you smile? Or nod in agreement? When do you sigh because he understands so well how you’re feeling?
  • How long are the posts? How are they structured?
  • How short are the paragraphs and sentences?
  • Does he have any favorite words?
  • Does he use metaphors? How does he share details about his life?
  • Are his blog posts inspirational, entertaining, or useful, or a mix?
  • How do his closing paragraphs make you feel better or encourage you to take action?

Create your own swipe file with favorite openings, conclusions, metaphors, paragraphs, and words. Read your swipe file, analyze it, and read it again and again.

When I started blogging, I analyzed how Jon Morrow writes. But no matter how hard I tried, I failed to imitate him well. Some of his writing just doesn’t sound like me so I adapted and polished my writing in my own way.

No matter how hard you try, your imitation of someone else’s blogging voice won’t be perfect. Embrace this lack of perfection, because it’s the start of developing your own voice.

I’ve cooked Beef Rendang many times

Each time I cook it, it evolves a little. I’ve followed suggestions from different recipes – like adding a cinnamon stick and palm sugar, which tasted great.

In 2010 I cycled along the west coast of Malaysia and had the opportunity to taste various versions of Beef Rendang. It became almost an obsession to try to understand what was different about it. More lemongrass? More garlic? More galangal? Or less ginger?

To develop your blogging voice you need to find two or three voices you like. How do these voices differ from your first blogging hero? What do you like so much about them? How can you integrate some of their techniques into your blogging style? Study the writing techniques of a small selection of bloggers and add examples of stuff you like to your swipe file.

Once you start mixing different styles, something magical happens. You start hearing your own voice. You learn what makes you different. That’s when you start creating your own distinct voice.

Your own unique blogging voice

Having a strong blogging voice is about voicing your opinions, being a leader, and a strong dose of personality.

Stop worrying whether people might think you’re crazy. Let your personal quirkiness shine through.

Feel free to be different, eccentric, or even a bit weird. Because that’s how you connect, and engage, and grow your blog following.

This blog post is part of a free tutorial about business blogging.

Image credit (adapted): Shutterstock

Comments

  1. ;-) I find some people are pretty good at imitating nevertheless.. except I would call it emulation, like the painters did in the good ol’ 17th century. They learned by copying. So what – we all do!
    Kitty Kilian recently posted…Waar zet je nou je aanbod op je site? Usability expert Bart van de BiezenMy Profile

    • Yes, emulation is a good word because it suggests you imitate something but you try to make it better or you adapt it to your own preferences.

  2. Good post, Henneke, but I don’t agree that we learn by copying. We do when we’re kids, for sure, but as adults we need to find our own comfort zone. Like your curry recipes, we evolve as we go until we find our perfect balance of ingredients. We find our voice when we think: that’s it, I’m saying what I like the way I like to say it. It’s me, it feels right.

    • When I say copying, I don’t mean “imitate outright”. I mean you can learn by analyzing how others do things. It’s not about copying sentences or paragraphs, but trying to use similar writing techniques.

      I’ve learned most by studying other bloggers. As you suggest, I blended different ideas and techniques until I found my own voice and thought – yep, this is me (but I am still developing my voice!)

      Thank you adding your valuable thoughts. I appreciate it!

    • If you’re new at something, and you like the way someone else does that same thing, it’s only natural to consciously or even unconsciously pick up some of that person’s mannerisms, techniques, etc. I think it’s a good point.
      Ted Pendlebury recently posted…ConfidenceMy Profile

  3. Hi Henneke!

    Another great article.

    I’m all about copying (analyzing) :-)

    And this really ties into an article I wrote the other day. Although I don’t focus so much on the writing style only as much as I do the entire marketing strategy.

    No need to re-invent the wheel. At first.

    If something is working for someone else, figure out how and why, then do it.

    Kim, I agree that we need to find our own comfort zone as well. But I also believe that can only be afforded once you have a basis from which to become creative.

    If we’re talking about making money with our sites for example, or blogging, it can be very difficult to get solid footing or see any success while trying to find your comfort zone.

    First get the basics of what is working for others in place. Once you have some results, then test your creativity and try to improve on them.

    Charles
    Charles Kassotis recently posted…Reverse Engineer Marketing – Become A LeaderMy Profile

    • Henneke says:

      Yes, that’s spot on, Charles. First learn the rules, and then break the rules.

      I like learning new things, but I like learning how to break the rules even more ;-)

  4. Great take on this important subject. Of course, I have to disagree on “avoiding gobbledygook” considering I’m attempting to make a career out of this :)
    Gordon Gower ( recently posted…Simply… Well Said.My Profile

    • Henneke says:

      Haha, Gordon. I got to warn you: I observe a strict “no gobbledygook” rule here at Enchanting Marketing, so you better be careful ;-)

  5. Henneke, I like your style , your voice. I wish I could write like you some day :)

  6. Thank you Henneke for this valuable post! I love what you bring to network marketing!! Enjoy sharing your value and gold nuggets…thank you! This is so very true…you need to find your own voice when it comes to blogging….if you find other “voices” that say the same thing as you, and you utilize it to put your own twist on the information, well, 100% agree with that! I love sharing value and if I come across a writer or blogger whom I resonate with, I will do my best to share their value with my own “unique” twist ;)

    Thanks again,

    Joan
    Joan Harrington recently posted…Who Else Wants To Learn How To Make Money With Blogging?My Profile

  7. This one’s a keeper Henneke!

    Just an FYI you might be interested in: I know you’re not suggesting we should plagiarize someone else’s work, but from my own experience I have found it helpful to actually write out, word for word, sometimes several times, a post/article I admire. There’s something about the copying process that gets into your brain and your own words eventually incorporate some of the new style you’ve been “studying”.
    Erich recently posted…Rolling Futures Contracts to a Further Out Month Based on Open InterestMy Profile

    • Henneke says:

      Yes, that’s a good a point! And there’s something special about writing by hand rather than typing. I don’t know what it is, but sometimes I have to write things down rather than type.

  8. Great post, Henneke! I just subscribed to your newsletter and I’m loving the content I’m receiving so far.

    This reminds me of an exercise I did with my poetry teacher (yes, I’m a poet/copywriter), wherein we’d select a poet and a poem s/he’s written. I’d create a new poem that somewhat emulates the text as a way of analyzing and studying the writing style, tone, logic and process that led to the poem. What you suggested can be good exercise as well for copywriters/bloggers working on their craft and finding their “voice.”

    • Henneke says:

      Welcome, Stef :)

      Your comment reminds me of the book Twenty-Six Ways of Looking at a Blackberry. Have you read it? John Simmons rewrites a business letter in 26 different ways (e.g. a Shakespearean sonnet, a newspaper leader article, a Greek myth) and explains what he learns from each of the styles. Some styles of course work better than others. I’d love to do a challenge like that!

  9. I’ve tried to emulate other people’s voice when writing articles, but I ended up with what I was most confortable doing and that was to use my own voice without any influences.
    Eugen Oprea recently posted…The “Above the Fold” Myth DebunkedMy Profile

    • Henneke says:

      I agree you need to be comfortable with your own voice. As a blogger you can’t emulate someone’s voice if that voice doesn’t feel natural to you. Glad you found a voice you’re comfortable with!

  10. The food analogy is simply perfect. It’s like writers who are for the most part avid readers before embarking in writing books.

    Not on the net where everyone becomes an expert in a day or so though. :)

    Great post as usual Henneke.
    Andrea Hypno recently posted…Napoleon Hill’s Key Success Factor to MasteryMy Profile

  11. Henneke,

    This is THE article on finding your own voice. I had this question in mind for many months. You solved it. Spot on.

    Just loved the article. Every bit of it. Thank you so much.

    FYI: I love your blogging voice :)

    Best,
    Avadhut

    • Henneke says:

      I must have heard you asking about this… Sorry, it took me so long to answer your question. ;)

      Thank you, Avadhut.

  12. This is brilliant. Thank you. Sometimes I’m not sure if I am writing correctly. This will put me in the right direction. I am definitely adding this page to my “Favorites”, so I can refer to it time and time again. I found your site via a recommendation on a V7n Forum.
    samarth recently posted…How To Hide Last Seen Stamp On WhatsappMy Profile

  13. Love this post Henneke. It’s all about modelling yourself after success, in whatever field, domain, topic you’re seeking perfection in. Also….I’m really craving some Beef Rendang now!
    Udhara de Silva recently posted…How to meet yourself.My Profile

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