Melatonin. New age music. An aromatic bath. Chamomile tea. Nyquil.
What’s your get-to-sleep-in-a-jif trick? You might try reading some business blogs.
They’re mostly horrific. And they don’t support your business objectives. But the reason is probably not what you think. It’s not because they don’t contain useful content. Generally, they do. What’s missing is personality.
Did God say, “Let there be predictability?”
No blogging bible I’ve ever read said, “Thou shalt be boring.”
You might be knocking it out of the park with understanding your readers’ needs, developing your topics, and optimizing your posts for search. However, this will only get readers to your blog. It won’t get them into it. It won’t inspire them to opt-in, come back for more, or tell their friends. If you want these things to happen you have to inject your personality into your blog.
My headline could have been boring.
What if the headline for this post was “Why Effective Blogs Have Personality.” It’s not bad. Google would have caught the keywords: “effective blogs” and “personality.” And you would have got the gist of it. You may have clicked through to the story.
But I believe a little psychological warning is sounded that suggests the post will be dry. The point I'm trying to make may be more obvious if I used examples of posts about really popular topics. For example:
Snoozers, no? Good topics? Yes. But these are predictable approaches to popular subjects, so they blend in with the pack. If I were to read these posts, I’d be very surprised to find the copy entertaining.
I wrote, “Why Insomniacs Love Your Blog.” You got the idea. You’ll be reading about a topic that interests you—your blog. You get the notion the story will deal with a nasty problem: putting readers to sleep. However, I chose strong words that invoke emotions: “insomniacs” and “love.” I hope to have accomplished something even more powerful than arousing your curiosity. I hope to have suggested you’re in for a little entertainment.
Give your readers something they can’t get anywhere else.
Are you going to make me tell you what that something is? Will do. It’s YOU.
I suspect this is not the first, nor will it be the last article you read about becoming a better blogger. But here’s the special sauce: it’s by me. For better or worse, I’m the only one who can give you an article by me.
You get my style. My point of view. My personality. You get a little window to my world.
Check this out. A ridiculously cute, and very tired miniature poodle by the name of Rio is curled up at my feet. I think he just tooted. I’m up past midnight writing to you though I’m enjoying myself. The one and only Paul Simon is oozing from my MacBook Air, courtesy of Spotify. “You know the nearer your destination the more you’re slip-sliding away.” My back hurts.
I was just looking at a few email newsletters of the curation variety where the publisher sent me long lists of stories they think I should read. I didn’t read any of them. They sounded boring.
And now back to you—and your blog.
Here’s a healthy dose of special personality enhancement tips.
You read that right. You have arrived at the world’s HQ for SPET, special personality enhancement tips. Take these with plenty of water. In clinical trials, SPET has been known to cause dehydration.
Think different. (I could swear I’ve heard that somewhere before.) How can you say something less predictably? I gave you a lesson on this when I wrote about writing the headline for this post. You could tweet this post with something like “Interesting take on writing with personality” or you could challenge yourself to come up with something different, say, “@feldmancreative thinks you write like lightly toasted white bread.”
Colorize your copy. Scour your first draft looking for a mundane passage. Say, for instance, “Writing with more powerful words.” Give it an edge. Make it unforgettable and quotable, such as, “Stabbing mediocrity to death with pencils and pens.” (I grabbed that example from a slide deck I wrote. Check it out.)
I’m not saying your copy must be violent, but it can be. I’m saying, go for it. Colorize your content. Purple is ordinary. The color of a badass bruise is colorful, like you. You’re colorful.
Exaggerate. Cross the line. Change the line. Obliterate the line. Who needs a line? Lines are boring. Make yours a ziggidy-zaggedy path to the peak of Mount Monumental. Imagine telling your reader you have a good tip on singing. Ho hum. Now imagine telling your readers you can teach them to sing like the love child of Josh Groban and Barbara Streisand. (Eew.)
Breathe. When we talk, we take breaths. We pause for effect. We ask questions, right? Do these things when you write. Use commas and periods—em dashes: maybe a colon.
Hit return and…
…put a little space in there. A one-word sentence could work. Sometimes. Ask rhetorical questions. You know what I mean?
86 the BS. You know damn well you inadvertently snuck some BS in your post. You used a cognitively challenging word or phrase when a familiar one would have done the trick. You trekked down Buzzword Blvd. Or you tried showing off your unequaled intelligence with jargon. Or you called on one too many clichés. Boo. Hiss. Dial it down into everyday English.
Flunk writing. What the flunk?All those years of school, higher learning, and writing classes were a waste? Yep. Sorry. It’s time to unlearn what Professor Bisbee taught. You write gooder when you nix the formalities and break the rules of English class. A killer blog post can be delightfully messy.Have a conversation with your reader. If it gets redlined, good.
Cheese, please. Do you like metaphors? I wrote a post titled, “Your Website is Your Mousetrap and Your Content is the Cheese.” Guess what? It wasn’t really about cheese. But cheese is tastier than bait, right? Using metaphors and figures of speech are great ways to make your stuff more fun.
Have an opinion. Blogging and reporting aren’t the same thing. If you insist on thinking of yourself as a journalist, fine, but be the author of an opinion column. You’re much more likely to poke at me when you have a point of view.
No selling, slick.The winner for “most boring blog” goes to Selly Sally. When I want to read about your product, I’m pretty sure I know where to do that. And if you hook me with your blog, I probably will.
Use examples. All throughout this post, I’ve tossed examples at you. They’re helping get my messages across, I hope.
Tell stories. This may be the 922nd time you read that tip. If you’re still ignoring it, you may be taking it too literally. Everything you write need not be a story, but your little micro-stories will connect better than facts and figures and give your reader something to remember you by.
So, sure, you can teach me how to get more likes on my Facebook fan page, but I’m far more likely to remember your little anecdote about how your new Facebook friend from Belgium sent you a box of Belgian Chocolates. Hello? Any Belgians out there? I like chocolate.
Join your reader. And have your reader join you. Tell your reader you’re in this together. Let ‘em know you share something. Like this: you and I are both bloggers. Let’s talk about how we can avoid comatose readers.
Welcome to my world. I’m in bed now. T-shirt. Undies. Socks. (It’s a bit cold tonight.) Rio followed me to bed. I just took a sip of water. This is good stuff, eh? No, really, you don’t have to bring your readers to bed with you, but I strongly recommend you let them into your home. And heart.
Now get out of here and don’t have a nice day.
While you’re at, don’t have a “good time” either. If you learned something from this article, I hope you now understand how mind-numbingly generic “good time” and “nice day” are. Have a raging party. Have a day of colossal grins and giggles.
I quote the quirky Ash Ambirge here, author of “The Middle Finger Project,” who inspired me with her post, “3 (Top Secret Ultra James Bond) Ways to Add More Personality to Your Writing.”
Personality is the difference between loved vs. liked, iconic vs. ordinary.
Pour that peculiar personality of yours into your blog. And smear your greasy fingerprints all over my monitor.