How to find your tone of voice in your writing
Ask one of the billions of bloggers around the world what it takes to write compelling copy, and they’ll tell you that one of the most important things you can do is tap into your own unique tone of voice.
And if I had to guess, I’d say that you probably saw those words, nodded slowly, and went on your way, possibly without much of an idea about what your tone of voice does or should actually *sound* like…
Knowing you need a tone of voice is great, but you know what’s better?
Being able to define your distinct tone of voice, write with confidence, and use it to actually sell your stuff. Consistency is key to building customer loyalty and trust, and that means sounding like your usual peppy, confident self – even when the rain is bucketing down and the postman just delivered a few unfriendly bills.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take on these five exercises and get to know that voice inside your head a little better…
Exercise one: The Brain Dump
Writing skills are like muscles: the more you work them, the stronger they get.
Thing is, if you’re anything like most entrepreneurs, you’ve got less than zero time for a regular *workout* (and don’t even get me started on the gym). Even if you haven’t done a writing exercise since high school and you’re busy doing all the things in your business, this practice is quick and easy to get into.
Just grab a pen and some paper* and download your brain onto the page. If you get stuck, take a cue from your old primary school English class and write about your weekend, your favourite hobby, or even your big dreams for your business.
Then, read back what you wrote and throw out a few words to describe the tone of your writing.
*When you actually want to finish a whole writing exercise without a dozen notifications from four different apps, switching to pen and paper does the trick.
Exercise two: The Recording Booth
Spoiler alert: Almost no one likes the way their voice sounds on a recording. Listening back can be a super uncomfortable experience, but this exercise isn’t about the sound of your voice – it’s ALL about the tone of your words.
Recording on your own can feel a bit odd, especially since conversational copy is the goal, so if you’re feeling a little (or a lot) awkward, rope in a friend to get the conversation rolling.
It’s like a radio show, but without all of the celebrity one-liners about how great the radio station is.
When the recording is done, wait until you’re alone and play it back. Listen for the words you use frequently and ones you emphasise, translate that into your copy to make your written content sound more like you.
Exercise three: The Sneak-a-Peek
Have you ever logged onto Facebook and, after 30 minutes, found yourself neck-deep in a stranger’s profile, looking at photos of their pet goldfish?
We’ve all been there – and although stalking someone on social media isn’t generally considered a good use of your time, there are some situations where pouring over other people’s stuff is not only acceptable but also kind of essential…
This is a roundabout way of saying that if you’re not already reading other people’s copy, you should be! With every new website you read, you’ll find things you like (and things you don’t), and eventually, you’ll end up with enough insight to create copy you love.
Plus, if you’re into conversion copy, you might even pick up a few tips on structuring your pages just right for that “must buy” effect. Bonuses all ‘round!
Exercise four: The Feedback Loop
When you want to know whether the new dress you bought really looks okay from the back, there’s only one thing to do…
Ask a friend!
If you happen to have a clever copywriting friend who knows her stuff, more power to you – but the most important thing is to ask someone who really identifies with your ideal customer and get their honest opinion.
You want to know how your copy sounds to the person who is going to buy that very expensive (but totally justified) package you’re selling, and whether it’s enough to push the “Buy Now” button in their brains.
Ask your listener what they think of your tone of voice and whether they would be inclined to find out more about your stuff if they heard you on the radio. Then ask another person, and another, until you have enough common feedback threads to nail your copy.
Tip: Do NOT try to take in absolutely every piece of advice you receive. You can’t please everyone, and if you try, your writing will sound more confused than someone who arrived late to a Guy Ritchie movie.
Exercise five: The DIY
Everything you’ve ever said (and ever will say) has a tone – even if that tone is neutral – but if you’re unaware of that tone, it’s going to be pretty hard to change it…
So the last (and sometimes the best) option is to Define It Yourself.
There are three basic parts to this:
- Write a list of ways you’d like people to define your tone.
- Write a “test piece”. It’s probably about time you wrote a new landing page for that opt-in anyway, right?
- Ask someone who fits your target audience demographic to test the fit.
Simple! And if all else fails, you can always just download an app like Grammarly.
Still lost? Got a tone of voice but no time to actually write anything in it? Wish someone could just do it all for you? I’ve got you covered – click here to find out how I can help.
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