Lorelle VanFossen asks a good question: Who are you when you blog? Lorelle is author of Lorelle on Wordpress and examines your writing persona. This is a long post, but good because it will make you think.
Who is Your Blogging Persona?
by Lorelle VanFossen, Lorelle on Wordpress, guest author
Blogs began as online journals, ways to connect and share our lives with others. While they have come to be so much more than that, they are still "personal".
Readers want to feel a personal connection with their favorite bloggers. They form a relationship with the writer, like they "know them". Writers have been building such relationships with their readers for centuries.
Remember those favorite columnists in newspapers or magazines, the ones readers eagerly anticipated in each issue to see what they have to say today? The writing voice may not be truly representative of who the writer was, but it was indicative of the strong writing character they developed. A character readers came to trust.
Do you know who you are when you are blogging? Who is the character you present to the world through your blog? Does your writing clearly speak for that character?
Many bloggers have more than one blog. On one blog, they may be the expert, sharing their learned wisdom to guide people through the mire of an industry. On another blog, they may take things less seriously, casually expressing their fondest wishes for a gentler world and showing off pictures of their child playing at the beach.
Would they write the same way on both blogs?
How you write on your blog is reflective of the content as well your blogging personality. Just as a parent may speak one way at work and another way with their child, the voice you use on your blog must match who you are on that blog, and the personality your readers have come to expect.
Your choice of blog persona sets the tone for your writing style. It also influences the audience you will attract.
If you write as an expert, you will attract people who want to become better at what they do. They will come to sit at your feet, eager to absorb your knowledge.
You will also attract other experts as peers.
Be prepared to be tested as an expert in that field. You need to produce "expert advice" over time, so have the expertise to back it up.
Experts write with facts and logic. They know how to simplify difficult concepts so people with less experience than themselves can understand. The writing may be personal, but it is also technical, providing step-by-step solutions to the answers. An expert presents new points of view or draws logical conclusions from the information available within their industry in a way that advances the state of the art.
If you choose a student persona, learning as you blog, you will attract other students who want to learn by your side. They will commiserate with you on how tough this is, provide insights, and help you solve your problems.
There is a great freedom writing as the student. You are free to make mistakes and assumptions, wonder out loud, and invite the readers to share their lessons, contributing to the process. You become their friend, and together you become cheerleaders and co-conspirators.
On the other hand, you are also not likely to attract experts. As peers, you are still learning.
The storytelling persona writes the story. It's all about the telling, the reward of sharing the story, and being the center of attention. Readers don't come to learn, they come to be entertained. They want to hear what the storyteller has to say. It would be nice to have a moral to the story, but they are there to be amused, thrilled, chilled, and diverted from real life for a while.
Any story worth telling is worth exaggerating. If you are telling stories about your problems, make sure your problems are bigger than those of your reader. If telling adventures, make sure the tale is tall. Eliminate the mundane and carry the reader with you as you confront the bear that wandered into your campground after dinner, as you peered through your binoculars at the bald eagle soaring off the cliffs overhead, as your raft crests the white water before plummeting into the sink hole, and tell how you almost failed - but didn't.
The blogging persona you wear chooses the words you use to convey your message. For some, it will be a cloak they wear when they blog. For others, it will be a disguising mask.
Tips For Choosing a Writing Persona
Whether you are aware of it or not, you are probably already writing under the guise of your blogging persona. Become aware of your blogging personality and learn to make it work for you, and you will find your writing voice will become stronger.
To help you find your blogging personality and/or better define the one you have, here are some tips.
Match You: It isn't essential but it helps if the persona matches or complements your own personality. It's hard work to maintain writing as someone very alien to who you are. Choose a character closer to your real self.
Should Your Persona Match You? Should your online personality match your offline personality? Is it necessary that it does? If your blog is your resume, your reputation, and your job, and you will be making public appearances, who you are and who you blog should match.
Match the Persona to the Content: While not essential, it helps when the persona matches the content. It's hard to take the topic of world peace seriously when it sounds like it's been written by a terrorist.
Does Your Persona Have Enough to Say: Choose a persona with a lot to say. This will keep your blog, and your interest, alive longer.
Develop a Character Sketch: Write out who this person is. Get into their head. Where were they born? Raised? Married or single? Family? Career? What hobbies fascinate this person? What life events made them who they are today? What influences how they write and why? This will develop over time, but start off with a sketch to remind yourself of who you are when you blog.
Long Term Relationship: Be able to maintain your blog persona for a long time. You may develop a following and be stuck with that personality for a few years.
Fake It 'Till You Make It: Many bloggers blog as the person they want to become. Like a nautilus, they build a personality shell they can move into as their blog grows.
Choose a Familiar Personality to Emulate: Base your blogging personality on someone from your past, or a combination of people. Think of how they spoke and wrote, and write with their voice.
Like Attracts Like: What kind of readers do you want to attract? What kind of people do you want to hang out with? Like attracts like. Write as if you are already one of the crowd to attract the rest to your blog.
Write With the Slant of Your Persona: Everyone has their stance on a subject, from moral values to political views, from work standards to family traditions. If your persona takes stands, make sure you keep the same slant throughout your writing. Everyone changes their views and beliefs with time, but let your readers change with you. Don't shift your slant around. Stay consistent.
Are You Willing To Risk Blogging as Someone Else? There is nothing dishonorable about writing under an assumed name. There are many famous writers with pen names. If you are blogging anonymously to hide from an employer, industry, or government, are you ready to risk being discovered? Are you willing to face the consequences if you are found out?
Choose a persona that will grow with you and you will find your audience growing along with you.
About the author:
Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on Lorelle on WordPress, and is regular columnist on the Blog Herald. She also travels too much and reports about life on the road in Taking Your Camera on the Road, covers family history and genealogy on Lorelle's Family History and Genealogy, teaches and presents workshops and programs, and writes for many blogs, ezines, and magazines.