A blogstorm student of mine recently saw big successes with one of her blog posts. It was an attention post, and it worked! She got loads of attention, comments, shares, and opt-ins.
But the next week, it was back to reality: her next post didn’t land as strongly, didn’t get as many likes and shares. And she felt a wave of disappointment.
What’s the secret to consistent success with blogging? Well, if I knew the exact formula, I’d be a gazillionaire and would sell it to you here for a low, low price…
Blogging is a bit of a game of roulette. Sometimes we win big, sometimes the wheel doesn’t turn in our favor.
The good news, however, is that I believe you can improve your odds, and the way to do it might not be what you think.
There are lots of best practices for ensuring you have a successful, strategic blog (I talk about lots of them here every week). There are even some tips, tricks, and hacks that might make your posts have a bigger chance of going “viral.”
But I think the number one thing that will help your blog (and consequently, your business) be successful over the long run is developing a strong brand voice.
A strong, compelling, unique brand voice has an almost magnetic power. It makes people come back to you again and again. It ensures that every post you write gets clicked and read. People wait for your next missive with baited breath.
A strong brand voice can help you build a thriving, engaged community of true fans who hang on your every syllable, who eagerly await your next email in their inbox.
And it can help your community grow quickly and organically as your fans share your post and invite in new fans.
Think about your favorite bloggers. I always think of Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, Tim Ferris, Danielle LaPorte, John Greene, Dooce and Leo Babuta when I think of bloggers with strong brand voices. Do you think every single post these people write is a gem? Not necessarily. (Well, maybe Seth’s…) Some of their posts are better than others, just like the rest of us mere mortals.
But what they have cultivated is so strong that it pulls people in, regardless. We know what to expect when we see a new post from these people, and we want more.
Yes, it’s about what they say, but it’s also about how they say it.
My best definition of brand voice is just that: what you choose to say, and how you choose to say it.
It’s about the words you choose and how you choose to string them together — but also about the stories you tell, the personal experiences you bring to the conversation, and the expertise you can rely on.
In fact, I think you’ll find your brand voice hanging out at the intersection of what people need and your experiences.
If you’re just trying to solve a problem for people, giving them a how-to or whatever, that might be useful, but it’s not branded. It’s got no voice, no soul.
If, on the other hand, you’re just talking about your personal experiences, that’s journaling. Nothing wrong with journaling, but it’s not going to help people much, and therefore not going to sell for your business.
The power comes when you combine the two. Then you become not only helpful and interesting, but also unique.
I believe very strongly that content is the key to our permission marketing world we live in on the Internet. We have to provide something of value, which gets people to know, like, and trust us, and then they give us permission (usually by opting in for our emails) to market to them.
Having a strong brand voice makes that a thousand times easier, no matter what your niche.
If you’ve ever searched for a casserole recipe online, you’ve probably heard of The Pioneer Woman. Ree Drummond started out like any other food blogger out there, posting recipes from her kitchen. Her recipes are good — but there are thousands of good recipes out there. And she was cooking up lots of hearty, meat and potatoes comfort food, so she didn’t even have a trendy niche.
What she had is a strong voice.
Ree is cute and friendly and funny. She’s self-depreciating and says things anyone might think — like that her hands look weird in photos, or that she licks the bowl when making a cake (you think Martha is going to admit to that?).
She takes lovely photos and shows each step of her recipe. She gives tips for how to do things more quickly or more easily.
And she does it all in her voice:
“Now here’s where things start to get crazy, otherwise known as shocking, otherwise known as mind-blowing, otherwise known as cray, otherwise known as totes cray, depending on your age group: Open up a package of pepperoni slices and lay them all over the top of each chicken breast!
Um, the mild flavor of chicken combined with the salty wonder of pepperoni? It’s a match made in Heaven.”
Anyone could write a recipe for pepperoni chicken; it’s literally sauteed chicken breasts in tomato sauce with pepperoni and cheese on top. There. I just wrote the recipe. But no one else is going to write it like Ree Drummond. And that’s because of her brand voice.
Because of her brand voice, she’s built an incredible community — she has an entire recipe site for her fans. A post announcing her new line of linens at Wal-Mart (which aren’t even available to buy yet) has more than 400 comments. Now THAT’S an engaged community.
And do you want to talk about business success? She has not only translated it into a massively successful blog and several bestselling cookbooks, but now a TV show on the Food Network and a line of kitchen and tableware at Wal-Mart!
(A quick note: The Pioneer Woman started as a blog as a business, but the example still stands even if you’re blogging for your business, which most of you are. Click here to read more about the difference between the two types of blogging.)
In short, a strong brand voice will differentiate you from the crowd. It will build you that fan base and engaged community you crave. It will ensure that your potential customers come looking to you for help rather than anywhere else on the Internet.
And it’s vital in a permission marketing world.
Want more info about how to find and build your brand voice? Stay tuned for next week’s post. In the meantime, you can download my very cool free ebook on brand voice — just use the form below and I’ll send it directly to your inbox, you smart cookie.