When we first start creating and sharing content, many of us get caught up in a contradictory little two step.
On the one hand (or foot), you want to be noticed, you want to be seen, you want your work to make an impact and be shared, you want the clients to come rolling in.
On the other, pressing publish feels like standing in front of the internet in your nightie.
You read over your blogs endlessly, triple-checking for errors or phrases that could be taken out of context. You get hung up on perfection, afraid to share your work on social media in case – shock horror – someone disagrees with you. You can’t shake the feeling that someone from your former corporate life is going to stumble across your work and expose you for the imposter you really are.
So you take the middle of the road approach. You write blogs that are bland, boring and just like everyone else’s – and that’s if you’re creating at all. Because when you’re playing it safe, you’re probably going to have a hard time finding much to write about – let alone finding anyone to read it.
Deep down you know you’ve got a lot to say. You have ideas and opinions about things that matter to your clients. But your voice is being stifled by the weight of your fears, your expectations, and the years of corporate and educational conditioning to express yourself in a certain way.
“How do I find my voice?” is one of the most common questions my clients ask. Many of them consider themselves to be good writers and they can certainly write kick ass letters, reports and case studies. The trouble is they’ve been playing by the corporate rules so long they’ve forgotten how to write from the heart, how to write for fun, or how to infuse their words with their natural zest and personality.
Finding your voice is about finding a consistent and natural way to communicate with your audience about subjects you care about – and that takes time and practice. If you need to work on finding your voice, here’s some tips to get you started:
- Know your core message – Get really clear on what your business is all about and why you are doing this work. What do you really care about? If you had 60 seconds and a microphone, what would be the one thing you really want to share with your clients? This is the pivotal piece around which everything in your business turns, so make sure you know the answers to these questions.
- Write, write and write some more – I firmly believe there is no shortcut to this. The only surefire way to find your voice, is to write – and write often.
Before you start your workday, pick up your journal and a pen, and write for 10 minutes. Write about why your clients need you, why you do this work, or about a current decision or frustration that is on your mind.
Write without stopping, without judgement, without re-reading what’s on the page. Let go of the way your secondary school teacher, or the university style guide or the boss at the big corporate told you to write. Just write.
- Pay attention to the words you use – The English language has an incredible range of words available (approximately seven times more words than exist in French) – so start noticing which ones you choose. Pick up that journal, or talk into a voice recorder and look for the kinds of expressions or phrases you naturally use.
Don’t let yourself become a fashion victim. Just cos words like mofo and yo yo sound hip and funny when Marie Forleo says them, doesn’t mean you should pepper them through your posts. If it’s not your natural way of speaking, it’s going to feel off. Ever had a parent or grandparent message you in teenage text speak? Then you know exactly what I’m saying…
- Think about how you want your audience to feel – When they come to your blog or your site, how do you want your audience to feel? Do you want them to feel uplifted, energised or inspired? Fired up and ready to hustle? Relaxed and at peace? Spend a little time getting clear on the overall feelings you want to evoke and then choose your words accordingly.
- Take a point of view – In order to find your voice, you’re going to have to take a stand. You’ve got to get clear on what matters to you, what you’re burning to change and why your ideal client should care. If you play it safe all the time, you’re going to have a hard time finding something interesting to say, let alone an original way to say it.
A good place to start is to think about what frustrates you about your industry. Where are people taking shortcuts? Where are they selling themselves (or worse, their clients) short?
If the thought of expressing a strong opinion makes you all sweaty palmed, you don’t have to put your mouth on the line right away. Just pick up your journal and practice writing about things that really matter to you. If you see something happening that doesn’t sit well with you, write about it. Write about what it means for your ideal customers and write about what you would do differently to achieve a better result. Give yourself permission to be wrong, to annoy people, to make mistakes.
When you’re ready, start sharing your ideas through your blog, your videos or your social media. And yes, by taking a stand you might lose some followers, but that can be a good thing. By owning your voice, you’re weeding out the ones who were most likely never going to buy from you anyway. Your true fans will respect your honesty and may even be grateful to you for saying something they’ve been longing to hear.
With time and a daily practice of writing, your voice will start shining through. The more you write and share your work, the more confident you will become and the less you’ll hear of that doubting voice in your head.
If you need help defining your core message and bringing your voice into your work, check out my Start with the Heart sessions and coaching packages.
Now I’d like to hear from you. What’s your biggest struggle with finding your voice?