Original published as a guest blog on JeffBullas.com.
In September, I spent a week in Germany. I look German and even lived in the country as a child, but I speak the language only well enough to be dangerous. I can order a glass of wine, but then the charade ends.
My elderly aunt isn’t fooled. She has trouble understanding my ungrammatical babble.
“Was sprichst du?” (What do you speak?) she asks. “Hoch Deutsch (high German) oder Platt Deutsch (Low German)?” “Schlecht Deutsch (Bad German),” I reply. I speak well enough to get by, but not well enough to really say anything.
And that was the problem. After three days in Germany, I had no beliefs, no opinions, no personality. As a blog writer, I missed being able to express myself.
Having a platform that lets you communicate your personal brand is a rare gift. So go for it when you write your blog: Tell us what you think.
Say it in plain English. And celebrate who you are.
Do this even if it’s abrasive. Especially if it’s abrasive.
If you’re writing authentically, your audience should know immediately that you authored a piece. My own style has been described as warm, witty, quirky. Whether you agree with that or not, you should be able to tell a piece is by me by the way I use words, by the positions I take, by the refusal to be serious for more than a few lines.
If your blog doesn’t sound like you, it’s time to rewrite until it’s genuine.
Your blog gives you a chance to make a stand—so don’t wallow in the middle ground. Choose a position and defend it. I read a marketing blog post recently about Features and Benefits. For once, it did not say that every feature should also have a benefit. Quite the contrary. After hearing same old same old for years of copywriting, it was compelling to see a post that tore it all up.
Be that person—the one who opens eyes wide.
At dinner recently, a friend mentioned that his former wife had been in a car accident. Was it bad? our hostess asked. Not bad enough, he replied. OK, that’s cold, but we’re pretty clear how he feels about his ex-wife. So if you need to mince something, make it onions. Say it like you mean it. Forget the qualifiers and euphemisms.
If every word is a cloak for some more dastardly term, then you’re writing in another language.
If you have a flock that follows you and it isn’t completely comprised of sheep, then engage them enough to disagree with you. Loudly, if necessary. I wrote a post once suggesting people use Readability Indices to make their posts more accessible to their audiences. One commenter said he’s tired of dumbing down his writing—and if his audience doesn’t understand it, he doesn’t want to talk to them anyway.
Bully for him.
Go all the way—provoke disagreement to the point that readers unsubscribe from your blog. No one’s unsubscribing? You’re not trying hard enough. Sure, they’ll be there as long as you’re so bland they hardly notice you. Or don’t bother to read your blog. But when you unmask, they may recoil. Good.
Distance yourself from the people who simply tolerate you.
In some ways, business relationships work the same way as personal ones. You want to keep the people close who love you no matter what. I have three friends who would stick with me even if I become an axe murderer—although one admits she’d be disappointed.
Ultimately you want blog followers so avid that they love you even when you quarrel and want to work things out. Those people will advocate for you like the blasé folks never will.
And that, my friend, is the start of a beautiful relationship.
Diana Kightlinger is a professional print and digital copywriter and content writer for high-achieving businesses. For more blog posts, quotes and quips, like Eclipse Communications on Facebook and subscribe to the EclipseWriter Blog.