Have you ever read a blog post that just seems to have ‘it’?
You arrive at the page, begin reading and immediately feel drawn into what the blogger is communicating. You can’t really put your finger on why – but there’s something about the way that they write that connects with you – that makes you want to read more – that makes reading easy.
That blogger has ‘blogging mojo’.
While there are many concrete things that we can identify about successful blogs – some things are hard to define. One of these is blogging mojo.
Some bloggers just seem to be able to write in a way that connects. They go beyond technically writing well to a style that just works.
How to Develop Your ‘Mojo’
I’ve observed ‘blogging mojo’ in a number of bloggers over the years and have done my best to identify why some bloggers have it and some don’t. Perhaps it’s partly natural ability, personality or learning how to write from a young age – but there’s one important factor that I’ve seen over and over again in successful bloggers.
Most successful bloggers that I question tell me that on top of any natural ability that they have that they’ve spent years experimenting with different styles of writing, different types of posts, different topics, different voices and different approaches to communicating that shape who they are today.
As they say – ‘Practice makes perfect’.
One of the best ways to develop your writing and learn to consistently produce compelling content is to practice writing in different styles and voices.
Of course this doesn’t just happen – sometimes you need to set yourself a challenge (or ask someone else to do so).
I chatted with a journalist friend recently who told me that he learns most about writing when his editor allocates him a story that takes him out of his comfort zone, when he’s asked to write on a topic he’s not overly familiar with or asked to write in a style that isn’t his normal one.
He said that when he’s given these challenging stories that he’s forced to learn and discover new ways to communicate. It doesn’t always feel good but each time he discovers something new about what works (and doesn’t work) for him.
Which leads us to today’s homework…
Your Homework for Today
Today’s homework task is to pick a style of blog post that you don’t normally write. For example:
- If you always write in the 1st person why not try writing in the 3rd person for a post?
- If your posts are always deadpan serious why not attempt something a little more light hearted and humorous.
- Try writing a post from the perspective of another person?
- Throw an opinion piece into your blog that is normally just covering ‘news’.
- Write a list post if your blog is usually more ‘essay’ like.
If you’re unsure what to write check out my list of 20 Types of Blog Posts – hopefully one of them will fit with where you’re at. There’s also a few of these types of writing posts in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook.
The benefit of mixing things up from time to time is that you grow as a writer and you might just stumble upon a type of post that connects with your readers. Even if the post falls flat on it’s face and fails you’ve learned what not to do on your blog.
Once you’ve written your post and published it please come back to this post and share the link and share how you went with the challenge!
This post belongs to our current series on Creating Compelling Content. Stay tuned for more principles of building this type of content in the week ahead.
The Casual Observer ( http://www.observingcasually.com/ ) has a broad mix of voices. Not only do I (kosmo) write in a few different styles (from serious news stuff to quirky fiction), but we have six (soon to be nine) other writers who write articles for the magazine, each contribution.
I’ve also done some fake interviews where my alter ego, reporter Scoop Chevelle, tells the story.
er, that should say ” … other writers who write articles for the magazine, each contributing their own unique perspective.”
Wow, that is a comfort zone expander, isn’t it?
Gonna have to try it and monitor the results.
First one will be to add my own opinion (and experience!).
I’m liking the homework tasks you’re setting Darren. Great idea!
Some good tips. I’ll keep that in mine the for my next update
Great article… a subject I’ve been toying with myself.
I find that I am “independently discovering” a fair number of notions that are turning up here on Problogger. I make some creative discovery by myself, then find Darren or somebody else wrote an article about it 2,3,4,5 years ago.
On the one hand, it’s stupendously annoying to find I’m working ground that’s already been mined.
On the other hand, I feel satisfied I’m going in the right direction.
Good tip. Well the style of writing depends on type of the article.
Will try to write more opinion articles :) , your idea of writing this type of posts with a homework is great.
I like term ‘out of comfort zone’!
Probably this condition make you to feel like a warrior and your chances to do your best are higher!
Thanks on this tips that says about constant practice and learning!
As an entrepreneur, I definitely would say getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing for growth.
However, in my personal experience as a blogger, I have found that writing on subjects I’m not well versed on or knowledgeable in has left me quite frustrated while trying to hammer out the post.
It just doesn’t flow right to me. I’ve closed down the editor and told myself, “If I don’t really know about it, why should I write about it?”
I suppose it’s ok to write about it if you’re talking about how you don’t know about the subject.
In any case, I see what the journalist was saying, but I think as bloggers we should remember to be careful and not write about topics we really don’t know about. We don’t want to betray anyone’s trust.
As for finding your voice using your bullet points, those are some great suggestions. I’ve recently changed my voice some, moving away from cold explanations and tutorials to a little more of letting my “fun” personality show through.
Haven’t heard much feedback on it though.
But I did try to lighten things up by publishing a few bloopers video clips on my venture of blogging tutorials.
How To Install WordPress Outtakes & Deleted Scenes
I have never read anything like Writing style or anything , but i can say that I write well and my readers connect with me well and appreciate it well .
I’ve been a heavy instructional, informational list writer and I’ve been looking for different post ideas and I think the 20 types of blog posts list will help me a lot. Not only for “finding mojo”, but I think writing something different also keeps mind (and blog) fresh so it’s a great idea for many reasons..
It’s about successful writing baby! Practice do help improve our writing and finding our style (voice) better. Hence, the compelling content thing is achievable. :)
As a new blogger I have been struggling with just the very issue Daren describes. If I keep it light and funny, does that distract from the message? On the other hand, nothing is worse than being boring. Experimenting with the tone is fun and I will take up Daren’s challenge to see how it affects my writing.
Ah, this was very inspiring thank you. I did wonder if my already on-going experiments were going to hurt me in the long term or would they be useful, but you just helped me to clarify that.
So i’m glad i have been experimenting.
What I worry about in experimenting on my blog is that I will be inconsistent and that my readers might not identify me with the voice I am trying. At the same time i would be lying if I said I did the same things last month that I am doing now. Still there needs to be a little caution when one tries a new style.
Great article. I’d enjoy a series called “my first post”. Re-publish the very first post along with commentary and insights from successful bloggers.
I think it would be interesting…seeing Seth’s first post or Brian Clark’s first post and commentary about the early days, and the evolution of their writing style etc.
Well, I took your challenge, Darren, and here’s the result: http://beyondfreelancing.com/2009/07/businesslessons-from-the-horizon-realty-twitter-scandal/
I normally write on non-news topics, so I thought I’d try something different. Comments appreciated!
I realized my “voice” changes depending on the topic.
Say when I’m giving dating advice, I’m more brutal and blunt and straight to the point. I talk very personally as if I’m talking to my friends.
When I’m writing a guide to say how to pick a blazer or anything like that, my “voice” changes to something I’d write in a college paper. It’s more refined and explanatory.
I guess it depends on the content that you’re writing.
Hey Dareen ,
I was a big time fan of writing long essays after the 31 days workshop .. i then started writing by blogs differently more like list style and some times ..
Yes one thing more to stay the list style always counts on lot of readers and the long essay pattern does not .
Never tried in different person tense .. let me try that soon ..
Still workin’ on it – but on a previous domain I quickly discovered posting in the first person was awful for me – so I dropped that. Someone who I think is bang on with the whole blogging mojo thing is Sarah Von from Yes and Yes (http://www.yesandyes.org/) – she is brilliant!
When I started out, my writing just sucks, but I once heard a quota somewhere on the internet many years back, I doesn’t know where is it now but it say this, “If you want to learn something, learn from the best.”
And that’s what I did, I learn how to write from the prince of print “Gary Halbert” I read his newsletter and read books he recommend and even write out out those sales letter that he said in his newsletter.
Yes. I did write out a few pieces of sales letter. I’m not sure about my writing now, but I think I love the way I write and it sure connects well with my reader on my blog.
Great post! Very interesting.
Sometimes I struggle with writing in a different way than I have previously. I’ve found that guest posting on other sites have helped.
I’ll also try your suggestion to write in a humorous manner. I’ll post in a few days once I’ve done so.
Thanks for the info!
For me it depends on the topic and my daily mood :-)
Nooo homework lol. But it needs to be done. Writing in different styles will help you become a better blogger. And soon allow you to write different/unique content. Writing in different styles, like Darren mentioned, will gain you all different types of readers.
mojojojo like cartoon, but may be it’s impact on blogging
Great post about devolping your writing skills. I think more you write more you can get with what readers need. I do not have any writing experience but I have developed a taste for what audience want. I think the greatest problem is running out of inspiration. I always seems to manage to find out what readers want. Thanks for sharing.
Interesting article. When I started blogging I was very self-conscious and very aware of what I was writing. Now, I don’t think about it so much and I think I’ve found my voice. I’m pretty happy with the way I blog :)
In my vision writing style should be primarily matched to the audience your site is addressed.
Secondly it should be matched to the topic.
The personal touch to your writing is what should make blogs be different instead looking just the same. Your Blog theme can not tell me who you are, but your writing style should help me have a look at your personality and question myself if i should become a friend with your site or not.
If you want to take the cream express and develop your personality to delicious degrees.
1st person or third person just like i said depends on your audience, on their age, on their background and expectation.
It matters if you give them what they really expect to find, doesn’t it?
I’ve never done a review before – it’s something I’ve wanted to get into and maybe use it as a second step to ‘monetizing’ my blog (I’ve just got google ads at the moment). But for this one I had to make a lot of sacrifices for my readers – eating a whole bunch of chocolate bars in the space of an hour is really hard work!
So here is my taste testing review:
Good advice, though I don’t see the value in trying different voices if the one you’re using is already working.
Good point. Writers need to experiment with different styles to work out which one they are most comfortable with.
I still need to really discover my Blogging Mojo. While I do think I am kind of good, I am not at the level that I wish to be in. For now, we’ll just have to wait & see.
Mixing it up is almost mandatory. Even if I like the style and content of the writing, if the only thing I ever see are “10 lists” kinds of posts I’m apt to get bored and stop visiting.
I’ve not purposefully tried to revise my voice. I find that I end up using the voice/style that is appropriate to the content of the particular post.
Can’t say I’ve found it either.. But this serie makes me definitely think. When I look at my posts, it’s true that they miss a more ‘personal’ touch…
Definitely a good point to consider, especially for those just starting out in the blogging world!
This may be classified under the category of a how high is up question, but I’m compelled to ask it anyway. I have been blogging since mid-January of this year (six months). My audience is somewhat specialized business/printing and publishing. In that time I have seen hits to my blog going up month by month. Yesterday I just crossed 2,500 hits for this the sixth month. Is that good, average, or suck? Of course you can go to my blog and check it out http://www.billprintbroker.com.
I have been struggling to find a voice I’m happy with, one that matches my personality and this article really helped. I’ve been writing as if an english teacher was going to grade it, but the heck with that. After reading your tips, I was immediately able to write a new post for my travel blog that more matches who I am. Thanks.
I have been struggling with this myself. Working in the type of environment I do (state agency public affairs) I am often asked to get out of my comfort zone by writing many different types of materials. It does indeed make me better at my job. I have often wondered how I can apply that to my blog (my other job) with the same results. This post is exactly what I needed to read today. Thanks.
oh, and another thing that helps my “mojo”, is studying other writers/bloggers and PR pro’s and their unique styles to see what works and what doesn’t.
Good tips here, I believe I have found my mojo now!
This is great advice. My posts tend to be on the philosophical and serious side, yet I have a great sense of humour. I’ve been wanting to write a funny post but I’m struggling with it. Twitter has been the place where I can be more playful, but I do want to share my sense of humour more through writing on my blog.
A bit of variation here and there is always nice I feel.
I sometimes play games with myself while writing. For example, in a piece about boxing movies, I used boxing-related verbs and nouns throughout, not just directly in the context of boxing. So a good half of the verbs in the piece had some connection to boxing.
This made use of the related words (corner, ring, glove, knocks out, circles, punch, rope, feigns) less obvious to the reader than going with the usual cliches like “A knockout of a movie.” The game made me use words I would not normally use and took me off auto-pilot.
Another fun thing is to adopt a character’s voice. Maybe someone you know well or maybe a generic voice, like a film noir narrator. If you’re writing about Obama, use some of his typical phrasings. Don’t overdo it, though, this is just between you and you.
I’m a blogging newbie, and this is exactly what I need. Thanks so much!
Superb! I never realized about this technique.
Well, it’s quite hard to experiment on writing styles but I agree with the quote ‘practice makes perfect’.
Tricky information, I have observed that too, and there are also times when I come up with something really good, but commonly end up with monotonous lines. It won’t be hurting too badly to try different styles, aside from the time that we spent thinking about how to deliver our articles in different voices and styles, there’s nothing much to worry about and it should I really help find our voice in the blogging world.
I’ll be trying this one, and have a blog for each kind of writing style let’s see which works out the best.
Great post. I’m a new blogger on SEO subject, and I have to find my style. I have to try your ideas. Thanks
Always love your stuff. This is helpful and I am def going to apply to days post to the blog.
You definitely nailed it on the head. Getting out of the comfort zone and daring to “Be Different” is a way to both grow and stand out from the crowd.
I’m all about living from and helping other people find their authentic voices AKA Mojo (love bringing the fun out)
Great post as usual, and I’ll be checking out your big list for a different look.
Take care my friend,
You’re a blogging mojo machine Darren, over the last couple of years you’ve sure fired things up. Nice work.
Hi Darren. Great post as usual. I have started blogging recently and I found problogger really helpful. Thanks for sharing this post.