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Blogosphere Trends + Your Blog’s Tone

Posted By Kimberly Turner 11th of July 2010 Pro Blogging News 0 Comments

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). Darren

After a brutal summer flu took me down and prevented me from writing last week’s weekly trends post, I’m especially happy to be back to bring you a fresh list of the most blogged-about stories of the last seven days. This week, along with the trends provided by Regator, we’ll be discussing your blog’s tone/voice. We’re talking about something more than first person versus third person or opinion versus hard news.

Think of your favorite blog. What keeps you coming back for more? The subject matter is certainly important, but it’s likely that the blogger’s voice and tone also play an important role in your appreciation for the content. Bloggers whose personalities shine through their writing are often more appealing, engaging, readable, and influential than those who hide their true voices. Read your three most recent posts. Do they “sound” like you? As in, would people who know you well in real life recognize your voice in your posts? Don’t beat yourself up if the answer is no. Maybe purposely adopting a voice that differs from your everyday voice, or maybe you haven’t been blogging long enough to find your writing voice. Give it time and, most importantly, have faith that your personal tone and voice will come with time and practice.

When I was a writing tutor in college, one of my peers who could verbally tell the most hilarious, charming stories you’d ever want to hear told me that he “couldn’t write.” I asked him to put down his pencil and tell me the story he’d told me a few days prior. I started a recorder and let him tell it. He conveyed it in his usual witty way and, when he was through, I stopped the recorder and we transcribed it, word for word. It was utter brilliance. He just needed to stop worrying about sounding “writerly” and start letting his natural tone come through. Let’s take a look at some posts about this week’s top stories that demonstrate the author’s voice:

  1. Independence DayThe Frisky’s “6 Ways To Celebrate Being Single And Independent This Independence Day!” is an example of that blog’s positive, encouraging, reassuring tone. The post’s suggestions to raise a glass and celebrate by making a new friend or indulging in a craving are cheerful and bubbly.
  2. LeBron JamesFanhouse’s posts, such as “ESPN Defends LeBron James Special,” are professional, straightforward, and unbiased. While this tone brings less personality than some others, it’s a valid choice for those who want to stay closer to the path of traditional journalism.
  3. World Cup – Like all of Slate’s blogs, Sports Nut’s tone is conversational but also slightly high-brow. It doesn’t come close to being snooty, but the language (“idée fixe,” “guru of aesthetic purity,” “quixotic displays of good taste”) in “Why all soccer fans should root for Holland to lose to Spain” certainly caters to an educated audience.
  4. Lindsay Lohan – The tone of ParentDish’s “Opinion: What Went Wrong With Lindsay Lohan” is sympathetic, earnest, and personal—traits that work well on a parenting blog.
  5. Gulf of MexicoThe Consumerist often adopts a slightly cynical, snarky tone, but “BP Spill Now Spoiling All Gulf States As Tar Balls Hit Texas” takes it to the next level with bonus sarcasm and bitterness…but given the subject matter, they can hardly be blamed for that.
  6. The Twilight Saga – As evidenced by the not one but two exclamation points in the headline itself, the tone of “Twilighters Own The Box Office! Eclipse Takes In $261.2M Worldwide!” is the same over-excited, enthusiastic, melodramatic style for which Perez Hilton has become famous. Love him or hate him, the man has a distinct voice.
  7. Michael Steele – When it comes to being controversial, angry, opinionated, and divisive, political bloggers have every other niche beat, hands down. “Michael Ames–Lying Liberal Scumbag” from The Tygrrrr Express fits the mold, complete with “If Michael Ames thought I was fiery in Idaho, he is going to get the Bachmann Turner Overdrive treatment.” Bringing BTO into it is hardcore, am I right?
  8. Mel Gibson – Unlike the aforementioned angry political bloggers, Feministing is not always full of rage but it is always exceptionally straightforward and to-the-point, as indicated in “Mel Gibson: Bonafide Abusive A$$hole.”
  9. Emmy NominationsBuddyTV’s tone is conversational but more importantly, the voice indicates that you are reading the words of  a highly authoritative expert, as indicated in “The 10 Biggest Emmy Snubs: Where’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’?
  10. The Social Network – Like its sister sites in the Gawker blog network, Defamer’s tone is colloquial, informal, and often tinged with humor. “The Facebook Movie Teaser Trailer 2: Too Fast, Too Serious” is a perfect example of how well this tone can work.

Are you careful to keep a consistent tone on your blog? Share your thoughts in the comments. See you next week!

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

  1. Hi,

    Great point you raise there regarding a blog’s tone/voice. You are right “Bloggers whose personalities shine through their writing are often more appealing, engaging, readable, and influential than those who hide their true voices.”

    I have seen this on a number of blogs. And it truly makes it appealing and engaging. You also look forward to future posts, as you kind of have a (sense of) belonging to the blog/blogger, all because of his tone.


  2. I like your idea of the tape recorder thingy but I have a question, what would your advice be for non-native English speaker to write in a better voice? English isn’t my first language (although I do speak it with my husband and son) and now living back in my home country I’m still strugling in finding that voice. My writing has improved but I still feel like it’s not fully there yet. Thanks!

  3. Tone/Voice that’s something I was afraid of when I started blogging, because I just didn’t know how English being my second language was going to handicap me, but so far it hasn’t. Actually I think people like it that I am not writing like every other professional writer is out there.

    I do keep a consistent tone I believe on my blog; since its the only way I know how to write.

  4. I’d love it if you would take a look at my blog, and tell me what you think about my voice. Because as far as I’m concerned, that’s what I have on my side, and if I’m wrong, oooops. Thank you in advance:).

  5. Long time lurker here(!), but I this post made me shout “Yes!”

    “The subject matter is certainly important, but it’s likely that the blogger’s voice and tone also play an important role in your appreciation for the content.”

    A lot of the content that appeals to me can be found in numerous places, but it’s the blogger’s voice and personality that helps me choose which of those places I appreciate the most. I would even go so far as to say that once I find a blogger I like, I’m likely to value their opinion on things that are outside their expertise. I guess it’s similar to celebrity endorsements. :)

  6. I feel your pain about the summer flu. It was terrible. Fortunately, I try to have 3-5 blogs ready to go in advance just for situations like that when I am unable to blog. It was really nice to only have to push the “publish” button rather then a couple hours of composing a fresh blog.

    While I am not a professional blogger, I do blog to support my insurance practice. The daily discipline forces me to organize my thoughts better. I read your’s and other blogs on blogging to gather tips. If I am going to do something I want to do it as well as I can.

  7. Hi Kimberly, glad you’re feeling better.

    If your voice matches who you are…you’re authentic. If it doesn’t, you’re not for real.

    As you so capably point out, this disconnect is not always intentional. Some of us freeze up when we start “writing.”

  8. Consistency is the key factor i agree with you :)

  9. I couldn’t possibly hope to sound “writery,” and so I write like I speak and think that’s one of the reasons I have a successful blog. My tone is casual and conversational and hopefully I tell good enough stories without making them think too hard. They read enough blogs in a day.

    Do I write in my true voice? You bet. Anyone reading my blog would recognize me immediately.

  10. That is a really cool idea about using a recorder and then transcribing the story. I may use that one myself. Thank you.

  11. In the blogging industry you definitely have to be up on all of the current trends and you blog’s tune has to reflect those trends

  12. I agree that a strong voice is necessary, but I don’t know if consistency is quite as important as you put it. Different subjects are suited to different tones and word choices, and I feel that having an immutable voice is really that interesting to readers. I don’t think that there should be radical changes in writing tone on a day-to-day basis, but overrelying on one style of communication is a little boring.

  13. Hi Kimberly,
    Thank you for reminding me to read my posts to see if they reflect my true voice. I hope they do.

    I sense the best way is to ask friends to check my blog and see if it sounds like me or someone else!


  14. is consistency also depend on the count of posting in a week instead of just the topic?

  15. hey Kimberly,
    well said. You excerpt it in such a way that differs from the rest. By far, you are right about blogging is not exactly just about voicing it through a ‘first person’ or ‘third persons’ point of perspective.
    I have read blogs that are so enticing and captivating that I was completely oblivious to whether the fact it was addressing that matter simply to me as ‘YOU’ or something else.
    However, i bet that may be fairly the reason why readers tend to come back often.
    Maybe at a point, the readers as so captivated by the way you ‘speak’ that they do not really bother about what sort of information you will b giving.
    it is just like a singer. you loved his/her voice, her pitch, the way his/her tone complies to the beat. therefore doesn’t matter what genre she/he sings, you can’t help but to ‘fall in love’ with it ‘once again’.

    i have enjoyed reading it.
    cheers =)

  16. Hi Kimberly and Darren!
    This was an excellent article. The last week has been all about finding my voice and being myself on my blog. It’s been a theme that just keeps popping up time and time again!

    I am starting to get more comfortable in my writing, and my voice is starting to come through more and more. For me it’s just a matter of relaxing into it, relaxing with myself and just letting it flow, not trying to force it. :)

  17. As I was reading the comments I saw Kathy’s and immediately knew who she was based on just her comments. Tone of voice is so important to establish and remain true to. I also think it is important to keep that tone when commenting, to a degree of course, because people will spot you on other blogs and if your tone shines through they will follow you back to your own blog.

  18. Kimberly, I was just talking to someone this morning about tone and voice on blogs, so it was exciting to see this post.

    Your selection of examples was excellent. Kudos!

  19. Thank you Kimberly for your emphasis on the need to be genuine in what we offer via our blog.
    This certainly works for Nature. I have a gigantic blue spruce right outside my study window. I spend a lot of time with this tree. Seems to me that here is success personified: nothing perturbs this spruce, and nothing stops it either.
    So a big storm rips through Denver? This magnificent tree doesn’t get in a sweat, just moves gracefully with the wind…
    Whatever the future of my blog if my tone and voice is authentic as you suggest I can hold my head high at the end of the day…as Shakespeare put it, “This above all, to thine own self be true…”

  20. This was a very interesting article. I really needed to read this article. I never thought about the voice I’m using. I teach lower level children Monday through Friday, and it really takes me a while to write and article. To put my mind and thoughts into the adult place. I’m never relaxed when I write. And I spend a lot of time wondering if what I write makes sense.

    Much thanks to Kimberly for this article.


  21. I probably need to just write what I want to, and quit trying to make it so technical. Still a rookie, so hopefully I can find my voice soon.

  22. Hey Kim, I do agree with you that it is much better to have your own voice when writing an article instead of having too much of a third person approach to writing. It is more engaging to your readers and they can tell if its you or not from the style of your writing. I think blogs that have their own voice/individual tone are far better at being successful then those that sound too impersonal.

  23. As a relatively new blogger, I am still working on finding my own voice and tone. I love your examples. I think posts where I was more relaxed when writing or genuinely amused while writing get better attention and response from readers.

  24. My writing voice is freer and more uninhibited than my speaking voice, which is probably true of a lot of introverts.

    I’ve had friends tell me that my writing voice is different than my speaking voice – more bold and confident. As long as you are writing from the heart and your writing voice is consistent, that’s the important thing.

  25. When I first started blogging I was hesitant to add a certain tone in my articles, but it does keep your audience active.

  26. […] academic papers, and formal writing. Although we have talked about the importance of using your personality and opinions to strengthen your blog, there may be times when you simply want to convey the facts. […]

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