Find YOUR Blog Voice!

In the two years I have been in the blogosphere, I have seen some dramatic changes.

There was a lot of hype in 2010 and 2011 about niche blogging. Thousands of blogs are created each day, and thousands are abandoned. With so much noise and rattle and hum, and a landscape of millions of voices whispering, arguing and sometimes screaming for an audience, it made sense that writers began gravitating toward other writers covering the same material. Blogging communities around certain subjects have existed since the early 2000s, like the Adoption/Loss/Infertility community, but hives have also formed around parenting, gaming and food among many other topics. There was (and still is) a belief that a newbie would never be able to break through as a general diarist because too many established bloggers were already (Dooce, Ruthlace, CJane) there.

About eight months ago, I personally noticed that blogging was becoming increasingly VISUAL. Pinterest was aiding and abetting this movement, but so too was StumbleUpon and the general movement towards shorter attention spans: mobile phones, iPads, Facebook and Twitter are making information bits as short and punchy as ever.

Suddenly, lifestyle bloggers and fashion bloggers stormed the gates. Atlantic Pacific became as powerful in some ways as Anna Wintour, selling out clothing lines within minutes by featuring them on her site. Cupcakes and Cashmere just got 25,000 comments on ONE POST. Twenty five THOUSAND. That is not a typo.

We are in a tough economic situation, and what is Pinterest but the perfect escape from that? When I am stressed, I go on Pinterest. It’s the equivalent of eating a piece of cake/taking a valium/drinking a glass of wine/watching a romantic comedy. I ENJOY looking at pictures of normal (but pretty) people having fun wearing beautiful clothes, or adorable large families in matching Hunter boots, or Justine’s beautiful cakes. These images make me happy.

But trends come and trends go. There are diarists I have followed for two years. I’m not including my favorite ALI writers in here because then the list would be too long! 😉 These bloggers write about a variety of subjects (from parenting to life in general) and I can’t imagine not reading them.

Among them:

Dooce
Here Go Hippogriffs
Uppercase Woman

I think these writers have one thing in common: a VOICE. Their voice is a consistent, but fresh, unique, sometimes humorous take on life.

Ultimately, I think what we write about may not define us, but HOW we write and what our voice says will. Perhaps better role models should be columnists, like Dave Berry or Herb Caen, who wrote about many things but in the same voice?

What say you? Because I KNOW you will have many interesting and fascinating thoughts, as always!

PS: Thanks for all of your goodwill, thoughts and prayers. My daughter is a bit better today. Hooray!

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12 Comments

Filed under Blogging

12 responses to “Find YOUR Blog Voice!

  1. Esperanza

    I think you’re right, that for a while the belief was that unless you were coming in under a certain banner you could never get the following to make yourself stand out. Now that doesn’t seem to be the case, but I’m not really sure what it is about some blogs that they do attract insane amounts of people and quickly. I think you have to spend at least some time talking about food or DIY or home style style stuff at least SOME of the time to get a big following, but maybe I’m reading that wrong.

    I originally started blogging under the banner of “loss and struggling TTC” but as my life changed so did my blog. I currently blog about whatever is most important to me. It actually seems like the subjects that most attract people to my blog (or keep them coming back for more) are relationship struggles and depression/anxiety stuff. On my new blog, parenting posts absolutely get the most hits/comments. When I write about spirituality or other less mainstream topics no one wants to read.

    But I think you’re right, it is voice that keeps people coming back. The truth is you can read about any subject to your hearts content–there is never a lack of content out there if you really look–what has people coming back to certain blogs is the person’s point of view. They don’t want to know about divorce or parenting or marriage, they want to know what that particular blogger thinks about those issues.

  2. I like words and voices and those are what keep me coming back. Pictures and visuals are nice, but I want to get to know the person and his/her point of view. I absolutely don’t want to be defined by what I write about.

  3. This is SUCH a great post, jjiraffe! I continue to struggle with the fact that I don’t have a single thing I write about; I started gaining a blog following in the ALI community, but infertility doesn’t define me at all (though it is part of who I am), and I confess, I would *like* a larger following, just for the comments … if not for the selfish validation of my writing ability. 25,000 comments? You’d have to scrape me off the floor.

    Maybe I should be thinking less about what, and more about how. It’s been an interesting experience doing NaBloPoMo this month, if just for that purpose … to see what I write about when I don’t have anything to write about. And my voice is the one consistency, I think. Now, to learn how to use it more effectively …

    (and thanks for the shout out … I would make you a lopsided black forest cake any day. 😉

  4. Joining the chorus of those who began reading/following blogs for a specific reason/topic area (ALI), but now stick around for the voices. Melissa Ford is one of the greatest examples of that for me, I will read just about anything she wants to write about and I usually find it interesting because of the way she tell her stories.

    One of the greatest compliments I ever received about my blog was from a long time reader and infrequent commenter who told me that we have almost nothing in common (she is married. but living child-free by choice and does not practice any organized religion), but that she keeps coming back because she loves the way I write. I was blown away the day she told me that.

    I have especially enjoyed reading your and Justine’s NaBloPoMo posts this month because it has forced both of you to be less intentional (I think) about what you write and go with the flow more. I truly believe that “writing begets writing” and the more we practice our craft the more easily the words flow. Not that we don’t hit dry spells, lulls and funks, but overall it helps muse us more. It has been awesome to see what you two have come up with and I have eaten up every single one of your blog entries!

  5. Mel

    The only problem with niche blogging is that there always needs to be new people stepping into the niche to keep reading. There was a time in my life when I would have been a devoted reader of a baking blog. Alas, that time is no longer here. Whereas general diarists never go out of style. They’re like jeans — they may not break into the top 100 best selling items on Amazon, but they’re slow and steady, always there when you want to wear them.

  6. I still don’t get the market aspect of blogging. At all. It’s like… if we were sitting around having coffee and just shootin’ the shit about whatever – relationships, parenting, this amazing salad you created last night on the grill (see why I’m not a food blogger)… but like, I’d only show up to the conversation if I could wear a vest covered by logos paid for by my sponsors? Like… huh? That’s kind of what it feels like to me. I ignore ads on blogs I read, I hate sponsored posts – very, very rarely do they read in the author’s authentic voice – Here We Go Again manages to pull it off, I think – even Dooce sounds stilted when she does them – I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me.

  7. I am struggling with niche versus general right now. I have felt the need to branch out, now that I’ve pegged myself in to a very narrow title like “The Infertility Voice.”

    I think your observations about the emergence of visually-driven blogging hint at a greater issue we face in wider blogosphere: we’re holding people’s attention less and less. It’s a struggle now, when I write, as I watch the word count climb higher and higher. After 500 words, how may people will still be reading? After 800? After 1000? Our attention spans have been reduced to “Likes” and “+1s” instead of comments – pictures and memes instead of thoughtful commentary. As someone with a communications background, it’s both fascinating to watch… and disturbing to participate.

    So where does a generalist fit in, in the context of shorter and shorter attention spans? More prominently than a niche writer, I would imagine. But even niche has to broaden at some point – take YA novels. Hunger Games, Harry Potter and really even Twilight – are all novels in the YA niche, but have appealed to a much broader audience.

    I’m just torn, I guess. I want to write about a LOT more than just infertility stuff now. But I don’t have the patience to create (yet another) new blog and migrate that following over. I’d actually be curious to hear more of what Esperanza thinks about this, since she recently started a 2nd blog.

  8. Came from Justine’s blog… wanted to add my two cents’. I started blogging out of boredom, without a niche to my name, though always with a hopeful eye to the day when it might turn into a pregnancy and then a parenting blog. It is, now, mostly – but I also blog what I’m having for dinner or the movie I saw last week or where I went on vacation or how it feels to be an ex-pat.

    My blog is my space, and I mostly made it to have somewhere to write; I hoped that if I could write well enough, people would read, and maybe even return for more. Julia of Here Be Hippogriffs is my favourite blogger – her voice is so individual, so friendly and informative and just hysterically funny, that I would read what she had to say about alphabetising the phone book, if she decided to blog about it, because I know it would be good.

  9. With niche bloggers, it sometimes seems like the majority of readers are bloggers in the same niche who are both looking to connect and looking to gain more readers of their own – both of which are very valid goals. I was really involved in the healthy living blog world for a while, until I realized that I was reading the same post over and over again. I love what you said about voice…it’s so true. It doesn’t matter what you write about. If your voice is strong and true and original, I will read and love what you write.

    (And also, i am SO jealous that you’re justine’s roomate. I want to come along and be your other roomate. Ha!)

  10. I don’t do pinterest and I’m likely to skip picture-heavy posts without even reading them. I want words, I want the writer’s perspective, I want dialogue and conversation. I can get pretty pictures anywhere, but I go to blogs for meaning and connection.

  11. Pingback: NaBloPoMo: The Ripple Effect

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