Can You Change Writing Styles?

Last week I was reading a guest blog post on another blog when the writer wrote one specific line: “Get to the point as quickly as possible, say it in as few words as possible, and you’re done.”


by Markus Rodder

And he was. For a guest post I was thinking how relatively short the piece was. Frankly, it didn’t have a lot of personality in it, but I overlooked that so I could think about it some over the weekend. I don’t remember the blog, but I’ve heard and read that statement many times before, and thought it deserved to be addressed.

I tend to believe that we all need to learn how to write for the moment and purpose. As you may know, I do a lot of writing, not only for myself but for others. When I write on this blog, you’re “hearing” my voice, the way I normally speak. When I write on my business blog, sometimes you don’t hear the same type of conversational voice, sometimes you do. It depends on the topic. Actually, even on this blog you’ll see that when I’m talking about something technical, or a step-by-step process, it’s pretty straight forward.

I write for a couple of different industry blogs. One is real estate, and for the most part it’s fairly flat writing because, well, there’s really nothing about real estate that allows for much conversation and deviation except for the news about the industry. Where I differ there is that I don’t just write about the news; I kind of give an opinion about that particular bit of news and then hopefully end on a happy note to encourage people to continue looking to buy. Overall though, it’s pretty straight forward; nothing extraneous.

That differs with a wedding blog I write. I have a lot of fun with that one. It’s a mix of news, recommendations, and opinions. I’ve gotten really good with that topic, and thus I have a lot of fun with it and I put a lot of personality into the writing. Yet it still remains upbeat at all times, as well as instructional. If you saw any of the posts on that blog (sorry, can’t share the link), you probably wouldn’t know it was me if you compared it to this blog because I use a different “voice” for it.

Same thing with writing papers for others, whether it’s white papers or term papers, so to speak. In those instances those papers are very straight forward, no personality whatsoever, because they’re purpose is to explain, not entertain. Also, I know that the person with a term paper is going to have to change up some of the language so it looks like they wrote it; it has to sound like them, and I don’t know those people to try to sound like them.

I think what makes a person’s blog different is how they decide to use their language to enthrall our mental ear so that we see them as unique, entertaining, and worth giving time to. On this blog, I often try to use a storytelling technique when I’m talking about things because I’ve found with my newsletter that people really started sharing it with others, and thus it started growing, when I went to that format. I think we all like stories; who here can honestly say they didn’t enjoy having their parents read stories to them as a child?

Of course, there are times when getting to the point is imperative. If you’re asked a certain question or want a certain answer, you don’t want someone to pontificate for 45 minutes then tell you what you want to know; you want your answer now. That’s one of my gripes with how many people conduct webinars and podcasts, and why the hairs on my neck go up with many of the free presentations that say they’re going to tell you how to do something, then spend hours telling you everything except that to get you to buy something from them. Promising something and not delivering; I hate that.

Just something to consider when you’re writing your blog. To me, this is imminently more important than sitting around thinking about SEO when writing your post. Boring keeps people away; entertain them, and they’ll keep coming back for more. Kind of like adding a video as an entertaining touch:

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It Takes Guts To Have An Opinion

It’s hard to get mad at people who take the safe route and withhold their true feelings, in their own names, online. After all, sometimes people will say something that others don’t agree with, and no one wants to be derided for their feelings. Often, it seems the people who fear this the least are those with true hate in their hearts, those who could care less about everyone, only themselves and those like them. Those are the folks who believe it’s always better to be your ugliest self up front, then apologize later and say people took what you had to say out of context.

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I believe one can have an opinion and give an opinion without being too brusque or hateful. Sure, every once in awhile we all get a little heated in our passion, but that’s to be expected if you have a point of view. It’s how you express your point of view that determines the outcome of responses. For instance, if I boldly say I hate Rush Limbaugh (by the way, I do hate Rush Limbaugh), it opens me up to that bunch of wild eyed hooligans who believe every piece of trash that comes out of his mouth without question to write something here supporting him or castigating me.

If I feared that, I’d be inclined to keep my opinion to myself and never utter another statement; lucky for me, when these folks come out of the woodwork, the rest of us know where they are and how to deal with them, especially since, at least here, I don’t allow hidden or anonymous comments. Anyone who comments here has to give a legitimate email address, otherwise their comments are bounced. That’s one of the best reasons to have a comment policy, so no one can say they didn’t understand the rules of coming into space I’ve paid for.

However, if were to try to be a bit more genial in my description of Rush, and I were writing something other than this post, I might state instead “I totally disagree with every single point of view Rush Limbaugh has” and leave it at that. In that manner, I’ve expressed the same thing as hating him, but only in a nicer way. In that way, it’s less about him and more about my beliefs and thoughts.

And really, if you’re blogging, that’s what it’s supposed to be about, your beliefs and thoughts. There are two folks who frequent here that I see putting themselves out there all the time. Rose has taken on some subjects that others might find controversial, and has put her opinion out there on some things that not everyone agrees with, but at least she’s got the guts to do it, and I applaud her for it. Sire also does it on one of his blogs that most of you probably don’t know about, which I won’t write in full because, where we differ on the subject, is that I believe one of his terms is easily considered as controversial in America, a word I’ve never used and still won’t use, but where he’s from probably doesn’t connote the same feelings or meanings, that being his Load of BS blog.

Playing it safe has its places. My business blog is a lot less controversial at all times than this one, but I will take on racism on that blog because part of my business is talking about diversity issues. I also give a lot of opinions on that blog as it relates to business relationships, but my language is such that it’s more of an educational thing than a ‘fussing at someone’ thing.

I remember meeting a guy maybe 2 or 3 years ago in another city. I went down with a friend of mine who was part of a small panel on blogging. I was talking to him afterwards and asked him if the discussion was going to lead to him writing his own blog. He said no, because he didn’t want to hate people hate him if he said something wrong. To me, unless your opinion is a direct condemnation of others based on factors they can’t change, there’s no such thing as a wrong opinion. I thought it was too bad because this was a guy who seemed to have a lot of knowledge, and I think if he’d felt more free to write about things his blog would have done well.

One final thing. If you’re writing your blog now and continue to do it, great for you; keep on doing it. But if you’re writing about, well, nothing, get out of the water and take a stand on something, at least once. Yeah, controversy sells, but it’s more important to break out of your shell and actually show who you are every once in awhile, even if you know one or some of your readers might have a different point of view. It makes you imminently more interesting, and I think you’ll start to see your visitors and subscribers increase as well.

At least it’s worked so far for me. 🙂 By the way, did you remember that Valentines Day is Sunday?
 

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Everyone’s Got An Opinion

Yesterday I was going through some of the forums with my little bit of advertising on my writing services. When I’m posting those articles, I always include a link to some article samples so people can see that I can write different ways on different topics. None of them are overly long, as it’s only supposed to be a sample.

I ended up getting a response from one guy on one of those forums. He wasn’t looking for a writer; he was looking to basically be a jerk. He wrote that he didn’t like my presentation and that no one would ever hire me as a writer if that’s all I could do.

What did I do? I went back to that forum and thanked him for his comment, and moved on. I figured there was no reason to get into a back and forth with the guy because, after all, what would it have solved? My articles are what they are, on my website that I really market the writing services from, and that’s that.

Now, what he could have been griping about is my website, and if that’s the case, well, then that’s only one person’s opinion of what they expect certain websites to look like. Now don’t get me wrong, because something I’m known to do is look at websites and judge them on how well I think they look. However, what I look for is more balance and readability than whether I overly like something or not.

There are things that put off many people, and one of those things is a lack of balance from page to page. Another is multiple fonts on a webpage, and images that suddenly show up without any rhyme or reason. Or content with lots of spelling mistakes. Or a lot of flash or too little flash or, or, or… you decide it.

The truth is there are many different websites, over 120 million at this juncture if we include blogs. Many that look the same are template websites, and many of us hate those because, well, they’re template websites. There are also websites on free platforms, although many of those are starting to go away. There are people who put a website together using programs like MS Publisher, which isn’t really a website tool, and, well, you get what you get. Usually those people haven’t studied some of the nuances of what might make a good website, but still, it assaults your senses.

With that being said, not every webpage is going to be pleasant for everyone. And not every style is supposed to be the same either. My SEO website looks like it does because I wanted it to look that way. Every page is outlined the same, and the menu is in the same place on each page. I marked a couple of my products on each page also; that’s fair, since they’re my products.

No, I’m not asking people whether they like that page or not. I probably should, since it’s supposed to be a business website, but I’m not. It is what it is, just as your site is what it is, and your blog is what it is. I like it, it’s doing okay, and until I get sick of it, that’s just how it’s going to look.

Because, in the end, everyone has an opinion; how often are we supposed to bend to everyone else’s opinions?