It Is The Most Important Part Of Your Blog

You must find your voice.

You must find your voice.

Don’t ask Silverman to tell you what happened because you won’t get any answers but McGinty is a different story altogether. That guy hasn’t ever met a secret he can keep or a story he can’t embellish.

That is not the reason we call him “Iron Joe” but you won’t hear me tell you that story because Joe McGinty and I operate off of Mutual Assured Destruction which is my way of saying he has as much dirt on me as I do on him.

If you are wondering how this applies to writing/blogging the answer is simple.

The best bloggers are great storytellers and the best blog posts are stories. That is important because we are writing for people and people respond to stories.

What Is The Most Important Part Of Your Blog?

Ask a group of bloggers that question and you’ll get a variety of answers. The first one that comes to mind is usually something about writing great content.

It is a good answer but it is not as deep as I want to go. Nor am I looking for someone to talk about the structure of a blog post because that is not where I am going with this either.

But if you are looking for a good post about how to structure a post to improve reader experience I’d suggest taking a look at Tim’s post about structure and one he wrote the other day.

Structure is important but it is not where you find the strength of a blog. That lies in the voice of the writer.

Your voice is part of what distinguishes you from the crowd and keeps people from pointing and clicking their way onto the next shiny object online.

When you are one of a billion bloggers vying for attention and trying to tell the same or similar story that others are telling your voice is critical.

The Generalist Versus Specialist

Mcginty and I had a long conversation about the importance of being a generalist as a writer and not getting caught up in the hysteria surrounding specialization.

It stemmed from a telephone conversation Iron Joe had with a fella who said he wouldn’t hire him because he had written about too many different topics and that made it hard for him to figure out what he was good at writing.

I told Joe it sounded like this man lost sight of what he was trying to do. If you are trying to reach people and move them to action the person you want isn’t the man or woman who gives good SEO.

You want the person who can gather a few details about dust and make it interesting. You want the fellow who can write about 50 tons of bagels and make you want to know more about those bagels.

And you want to recognize that your voice isn’t always going to be loved by all of your readers. It is a given and a guarantee that people will look at your words and click away because it doesn’t work for them.

The best hitters in baseball strike out 70 percent of the time. More than a few people thought and or think Sinatra was among the finest singers ever but that doesn’t stop others from telling you they hate his music.

And let’s not forget one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes about Jane Austen.

I haven’t any right to criticise books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.
– Letter to Joseph Twichell, 13 September 1898

I don’t have any issue with Jane Austen but as the long time readers know I reference that quote because it is useful to remember that even those that authored the classics were not universally beloved.

Getting back to my discussion with Mcginty one of the other reasons we thought it was useful to be a generalist was because it never hurts a writer to try to mix things up a bit.

There is merit in trying to write with different voices, each based upon whatever topic you are writing about.

But when it comes to blogging, well that is where I tend to focus upon building a readership based upon a single voice.

That might sound like a contradiction to you, but that is the joy of people. You should have been there when Silverman and Mcginty went at it.

I can’t remember what they were discussing but I know that somehow the two switched sides. It was like Silverman started arguing skies were green and Mcginty were arguing they were purple and by the time it was over Silverman was convinced they were purple and Mcginty was yelling green.

The good news is I was there to make sure they knew the skies are blue, but we’ll let that rest for now. The last thing I need is to get into another three week debate with those two, especially when they won’t want to admit I was right the whole time.

****

And with that my friends it is time to end this and go light Chanukah candles. Happy Chanukah to all who celebrate and might I add I am thrilled not to have to go near a mall again this year.

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6 Comments

  1. Larry December 17, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I think you’re right Josh. Voice is what distinguishes a writer. If you like a persons voice, you will read just about anything they write.

  2. Tim Bonner December 17, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Hey Josh

    Thanks for linking out to my blog…twice! I owe you a beer :-).

    I’ve been moving more and more toward storytelling as a way to share experiences on my blog. I don’t do it as often as I’d like because I wonder whether anyone would be interested about that sort of stuff. I figure that I’m interested in other people’s stories though so there’s no harm in trying.

    I’ve been told on several occasions that I should narrow what I write about to maximise traffic. I keep fighting against that because well, I like to write about what I like to write about. It’s good to hear that the Generalist approach isn’t so bad afterall!

    • Josh December 18, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      @timbonner:disqus One of these days I’ll be back in the UK and I’ll make my way over to your side and we’ll get that beer.
      I am willing to bet you’d be surprised at how many people would be interested in your stories. We may have grown up on different continents but some experiences are universal and I am sure people would relate them.
      And then there are things that you consider to be mundane but to others they are exciting because they are novel and foreign to them.

  3. James Delles December 16, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Great article, and I appreciate the link to Tim’s site. Way to be a great resource. I hope you’re right about Generalist vs. Specialist. I have adhd, niching my content is …. impossible.

    • Josh December 17, 2014 at 7:59 am

      @jamesdelles:disqus Tim is a good guy and a great resource. There is always a lot of good information there. I don’t have studies I can quote today that provide hard numbers to cite, but more than 10 years of blogging has shown me you make readers happy by telling stories they find interesting, educational and or can relate to.
      That doesn’t have to always be limited to one topic.

      When I expanded the range of topics I covered here I noticed traffic increased and has done so steadily which also leads me to believe there is something to it.

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