Researching for a specific blog post can mean reading dozens of people’s opinions, knowledge and points of view…each in their own voice. So how, after being influenced by all this great information, can you write your own informative post whilst keeping true to your personal style? Here are two methods that work…
This is a very common problem and a question I get asked quite often. Most recently, it was submitted by an attendee of this month’s free Office Hours webinar. While it didn’t get directly addressed during the webinar, I thought it was an important one to discuss.
You Gotta Start Somewhere
Years ago, when I first started my freelance copywriting biz, there was a common practice known as “spinning” articles. It was simply a way to game Google into boosting a site’s search rankings by using “article mills” such as Ezine.
The way it worked was (and I use the term “worked” loosely here), you’d search for an article that was appropriate for the keyword you were targeting. You’d then “spin” the article three or four times, rewriting it in your own words so that you wouldn’t be flagged for duplicate content. The spun articles would be submitted to each different article mill and Google would think you were the most prolific writer in whatever field you were pimping.
Sadly, this was how I made most of my money during those first few humbling months of freelancing. At the time it felt like something that should be listed under the Geneva Conventions, but now I can see how I benefited from the experience. Hindsight is such a forgiving friend.
The methods I learned are still very useful today. It’s important to research a post, and know what you’re talking about. And it’s equally important to maintain your own voice.
Here are the two methods I still utilize to maintain my own voice.
The Dine and Dash Method
With the Dine and Dash method, you first want to collect all your resources. Go ahead, open a hundred tabs, or however many it takes, and leave them open. Now, grab a notepad and get ready for some speed-research.
Begin to scan each article for the specific points you’ll need for your post. Write them down on your notepad but NEVER use a complete sentence. This is key! Take sufficient notes, but only in fragments, no complete sentences.
It’s preferable to also take these notes by hand because you’re much less prone to copy word for word. Writing these by hand will also kinda force you into keeping it brief. (For some of us, those handwriting muscles haven’t had a good workout in decades.)
Wait a day or two. Do not research for the post anymore. Do not read through your notes. Just, let it be. Then, when you feel as though most of the information has been wiped from your mind and replaced by things like grocery lists and Facebook memes, grab those notes and write your post.
This method takes a little more time than my next suggestion, but if you tend to be a parrot (one who quickly begins to mimic those around them,) it’s the best method to stay true to your voice.
The Paragraph Paraphrasing Method
If you’re pressed for time or are feeling confident in your abilities, you can move on to the Paragraph Paraphrasing method. This one is slightly trickier and forces you to pay active and constant attention to the voice coming through your keyboard.
Again you’ll want to pre-screen the articles you’ll be using for your post, but this time narrow it down to less than five. Preferably three or less. This will be determined by the amount of information you’ll need, and the appropriateness of the information contained in your references pieces.
You’ll want to select the paragraphs in your references that contain the most pertinent information and begin to re-write each one in your own words. Do this paragraph by paragraph, making sure that you’re not re-using any words or phrases that are not absolutely necessary.
Then, once again, walk away from your writing for awhile and come back to it only when your mind feels fresh. Give it another quick review taking great care to notice, and revise, anything that doesn’t sound like something you’d say naturally.
Getting to Know You (and Your Voice)
Obviously, before you can maintain your own voice, you must first define it. Your online voice should be intentional and with purpose.
For example, at IvyCat we like to keep things light, conversational and even a tad irreverent at times (because who doesn’t love a little irreverence, am I right?) Determine what voice best suits your ideal clients and always write in this style.
Keep in mind that any post you write should be conversational in tone, no matter how well researched it is. Your readers are reading your blog because they already love your voice. Don’t let them down!
Don’t forget to be cool…It’s the Law
Let us not forget about copyright infringements and the dangers therein! Never, EVER, copy information directly from another source without giving proper attribution (almost always in the form of a linked reference.)
Remember, you’re using the resources for information you need for your own post. Let your readers know where you got your information so that 1.) your readers stay better informed and 2.) you stay within the copyright laws.
Another great benefit to always linking to resources? These resources will notice (they’ll receive a ping-back stating that you’ve linked to them) and might even be so kind as to share your post on their social media channels. Karma’s your friend!
Leave a comment and let us know some hacks you like to use to maintain the integrity of your voice when writing.
Featured image courtesy of gerriet