Writing has become more personal over the last 10 years
I recently ordered Everybody Writes by Ann Handley (Wiley, 2014) because a colleague recommended it. The day it arrived, I settled down in a comfy armchair with a cup of tea looking forward to having my writing ideas stretched and challenged. I soon realised that it is not that sort of book and if I had read the subtitle first, I would have realised that (Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content).
It is exactly what it sets out to be: a comprehensive, easy-to-read guide written in a very modern way. By modern way, I mean:
- Short chapters (many less than two pages), short paragraphs and short sentences
- Catchy and informative subheadings
- Lots of numbered or bulleted lists
- Key words highlighted in bold at the beginning of lists
You can see examples of such writing at Copyblogger, a website on content marketing.
Do your favourite writers own a cat or a dog?
None of that is any surprise, but what Ann Handley’s book made me think about is how writing has become much more personal over the last few years. I thought about a few writers I follow via blogs, podcasts or e-newsletters and in several instances, I knew if they owned a cat or a dog.
I started exploring further.
Linkedin – first or third person?
Many profiles on LinkedIn are now written in the first person. Anything I’ve read about LinkedIn profiles this year is recommending that you use the first person. But when I looked at a few of my connections, third person is still common. (My profile is in the first person.)
This search did unearth some words to avoid though. LinkedIn publishes the 10 most overused buzzwords each year and the list for 2016 is:
- Track record
- Extensive experience
More solopreneurs have websites using their own names
I think more solopreneurs have websites using their own names rather than hiding behind generic names. I recently encouraged a friend to use her own name, but confess I don’t have a marymorel.com.au website myself. I do own the domain name and would like to create a site soon because it would draw the two sides of my business (grammar and board papers) together. I would never have even considered that 10 years ago.
People provide more personal snippets and anecdotes
Maybe writers have always done this, and I’ve not noticed, but I think writers today provide more personal information and anecdotes.
For instance, Ann Handley starts her introduction with the sentence:
Last Tuesday, for the first time in my life, I did a push-up.
Sonia Simone, one of the founders of Copyblogger, says on her website:
I’m Sonia Simone, and I’m the marketer for people who hate marketing. My superpower is creating better customer relationships with incredibly effective communication.
That, and I make a kickass chocolate cream pie.
How do you make your personality shine through your writing?
I enjoy listening to Sonia Simone’s podcasts, but a comment she made recently made me pause. She said that even if you’re writing informative copy, your personality should still shine through to make your writing engaging.
While mulling about developing a personal website, I got a quote from a designer. I asked her what she thought of my current websites and she commented that she didn’t learn much about me.
I wrote my websites before I was aware of this trend to more personalised content. Also, I am an introvert. Having just read Susan Cain’s excellent book: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Crown Publishing Group, 2012), I am relieved to know that I am in good company.
The challenge for introverts is how much of themselves to reveal without feeling stupid. Although I am happy to read about other people’s cats and dogs, I am unlikely to talk about my cats in my blogs. Oops, I just did!
Any suggestions for how introverts can write personalised copy?
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