Your voice is what makes your writing your own. It’s a distinct personality that is present in your writing, indicating to others that you, and not Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen, or Stephen King, wrote a blog post. The words you choose and the manner in which you arrange them makes up your voice in writing.
It can be light, professional, informative, straightforward, thought-provoking, or anything in between. When you use a metaphor to help readers better understand a complex idea, do you use sports as an example? Or are pets or parenting your go-to metaphors? It all depends on your voice in writing and how you inject that in your nonprofit’s blog.
Find Your Voice
Think of a few adjectives that you’d want readers to use to describe your nonprofit. Is your nonprofit friendly? Passionate? Helpful? Then your blog should be, too.
For input, you can ask volunteers and staff what the current voice of your nonprofit sounds like to them. If you already have a blog, you can look back at its most popular posts. How are they written? Look for ways to duplicate the voice in those posts across the entire blog.
At the same time, be thinking about how you don’t want to be described. For example, if your nonprofit provides hospice care, then humorous is most likely not an adjective you’d want to claim for your blog. Readers might see humor as insensitive or irreverent to your cause. Identifying what you don’t want to be places you one step closer to what you want to be.
Consider Content and Audience
Next, think about what you’ll be writing about the most. Do you use your blog for news updates? Or would a reader be more likely to find a spotlight of a volunteer or someone who’s benefited from your services on the blog? What you choose to write about is a big part of your blog’s personality. Having set categories lets visitors know what to expect when they visit.
Think about who your audience is, or who you’d like your audience to be. Your voice should go along with theirs. Write how you’d like to speak to them. They should be able to relate to it and connect with it emotionally. By following your nonprofit’s blog overtime, they’ll come to see it as an old friend.
Learn from Your Competitors
Identify your competitors and make your voice identifiably different from theirs. Your organization may strive for a similar goal, but there are most likely differences in how you approach that goal. Make those apparent in your voice.
When developing a voice in writing, it’s important to read other blogs that may be similar to yours. They say readers make the best writers. Find good examples of other blogs and try to pinpoint what you like about them. It may help inform the direction that you want to take your blog.
Consistency is important in voice. Developing a voice is like developing a persona. Every blog post should be written by this one persona that represents your nonprofit. Decide things like whether or not this persona uses slang and cultural references and what the vocabulary level of this persona is. Generally, the answers to these should correspond to those of your target audience.
If you won’t be the only person writing content for the blog, it’s a good idea to put together a checklist of best practices that all of your writers will have access to. You can include general tips along with the adjectives you selected to describe your voice in writing, adjectives to avoid, common writing topics, and your target audience.
A good voice lets your readers feel like they know you, as if they’re listening to an old friend. It lets you establish a relationship with your readers that allows you to connect with them emotionally. Develop a persona that represents your nonprofit and people will associate this voice with your nonprofit. When you ask for donations or volunteers, loyal readers will be more likely to answer your call.
Does your nonprofit have a unique voice? How did you develop it? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.