I’m so excited to introduce you to this lady! I stumbled across her blog Kate Sammon not too long ago and just fell in love with her writing. So, I invited her to guest post so she can share her tips for adding personality into our writing.
If there was a choice between a perfectly crafted, spelling free, grammatically perfect piece of writing, and a piece of writing written with soul, passion and a ton of personality, I’d pick the later every single time.
There are so many tools out there now which are apparently helping us to improve our writing. But unfortunately, I fear that they are turning the written word into some kind of robotically produced product. Less tools, more connection + creativity. So, I’ll shut up now, introduce Kate and then let's get into the core of the post.
Kate Sammon is from the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. She is a sometimes writer, sometimes performer, and constant cubicle dweller. She currently lives in Seattle where she is basking in the Pacific Northwest’s natural wonders.
She writes because she thinks storytelling is a crucial unifying mechanism for humanity. Kate writes a regular advice column on her blog, along with other timely and/or random posts. She is also writing this post in the third person right now.
7 Ways To Add Personality Into Your Writing
No one wants to read canned content. If you’re looking to make your content accessible and relatable, put some personality in it. Preferably your personality. It makes the experience of reading AND writing more enjoyable. From word choice to self-awareness, there are multiple ways to go about bringing authenticity and color to your work.
In the list below, I map out how to do just that.
1) Write How You Speak
Years ago, back when AOL Instant Messenger was the most exciting and liberating way for teens to communicate, I spent way too much of my time on there chatting with cute boys and friends.
One night, after a long conversation with my friend Joe, he said, “Sammon, I like talking to you on here because your messages sound the same as when you’re talking to me in person.” I was flattered. No one had ever complimented my instant messaging skills before (or since, for that matter). Back then, it came naturally, as a way to clearly communicate; now I make sure to write that way. When I don’t do that, when I try to jazz it up too much or try to sound like someone else, my stuff falls flat. Every. Time.
If you want to tell me how good the pizza you ate last night tasted, tell me as if I’m sitting across the room from you. Don’t tell me it made your taste buds dance if you’d never say that in person. If you’d tell me that the crust was the perfect combo of crunch and chew, then write that! If it made for a great hangover breakfast the next morning, write that too. Make like you’re having a conversation with me. When we write like that, we sound more relatable and we get our point across more effectively.
2) Don’t Try Too Hard
Growing up, when I’d come home and complain about a teacher’s pet or a manipulative queen bee at school, my mom would always say, “Oh, she’s just a Try Too Hard!” My fiancé and I have adopted this in our own conversations, but we’ve shortened it to ‘TTH’.
Don’t be a TTH, and especially don’t be a TTH in your writing. Don’t go into a piece sure of the tone you’re going to have. Let the tone evolve as the piece gets rolling. This is a mistake I’ve made plenty of times; I’ll go into a piece trying to sound like a foul-mouthed brassy broad when in reality, my point is more effectively made with subtle humor and sarcasm.
Let the tone find you and then nurture it from that point on.
3) Do Your Research
This might seem like the most obvious advice I could give, but it’s always worth repeating. A real, secure knowledge about your topic is a gift to your process.
Once you have all the facts straight, you’re free - free to write on top the foundation of facts, free to write like yourself.
4) The Thesaurus is Your Best Friend
I know I said you need to write like you talk, but every so often you need the *perfect* word, and sometimes it’s not at the top of your mind. That’s when the thesaurus comes in.
Before I go any further, I need to make something clear: do NOT be a TTH with the thesaurus. Don’t use it for every other word. Use this tool when you’re really trying to come in with a gut punch, or trying to eloquently express where you’re coming from.
A varied vocabulary is something every writer needs in their tool box, and it also serves to set your work apart. Play around with different words, find the ones that serve the sentence the best and make the most sense. That’s where the art of writing lives.
5) Brain Dump
A few years back, I took a writing workshop in which instructor told us about ‘brain dumping’. (That’s a nice visual, huh?) It’s essentially free-writing, but I liked the idea of dumping all your thoughts about a given topic onto a page.
That’s how I like to start a lot of my pieces. I find that while there’s a lot of unnecessary stuff there when I’m done, there’s also some good, meaty stuff that doesn’t come out when I do stop-and-go writing. We’re more honest when we spent five to ten minutes writing without stopping.
Dump it out and see what kind of gems you find. They’re in there.
6) Get an Accountability Buddy
Find someone to read your stuff who really a) knows you AND b) knows good content. I’m lucky enough to live with a writer, but another one of my good friends has had editing experience in the past. I run all my stuff by both of them.
Just recently, I spent too little time on a piece about the importance of living in a city. It had the trappings of click bait and as soon as my ‘editor’ read it, he called me out on it: “This sounds like something that would be on a sign sold at Target.” And you know, he was right. It was crap. I felt it when I was writing it. When you have someone who knows you and your voice well, it’s hard to get inauthentic stuff past them.
7) Be Yourself
I’m going to end this by channeling that poster that hung on the wall in your 6th-grade classroom. You know, the one that said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken!” You can’t accurately convey personality in your writing if you’re being a fake.
I don’t know how to appropriately guide you towards a greater sense of self-awareness in this blog post, but I can say that if you are self-aware enough to know yourself, that should come through in your content.
There are a lot of trends with online content right now, certain types of generic voices. Avoid them at all costs.
The more genuine and original your content seems, the more credible it is.
Everyone wants their guest posts to go viiiirrraaaaal. Who doesn’t want to see a flood of traffic coming into their website.
As long as your conversion on site is good, a big peak of traffic transfers into a big peak of leads, enquirers, downloads or sales.
Add in the extra bonus of getting massive amounts of exposure for your brand and it's clear why getting viral content is a goal for most marketeers.
Before we get into this post though I want to highlight something super important. As a content marketeer or business owner I don’t think you are ever entirely happy with the results your content is getting. There is always more to be done, there is always another level to reach and a new tactic to try.
So, if you are feeling a little teary or frustrated about your results so far don’t worry about it. Move forward from where you are, keep on learning, testing and improving.
The only way is up!!
There’s a lot on the internet about the anatomy of a viral blog post, but not so much about Guest Posts. There are subtle differences between the two which in my experience make a difference to how well your content does, today I’m going to share some key tips to help you land viral guest posts.
CHECK THE AUDIENCE IS LISTENING
Volume stats don’t matter, engagement does.
Website owners will have different levels of engagement on different channels depending on where their focus is. So, always check engagement levels on social media & the site you plan to guest post on.
A good way to gauge engagement is to comment on one of the posts or respond to a tweet or Instagram update, also great to kick off the relationship. See if you get a response. If all you get is tumbleweed, then very likely the engagement from their audience will be low. Conversation is a two way stream so if it’s not a priority for them, it’s likely they won’t have much engagement on that channel.
**This depends on the level of site you are approaching, since I mostly write about niche level websites instead of sites like Forbes / Entrepreneur / Huffington this applies in most cases.
For those who want a metric to track focus on time on site & pages per session. You can find an estimate of these stats on Similar Web for free.
BUILD POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS
I don’t hear ANYONE talking about this which is pretty crazy. The relationship that you have with the website owner and how they perceive you and your content can hugely influence its results - they are going to be publishing / promoting it.
This is why sometimes you can get far better results from smaller (2K - 10K per month), niche websites who really value your voice and the quality content you’ve provided them. Over a mid level (10k - 100,000K+) who have less time and more people vying for their attention.
What really matters in all cases, no matter who you are speaking too is the relationship you are building with that person and how you position yourself. Remember, this is a business connection you are creating.
Many business owners outsource their outreach and relationship building to low quality link builders or interns. That is the same as outsourcing your customer service to an Indian company with poor English. You will get cheaper rates, but in the long run what kind of an impression are you giving off about your company?
Play the long game. Always.
Right now you are discussing a guest post. But it could turn into a campaign, cross promotion of a product a partnership or a good friendship. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the buzz of online promotion that often we forget there is another human on the other end of the computer. I for one am often guilty of this and it’s something I need to constantly check in with.
GRAB ATTENTION AND KEEP IT
Ideally you want your guest posts to grow two metrics;
1.Grow your search engine traffic
2.Send you direct traffic
Indirectly your brand presence will also grow but it’s more challenging to hook this up to your guest posting activities because you probably have a lot of other marketing tactics going on as well helping your brand grow.
Number one is always covered as long as you link either in the bio or the body of the article back to your site. There are nuances to this but I’m not going to go into details now because I want to focus on the second metric.
This is a lot harder to achieve and something I am constantly aiming to improve at Ginger Marketing. Our goal is to create content which not only grows our clients search engine traffic, but which sends them direct leads month on month - just think of the HUGE value of that!
Not only will our clients get monthly accumulating leads, but they will be highly warm leads because they are coming from a site the potential customer already knows and trusts.
MAN I GET EXCITED JUST THINKING ABOUT THE POSSIBILITIES AND HUGE VALUE THAT DELIVERS!
We have already achieved this with several client guest posts but not consistently, we are working on it.
There are many, many layers involved in getting this right but the first is to grab attention and keep it. That means spending time on the title & the first two sentences of your content.
The average goldfish has a longer attention span than a human being now - you don’t have much room for error.
So make sure your title cuts straight to the core of the issue, speaks directly to the person you want to attract and touches them emotionally.
Lets look at a guest posts we recently did for Denise, one of our lovely clients as an example;
5 Ways to Conquer New Job Anxiety
(100+ social shares to date)
Why this title rocks.
The reader knows exactly what they are going to get from this post if they click on it.
2.It contains X 2 highly emotional words; CONQUER + ANXIETY
The title remains positive even though it touches on a highly emotional topic. No-one likes to admit that they have new job anxiety, we are supposed to be strong, excited and up for the challenge!! But the fact of the matter is that new, is scary, and anxiety comes even without a welcome mat - RUDE!
This title speaks to anxiety but it also speaks directly to the people who want to CONQUER it. This changes the tone of the article making it positive & touching on the emotion of the audience.
3.It attracts the right customer
The two places I always start when creating content titles;
a) Who is the ideal customer
b) What is the primary challenge you are helping them with
Denise wants to attract driven, accomplished business women who need occasional support & guidance. A core challenge she helps clients through is career transition. Whether that’s working out where to go next, attracting the right next move, or transitioning to a new job.
So, you can see how the title speaks directly to her target audience.
PROMOTE PROMOTE PROMOTE
I cannot emphasise this enough. Don’t just expect that the website owner is going to spend time driving tons of traffic to your post. Sometimes you need to prove your contents value before they will realise how freaking awesome it is.
So, share it with your audience at the very least.
To help you with guest post promotion we have also create a group board over on Pinterest so you can share your Viral Guest posts. So hop on over, follow our boards and then send a message so we can add you as a collaborator.
>>> VIRAL GUEST POSTS <<<<
If you want to go one step further then share your post on some relevant Facebook Groups. Chantel has created a fab Facebook group promotion calendar >> So check that out on her site as well.
Top tip >> If you are tweeting your post out make sure you tag the website owner’s account. More often than not they will retweet your post.
We hope you have found these tips useful. Here is a quick and pinnable summary for you to remember the key steps to viral guest posts.
We've love to hear in the comments if you have some extra tips to add! Have you found some techniques and tactics that have worked for your business?
Written by Cheryl A Clarke Chief Happiness Officer & Director Of Ginger Marketing (unless stated otherwise)