Voice Lessons: How to Get Writers to Match Your Site’s Voice

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You heard all about this content marketing thing your business is supposed to be doing, so you dive in. You hire freelance writers to fill up your blog and social media sites, but you neglect to elaborate on your site’s voice. Your customers look for consistency between your site, marketing messages, and content, so when the voice isn’t quite right in one of those areas, it’s jarring. Luckily, defining your site’s writing voice isn’t nearly as complicated or complex as it sounds.

Defining Your Audience

Who are you writing for? Defining your audience is the most important part of establishing your site’s voice. Look at all the handy market research your marketing department leaves on your desk in those dry-looking reports. They might be boring to read through, but they give you essential information for your audience. Got a lot of millennials? You want to use a quickly engaging style with modern slang. Trying to get the attention of seasoned CEOs in their 60s? Ditch the modern pop culture references and go with a refined and reserved style. If you aren’t sure what kind of vocabulary your target audience uses on a day to day basis, take yourself to the sites they frequent. Check out the biggest websites for the demographic, investigate social media, and sign up for forums to get an idea of the terminology common for your customers.

Choosing Your Tone

Once you know what words to use, you need to know the tone to attach to your message. You have several considerations for establishing the appropriate tone for your content. The first question to ask yourself is, “Which channel am I using this content on?” Most companies engage in multi-channel marketing but fail to tailor their tone for the particular channel they use. An engaging tone for Twitter doesn’t translate over to your company blog or direct mail. For example, social networking uses informal and conversational tones to help drive engagement. A thought leadership piece published in a white paper may use a more formal, straightforward, and authoritative tone.

Creating a Style Guide

When you hire freelance writers, you want a style guide, so they know exactly what voice you need for your content. Creating a standard style guide helps guide the writers into understanding exactly what voice you need so you end up with consistent messages, across your content. The style guide should include the platform you’re publishing the piece on, preferred vocabulary, whether you want informal or formal writing, the audience, and links to content that embodies your tone.

Tiffany G has geared up as a wordsmith for the past 12 years, frequenting the technical and business copywriting battleground for most of them. When she’s not slaying the beasts of boring content and replacing them with thought-provoking pieces, she can be found tinkering with computer builds and creating jewelry.


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