Now, a giant disclaimer to start this post. I don’t think I’m particularly fascinating. I do, however, think you are fascinating and when I can see your personality in your writing? I think that’s pretty dang engaging.
With that said, one of the sweetest things I hear about my writing is “I feel like I know you!” or “I feel like you’re just talking to me – it doesn’t feel like reading!”
(I think that says more about my propensity for parenthesis and usage of the word “like,” but I’m choosing to view it as a compliment.)
In fact, people often hire me to ghostwrite because they feel their writing is a bit, well, drier than they’d like. It can be especially hard to work personality into posts about things like marketing methods or photo formatting.
So if you find yourself asking “How can I communicate my amazing sense of humor and love of cat videos into this post about a/b split testing?!” this post is for you.
Here are four ways you can add more you to your writing – regardless of the topic.
1. Start with a personal anecdote
Just about everything I write starts with a short story about how I came to write about this topic – I was writing for a magazine in Malaysia and didn’t have time to blog, my friend described me as “the one with boundaries,” Amber told me that the Griffith Observatory was her “church.” These are all true (with occasional editing to protect my more private friends) but this peek into my life helps me connect with my readers.
2. Write like you talk
I know a Ph.D. candidate who really does pepper his language with polysyllabic adjectives and references to classic literature. Everybody else I know jokes, asks questions to make a point, or uses the word ‘like’ way too much (myself very much included.)
If you’re struggling to write in a more personal style, try improvisational dictating. Use the voice recorder on your phone and spend a few minutes talking – using your normal, everyday speech patterns – about a topic you’d like to write about. Transcribe and lightly edit the results – are they more ‘friendly’ or engaging than what you’d usually write?
3. Reference movies/books/music/internet cats that are important to you
When I reference Leslie Knope, you know I watch Parks and Rec. When I name drop Grumpy Cat or Sufjan Stevens or the Greek myth of Sisyphus, you immediately know more about my life and personality than if I’d spent a paragraph spelling out my appreciation for cats and moving, story-based folk music.
If you’re a committed Game of Thrones fan, reference that. If you love Beyoncé and her marketing methods have inspired you – write about it. It’s an easy way for us to get to know you and connect with you!
4. Use your own photos
A straight forward post about Instagram filters instantly becomes more engaging when you share examples of your own photos. If you’re writing about how to refinish a floor, include photos of your dining room before-and-after (bonus points if you include a photo of you working the sander.) Some of my most popular, most commented on posts have included photos of me – even horribly awkward teenage photos! When we use personal photos we’re taking a visible, tangible step to connect with our readers. They appreciate it!
A note about professionalism: there are certain topic areas and certain audiences that are less likely to appreciate personality-filled writing. Finance and health care immediately come to mind.
But that doesn’t mean your writing needs to be complicated or boring. It’s common practice – across platforms and topics – to open a piece with a real life example. Is it a trope? Yes. Is it effective? Super yes. You can make just about any piece a better, more engaging read by keeping your sentences crisp and clean and avoiding the proverbial ‘five-dollar words.‘ Nobody wants to encounter those over their morning coffee.
Do you struggle to add personality to your writing? If you’re good at it, how do you communicate who you are through your articles and blog posts? Tell me all about it in the comments!
P.S. If you need help writing blog posts, I can do it for you. Like, you spend the day at the beach and when you come back, you have a month of blog posts in your inbox. MAGIC.
pizza and cheersing photo by Meredith Westin. You should hire her!