So, you’re just getting started on your freelance writing journey. Congratulations!
Now, you’re probably sorting through the onslaught of to-dos as a newfound entrepreneur and constantly moving priorities around as you read one article telling you this, only to read another telling you that. You’ve got your domain name, you’re playing around with themes and branding, and you’re wondering:
What comes next?
The time has come to set a foundational element of your online presence: establishing who you are on your website. You want to win the hearts of folks shopping around for the person driving their content. What’s the most crucial component of relaying your identity, your brand, your creative self as a freelance writer?
Yup, that’s voice with a capital V. Because we have a menu of different voices we pull from in our day to day interactions, right?
We have our voice we use when talking to our in-laws.
There’s the voice we use when we talk to complete strangers.
We pull out the jargon—and maybe even a good ol’ thesaurus—when we type up those college papers.
Don’t forget the shit we say (and, oh, the way we say it) when talking to our best friend in complete confidence.
And then, there’s the Voice we will ultimately choose to launch our business with.
This is the Voice we’ll use to declare from our own corner of the World Wide Web, “HEY. HEY YOU. I’VE FINALLY DONE THE THING AND STARTED OFFERING MY BRILLIANT STRINGS OF WORDS TO THE WORLD…please buy them?”
Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly how you’ll say it. Regardless of your Voice’s style and personality, you need to compose a consistent, reliable, primary Voice as a go-to marketing tool for your freelance writing business. It’s essential to your recognizable brand and unique selling point.
But how do you find that Voice?
For some folks, they find this easy-peasy, and are asking themselves why this article even exists. For others, it’s a challenge to narrow down a diverse range of possible voices to that main tone and style. After all, if you’re a writer, you’ve probably been honing your ability to take on the style of a client and write for an array of audiences.
If you find yourself in the latter camp, here are some ideas to help you along with discovering the Voice you’ll use to present yourself in your newfound venture.
1. Notice How You Talk to People In-Person
Take a bird’s eye view of yourself, and try to notice how you talk to who. What language do you use? What comes naturally? How do you edit yourself—or not? Taking notice of your natural speaking habits helps point out a few things:
- It reminds you of your habits of speech, or reveals your subconscious word-slinging.
- It can illuminate where you excel. Maybe you should bring that ridiculous sense of humor to your brand.
- It often shows us how we can shift. Can you leverage that oh-so-special social awkwardness to your advantage?
All of these observations can provide clues to your natural Voice as a freelancer.
2. Do Free-Writes
What better way to see what voice naturally shows up when you write than just showing up and…writing? Try free-writing for 15 minutes a day over the course of a week or two with the distinct goal of capturing your Voice. See what comes to the surface!
3. Try on a Handful of Voices
In addition to the free-writing, you can do some specific voice exercises. Think of it like costumes for your voice—have fun with it, and give yourself permission to play! Try these on for size:
- The Crisp, Clear Minimalist
- The Sassy, Maybe-Even-Irreverent Wordsmith
- The Soulful Philosopher
- The Friend-to-Friend
Does one ring true? Do you need to blend components of two or three? What feels put-on? What feels most natural?
4. Write for Several Different Audiences
Like “trying on” voices, you can practice writing for different audiences. This is similar to the last two exercises, just kind of flipped around—you’re starting with the receiving end of your words, instead of the source. So, write to your friend! Write to the owner of your favorite restaurant! Write to your annoying neighbor! Write a commencement speech! Write to the pope!
When it comes to focusing in on the Voice you’ll be carrying as a freelance writer, it’s worth the while to take time at the beginning of your venture to make sure you develop a consistent tone. Find one that feels the most natural, versatile, alive, and you.