Where’s your voice?
Well, it’s there isn’t it? You use it all the time to text or email friends and family. It’s there every time you run into someone at the shop, or catch your partner up on what’s happened during the day. Try very hard to use that voice when you are writing for social. I always write for one person and imagine them reading it or watching it by themselves (which they will be). Make it someone you like. Read what you have written out loud to test whether it sounds like you or not.
Ditch the jargon, babes
Any words that you would have to explain to someone who doesn’t work in your industry or share your hobby? Leave them out.
Any phrase that you would never use in real life? Leave it out.
If you lose the jargon it means that you will have to think really clearly about what you are trying to say, and that means that you will say it much better.
So predictably dull – but so utterly the case that the only way to exercise and improve the writing muscle is to use it. So write every day. An Instagram post or tweet is absolutely writing. Keep it really short. Some brilliant writing is brief as f**k.
Accept that you will write things that your future self will laugh at (I can’t bring myself to open some of my early blog posts). But you can never begin at the end. Just start.
The freelance mum
I think you just need to be true to yourself. That said, it’s a performance from us all – it’s not the real world.
In terms of voice, you get to decide how you’d like to sound. Perhaps you’re informative, insightful, witty? Maybe you share tips, or ideas. Are you very open about your challenges, or do you prefer to focus on successes? A mix of both is good, in my opinion.
My area is freelancing/small business, as a mum. So I talk a lot about how I make it work raising two (nearly three) kids while earning. Mostly, my posts are about my thoughts on motherhood and work – things that are going right; things that are going wrong. And every now and again, I write about my courses. It’s about balancing it out.
Annie has developed her own ethical code around what to share and what not to.
Early on, I made the decision to censor my children so that apart from baby photos that have already circulated, I don’t share face-on photos, or their name, online. They are my daughter and my son (will have to think of a name for my third!).
So what to share and what not to share. Revelation incoming – that is completely up to you and there is absolutely no right or wrong answer.
There are a few things that are off limits for me, like Annie, my kids (obviously – this is Not About the Kids) and politics. I don’t do politics on social media, although others do it passsionatly and with purpose. You do you.
However, I’m really happy to give an insight into my life and thoughts and travels and what I love. There is a great deal that you can share before you get close to the complexities of your relationship with your parents or the ins and outs of your marriage.
The spoken voice
Writing is only part of the story online. Now to someone who has mastered video on social media – Harriet Inglis, the founder of Spacemasks – magical self-warming masks of goodness that help you drift off to sleep. Harriet is all about the Instagram Stories (click here to follow her and see what I’m talking about). On her Instagram grid, it’s mostly all Spacemask business, but on Stories – she takes followers through her day with hilariously dry wit. I asked her how she knows what to talk about –
I’d only just got to grips with posting pics on the grid at the ripe old age of 41 when I was told that Stories were ’the thing.’ At first, I assumed I’d have to show footage of me boxing up Spacemasks but was soon put right. Now I quite happily waffle on about my day to day activities whilst running a very busy start up with 4 daughters, 2 happy dachshunds, a pair of over-indulged rabbits and a hamster, proving the juggle is real. It seems to be working….”
Just because your account is set up to support your work or business does not mean that this is all you can talk about. People are (maaayybe surprisingly) really interested in other people’s day-to-day, don’t fear the ordinary.
So consider this…
If you are finding this tricky, perhaps what you are actually worried about is that you will find your voice. Then people will really see you as you are – and they may not like (and who’s a massive fan of criticism?). It can be very exposing to write what you think about something and then send it into the universe. Here’s the best advice I’ve ever been given on the matter –
“Nobody cares – they are too busy worrying about their own shit”
Writer and commedian Viv Groskop
So if that’s the case – if Viv is right and nobody cares or is watching too closely – you might as well just say what you came to say.