Struggling to find your authentic voice in your content?
Imagine if you could write sales pages, website copy and content for social media and feel like it’s a true reflection of how you sound in real life or how you want to express yourself to your audience.
It takes time to find your authentic voice as a solopreneur and it gets discovered over time but the more you write and publish content, inevitably the clearer it becomes. Fortunately, there are things you can do in the meantime to find more clarity and confidence in finding your voice so it reflects who you are a bit more naturally.
Quick note: Your “authentic voice” refers to the voice in your business that helps you express your ideas and communicate your marketing message to your audience.
Your voice will change based on the context, audience and the tone you wish to convey but it’s unique to you and one way of helping you create deeper resonance with the right people by getting your message across clearly and authentically.
What stops people from using their authentic voice
What I’ve noticed is my clients often get blocked and find it hard to express themselves authentically in their copy and social media content because of one of four things:
1. Academic background: Clients with a strong academic background often write too formally for social media and their website. It’s laden with jargon that only their colleagues with a master’s degree or many years of experience in their industry would understand. Instead of reaching and resonating with the right clients through their marketing message, it flies over their heads because their ideal clients aren’t at the level of transformation my clients are at—yet. When I review their website copy, they don’t feel their words are connecting with the right audience or anyone at all.
2. Corporate background: Clients with a corporate background also struggle to write in a natural, authentic voice. As someone who had a long corporate job (ending my career in Human Resources), formality and professionalism were at the forefront of everything I did (and wrote). My earlier blogs and copy were painfully buttoned up and it’s something I coach clients through consistently in my work because they complain that their copy is dull and dry to read. Unfortunately, with corporate and academic writing you’re forced to sacrifice your personality for professionalism and your creativity for more conservative prose.
3. Fear of criticism or rejection: Another area that gets clients stuck is the fear of rejection or being criticized either by potential clients (who aren’t their clients at all), colleagues or strangers on the internet who might discover that they’re merely an imposter and the jig is finally up. By the way, everyone I know feels this way at some point. What I’ve found is, like myself, many of my clients felt that growing up they were to be seen and not heard and they’re not used to exercising their voice. Speaking their truth and voicing an opinion can bring up a lot of fear and feelings of unworthiness. They think that speaking equals—people criticize or ignore me. What I’ve noticed is that clients who resonate most with this reason, is they’ll communicate their message, but they’ll hold back out of fear and therefore, it’s their voice, but it’s the people-pleasing, watered-down version which isn’t a true reflection of who they are or how they feel.
If you feel like an imposter and what to confidently own what you do, then I recommend giving this episode a listen.
4. Don’t know how: Sometimes it’s simply a matter of not knowing how to write content and copy in a natural, authentic way or having a mixture of all of these things going on.
How you communicate your message plays a key role in how deeply you resonate with your audience
Communication is a key piece in your marketing strategy. It plays a key role in how you connect and resonate with your audience, whether it’s through YouTube videos, sales page copy, podcasting, writing, blogging, posting articles on Medium, or however you share your message and connect with your audience.
Expressing yourself authentically helps you reach and resonate with the right people and builds connections based on shared values, which to me, is the basis for cultivating meaningful relationships with your people. When you have a strong, clear message that’s expressed in your unique voice, it sticks with people (obviously repelling the wrong ones) and can validate the right people because they feel a genuine connection with you.
If you’re repelling as many people as you’re reaching with your authentic voice and message, congratulations, friend. You’re doing something right!
What constitutes your authentic brand voice?
These are some of the things you can think about as you’re reflecting on what’s your authentic voice.
1. The specific language you use: We each bring something unique to the marketplace on the basis of our upbringing, where we were born, our unique personality and perspectives, our environment and experiences and everything in between. George Kao refers to this as your energy signature, I call it your authentic expression.
Part of that signature is a language, style of speech, rhythm, cultural expressions and metaphors that contribute to the way you speak. As an East Coast Canadian now living in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, my use of cultural slang can garner some odd looks when I put it to use.
The unique way you express your words in the content you publish will naturally help you stand out from others offering the same services as you because no one can say it quite like you.
And that’s a good thing.
2. Your unique writing style: Do you use short, punchy sentences or are they long and methodical? Do you abbreviate vs. write the whole word? Are you a “kinda” or “kind of” kinda writer 😉
In copywriting, the preference is to write shorter sentences and paragraphs because they’re easier to digest and the tone is more conversational. It’s okay to start sentences with “and” or “But” despite what you’ve been taught in eighth-grade English. Writing how you speak is one way to bring a more relaxed, natural style to your content.
3. The rhythm of your voice: Or how your words flow. The rhythm of my voice on the podcast tends to be slower with a steady rhythm, but what would happen if I suddenly changed and spoke quickly and the up and down movement of my voice became more frequent? How would the rhythm feel by changing from slow to fast?
The rhythm of your voice impacts how you connect with your audience, as well. Some people would listen to my podcast and think, her voice is too slow and it’s putting me to sleep. While others might feel a sense of calm and comfort. So don’t change the sound of your voice to fit in or attract a certain type of client.
For me, I intentionally try to create a sense of spaciousness and calm for my podcast listeners so I focus on articulating things clearly for my audience at a pace that’ll keep their nervous system calm. If I’m excited my voice will naturally get faster.
Reflect on the natural rhythm of your voice and the way that you want to express yourself to your audience. How do you want people to feel when they engage with you? How do you want people to feel when they read your content? Speak or write in a way that matches that rhythm but feels authentic for you too.
4. Tone of voice: Is your tone upbeat, lighthearted and fun? Or is it serious and straightforward? Your tone will change depending on the topic. If I’m talking to a friend whose dog just died, my tone will be different than if I’m drinkin’ margaritas on a Friday night with my hubby.
My tone tends to be casual but also straightforward which can be usually be detected in someone’s choice of spelling & grammar (ex. drinkin’ vs. drinking), the sentence structure, topic and their use of slang and metaphors. I’m light-hearted by nature so I hope it naturally comes through in my content. I want people to feel like they’re talking to a trusted friend. Someone, they feel comfortable with and is approachable. I want people to feel creatively inspired and calm so I keep this in mind with everything I create.
I do small business coaching and marketing for solopreneurs. My tone would be different if I was working with big corporations as an executive coach where it might be more direct and formal.
Reflect on the topic you write about and the audience you’re writing for, what tone of voice feels authentic for you?
Practical ways to find your authentic voice as a solopreneur
1. Speak in a natural voice: Think about a current or past client that you felt most comfortable with. As they shared their problems with you, what was your tone like as you responded? Channel that energy and then write and speak from that voice.
Take note of the language you use? Is your tone snappy and upbeat? Or calm and straightforward? What expressions and metaphors are you using?
2. Record yourself: I have a lot of clients who are great at articulating the value of their offer to the people who need it face-to-face. But, when it comes to writing about it, they go blank. If that’s you, record yourself.
You can record yourself on your phone and have it transcribed (my favourite is Descript). Or record yourself via Zoom and upload it to YouTube and use their built-in transcription to get a copy of your words.
3. Ask for feedback: Ask friends or people who know you best and get them to critique your writing. Ask, does this sound like me? What vibe do you get as you read this?
If you want feedback on your copy, you can check out my 1-1 service Sales Page Love Up where I give line-by-line copy feedback and coaching to help you write clear resonant sales copy.
Grammarly: Gives feedback on the tone of your writing with tips for helping you change it to match the tone that you want.
Pro Writing Aid: Similar to Grammarly (I’ve never used it).
Tone Analyzers: Haven’t tried these either.
Hemingway: Helps you simplify your writing, especially if you have a strong academic background and use too much jargon.