I am reading a really engaging book, and I might have written about it before, since I tend to reread awesome books.
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen posits that the tiniest of actions that you choose to do (or not do) in your everyday can have a dramatic effect on your height of success (or depth of failure) over time. The Slight Edge is an applied philosophy of using this detail to build a slow but lasting momentum of success, one tiny effort at a time.
One of the tenets of The Slight Edge, rule #3, is consistency. Olsen argues that just by “showing up” to do what you need to do regularly, you create the structure needed to make these efforts become effortless.
When I reflected on this, I realized just how far reaching this is. In web content publishing, consistency is absolutely key to success. Consistently created and updated content provides regular posts for people to consume, and it gives Google and other search engines a chance to index (or comb through) your new content on a regular basis.
In web content writing, consistently creating new blog posts gives you more time to practice your craft, writing, editing and revising. This is the true power of writing, for it’s just as they say: Practice makes perfect. Talent will only take someone so far.
But there is a deeper level of consistency at work. Choosing how you approach topics in your industry, choosing the level of authority or strength with which you will talk about it, and choosing how you will reflect this viewpoint to your readership is critical. Writers normally call this your tone, style and voice, and this will deeply affect the types of relationships you will grow through your content.
Often, we sit with clients as they talk about the passions that brought them to their business and the people that give them joy as they complete their work. This gives us a good understanding of how they see the world and their buyers. Constructing their tone, style and voice from this gives them the baseplate from which we can structure their content.
Keeping these things consistent is an aspect of good writing, but is especially important in web content, for it’s one of the only ways people get to know the author. As you might see, we have a couple writers on our blog, and we have different approaches to our discipline, which gives our readers an inside view of how we see them and our world.
Here are some really strong questions you can ask yourself, and these will get you started in defining your tone, style and voice:
- How much do your best buyers know about your industry? Should you remove specialized terminology or keep it?
- How far should you go in sounding personal, by using “you” instead of using “it?” Do you speak to individuals or groups when your content gets published?
- What is the education level of your best buyer? Where should you aim your reading level? Going too far on either end of the spectrum could alienate your audience.
One of the most talked-about examples of consistent tone, voice and style is Groupon’s descriptions, both on their website and in their email newsletters. I have to be honest, I don’t like their descriptions, but I remain a subscriber, simply because the tone, style and voice are irresistibly solid. Bringing that kind of flavor to writing makes it compelling, even for people like me who never plan to use their services. If you are not already a subscriber to their newsletter, I highly recommend that you give them a try. It may help you formulate where you want to go in your web writing.
And in the spirit of The Slight Edge, we all don’t necessarily have to be completely perfect with our delivery from the outset. People are reading your work, and people are generally forgiving as they develop friendships. Just remember the value of the connection you are building and make small, consistent changes to your work as you go along.
And please, if you feel bold enough to share your blog posts with me, feel free to do so in the comments below. We look forward to reading your work!