As a writer, your voice is one of your most prized possessions. It’s taken years of writing to hone it and make it your own as part of your content writing. Losing it would be the equivalent of, say, selling it to Ursula the Sea Witch in exchange for legs.
Because your voice is what defines you as a writer and makes you a desirable professional partner, it can be difficult to let go and rework your style to meet the demands of your editors. Requests for revision or nudges into a different stylistic direction can feel more like a personal affront or a negation of your skills as a writer.
However, when it comes to writing for brands, you sometimes have to make a few necessary fixes and tweaks to your writing to better align it with clients’ expectations. The following are some content creation tips for adapting your writing style without entirely sacrificing your voice:
Though you were likely hired in part because your writing style meshes well with your clients’ publication, it’s still a good idea to spend time researching the brand’s voice before you get started with your content writing. You have to know the rules to break them, as the saying goes, so the more you can familiarize yourself with the nuances and quirks that make the publication’s voice unique, the better off you’ll be.
For instance, Elite Daily has gained prominence among Millennials by writing news stories in a voice that’s relatable and engaging for younger readers. The way Elite Daily would cover a story would differ greatly from, say, how The New York Times would cover the same story. The facts may be identical, but you would approach the story differently, depending on which publication you were writing for. Consider these questions:
By keeping these basic ground rules in mind, you will be better equipped to mold your established style around them.
When you think of your writing voice, it isn’t always easy to come up with examples of what makes your writing distinctly yours. However, it is important to have at least some understanding of how your writing comes off to those who read it—especially your editors. Your style should be an asset for the client’s publication, not a drawback. If you’re unsure whether a stylistic choice on your part will work with the brand, it’s always a good idea to ask your editor.
For instance, posing questions in your story might be just the thing the brand is looking for to connect with potential customers. Or, if you like to infuse humor in your posts, especially if you’re writing on highly specific, technical topics, the client may appreciate it and see it as a sign of your deep topical knowledge. For example, in some tech writing you can’t infuse humor and wordplay into the piece unless you really understand the concept behind it; if you do, incorporating humor demonstrates a level of comprehension that transcends a post simply stuffed with dry facts.
Of course, making these voice choices might not work, but not erring on the side of caution and not sacrificing your voice from the get-go can help you carve a niche and impress your clients and their audience.
Knowing when you should accept another person’s vision of your writing or stand your ground can be a difficult call, especially when it comes to something so personal and intrinsic as your writing voice. However, it is an inevitability that you will have to make edits to your work. It’s how you handle those edits and content creation tips that set you apart.
For instance, say you write for a cybersecurity company and submit a well-written deep dive into the technical aspects of the latest hack. Your piece would make any tech guru proud, but your editor sends it back and asks you to give the piece a more “personal” tone. Their rationale? The target audience is not tech-savvy—on the contrary, they barely understand the potential ramifications of a hack, let alone the intricate technical details behind one.
At first glance, you may balk at the request. You’ve spent years learning this information and refining your writing style to be able to present it easily and coherently. However, catering your article to a different audience does not mean you have to give up your own style for the sake of dumbing it down. Leverage your strengths as a writer to keep the good stuff, but refine what your editor needs from you. For instance, if you have one phrase you tend to use to transition between paragraphs, be sure to keep it in. Or, if you tend to write alliterative subheads, let those stay. The more little things you can do that concretely signal that the writing is still yours, the prouder of the piece you will be, all while impressing your editors.
Finding your voice in your content writing is one challenge; keeping it is another. However, by using these content creation tips, you can maintain a solid relationship with your editors while ensuring your content still sounds like you at the end of the day.
If you’re interested in contributing content to top brands, consider joining Skyword’s community of storytellers.