Find Your Voice
Updated: Apr 16, 2018
As a copywriter, I spend almost every day making sure the words I write sound like someone else said them. One brand wants a gimmicky slogan, another asks for witty social captions and the last is going for a more serious, heartfelt appeal. The second option feels the most “me,” but that doesn’t matter. I’m writing the brand’s words, not my own.
When I write a piece for The Daily Nebraskan, I have to sound more professional. In objective reporting, readers don’t want to hear the author’s voice coming through, they want the story.
Some days, it feels like I’m juggling multiple personalities by creating good content for different clients. I have a note on my laptop with instructions on how to write for certain brands because sometimes when I have a lot going on, I get them all mixed up.
Obviously, it’s important that I have this divide between brands. Each one has its own personality and voice, and it’s my job to write content that fits within those parameters.
But what do I write when I’m off the clock?
It’s easy to get sucked into the notion that all of your words have to be professional, objective and follow a specific style. That said, does an objectively written blog post appeal to your friends? Does an uncharacteristically formal cover letter that summarizes your resume and starts with, “Dear Sir or Madam,” say anything about you? Probably not.
In a society so driven by our online interactions, the personality you present through writing is pretty important. Don’t throw spelling and grammar out the door when writing your blog, social posts, cover letter or whatever, but you shouldn’t waste so much time trying to sound like someone else.
People value authenticity. When applying for a job, your cover letter should give some insight into how you’ll speak in an interview. It’s hard to gauge who you are just from your past work experience, so do the best you can to let your personality shine through your portfolio, cover letter, website and whatever else you may be showing off to potential employers.
I know I’m not a reputable travel blogger, so when I wrote about studying abroad, I didn’t act like an expert. Instead, I wrote about forgetting to wash my hair for a week, my deep hatred of buses and the cursed airport I could never get a flight out of. I also know I’m not an Instagram promoter/model with tens of thousands of followers, so most of my feed is just me making fun of myself.
When I applied to what felt like hundreds of internships last summer (okay fine, 16), I thought I would drown in cover letters. But it was all worth it in the end when an interviewer told me my cover letter sounded a lot like my website copy, and I had “a strong sense of [my] voice.” Before the interview, she felt like she knew me from my content, and during the interview, I turned out to be exactly who she was expecting. Not trying to brag, I just want to prove my point. I like being right.
You may not all be struggling to write for multiple brands in your day-to-day life, but I know we all write differently for an academic paper than we would in a personal blog or even a text to friends.
Outside of the classroom and the office, read your writing aloud. Does it sound like you? It should.
TL;DR: I’m not usually one for cheesy advice, but remember to be yourself. That’s the best person you can be.