Adapt Your Voice to Expand Your Writing Opportunities

Adapt your Writer's VoiceMany beginning writers hear the term “voice,” as in, “finding your writer’s voice” but aren’t sure what it means. “Voice” is the words we choose, as well as our sentence structure, the cadence of how the words fit together.

When people speak, we may have an accent or speak in a particular dialect of our native language. We also have speech patterns, slang phrases we use, and favorite expressions. These are often influenced by the area we live, our age/generation, our socioeconomic status, and possibly even what we do for a living. (Language directly influenced by our industry is sometimes called “jargon.”)

In writing, all of these things together form a “writer’s voice.” Many of us write the way we talk. But some writers are adept at adopting different voices. If you can write in a variety of voices, you can expand your writing opportunities to include:

  • Writing in a variety of fields and industries
  • Writing for the web, print, television or radio
  • Ghostwriting
  • Making $1/word or more writing for glossy national publications or trade journal

How to Recognize Other Voices

The first step to learning how to write in different voices, is learning how to recognize different voices — and what creates them — when you read. For instance, corporate writing adopts a more formal style. Blogs can be casual, fun or newsy, depending on the audience. Sales and marketing copy has a conversational style designed to draw in — and convince — readers.

To begin to pick up the cadence of different writing voices, read widely. Read everything. (Where have you heard that writing advice before? Everywhere, I’m guessing!) After you read something in a unique, distinctive voice, sit down and write something using that voice.

“Finding Someone Else’s Voice”

Writing in a different voice often requires more extensive rewriting. The first words that come out of our minds and onto our computer screen are usually our “natural” writing voice. In many cases, this is also the way we speak. (If you ever hear me give a webinar, you’ll recognize that I write these blog posts in my “teaching voice,” and I speak pretty much the same way when I’m teaching someone about writing.)

To write in a different voice, consider all the different ways you can say the same thing. Use words not in your normal lexicon. Vary your techniques and your sentence structure.

If you are ghostwriting, the best thing to do is to read everything you can that person has written. The same goes for submitting queries or articles to major magazines. You want to make that “voice” part of your mind, so you can hear it in your own thought patterns. You should begin thinking like your client, or like the writers of the magazine you want to write for. When you start to think like your client or your magazine’s market, you’ll start to write in a way they can relate to, naturally.

Take the Writing Voice Challenge

Here’s an exercise for you. Take a recent article or blog post you have written and rewrite it:

  • In the voice of your favorite author
  • As sales copy
  • As a corporate communication
  • As an email to a friend

After you do this a few times, you’ll be close to an expert at adopting other voices, and then you don’t have to worry if you land an assignment that forces you to write in a voice different from your own writer’s voice. You can do it!

Feel free to share your examples below in the comments or tell us other ways you experiment with “voice” when you’re writing.

10 Types of Blog Posts That Draw Traffic to Your Site (Part Two, 5 – 10)

The more I think about it, the longer my list of “types of blog posts” could be. Looking over Part One of my list of “Top 10 Types of Blog Posts” I wonder how I ever run out of ideas for my blogs. If you’re having trouble writing, simply pick one of these types of posts and go for it.

Rather than keeping  this series continuing forever, I’ve narrowed down the list to the 10 best posts designed to generate traffic, and, I admit, many of these are my personal favorites to write.

6. Motivational posts – Most people need a little kick in the pants sometimes. Motivational blog posts are designed to spark your readers into action, remind them why they love their industry or hobby, or just make them feel good.

7. Fun stuff –
A cartoon. A funny photo. A quick joke, quote or one-liner. These are the fun things you can put up in a hurry, when you don’t have time to write a full-length post. It gives your readers something new to see when they visit your blog and takes you only a few minutes to find and share. These posts, usually culled from other sources, have a great chance of going viral. (Who doesn’t love to share a good joke or funny picture?) You’ll also get the benefits of spreading the link love when you share the original source (which you should, of course).

8. Controversial posts – My post “Is Ghostwriting Ethical?” was designed to spark debate. It did, but perhaps not as much as I would have liked. Part of the secret to writing successful controversial posts is knowing what really sparks strong feelings in your readers.

In the freelance writing world, posts about money and rates generate controversy. It’s the same argument over and over again, but people never tire of it. When you post about a controversial topic, add a new perspective or a fresh viewpoint. Don’t generate controversy just for the sake of argument (so to speak). But if a situation has really gotten your hackles up, post away! You’ll get to share your views and generate traffic to your website. It’s a win-win, as long as you monitor the comments and make sure no one gets nasty about it.

9. News posts – When the FCC introduced fair disclosure standards for bloggers, this was big news for the industry. Many writers shared their views, tips and advice on the subject. The trick to writing a successful news post is either to break the story or to come up with an original perspective — to share insight you haven’t read anywhere else. (If you can’t be first, be the best!) You can also take a news topic not directly related to your industry and think about how it affects your blogs readers.

10. Videos – Like cartoons and photos, videos have a great chance of going viral. Since this is a writer’s blog, I won’t offer too many tips about posting videos on your blog. There are nearly as many types of video blogs as there are written blogs. I will say this: Even if you think of yourself as a writer, be open to posting a video on your blog now and then. You may find a whole new audience for your work.

Why types of posts have you had the greatest response with on your own blog?

Is Ghostwriting Ethical?

Is Ghostwriting Ethical?I ghostwrite for several clients. I also publish work in various niche markets under pseudonyms. It never occurred to me that some people might consider ghostwriting unethical. Even in this age of transparency, ghostwriting is an accepted convention.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, what exactly is ghostwriting? Ghostwriting means writing something for someone else, with their name on it. The client receives all the credit, and the writer gets paid. Ghostwriting often pays better than bylined work, since you don’t get any recognition and can’t use the work in your portfolio.

A writer can ghostwrite:

Anything that can be written, can be written by a ghostwriter. Ghostwriting arrangements can work in a few different ways:

  • The client gives you a topic and you write the article based on research and references the client provides;
  • The client provides a title and outline, and you flesh it out into a complete piece
  • You interview the client and, based on the information he provides, you write the piece with his name on it.

Challenges of Ghostwriting

To be a successful ghostwriter, you must be:

  • able to adopt your client’s “voice;”
  • discreet; no one can know you created the work;
  • able to set aside your ego.

I remember the first time I ghostwrote an article. The client forwarded me an emailed conversation in which he received — and accepted — a compliment for the article. Seeing someone else take credit for my work stung a little at first but I realize that, by forwarding the email to me, he was passing the compliment on to its rightful owner. A good ghostwriting relationship is one in which a writer feels well-respected and well-compensated.

Is it Ethical?

Ghostwriting is an accepted business practice — but is it ethical for someone to pass your work off as their own? I believe so. Many intelligent professionals in a variety of field either can’t — or choose not to — write well. Some don’t have time; others lack the passion for it.

Ghostwriting is another form of marketing and is as ethical as writing ad copy. If your article directs traffic to the client’s website and, as a result, someone hires your client, the client is being selected on the basis of the services he provides–for his knowledge, not his writing ability. If I hire a bookkeeper, I don’t care if the person can write or not.

Of course, exceptions exist. It’s unethical to write a query letter for another writer. The person is being judged on their writing ability, and writing a query for another writer would be misrepresenting that person’s skills. Writing college papers for someone else is completely unethical, against college policy and possibly illegal, too.

Can you think of other situations where ghostwriting might be unethical? Would you consider ghostwriting articles to help a professional market a business? What about ghostwriting a book for a celebrity?

Three Secrets to a Successful Book Ghostwriting Career

The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent: Everything You Need to Know to become Successfully Publishedby Laura Cross

Book industry insiders estimate that ghostwriters author 60% to 80% of books published each year. And with book ghostwriting fees range from $10,000 to $100,000 per project — $10,000 being the very low end and $100,000 usually paid to more established writers (“celebrity” ghostwriters earn $250,000+ per book) – more and more freelance writers are discovering that authoring books as a “hidden writer” or collaborator can be a viable and lucrative career.

Here are three secrets to help you create a successful career as a book ghostwriter:

1. Learn How To Capture The Client’s Voice

The ability to capture and convey the client’s voice is an essential component for a successful career as a ghostwriter. Being able to effectively structure content and manage a project are also necessary skills for ghosting, but the ability to mimic the client’s speaking style and make it come alive on paper is the skill that will land you recurring, high-paying projects. Carefully listen to the client during your interviews and conversations (and review any available audio – videos, podcasts, etc. – as well previously published material written by the client) to learn how he or she structures sentences. Listen for specific phrases, word patterns, vocabulary choices, and tone, texture, and energy – and then practice recreating it until your words and the client’s words blend seamlessly.

2. Position Yourself As One Of The Experts In Your Niche

Are you the go-to writer for women’s fitness and health? Do you mostly write narrative essays or opinion pieces? Are you the how-to article guy or the relationship advice guru? Are you a freelance writer with a background in accounting or experience in social media? Ghostwriters who specialize in specific genres (such as memoir, finance and investing, or women’s issues) tend to be more successful than those who generalize. Capitalize on your experience and expertise by focusing your ghostwriting in one to three areas of specialization. Use your portfolio and online presence (website, blog, social media profiles and interactions) to establish and build your platform. Consistently deliver quality content and exceptional customer service to solidify and maintain your status.

3. Connect With Literary Agents

Literary agents are one of the best referral sources for quality ghostwriting projects. Many experts, business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians, actors, television celebrities, sports figures, chefs, doctors, professors, gurus, and media-darlings-of-the-moment, lack the necessary skills to write a compelling book. Literary agents need to match their clients with professional ghostwriters or collaborators. Connecting with literary agents, and growing and nurturing those relationships over time, is an invaluable element to a successful ghostwriting career. (You can download a free chapter on “Finding and Selecting an Agent” from my book The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent at GetALiteraryAgent.com)

Author, Screenwriter, Ghostwriter, Freelance Book Editor, and Writing Coach, Laura CrossLaura Cross is an author, screenwriter, ghostwriter, freelance book editor, and writing coach specializing in nonfiction books and script adaptation (book-to-film projects). She writes two popular blogs, NonfictionInk.com and AboutAScreenplay.com, and teaches online writing workshops.

Laura’s latest book is The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent: Everything You Need To Know To Become Successfully Published. You can download a free chapter, view the book trailer, read the full table of contents, and purchase the Book in electronic format at GetALiteraryAgent.com.


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The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent

Have you every considered ghost writing? Are you in the process of finding a literary agent? Laura joins us today on her blog tour. You’re invited to ask questions in the comments. What would you like to know?