The idea of starting a blog appeals to businesses and individuals – over 170 million are doing it – yet it is difficult to settle on a good topic for it. When I started this blog, I wrote that I will talk about web apps and provide advice to their creators. I have been building web-based products as a developer and a product manager for over 13 years, so it seemed like a logical choice. Was it the right one?
As I continued to generate blog ideas and think about what I wanted to write I realized that there was a disconnect between my stated mission and those ideas. The things I was inspired to write about were not quite fitting into the mold I had created. As a result, the things that I actually ended up writing about, did not really fit my blog’s stated theme and purpose. Worse yet, I ended up not writing about most of my ideas.
I read countless articles and blogs about writing. Almost all of them state that one of the key things is to “find your voice”. Unfortunately, most don’t talk about how to do that. It’s tempting to define your voice as something you know a lot about or something related to your job. It is logical and most people do just that. However, you can’t really “define” your voice, as it is already defined and part of who you are. It is not possible to change it simply by stating what it ought to be. You have to find it.
After much soul searching, I was still stuck. The key breakthrough occured after I read an article about how “your title does not define who you are”. Soon after starting to talk about myself as a web product geek as opposed to a product manager, I made the connection to the blog: I wanted to write about business issues founders of web-based startups face as they create new products and get their companies off the ground.
Thinking back, here is a simple exercise that what would have helped me find my true voice much more quickly:
- Write down 10-20 one-sentence blog post ideas.
- Tag each idea with 5-10 keywords that either describe it or associate with it.
- Count the number of times each keyword is mentioned
- Check for patterns among the most frequently occurring keywords.
After step 4 it should be clear what you truly want to write about. If not, you may need to generate more ideas and keywords, and iterate until it becomes clear.
I hope this helps the people similarly conflicted about their true voice. I would love to hear how well this works for others and how it could be improved. Happy blogging!