How to make yourself likeable when you write online

(AKA advice from my past self to you)Cleaning out my Evernote recently, I found a folder called “BLOG PERSONALITY IDEAS.” It came from, years ago, when I was working with Kendrick Shope and she said [imagine deep Southern accent]:

“Marsha, I don’t know anyone who pours their whole personality into their emails better than you do.”

I was thrilled and, years later, her suggestion eventually turned into me starting the service, Put The You Back In Your Business. But somewhere in between, I decided to test out if this could even be a thing, by getting on a call with a business buddy who wasn’t having any engagement in her emails and blogs.

I honestly don’t remember which chum it was (and if it comes to me, I won’t name him/her, because: discretion). But clearly, I made ten notes, and these were written up on the one file inside that was inside that BLOG PERSONALITY IDEAS folder. I just read through them, realized that Past Marsha made some good points, and thought I’d share them with you! The notes I had written back then are in bold, with a little explanation under each one.

1) YOU ARE WARM! So be warm in your emails!
I have seen this issue SO MANY TIMES. I meet someone in person. They are so warm that standing next to them basically feels like being hugged by a friend you really like. Then I look at their blogs and emails and they write like they’re politely informing me of my next dental appointment.

If you are a warm person in real life, be warm online and in your emails. If you are not warm, be the way you are. Either way, your people will find you and be grateful for it.

2) You don’t have to tell them anything about your life
OH this one. “I’m a really private person. I don’t want to talk online about my life.”
I get it a LOT. But here’s the wonderful thing: you don’t have to tell them almost ANYTHING about the machinations of your life. What’s much more engaging is small stories people can connect with. Or, as Past Marsha made in her next two points:

3) OPINIONS, ways of looking at things, stories of the minutiae
What we want isn’t what has happened to you or is happening in your life, but your lens on things. The way you describe a small interaction you had in the grocery store will tell us so much more about you (and whether you are like us, and whether we want to hire you) than writing a laundry list of achievements and/or facts of your life. And when it comes to stories….

4) DETAIL! Not story of your relationship with gluten – but story of your relationship with one cookie on one afternoon on one Tuesday
So clearly I was speaking with some sort of a health coach. But this is a lovely example that’s transferrable to pretty much anything you do. If you’ve started a website that sells pretty handles you can put on Ikea furniture, you can talk about one time you had ugly handles and it bummed you out. If you’re a coach for people who want to start writing but don’t know how to, you can tell us a story about one time you really didn’t know how to start writing a blog post, but then managed it. Or a similar story about a client.
GO SMALL OR GO HOME.

5) About bringing out your eccentricities and wearing them on your sleeve — so your fellow eccentrics can come and find you! What makes you You?
AH! I think this is in response to the question, “How can I be funny if I’m not funny?” And I love this as an answer. If you think you’re not a funny person, I BET you somewhere, have some eccentricity that people will either relate to directly (and it’ll make them laugh as they laugh at themselves), or indirectly — and it’ll make them laugh because they know they, too, are as ridiculous as you are.

But if that fails….

6) What do you and your best friend/partner find funny/interesting that almost no one else does?
If you want to be funny, my guess is you are someone who finds things funny (in my experience, people who don’t have zero interest in being funny). So what do you find funny that feels “niche”? What makes you and one of the people closest to you fall about laughing? My guess is, if the two of you do, someone else will too..

And see also “interesting” 🙂

7) Write (somewhat) as if you’re writing to a beloved friend
I had a friend who has BAGS of personality in real life but was flat onscreen. After I gave her some tough love on the subject, she changed this. Later, she admitted that, at the beginning of every blog and newsletter, she’d write — and then later delete:

Dear Marsha,

So write as if you’re writing to a beloved friend (or me, if you like!). I just say “(somewhat)” because you want to make sure you’re explaining any private jokes you and that person might have. And that you delete their name from the top before you post the blog or send the email 🙂

8) If you can, use their name
If you’re writing to a mailing list where you’ve captured people’s names, using them is nice. At the beginning, yes. But there are also ways you can sneak them in. Once, when I was about to speak on stage to 3000 people, I was telling my mailing list that I was nervous and asked them to wish me luck. I finished with,

“Thanks so much for being part of the Yes Yes Marsha Mailer Family. And for wishing me luck. I’ll imagine a tiny [name] in my pocket when I’m on stage.”

I got emails back from people, all saying, “I know you weren’t talking just to me… but I also really felt like you were!”

As long as you don’t over-use it, it’s a lovely way of getting personal when you’re speaking to people en masse.

9) ask questions! People love to give opinions and advice (particularly on facebook)
You know what people love more than ANYTHING?
“Which outfit should I wear? A or B”
or
“What’s a better title for this [blog/workshop/book], A or B?”
They love it. And then they’ve engaged with you. Which means they feel invested in you.

10) You already have authority from WHAT you’re saying, you don’t need to force it in HOW you’re saying.
So this is a good one for those of you who were taught to speak formally. Recently, I was coaching a speaker who was about to do her first ever keynote in front of 600 people. Even though she was talking about everyday concepts, she kept using very high-level language. After wrestling with her a bit on it, we uncovered something:

When she was first studying for her former calling, she was told, “If you don’t use technical terms, no one will take you seriously.”

I was able (gently) to point out that, when you use technical terms to a non-specialized audience, you risk shaming people if they don’t immediately understand. She immediately got it, and simplified her language. The result? A long line of people after her talk wanting to hug her, crying and telling her how much her talk meant to them.

 

So there you are! Past Marsha’s ten points on how to put more you into your online writing. Did one of these light up a little bulb in your brain? Any you want to try? Let me know in the comments below! If you know someone who could use one of these ideas, you can share it with them using one of the round buttons below, or if you need to be more subtle (because they don’t know how lifeless their writing is just now), click here to share it on Facebook.

And if you feel like you need a little one-on-one help in this department — whether it’s figuring out which small stories to tell, or which eccentricities it is and isn’t ok to share — then I’d love to! Find out more about how that would work, and/or book in a free, no obligation chat with me here: yesyesmarsha.com/youinbusiness.

You rule!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS want even more advice like this, plus stories and secrets that I won’t put on the internet? Come and join the Yes Yes Family. It’s free! Just pop your details in below:

Pic: Katrina on Unsplash

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field