Although it may be impossible for a soprano to competently sing in baritone, an experienced writer’s voice isn’t limited to just one range. This skill is especially important in the field of copywriting, where tone, content, and message can vary greatly from client to client.
So how can a copywriter effectively write in someone else’s voice? It all starts with…
To effectively write in another’s voice, a writer must first know his or her own voice. This can only be achieved by developing a familiarity with one’s own writing through diligent, introspective work.
It can take many projects for a writer’s voice to originate, but it’s a skill that is well worth developing.
To develop a unique voice, write as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to get personal- write about what you had for breakfast, a movie you’ve seen recently, or a dream you had last night.
Read it out loud and listen closely to what makes your writing sound like you. Share your work with people you trust and ask for specific feedback on the tone and voice.
A good copywriter should be like a chameleon, flexible and willing to change depending on the environment. Once you’ve built confidence in your own voice, it’s time to branch out.
Familiarize yourself with the work of authors known for their distinct writing styles, such as David Sedaris, Haruki Murakami, or Toni Morrison, and try your hand at emulating what makes them unique. Once you’ve mastered the art of adaptation, you’re ready for the next step…
To adapt to a new environment, you have to understand it, which is why thorough research is the second step to writing in someone else’s voice.
Study your client’s website, promotional materials, and other sources of outward-facing messaging. Take note of elements like word choice, punctuation use, and any other consistent characteristics.
You don’t have to learn solely from observation. Being transparent about your research goals can speed up the process a lot more. In this case, you should directly ask the client to describe the voice of his or her brand.
If the answer is unclear, or the client is still working on developing that voice, you can guide the conversation with questions like this:
Proper voice can also be intuited through familiarity with the industry. For example, if you read blogs from publications focused on health and science, you may notice an expository, authoritative style.
Topics like public health don’t mesh well with a humorous tone or lots of exclamation points.
In contrast, writing for the fashion industry may be more creative and involve exciting, luxurious word choices like “bohemian” or “vibrant”. However, the rules are never set in stone, and you should always defer to client input overbroad assumptions.
Form is everything when it comes to a writing voice. Consider the difference in receiving the text message Okay! versus Ok. after you plan a date.
Only a few characteristics were changed, but the first message sounds eager and friendly, while the second one is cold or even angry.
When writing for a client, the voice is created in the structure of the words and even the space in-between.
A few things to consider:
- Active vs. passive voice
- One long sentence vs. several short sentences
- Use of exclamation points, parentheses, and question marks
- Word choice- are the verbs, nouns, and adjectives you use flashy or ordinary? Descriptive or blunt? Friendly or authoritative? Formal or informal?
- Spacing of the sentences or paragraphs
As I mentioned above, make sure the structure is consistent with the findings of your client research. If a client’s brand is “poppy and fun”, don’t let long words and technical jargon drag down the message.
Practice Makes Perfect
Just like developing your personal writing voice, writing in another voice takes time to hone. Keep your writing skills fresh with continuous practice. Exercises for copywriting are available online, but professional opportunities are even more important for building skills.
Take each challenge as it comes and take client feedback seriously. You’ll go from baritone to soprano in no time!
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If you’re having trouble establishing a voice that speaks for your brand or organization, our team has copywriters and marketing experts ready to assist. Click below to get in contact.