How to find your voice and what to share online by Helen Perry @notabouthekids

How to find your voice and what to share online

I threw out a request on Instagram Stories the other day – what should I write about next? Always worth asking. Someone replied; how do I find my voice on social media, and how much should I share? I come across this worry at workshops a lot, people who are crippled with anxiety over what to write about. Which aspects of their life and work to include (and not include) in their posts. And what the chuffing heck to talk about day in, day out.  So let’s go looking for your voice. To help, we’ve got journalist Annie Ridout and Spacemasks founder and Stories inspiration, Harriet Inglis. Both have found thiers brilliantly. And consider this, perhaps what is holding you back is the fear that you will find your voice – and that people might judge you for it?

Where’s your voice?

Well, it’s there isn’t it? You use it all the time to text or email friends and family. It’s there every time you run into someone at the shop, or catch your partner up on what’s happened during the day. Try very hard to use that voice when you are writing for social. I always write for one person and imagine them reading it or watching it by themselves (which they will be). Make it someone you like. Read what you have written out loud to test whether it sounds like you or not.

Ditch the jargon, babes

Any words that you would have to explain to someone who doesn’t work in your industry or share your hobby? Leave them out.

Any phrase that you would never use in real life? Leave it out.

If you lose the jargon it means that you will have to think really clearly about what you are trying to say, and that means that you will say it much better.

This post on jargon from Hootsuite will keep you on the straight and narrow.

And practice

So predictably dull – but so utterly the case that the only way to exercise and improve the writing muscle is to use it. So write every day. An Instagram post or tweet is absolutely writing. Keep it really short. Some brilliant writing is brief as f**k.

Accept that you will write things that your future self will laugh at (I can’t bring myself to open some of my early blog posts). But you can never begin at the end. Just start.

The freelance mum

Writer Annie Ridout (look her up on Instagram), the author of the fabulous The Freelance Mum, knows the pressure everyone is under to put themselves front and centre of their brand online, she says –

I think you just need to be true to yourself. That said, it’s a performance from us all – it’s not the real world. 

In terms of voice, you get to decide how you’d like to sound. Perhaps you’re informative, insightful, witty? Maybe you share tips, or ideas. Are you very open about your challenges, or do you prefer to focus on successes? A mix of both is good, in my opinion.

My area is freelancing/small business, as a mum. So I talk a lot about how I make it work raising two (nearly three) kids while earning. Mostly, my posts are about my thoughts on motherhood and work – things that are going right; things that are going wrong. And every now and again, I write about my courses. It’s about balancing it out.

The code

Annie has developed her own ethical code around what to share and what not to.

Early on, I made the decision to censor my children so that apart from baby photos that have already circulated, I don’t share face-on photos, or their name, online. They are my daughter and my son (will have to think of a name for my third!).

Check out Annie’s online courses for people going solo – Becoming your own boss, and freelancers who struggle with self-promotion – How to secure your own press coverage.

My code

So what to share and what not to share. Revelation incoming – that is completely up to you and there is absolutely no right or wrong answer.

There are a few things that are off limits for me, like Annie, my kids (obviously – this is Not About the Kids) and politics. I don’t do politics on social media, although others do it passsionatly and with purpose. You do you.

However, I’m really happy to give an insight into my life and thoughts and travels and what I love. There is a great deal that you can share before you get close to the complexities of your relationship with your parents or the ins and outs of your marriage.

The spoken voice

Writing is only part of the story online. Now to someone who has mastered video on social media – Harriet Inglis, the founder of Spacemasks – magical self-warming masks of goodness that help you drift off to sleep. Harriet is all about the Instagram Stories (click here to follow her and see what I’m talking about). On her Instagram grid, it’s mostly all Spacemask business, but on Stories – she takes followers through her day with hilariously dry wit. I asked her how she knows what to talk about –

I’d only just got to grips with posting pics on the grid at the ripe old age of 41 when I was told that Stories were ’the thing.’  At first, I assumed I’d have to show footage of me boxing up Spacemasks but was soon put right. Now I quite happily waffle on about my day to day activities whilst running a very busy start up with 4 daughters, 2 happy dachshunds, a pair of over-indulged rabbits and a hamster, proving the juggle is real.  It seems to be working….”

Just because your account is set up to support your work or business does not mean that this is all you can talk about. People are (maaayybe surprisingly) really interested in other people’s day-to-day, don’t fear the ordinary.

Click here for a list of ideas for what to share on Instagram Stories.

So consider this…

If you are finding this tricky, perhaps what you are actually worried about is that you will find your voice. Then people will really see you as you are – and they may not like (and who’s a massive fan of criticism?). It can be very exposing to write what you think about something and then send it into the universe.  Here’s the best advice I’ve ever been given on the matter –

“Nobody cares – they are too busy worrying about their own shit”

Writer and commedian Viv Groskop

So if that’s the case – if Viv is right and nobody cares or is watching too closely – you might as well just say what you came to say.

Click here to read a few tricks I picked up when I needed to regain my confidence and get back to work.

What's your View?

4 comments on “How to find your voice and what to share online

  1. Helen on

    Ah this is fabulous, Helen! Thank you! I can’t tell you the amount of times I write a caption about the children and then delete because I made a promise to myself that this is not about the kids 😉 I want this to be my space and not me as a mum. I was a mummy blogger for two years always writing the funny about raising kids and had to step away for a variety of reason but mainly that it wasn’t funny raising kids anymore! I need my space from being a mummy and instagram has done that for me totally which is why I very rarely talk about my children in captions. I know that may seem to some that I’m not being true to myself but there’s a whole lot of me away from being a mum to theee almost grown up children! I think it helps to set out your limits and find your voice within those … it can be a challenge sometimes when you feel all you’ve done is out of the Instagram topic limits but it helps protect your voice too if that makes sense xx

  2. Neha on

    Love it luv it love it! Sometimes I overthink the caption and no one cares like you said. It stresses me out for no reason so it’s better just to say what I would normally

  3. Helen on

    No one cares in the nicest possible way Neha :). The people who are going to like you will like and the people whom it doesn’t connect with will get on with their day and not give it much thought. Might as well go for it and worry less! Thanks for reading, Hx

  4. Helen on

    Hello Helen, I’m so glad you like it. You know, I do exactly the same thing. Talking and thinking about them becomes part of your DNA when they are little, but it’s perfectly possible to be a totally engaged mum and share all of your other passions and interests through your work and hobby. Cheers to that! And thanks so much for reading and commenting Hx

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