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Taking the I Out of Blog

no i in the blog


(Okay, so there’s no ‘i’ in ‘blog’ to begin with. Work with me here.)

This week on the Housechick blog, posts may not use the word “I” or “Me.”

Working through my feed reader this morning, there was a post that started, “I just listed a home at…” and that’s as far as I read. I don’t care that she listed a home. I don’t care about her, at least not in any specific manner. It turned me off big time.

So I decided, this week, there is no “I” in my blog.

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It’s harder than I anticipated.

I tend to tell stories on my blog: ‘I’ve noticed that…,” “My client said to me…,” and so on. The point of the story is to elaborate some kind of real estate related idea, but it’s all framed with an ‘I.’ And the stories usually aren’t even about ‘I’, they’re about them. The clients. The buyers, the sellers, the other agents, the lenders, the other folks.

And I think it’s okay to use the I voice. That’s part of what individuates one blog from the other, it’s a direct view of the author. But I still think that the new visitor cares first about the information and it’s relevance, and second – if at all – about the author.

It’s not about me, it’s about them. Duh, right?

As a writing challenge to myself this week, I’m making a concentrated effort to put the focus back where it belongs – on contextually relevant information. With no mention of ‘I’ or ‘me.’

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I’m working on a couple drafts to be published later this week, and so far, this is hard. I’m writing what I want to say, and then I have to go back and heavily edit, reword, rephrase, re-perspective. But it’s an interesting exercise.

Anyone else up for this challenge too? Here, I’ll give you a couple of “yous” to start with.

you you you you. also, yours and you’re. they. ‘us’ and ‘we’ are acceptable, if ‘us’ and ‘we’ is me and the reader.

There. Off you go. Happy editing. I’ll see you on the other side of this challenge.

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Written By

Kelley Koehler, aka the Housechick, is usually found focused on her Tucson, Arizona, real estate business. You may also find her on Twitter, where she doubles as a super hero, at Social Media Training Camp, where she trains and coaches people on how to integrate social media into successful business practices, or at KelleyKoehler.com, a collection of all things housechick-ish. Despite her engineering background, Kelley enjoys translating complex technical concepts into understandable and clear ideas that are practical and useful to the striving real estate agent.

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    June 29, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Kelly, I hope you’re blending in the middle some posts about you you you… one of the things that is so brilliant about you is your ability to connect on a personal level. When you went to town with a saw, hammer, and nails in your own home, it grabbed me personally as a do it myself sort of guy and it is a quality I most admire about you on a really personal level.

    I totally agree about getting to the goods and balancing it with not being a salesman of the in your face kind, but if I were buying real estate in your neck of the woods, I would use you just because I like and admire you, and the great agent part would just be the topping.

  2. John Lauber

    June 29, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    You’ve certainly made an interesting challenge that many us can learn from.

    Thank YOU.

  3. ines

    June 29, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    I’ve been doing this for a while and it’s not easy, but discovered early on that you have to write as if you are talking to a particular person. I use “I”, but try to limit it. We even got rid of our picture on our home page and on our business cards because it IS about the client, not us.
    Great challenge!!

  4. Lisa Sanderson

    June 29, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Great tip. I think this is a great way to make you stop and think about your focus. I’m going to try this exercise for awhile and see what happens. Challenge accepted!

  5. Bill Lublin

    June 29, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    OK Kelley – I’m going to take your challenge – I won’t write about you this week 😉

  6. Barry Cunningham

    June 29, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    This is really not so hard to do…it’s just hard for most agents to do. For some reason the culture for so long has been about an inner embellishment. Now it is obvious that it is all about the clients.

    I throw away all the postcards I get about “i just sold this house”…it’s completely inane. It’s not marketing..not by any stretch of the imagination. It fails marketing 101 on that premise.

    glad to hear that you get it. Wonder if others will. I know one guy for sure who does not. (and it ain’t Bill..not picking a fight bud :)…I bet Jay knows who I’m talking about)

  7. Bill Lublin

    June 29, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Kelley ; Just kidding – you and Benn form a perfect dichotomy here – How do you keep it personla and yet write in an articulate manner that is not about meme or II – The post will help me remember and write more effectively , I hope –
    Thanks

  8. Faina Sechzer

    June 29, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Blog authors in this regard are similar to book authors -they have to decide in whose voice to tell the story. What is important is not so much what voice it’s written, but what the story is about. If this agent was saying she listed the house and here is what her readers could learn from this -IMO it’s fine. If she was saying “I listed the house” to say how great she is, it’s a totally different story.
    On my blog I ( first mention of I in this comment:) speak in the first voice, as if I was talking to someone. Will have to double check how many “I” such writing produces:)

  9. Kelley Koehler

    June 29, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Benn – there’s definitely a middle ground here, but I’m exploring erring on the other side for a week! I went back and looked at the posts on my blog last week – and nearly every one started with an “I” sentence. I think the regular reader might be okay with that – that reader and I already have a connection – but I can imagine new visitors being turned off, potentially. It will be interesting to see if I can tweak my language but keep the style and feeling.

    Ines – I’ve always had a specific audience or person in mind for each post, but I tend to hedge my information in the context of a story or event – as if to rationalize why I’m writing that particular piece. Looking back, it’s not always necessary.

    Barry – I think that was a compliment. 🙂 It’s not hard to not write about myself, it’s hard for me to change my writing style so that I’m not framing everything in the context of my experience. I tend to lead with some story or tidbit that justifies the rest of the post.

    Bill – well, I’m not going to write about YOU either!

    Thanks for the support guys. It’s been a long time since I read through my own blog and in retrospect, there are aspects of the style and focus that I want to tweak somewhat. I like my writing to sound like how I talk, and I realized that when I talk to people, I never preface advice or information with the context of “I know this because…” as I do on my blog. There’s a place for that – and it’s not at the start of every post.

  10. Kelley Koehler

    June 29, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Faina – you make a good point. And that particular post was just an advertisement for her listing, which is a different topic alltogether! But at the same time, what if she had said, “There’s this amazing house over in XYZ neighborhood where as soon as you walk in, you can see all the way to the mountains without another house in sight, blah blah blah…” and at the end, say that she has the pleasure of listing it. (which is extra-cheezy example copy, but a different approach to the same post). It’s still first person, still conversational, but there’s no “I.”

  11. Elaine Reese

    June 29, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Well … let’s count the number of I’s and me’s in the above post. 😉

    I tend to write as if I am speaking directly to a particular person so I use I’s and me’s when I’m telling the story. Eliminating that manner of speaking, would IMO, lose the personal aspect. I’ve had quite a few people tell me that they feel like they know me. So, I’m not sure I want to lose that.

    Depending on the writing style, heavy usage of the other pronouns, like you’s, might come off as sounding “preachy”.

    Now if an agent is saying they’re the greatest, then that’s an entirely different matter!

  12. Tom Vanderwell

    June 29, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    I think that this is a very healthy discussion to have. My English prof in college would find it enlightening as well. A couple of thoughts:
    1. From my standpoint, the thing that is most important is the attitude, not the individual words. I believe that many of the people who stop by my blog do so because they want to find out more about my thoughts and perspectives on the mortgage world, so it’s okay for me to say, “I read this…..”

    2. The fact that we’re having a discussion about this means that everyone who is reading and participating in the discussion is thinking about their writing style. That in and of itself is a good thing.

    Thanks for listening!

    Tom

  13. Jay Thompson

    June 29, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    “I bet Jay knows who I’m talking about”

    ya think? 😉

  14. Steve Belt

    June 30, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    “I think” there are certain times when you MUST use I. It’s when you share a personal opinion. If we opin about the market, make predictions about the future, or do anything else that isn’t fact based, I think we must be careful to clarify that as a personal opinion. This is the #1 place I use I. At least, I hope it is…I know I struggle with that part of my voice, in large part, because this engineer isn’t very well trained as a writer.

  15. Paula Henry

    June 30, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Kelly – An interesting challenge! Looking at my posts, it is something I can improve on – I will definately be checking myself now.

  16. Eric Blackwell

    July 1, 2008 at 10:32 am

    OK, Kelly! Good challenge if for nothing else just to “switch hats” as a writer. I will be giving it a try on EricOnSearch….grin

  17. Mack in Atlanta

    July 1, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Several years ago a very wise gentleman told me to write the about page on my site in a more personal manner leaving out the I as much as possible. Thanks for the reminder and the challenge for the blog.

  18. Holly White

    July 1, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Nice challenge Kelley. I’ll give it a whirl. Wait a minute I just said “I’ll” and “I”. Crap. Does it count here? Whew, this is going to be harder than “Holly” expected. 🙂

    Seriously though, I think we should keep our blog posts informative but at the same time, keep readers on the hook. Sometimes that means putting yourself into the post. People want to read about your experiences as it could relate to them. So talking about something you did in your own home as do-it-yourselfer would make me want to read on. Telling me about all of your accomplishments in blog posts is a turn off however. Using I and me in moderation is probably the best directive.

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