Authentic writing: what it is and how to achieve it

Oh, authenticity. Such a buzzword, but oh so important when you’re writing for your small biz.

Why, you ask? Because people want to work with, and buy from, PEOPLE they know, like, and trust. So we have to let them get to know us. We do this through what we say, and also HOW we say it.

Here’s a primer on what authenticity means and how to achieve it in your writing.

What is authenticity anyways?

Let’s start at the very beginning by getting clear on what ‘authenticity’ even means. I like how Brené Brown puts it:

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”


When you think of it like this, it all of a sudden doesn’t sound like such a complicated – or elusive – thing, does it? 

Now let’s talk about how to apply it to your writing. In a small business context, your goal is to create copy that reads like an in-person chat with YOU. It should convey personality, passion, and enthusiasm, in a conversational and friendly way. THIS = authentic.

Here are three tips for achieving it:

1. Stop worrying about how you SHOULD sound (or trying to copy others). There is no should. You don’t have to dial up the seriousness, or flip some kind of imaginary professional switch. As Brene says, let go of the idea that you’re ‘supposed’ to be a certain way.

And – this likely goes without saying, but it’s so important that I’m going there anyways: you can’t copy authenticity. No matter how much you might like someone else’s style, it’s not going to be right for you. So commit to finding your own voice – and using it proudly. Which leads me into my next point…

2. Authentic writing comes from a strong belief in who you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. In other words: mindset. So, if you’re struggling to ‘find your voice’, start here. If you need help, my favourite book, You are a Badass by  Jen Sincero will sort you right out.

3. The most practical tip: Write like you talk. This means using the same level of formality, figures of speech and points of emphasis. When I work one-on-one with clients, I always start with a 60- to 90-minute chat. It’s as much for me to get a feel for the person – their tone, level of formality, and ways of describing things – as it is to gather info.

The simple way to tell if you’ve achieved this is to read your words out loud. If it sounds like you, you’ve nailed it. (The best thing someone can say after I’ve written content for them is ‘This sounds JUST like me!’.) If your words feel clunky or stiff or awkward or ‘not you’, you’re not there yet.

Bonus tip: If you’re struggling with this, try dictating your words and transcribing them – at first, this can be a good way to ‘find’ your voice and get a feel for what it looks like in writing.

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