And so utterly together and in control you wish you could have what she has.
Who else could I be talking about but Danielle LaPorte?
Don’t lie. You know you knew exactly who I was referring to, even with a very limited introduction.
That’s because she is everywhere. She has had a profound impact on this little corner of the internet and her influence keeps on growing. (And she’s about to release The Desire Map, which looks all sorts of fabulous.) How do you know the impact is so deep?
Because every juicy, soulful goddesspreneur out there tries to imitate her.
Oh yes I did just go there.
Allow me to unveil the phrase that will earn you the loathing of professional copywriters the web over if you you say it: “You know, I just LOVE the way Danielle LaPorte, Marie Forleo, and Kris Carr’s voices sound. Can you make me sound like them, but more juicy?”
*Run over, kiss laptop, and apologize to it*
*Sigh and question why you think making things for people is a good idea*
*Pour apple martini to commence copydrinking*
In case that wasn’t clear enough, every time you say you want to sound like one of the Big Three, a copywriter dies a little inside.
That’s not to say that you can’t be an ultra-succulent, super-peachy, insert fruit-descriptor-here transition expert or whatever term you use because you don’t want to be a called a “life coach” even though that’s what you are. And if you’re guilty of saying something similar to the above, please understand that I tease you in good fun, because I too, for a time was an imitator.
Once upon a time, when I was new to this world of online business and unconventional living and lifestyle design, I discovered the powerhouse that is Danielle LaPorte. Poetry. Asskickery. It was love at first sight.
And oh boy, did I want to be like her. She was so together, so feel-good but so bust your balls straight forward that it cut to the quick. I wanted that. So I kind of tried it for awhile. I tried to use poetry, when I’m not really a poet. I used bigger words becasue I thought they made me sound smarter. Funny thing though, it didn’t really work. You know why?
BECAUSE I AM NOT DANIELLE LAPORTE.
You know why it’s not going to work for you?
I’ll let you guess.
What You Actually Want
As your brand strategist and friend, let me help you out here and help you get what you actually want. You don’t want to sound like Danielle or Marie or anyone else.
You want to sound like you know what you’re fucking talking about.
You want to appear like you have it all together. You have all the answers. And honestly? You probably want to be famous. Maybe not Nicole Kidman famous, just internet superstar famous. (Because it’s so easy, you know. Ha.)
So why do you want to be famous? Maybe you want attention and a tribe so you can finally feel validated. Like you have permission. Like you have an audience who will applaud you. Give you that pat on the back.
Then again, maybe you want to famous so you can draw attention to your cause. Maybe you want to change what’s considered mainstream.
It’s not that wanting to be famous is a bad thing. I totally want to be famous. Before I was rocking my internet mic, I was doing in-house ads for Clear Wireless and shooting for the Broadway stars. Now I’m more interested in fame that can bring massive attention to social change movements, fight the status quo through positive disruption, and encourage people to think for themselves.
It’s a much smaller scale of fame, but it’s also a scale that makes you indispensable.
How To Be Famous
Fame is the result of being remarkable, original, and consistent.
Fame is not the result of trying being someone else.
A Crisis of Voice
The problem you’re having here is an identity crisis. Or rather a voice identity crisis. How do you discover the voice that is completely unique to you? And how do you tell the difference between what you sound like and your aspirations of what you wish you sounded like?
The first thing I tell potential copywriting clients to screen bad fits is “I work with people, not personas.” I’ve been fortunate not to have many bad clients, but the bad ones have all had something in common.
The worst clients I’ve had as a writer have been those otherwise lovely individuals who fill out the questionnaire and give me tons to work with, rock the interview, affirm the unique gems we pull out of their speech, and when they see the first draft… they swear it doesn’t sound like them. Why?
I’ve wrote about why I’m a killer copywriter before – being a shapeshifter is my superpower. I take on the voices of others to create something extraordinary. And my writing process is extensive. I spend enough time with and in your voice to have a solid idea of what you sound like. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the problem is not me.
The problem is that these clients had a problem with their voice. No matter what they told me about the copy, the conversation would come down to a particular “not enoughness” they felt regarding their voice. For example, a yogi I once worked with claimed “it just wasn’t how people in their profession sounded,” even though the way she spoke about yoga made it much more accessible than imitating Deepak Chopra did. So she went back to the aloof, high-spiritual speak that she’d convinced herself people wanted to hear, even though we had determined that her people loved her program and process for her. She wasn’t willing to embrace the fullness of using her voice because it made her too vulnerable.
Finding Your Voice and Embracing Vulnerability
To put this conversation into a framework, Danielle is a salesperson-maven. Sticky ideas drenched in the almighty woo. Another example? Marie is a salesperson-connector. Sticky ideas covered in I’m your best girlfriend who’ll tell it like is. Determining your own preferences, archetypes, and compiling these is a great way place to start discovering pieces of what your voice has to offer you.
I don’t like asking people who their influencers are. When we list our influencers, often we list the people who we admire. That makes sense, but I think it does you an injustice because you’re focused on the people so much, rather than the elements of them that you resonate with. If we ask the question a little differently, we’ll see better results.
What are your favorite books, magazines, songs? (Bonus: And why? Tell me a story.)
When I frame the question that way for myself, it lets me pull from sources of inspiration outside the gobbledegook of the internet. I think Chocolat + Vanity Fair + Wired + John Mayer + Ella Fitzgerald + a dash of Seth Godin. It’s much more glorious than the limited comparison of razzle dazzle internet voices. (Please remember the age of the internet is still young.) It gives you much more to work with.
All of this is to say, it’s okay to sound like you. Your voice is the sum of your experiences and the influence of your daily life. Why would you want to give up something so innate and integral to you? If you want to find your voice, become famous, and all that good stuff, focus on that amazing message you’re ready to give to the world, not the sexiest possible way to package it. Because the only reason we’re going to care about your message is because we care about you.
P.S. It’s easier to care about you if we know you. Use your words, not anyone else’s.
((Ready to sound like you know what you’re talking about? I can help you with that.))