Technology has brought about a fundamental change in how we communicate.
That's no surprise, of course. Thanks to the Internet, our world is more connected than it's ever been; direct communication with just about anyone in the world is often a few keystrokes away. The advent of Smartphone technology and social media further means that we're potentially in constant contact with every one of our friends and acquaintances.
It's not just our personal relationships that we've constant access to, either. Modern web users are constantly being bombarded with information from all sides. Over here, there's someone who wants to sell them a product. Over there waits a con artist who's trying to phish out their personal information. Here, there's a hundred different weblogs delivering the same basic message. There, we've got thousands of different personalities vying for their attention.
All this together has led to something known as information overload. Web users today are under constant assault by wave after wave of content. The end result of this is that they've grown quite skilled at filtering out anything which doesn't immediately interest them as noise. Anything - and anyone - that bores them is passed over.
By now, I think most of you see where I'm going with this. For the same reason your content needs to be concise and valuable, it also needs to have personality. An article with no clear voice is boring; an article with an unnatural, mechanical voice is an utter slog to read through. Not only that, it implies you don't really care for what you're writing on - you're disconnecting yourself in some way from your content.
The end result is that most users who aren't intensely passionate about your topic (and even some who are) will simply go elsewhere. They'll find someone who is entertaining to read. They'll find someone who does seem to care about their writing.
After all, it's not as if you've no competitors. It exists in every niche, no matter how small. Instilling personality into your content is just one of many ways you can differentiate yourself from the competition.
So...how exactly can you give your articles more personality?
You could just do what I do: write as though you're speaking to a professional friend or colleague.
Oddly enough, this is something I've done for my entire life without quite knowing it. It was simply how I'd developed my writing chops (and perhaps why I found academic papers so painful in University). It took a former roommate calling me out to realize it; telling me that his "favorite thing" about my writing style was that it felt like I was actually in the room talking to him.
It's that sort of connection with your readers that you should strive for. Put your own personality down onto the page; inject it into every word you type. Make people feel like they're being told a story around a campfire or at a bar, not dictated facts in a lecture hall. I guarantee your articles will be better for it, and your readers will certainly appreciate the service, as well.
Now, I should probably add a disclaimer here: this doesn't necessarily work for all content. Academic pieces, research papers, and business reports - stuff that's all about raw facts - should most certainly be kept to an impartial, professional tone; as should the majority of news pieces. As for everything else, though?
Go nuts. Let who you are shine through in what you write. Make your content yours.
Image credit: Howard Lake