Jeff Goins divides bloggers into five ‘platform personalities’:
The Journalist, who builds a platform on asking questions. This is my approach with The Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast.
The Artist, focused on creating something beautiful – for me, Akala and Elizabeth Gilbert spring to mind.
The Professor, who is all about research and presenting the facts – this is a common style for business book authors with a background in academia, Amy Wilkinson’s The Creator’s Code (shortly to be featured in the EBBC) is a good example, as is Carol Dweck’s Mindset.
The Star, the most mysterious of all: the blogger who draws attention simply because of their charisma. As Goins puts it: ‘They’re a party looking for a place to happen.’ Goins cites Tim Ferris as an example of this style (though I’d respectfully suggest he fits better elsewhere, see below), Richard Branson is another (Screw it, Let’s Do It).
As you can see from the examples I’ve added above, I think these categories hold true for business books too, but I’d suggest a couple of additions to Goins’s taxonomy:
The Instructor, who gives step-by-step, practical ‘how-to’ on their area of expertise – Bryony Thomas’s Watertight Marketing is a good example, Guy Kawasaki’s APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur is another.
The Motivator, less ‘how-to’, more ‘why you should bother in the first place’, imparting enthusiasm and convincing the reader not only that this is a good idea but that they can do it. Andy Cope’s The Art of Being Brilliant is a good example (and another that will shortly feature on the EBBC), or the classic by Susan Jeffers, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.
The Adventurer, the business equivalent of the ‘round-the-world-with-a-fridge-on-my-back’ genre, recounting a personal journey from disaster to success or from mediocrity to enlightenment, for example Tim Ferris’s The 4-hour Work Week or Karren Brady’s Strong Woman.
The Experimenter, who documents their experiments and draws out conclusions. Gretchen Rubin is an exemplar of this with Better Than Before (and Tim Ferris has moved to this style with his podcast The Tim Ferris Experiment).
Which are you? Are you a hybrid? Or have you invented another category entirely? (In which case, good for you – let’s hear it.)
Finding your voice is one of the biggest challenges for new writers, and it’s something regular blogging can help with – thinking about the styles out there and where you fit into the mix can be a useful starting point, and a reminder that there’s more that one way of doing this writing thing right.