As a writer, your website is your own personal space to write about virtually anything you want. But, writers who want to find success in freelancing typically write about things that other people can relate to as well. With over 500 million blogs on the web, being able to compete is important if you want to write for a living.
With that said, controlling your unconscious bias is an important part of developing your brand.
You may not think you’re biased for or against a specific group of people, whether it’s gender, race, political party, or even a specialist group. But, your unconscious bias can sometimes creep through in the things you write. That’s why understanding certain biases can be helpful as you sit down to write your next piece. Especially when you start to think about your writing as a business, you’ll have a better understanding of how those unconscious biases can end up feeling more like major marketing mistakes.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common biases that you should keep in mind, as well as how to avoid making those mistakes in your writing by not targeting specific groups.
Biases You Should Be Aware Of
Though you don’t necessarily have to walk on eggshells when it comes to social biases, it’s important to know some of the most common targets so you can make sure you’re not letting any unconscious opinions slip into your writing. For example, women are often a major target of biased opinions. The business world has a learned bias against women in the workplace, and talks of equal pay and equal opportunities have been hot topics for years. It’s hard to ignore the fact that in many industries, women are treated differently than men.
In the tech industry, for instance, men have dominated the scene for most of the 20th century, but now many STEM programs are being marketed toward girls and women because they think differently than men, and are more likely to think holistically. Women are also more likely to be emotionally intelligent and fair negotiators.
Those are skills that can come in handy in the tech and business worlds. Whether you agree with the rise of women in the workforce or not, your blog should stick to the facts instead of causing controversy with subtle opinions.
Other groups that you may have an unconscious bias for or against include:
- LGBTQ+ community, including discrimination in the workplace.
- Racial groups.
- Private organizations.
Especially in this era of #MeToo, Black Lives Matter protests, mask-wearers vs. anti-mask wearers, and political parties that never seem to get along, checking your bias at the door should be the first thing you consider before you start typing up your next article. Everything from misgendering, mislabeling, posting incorrect facts, or asking inappropriate questions can indicate a bias that could turn your readers away.
Marketing Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make
If you’re trying to make a career out of writing, looking at it as a business/brand is a key to success. Think about some of your favorite big businesses. While they might support certain groups and organizations, for the most part, they don’t show any biases one way or another. Occasionally, when businesses do slip up and show their unconscious bias, they often get called out for it.
You should think of your writing in the same way.
Now, more than ever, we’re living in an environment where it’s important to be sincere and connect with people. But, these are also uncertain times. When you’re trying to market your writing, you always have to “read the room,” or, in this case, know your audience. Don’t let your bias come into your writing by getting political about the current situations all over the world, whether it’s using the COVID-19 tragedies to your advantage or speaking out about racial injustices with a tone-deaf voice.
You wouldn’t see a major corporation doing that, would you?
It’s not just your writing that you should be focusing on, either. Your brand should already be spread out across social media platforms, so make sure what you’re saying is consistent everywhere. Use social media to boost your writing and further interact meaningfully with your followers. Everyone is looking for a connection these days, after all. By reaching out on social media and having a conversation, you can showcase your sincerity in ways that a simple article may not be able to.
Working With AI
Nowadays, more businesses are turning toward automation to lighten their load. As a writer, you can take advantage of AI as well. Things like chatbots and personal assistants have become popular on many brand websites and blogs.
But, keep in mind that you’re leaving your readers in the “hands” of your chatbot or assistant whenever you’re away. It’s imperative to make sure that your bot isn’t picking up on your bias.
Virtual assistants in live chat systems imitate the way we think. Simply put, they learn and grow based on the things that are said. If you’re leaving a chatbot or assistant to answer reader questions while you’re away, making sure they do so in a neutral, unbiased way is just as important as what you’re writing, yourself. AI can certainly be the way of the future when it comes to customer service and answering reader questions/comments, but you still have to be in charge of the way your AI solutions think. One good example of an AI picking up on biases is Microsoft’s experimental AI Twitter account, Tay, who within a few hours, learned to spew racist and other distasteful things after interacting with her audience and “learning” to speak as they did.
You might be thinking that you don’t have any biased opinions or thoughts. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that you might not even realize it until they come to the forefront through your writing. The more you recognize some of the most common targets of bias, the easier it is to see where you might be dealing with a few. Keep them in mind as you continue to write, and check your thoughts so you can control your unconscious bias before you type a single word.