Should freelance writers write in the first, second or third person? The answer to that question is a definitive… It all depends
Writing for Others
If you are hired as a freelance writer, after squaring away the scope of the project and the price, the next thing you should request is a style guide. Some projects don’t have a style guide, simply reviewing other articles or past completed work for the project can give you a good idea as to whether or not you should write in the first, second or third person. If you’re still unsure after reviewing past work, ask the editor.
Writing for Yourself:
- Websites: If you’re developing a website my thought process was always to write in the third person unless it was an editorial. However, the Internet is a lot less formal off-line publications so writing in the second person is perfectly acceptable for many sites. However, there are some sites such as Suite 101.com that prohibit using first second or second person writing.
- Blogs: When it comes to blogs, I strongly encourage first and second person writing. Blogs are expected to be personal. It’s tough to be warm and inviting when writing in the third person. It comes across a little clinical and impersonal (in my opinion). In addition to being warmer and more personal, writing in the first or second person makes it so much easier to come up with content. Since I’m more accustomed to thinking and speaking n the first or second person, it spills over into my writing.
A third person experience
Some of you may know that I write for Suite 101.com. Originally Suite accepted articles written in the second person (first person articles were a big no-no). They later changed their writing guidelines and nixed all second person writing. They did not make the authors go back and re-work older articles, but they no longer accepted new articles in the second person.
Since Suite 101 instituted this change, I find it takes more time and effort to write for them. It seems to take the friendliness out of the articles and inserts a more authoritative feel. Granted, Suite 101 is not in business to be warm and fuzzy and I do like earning a few bucks, so I have conformed to their writing guidelines.
The Long and the Short of it
To answer the original question whether or not to write in the first second or third person. The answer is a resounding…it depends.