With countless puppy/kitten snuggle fests and engaging TikTok videos, our online world is a busy, busy place filled with distractions.
You only have a brief second to capture and engage your audience before they move on, particularly if you want to do so with your written words.
Here are four writing tips from a writing coach and ghostwriter that you can utilize right now in all of your writing–from your social media posts to your blog, website and emails–that will make you a stronger, less boring writer.
1. Get to the Point
There is a running joke in my family that we use when one of us has written something that is a bit long winded. One of us will say to the other, “I would like to take this opportunity.”
In my family, we mean it as a mocking comment–one that says your writing could be stronger.
It goes back to a school principal we once had. She never said what she wanted to say until she was a paragraph or two into her statement, whether she was writing a letter to the school community or giving a back-to-school speech. She usually began by telling us that she was taking an opportunity to tell us something.
Look for it; you will see and hear variations of it everywhere.
“I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to…” (Just thank them.)
“Please allow me to introduce myself…” (Sorry, Mick Jagger, but just say hello.)
“Needless to say…” (Then don’t say it.)
“To make a long story short…” (It’s usually too late.)
Boring. Uninspiring. Colorless.
After you have written something, read it out loud to yourself. Then ask yourself SO WHAT? What does it mean? If the answer can be expressed in fewer words than the original statement, it’s time to get out your editing pen.
2. Nobody Cares About You: The “What’s in it for Me?” Question
One of my proudest moments as a writing coach came when I overheard one of my students tell someone else that no one cared about her.
No, she was not being heartless; what she meant is that we are the least important character in our writing.
Writing should be nuanced with tidbits from Sales and Marketing 101. Make it about the reader. Think about it, you do a lot of persuasive writing–whether you are trying to close a six-figure deal or convince a spouse by text why one vacation/restaurant is better than another, the benefits should be discernible.
It is hard to write about yourself! Your words need to get the reader to understand why “working” with you will make their life better, and that does not apply exclusively to“working” in the business sense.
Sure, you are creative, innovative, a hard worker, an excellent communicator. But remember…”no one cares about you” and telling them all this means nothing and won’t get you business or your point across.
Sell, sell, sell. But don’t really sell.
Be careful, the worst thing you want to do is come across as a used-car salesman. Nobody wants to be sold to. Your job here is to offer information–to educate your reader and, in the process, position yourself as an authority on a topic so that, eventually, when a decision has to be made, your expertise will be remembered.
You need to create that world where the reader comes first. You need to know who your reader is. And then you need to know what value you bring to them.
Your blog, for example, might not be for everyone. You know what, that is okay. You need to show that you can relate to your intended reader’s pain points. Ideally, because you have shared and have overcome them yourself.
Defining who you are writing for and how you can help them will hone your niche. Speaking directly to them will make it easier to deliver a more effective, targeted message. Not everyone is your customer.
Even when you are creating an “About Me” section for your website, it’s not just what you have done, but it’s why what you have done can help them.
In blogs, your readers don’t care that you have the Number One product with patented technology created by renowned scientists–they want to hear the story about the woman with the smoother skin who gained confidence.
They don’t want to hear that you have a sharp eye and can help them choose the most beautiful furniture. They want you to tell them how they will be able to tackle at-home learning and carpools more easily because of how rested they will feel after sleeping on the comfortable bed you picked out.
What makes your message, product, or service important to your reader and helps them solve their problems?
Give them what they need.
3. Kill the Buzzwords
Get rid of cliches, buzzwords, slang, and technical jargon.
It’s time for a paradigm shift–let’s touch base and think outside the box with your writing, and give it 110 percent of your effort. If you drill down what you want to say to the most meaningful words you can then leverage these action items so that you can do a deep dive to hit all the low hanging fruit and get on the same page as your reader. The bottom line is at the end of the day if they don’t have the bandwidth for your best practices, you can take it off line and circle back another time. Way to move the needle!
4. Rewrite: Is it Ever Done?
I once tweeted at Lin-Manuel Miranda to ask him whether he ever looks at his Hamilton lyrics and thinks of tweaks that would make it even better. Even simple phrases here and there. He never answered me, but it makes you wonder: is our work ever really done?
When we review it the next day or month or even year, are there improvements we can make? When we hit “send” on a social media post, or blog entry, it is “out there.” Sure, technology allows us to modify it, but often the damage is done. Article submissions, emails, printed literature–it needs to be “ready.”
Rule of thumb: Don’t submit until you have read it through a few times without making any changes.
- Keep your sentences short.
- Keep your paragraphs short.
- Reread your work again and again.
- Read it out loud (I know I shared that already, but it’s an important one and makes a difference.)
- Limit your exclamation points!!!
Let me know in the comments below if you try any of these tips, and what the outcome is. Do you have any tips to add? I look forward to hearing from you!
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