Beginning at Johns Hopkins in 2012, I spent half a decade pondering this question. I wanted to know what makes our words persuasive and how to reach more people with them.
I have read hundreds of books and thousands of articles, as well as contributed over 120 pages of original academic research on the topic. In all this study, I was surprised to find that the answer is actually quite simple.
Practically everyone can begin implementing this today and take their writing to the next level.
Extraordinary writers don’t write to receive anything, they write to add value to their audience.
The mistake so many writers make is that they write with selfish motives. They write for followers, or money, or sheer adulation… but extraordinary writers don’t do this.
Extraordinary writers understand that readers only read for one reason. They read to receive value. The irony is that by focusing on adding value, extraordinary writers end up receiving tons of followers, money, and adulation anyway — they just weren’t looking for it.
Value comes from unique knowledge or insight. This typically takes three forms:
We share experience: Everyone has experience with something. When we share our unique experiences with others, we are trailblazing a path for our audience to follow. This can be as simple as a mom sharing her pregnancy experience with other moms who are due, or as complex as Tony Robbins sharing in his book, Awaken The Giant Within, how he used neuro-associative conditioning to transform his confidence and make powerful changes in his personal life.
We explain research: A reader lives a thousand lives before they die, the one who never reads lives only one — George R.R. Martin. The great thing about research is it allows us to go beyond our personal experience and share the unique knowledge and insights of others with our audience.
We describe reporting: Reporting is describing an event or first-hand account to your audience. This gives writers the power to place their audience at the scene of an event or allow them to hear what went on “in the room.” For example, if you attended a significant event you can describe what it was like to be there; or, if you interviewed someone amazing you can describe what they said.
Now you know how to share value with your reader, but I haven’t told you the best approach. There are two types of content on the internet, shallow content and quality content.
If your article meets all the following criteria then it is quality content, if it doesn’t then it is shallow content.
These articles helped him amass over 58,000 personal followers and a publication that boast a whopping 280,000 followers. He says “I will publish an article only when I have something important to say.” He averages one article every two months.
Think of how much more engagement your articles will get if your primary focus is to provide value to your audience.
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Originally published at writingcooperative.com