Would you like to become a better writer?
Would you like to create content that people will remember, tweet, and plus?
How about content that inspires your audience to click, subscribe or buy? That’s the Holy Grail, right?
It may sound difficult, but it really isn’t.
You’re about to become a writer that’s incredibly persuasive and completely unforgettable.
Let’s start with structuring your content so your message becomes irresistible.
How to streamline your content creation
Are you forever chopping at and changing your text?
Use the following tips to structure your writing up front, so your message isn’t buried deep in your post:
- Write your headline first. Include a compelling reason why anyone should read your content.
- Then write your subheads. These will help structure your post.
- Don’t forget captions. People are more likely to read your captions than your copy, so don’t miss this opportunity to communicate!
- Delight with your opening paragraph. Remember, your opening paragraph has to draw your readers into your story. Each sentence has to make them want to read the next.
- Energize with your closing paragraph. Make sure you write a few kick-ass lines that inspire your readers to take action or change their beliefs.
- Create fascinating bullet points. Most people won’t read every word of your content. They’ll scan the headlines and the bullet points.
- Don’t disappoint. Remember the compelling reason in your headline? Make sure you deliver on it.
How to write headlines that convert
You know that — on average — only 2 out of 10 people read an article beyond the headline, don’t you?
If you don’t write irresistible headlines, even fewer people than those 2 will read your content.
Use the following seven foolproof steps to avoid obscurity and boost your reader numbers:
- Present a benefit in your headline. Everyone’s time is precious — so how will you reward your readers for paying attention to your content? How will you make them feel better?
- Command attention. You have less than a second to grab someone’s attention. So tickle the right brain and gain interest with power words such as doomed, failure, and lies (or more positive words such as inspiration and breakthrough).
- Be specific. If your headline is generic, nobody will be interested. Get to specifics and people will react.
- Don’t try to be clever. Clever headlines are difficult to write, and even the good ones often fail.
- Don’t try to be original for its own sake. Take your cue from professional copywriters, and use strong, proven structures to build your headlines around.
- Keep practicing. Write several headlines for each post. Study headlines of popular blogs, magazines, and newspapers. Practice. Every day.
- Write with a purpose. Make sure you know what action you want your readers to take. Doing so will help structure your content.
How to write content your readers will remember
You’ve made so much effort.
You write, and write, and write. People are reading your content, but your message doesn’t stick. Your readers are forgetting it, and fast.
The following nine simple tactics will make your message unforgettable:
- Use sound bites. These are easy-to-remember, easy-to-quote nuggets of wisdom, just like proverbs. And haven’t generations of people remembered proverbs?
- Avoid routine common sense. You won’t win reader loyalty with your breathtaking grasp of the obvious.
- Surprise your readers. An element of the unexpected will make your reader pay attention. And when they pay attention, they’ll remember.
- Add concrete details. They’ll help your readers picture your story.
- Use vivid adjectives. Use adjectives and adverbs that are specific, sensory, or emotional. And ditch the bland adjectives that don’t add anything.
- Use stories. They bring your message alive.
- Make your readers feel something. Emotion makes people care and remember.
- Use metaphors. They’ll help people understand what you’re trying to tell by relating it to something they know.
- Use the rule of three. Our brains are wired to remember three things more easily. Why do you think we have three little pigs, three wise men, and three musketeers?
How to become a more persuasive writer
Why are you writing?
Do you want people to buy something? Or believe in something? Or subscribe to your newsletter?
You have to choose one objective.
Whatever you want, use the following 12 steps to writing credible and convincing content:
- Use the word because. You should always give people a reason why they should take action, and using the word because is the most powerful way to do it.
- Anticipate objections. No matter whether you are selling a product, a service or an idea, you have to address all objections of your readers.
- Create incentives to read on. Joe Sugarman calls these seeds of curiosity — short phrases like Not only that … and But here comes the best part will keep readers moving through your content.
- Use statistics. These add credibility to your story.
- Sell with true benefits. True benefits connect with readers’ desires. Beware of fake benefits — they’re the antidote to persuasion.
- Be passionate. It’ll shine through. If you’re not passionate about your ideas or products or services, why should your readers bother to take action?
- Show your readers the gap in their knowledge. Get them to pose questions that you’ll answer one by one. Each answer should lead them to pose the next question.
- Beware the curse of knowledge. Don’t assume readers know everything you do about your topic. Try to get back into that beginner’s mind.
- Write about what you know. Being persuasive is much easier when you know your stuff.
- Engage the left and the right brain. Follow facts with stories or quotes. Use a blend of logical and emotional approaches.
- Don’t sell before the prospect is ready. Educate your readers, inform them about your cause, and help solve their problems. Become a trusted source of information and your readers will more readily buy from you.
- Have an impeccably clear call to action. Tell your readers exactly what you expect them to do next, and remind them why it’s in their best interest to buy, click or subscribe.
How to enchant your audience
If you try to sell right off the bat without building trust, the sceptics will quickly click away.
If you delight your readers with your product or idea, if you provide real solutions to their problems, they’ll want to find out more.
Use the following tips to engage, delight, and ultimately sell:
- Understand your readers. Know their fears, dreams, and desires. How can you engage with someone you don’t understand?
- Don’t write for a large audience. Choose one person, picture him, and write to him as if he’s a friend.
- Use a conversational tone of voice. Nobody wants to chat with a company.
- Be engaging. Using the word you is the most powerful way to be more engaging.
- Be remarkable. So much content is out there, how can you stand out? Disclose your point of view, tell your personal story, and develop your own writing voice. If your readers feel they know you, they will connect with you.
- Use familiar language. Check Twitter, Facebook or Google’s Keyword Tool — and find the wording your readers use.
- Avoid jargon. Always choose the simplest possible expression of your idea. Avoid obscure words.
- Don’t insult your readers. Being clear doesn’t mean you have to tell your readers things they already know.
- Be likeable. Do great things for your readers, help them out, and be generous. It’s obvious isn’t it?
How to self-edit so you don’t look dumb
Whether you are a good writer or not doesn’t matter.
Does this surprise you?
The only way to become a master writer is to become awe-inspiringly good at editing. Advertising great David Ogilvy says this:
I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I go to work editing my own draft.
The following tips will make your potentially crappy content great:
- Plan ahead. Give yourself time to let your first draft rest.
- Read your text backwards. This is the best way to spot typos.
- Use a spell checker. You do that already, don’t you?
- Proofread on paper. You’re less likely to skim the text.
- Read your text aloud. You’ll find where you stumble.
- Simplify. Remember your purpose? Cut all ideas that are irrelevant.
- Know the common mistakes that will make you look silly. Check your there’s and theirs, your complements and compliments, and your thens and thans.
- Scrap vapid clichés. David Meerman Scott calls these gobbledygook: Words or phrases without a real meaning, such as synergistic, best-in-class and too good to be true. Each word should have a meaning that adds to your readers’ understanding.
- Shorten your first sentence. Short sentences are more likely to draw readers into your content. And don’t forget, the only purpose of the first sentence is to make people read the second sentence.
- Scrap redundant sentences. If a sentence doesn’t add to your story, it’s unnecessary. Remember, saying the same thing twice in different ways is needless. Don’t repeat the same thing using different words. (See how boring and irritating that is?)
- Cut excessive words. Read each sentence carefully and delete each word that isn’t necessary. Words you can almost always delete include: ought, perhaps, in my opinion, just, actually, truly, and very.
- Replace complicated words with simple words. Do you want your content to be difficult to read? Cut long words and replace them with shorter ones.
- Check your engagement level. Is your content focused on your readers? Count the number of times you’ve used I and me versus you.
- Now, go back to your headline. Have you delivered on your promise? Will your readers benefit from reading your content?
The harsh reality of becoming a very good writer
You’re smart. You have good ideas. And to spread your ideas you need mind-blowingly good content, because too much information is out there.
I’m not saying you can become a remarkable writer instantly. You need to practice each day. You need to focus. And you need to be prepared for criticism.
But if you persevere, if you focus on becoming enchanting, persuasive, and memorable, you can succeed.
Set your goals. Just do it.
And let us know in the comments — which of these techniques has been the biggest help in your own writing?
About the Author: About the author: Henneke [Heh-nuh-kuh] is a UK-based marketer who loves copywriting, good food and content marketing. You can connect with Henneke on Twitter.