All writers sell something. You might not always notice it, but a transaction takes place every time you read a piece of content.
Right now, you’re buying information and you’re paying for it with your time. People say that time is our most valuable resource. If that’s true, then right now you’re spending some of your most valuable currency learning how to write persuasive copy! That tells me a lot about you.
You can tell a lot about a person by the things they buy. The fact that you’re trading your time to read this article tells me that you want to improve your writing, and it tells me that you know how important it is to have this skill.
You know the old saying, “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime?” 🐟
1. Who’s Your Target Audience?
When we talk about quality writing, it’s important to remember a couple of things:
- Your angle needs to be unique and clearly defined
- 2.75 million posts are published each day on WordPress alone. That's just one blogging platform.
One way to stand out is to zero in on a specific segment of readers.
Ask yourself these questions to help you better understand your target audience:
- Who are you writing to? Beyond your target audience, who can make decisions and who stands to benefit most?
- What problems are they facing right now? What’s the heart of the issue? Identify a need or pain point.
- What solutions can you provide? How do you present your unique solutions to the reader?
- What is the value? People make quick buying decisions with emotions and then justify those decisions with logic.
You stand out by solving unique problems for a specific audience. Their problem needs to be a big deal and your solution needs to be perfect for that particular audience. The only way to make this happen is to know your audience and do your homework on them before you write to or for anyone.
2. Write Skimmable Content
Many people don’t enjoy reading these days. Can you imagine that? People spend a few seconds looking at an article, scanning for the “important stuff,” and then leave.
What’s incredible is that often times they leave having learned everything they need to know from just a few glances!
People skim content. It’s human nature. Great writers highlight certain phrases and put the most important thoughts and ideas at the front of each sentence or paragraph.
Try testing the following elements to help you create skim-friendly content:
- Bullet points
- Numbered lists
- Bold formatting
- Short paragraphs
- Conversational content
Use these elements in moderation. You don’t have to add bullet points for every single point you make, and two pages full of two-sentence paragraphs will look immature and void of any real value.
Mix it up! Use short and long sentences to diversify your content.
3. Keep It Conversational
In her book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide To Creating Ridiculously Good Content, Ann Handley tells us to “shed high school rules.”. At the end of the day, you’re not trying to pass a written exam, you’re trying to convince someone to do something, even if it’s just to keep on reading!
A great way to ensure your writing is conversational is to write the way you talk. Whenever you finish a paragraph or a section, read it aloud. You’ll be amazed at how different your writing is from your speech.
Conversational content is simple, but that doesn’t mean you have to write only about simple things. Simple, conversational writing is even more important when the subject is complex.
Imagine how frustrating it would be to have to deal with a complicated writing style on top of a complicated subject!
The goal is to compel your audience to take action, not to confuse them with a flashy vocabulary. Have you ever complained about something being too easy to understand?
At the end of the day, writing should be fun! If your content was fun to write, it’ll be fun to read. When you write from a place of genuine happiness or passion, that energy bleeds out onto the page itself. You can’t hide it, just like you can’t hide boring and depressing writing. 👎 When in doubt, remember, K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid).
How Do You Write?
Some writers find it beneficial to create an outline before they begin writing. This is a great idea for research articles, getting your thoughts organized on paper (or screen), ensuring you don’t leave anything out.
Others prefer to write first and edit later. This is more of a creative approach and allows your thoughts to flow without you having to worry about the order of your ideas.
We’d love to hear about your writing process in the comments below! 📝 Do you type like crazy and edit later? Or, do you plan every aspect of your content before you even begin? Or maybe something in between!