Last month Donnie Bryant, one of Chicago’s leading copywriters joined us in a Google hangout to discuss how to write irresistible and compelling content that sizzles and sells. With all the content noise, your writing needs to stand out as well as be persuasive enough to drive immediate engagement and action. Donnie shared with us insight on how to improve your content writing and 13 killer tips to make your content sizzle:
1) Know your audience
Who are you writing for? What are their likes, their dislikes? What are their interests? What kind of questions do they have? What might be their objections? What’s their demographic?
“The more you know about your target audience the better you will be able to tailor your writing to serve their needs and desires.” (Click here to tweet this quote)
2) Leverage newsjacking
The latest celebrity gossip, breaking news, latest trend could be used to your writing advantage if strategically harnessed. Think of a way that you could tie in the latest news to your topic and audience, then create it. The increasing social and search buzz around the topic will generate traffic for the content you’ve created. Writer beware although this tip is very powerful that power could also create damage so tread cautiously.
3) Be authentic
No one likes a phony, people can easily sniff out a fake and the results won’t be pretty.
“Authenticity is critical, especially in an age where transparency is expected and social media almost guarantees the truth will come out.” (Click here to tweet this quote)
4) It’s ok to be polarizing
People will hate you and people will like you but the worst is when they’re indifferent about you. Blah writing won’t generate any action or talk about you. Donnie says “If your writing is polarizing it might upset some people but at least you got them talking”. Your goal when writing is to stir up emotions within your reader, some will be good and some will be bad but if you’re able to rile up emotions then you know your writing is at least striking a chord.
5 ) The beginning of your article is key
Once the headline hooks someone to your page, you only have 5 to 8 seconds to reel them in so the introduction is critical. Deliver your most impactful message or point early, give the audience a reason to keep reading, address “What’s in it for me” (WIIFM). Be creative, arouse curiosity, further qualify the reader and get them to continue reading just a little bit more. Here is a great blog post that covers “6 ways to hook your reader from the very first line.”
6) Ask questions throughout your piece
Asking questions is a great way to re-engage drifting readers. Powerful questions get your audience to think of the answer automatically and engages them at a higher level than a one directional lecture. Questions can make a post seem conversational, wouldn’t you agree? Can you use a question in your next post? Of course you can (See what I did there).
7) Carry a theme throughout your article and close the loop
Readers don’t like to be left hanging and awkward or lack of conclusions tend to create that dissonance with your audience. Instead of finishing your post with the end of the first date awkwardness, make a move by using the same theme or hook that you started with to keep your piece congruent. Closing this theme loop will create a feeling of accomplishment and a harmonious experience for the reader.
8) Convey urgency
Why now? Answer this question for your reader early on. Let them know why it’s important that they read this post. Attention spans are shorter than ever so driving urgency is critical so the reader doesn’t bookmark your article to never be read again. What do they stand to gain? or better yet…what are they losing because they’re not reading? Keep in mind that fear or loss is more powerful motivator than desire for gain.
9) Start with the end in mind
At the end of your article what do you want your audience to know and what action do you want them to take?
“Start with this end in mind before clicking away at the keyboard and your writing will automatically improve.” (Click to tweet this quote)
10) You’re always selling yourself
Donnie believes that “Every post that you author is selling you and selling your company even if it’s not selling directly” The post you author is a representation of your brand forever…scary I know. Your writing is selling your brand and is either adding to or subtracting from the reasons why people should want to do business with you.
11) Write a lot and read even more
The best way to get better at writing is to do it more. Practice, practice and practice your writing until your fingertips bleed.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway (Click to tweet this quote)
The best writers in the world carry a notepad with them at all times and are always looking for an excuse to write. The only thing these writers do more than write is read. Reading expands the horizons of your mind and fills your mind with ideas that you can then apply to your writing. The best readers are leaders and writers.
12) Don’t worry about length.
Many writers stress over how long to make their post. But not Donnie, instead he advises:
“Say what you need to say as quickly as you can say it without letting the message suffer” (Click here to tweet this quote)
If you can say your message in few words do it…but you don’t want to do is add a bunch of fluff and fillers to your writing in order to hit a meaningless word count number. If you don’t think that’s the case just think back to high school when the teacher enforced a minimum word or page count and you were a couple words short….yep.
13) A headline is a promise
When I click on a headline I’m believing in your promise, please don’t let me down because I won’t forget it. In our hangout Donnie mentioned that he isn’t against tactics like clickbait but he does emphasize that you have to follow through on your headline otherwise your audience will grow cynical and lose trust in you and your company. Like in all relationships, once trust is lost it’s very hard to regain.
We hope that these 13 tips will help make your writing more irresistible, compelling and help you in standing out from all the content noise. Thanks again to Donnie for taking the time to share these insights with us and make sure to connect with him at @donniebryantjr and visit his website at http://www.donnie-bryant.com
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