Have you heard the famous quote by Confucius, “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”? That must be what everyone thinks of writers. With days consisting of finding inspiration by walking your dog, lying on a park bench staring at clouds, or watching Netflix, it’s hard to imagine anyone could believe that those are plausible writing tips.
What people don’t see is the hours of practice behind the scenes; getting to know books, writing endlessly, taking notes and getting acquainted with dictionaries. According to the New York Times, “stories stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.” The more we read, the more we are able to write. The more we write, the more we can improve our craft and develop healthy writing habits…even if our writing is not being shared.
Who’s reading my work and what stage of the buying cycle are they in?
Now that you’re no longer writing for yourself, you have to realize who it is you are writing to. Who is your target market?
Does your reader have an agenda? What are they coming to your website to find? Is their visit transactional or informational? Informational searches are typically for broader topics and produce a long range of results. Reliable, detailed and well thought-out SEO writing can drive traffic to your site through an organic informational search.
For instance, when typing “writing tips” into a search query, the intention is to find information on writing. Your goal as a copywriter is to provide relevant content. In the long run, doing this will help you achieve a relationship with your customer that will set you apart from your competition and have people coming back to your site.
Informational searches don’t produce instant conversions like transactional searches, but do create a lot of brand loyalty because people are in the early stages of the buying cycle and likely have not built a relationship with a brand yet. Therefore the keywords you use determine the type of visitors you attract.
Building the structure of your ideas
Creating an outline before you start your first draft will make it easier to remember all the different ideas running through your head. It also creates a structure for your writing that you can follow as you go.
Open your writing with the main idea. Let the reader know that they’ve come to the right place. Reel them in with a catchy headline or by asking a question, but don’t keep them guessing for too long. According to a recent study at Elon University, our attention spans are diminishing because of the constant flow of information we have at our disposal 24/7. We can pick and choose what we want to see and when, so if it doesn’t catch our attention, then we’re on to the next thing that catches our attention.
Keep attention directed at you by using short sentences and paragraphs. Don’t restate obvious ideas to fluff up your content or to satisfy a length requirement. Make a list or use sub-headings to make the content skimmable and more reader friendly.
Using the proper grammar
Choose simple words that get to the point. Don’t oversell yourself by using fancy words; they don’t stand a chance against our attention spans. Words like you, because, instantly, free and new hold lots of power for writers because they are simple and clear, yet they hold a promise from you, signifying a step toward brand loyalty. It is your job to keep that promise.
Another rule of thumb: don’t forget to speak using your active voice. Instead of saying, “her active voice was used”, try saying “she used her active voice”. Notice the difference in the tone? It creates a subtle measure of authority, which is an important thing to have when you’re writing persuasive copy.
Whatever your tone or style of writing may be, writers alike should keep these simple writing tips in mind in order to stay afloat in the deep ocean of information that is the Internet.