Keep your readers right where you want them
You only get one chance to hook your fingers into a reader’s eye sockets and hold on. And do you know what doesn’t do that? Complicated, boring, confusing writing. So how do you write something simple, interesting and straightforward? Glad you asked. Read on.
- Plan it
Planning is a vital and sometimes missed step in copywriting. You first need to define your key messages and create an outline for your piece – this will make the writing process a whole lot breezier. An outline helps you organise your thoughts and make sure you say everything you need. That’ll make your first draft much easier to get out and your finished piece a lot more interesting. Tick, tick.
- Catch skim readers with headlines
Readers, like you, skim. You probably read the headline and then bounced straight down to here. Hi. Glad you joined us. Essentially, you can only rely on someone reading your headline and subheads, so you want to make sure they’re working hard.
Headlines should be meaningful and specific – that way, if people only read your headlines, they’ll still get the gist. Your headlines and subheads should lead with a keyword too, as a signpost to your readers (and Google) that the information they want is in your blog. And cleverness? Sorry, none of that. Cleverness gets in the way of clarity, and your message (although smart) will be confusing.
- Add bullet points
Modern web design is focused on little bits of information, so people can skim quickly and dive into what’s important to them. Along with headlines and subheads, bullet points bring that information upfront so people can take what they want from it. Adding bullet points to your blog is an easy way to break up the design and catch people’s attention. Just remember to keep them a similar length and match the grammar.
- Get to know your audience
Decide who you’re talking to and give them a real personality. That way, when you sit down to write your blog, you’ll be talking to a person and your messages will be more effective. That’ll help you work out a bunch of other things, like the tone, language complexity and grammar that will suit.
- Break up super-long sentences
Shorter sentences are easier to read – you’re not asking people to hold too much information in their heads. But don’t write a blog full of short sentences. It won’t flow. People will switch off. That’s not what you want. Instead, establish a nice rhythm by mixing medium-length sentences (around 20 words) with punchier ones.
- Write clear paragraphs
After your headlines and subheads, you want to make sure you get your most important information across in the first sentence. Start with your main idea, then follow up with more detail. You can even use the SEE system – statement, example, explanation. It’s an oldie but a goodie, and it’ll make your writing more concise.
- Keep language simple
Avoid jargon – even people who understand it won’t enjoy reading it. If there’s a simpler, more common word, use it. Then, read everything aloud – if a sentence is hard to say, it’ll be hard to read. Use modern sentence structure (even if it’s technically incorrect). Readability analysers, like Readable.com are also a good way of seeing how simply you’re writing.
- Use transition words
Transition words give your reader direction and make your writing flow. They also indicate to your reader what to expect – use ‘firstly’ or ‘furthermore’ if you’re writing Jane Austen fan fiction, or ‘for a start’ or ‘also’ if you’re looking for something a bit more modern.
- Keep it natural
Ask yourself this question: if your brand was a person, who would that person be? Create a real personality, then put that hat on. Act the brand. That will give you authenticity – you’ll intuitively write how that person would write, making your blog more genuine and compelling.
- Get it proofed
There’s nothing worse than publishing your perfectly written blog, only to find… it’s filled with mistakes. The number one tip is to get someone else to proofread it. If you know what’s supposed to be on the page, your brain will skim over what’s actually there. If you don’t have a friendly grammar freak nearby, use Word’s Read Aloud function. Go to Review> Read Aloud and a very cheerful computer voice will read out your text as you follow along. This slows you down and makes even hidden errors jump off the page.
Make your writing readable
To make your blog compelling, you have to get people to read it. And that’s easy to do – remove the barriers, make your language simple and get to know your readers. Your blog will thank you for it.
Want more tips on writing? Check out some of our other articles here.