This article will save you wasted time and effort.
It’s a popular misconception that our readers love us to bits and will everything we send them. But it’s desperately important that right from the very start, you plan your writing around your readers’ ‘pull’, and not your own ‘push’. It’s not about you, in this instance. What’s happening in their world? What’s topical? What will ring their bell? What message do you want them to hear? What’s in it for them?
Later, we’re going to look at language and tone – the areas that everyone writing their own content struggles with at first. We address that as, presumably, you don’t want to be talking Greek to an all-English audience.
You need to consider that writing content is exactly the same as performing on a stage. Your words need to be delivered to a receptive audience that wants to hear them and in a manner that they can understand. If you mumble and trip over your words and you’re not understood on stage, your audience will walk out. It’s the same thing with text: learning, planning and rehearsing and deciding on the best way to deliver it.
To extend that example, yes, you do need to ‘rehearse’ your content. You would not go on stage and make up the script as you go along. The best actors, narrators, heroes or villains, build relationships with their audience and take them into their confidence. So, how will you do that?
It’s what they read and how they hear your words that matters. They will make some very snap decisions about you. Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Blink’ says that their impression of you within the first two minutes will not change much after thirty minutes. You’ll either make an early impression or not. Never forget that busy people will read the bare minimum or feel their time could be better spent elsewhere. We suggest you are completely open with your reader, ask her to follow you and to carry on reading. You can do that by paragraph rolling. (A technique in itself – look out for a new blog later).
Avoid Conflict! – People have a worldview that they will defend, argue over and even row about! It’s what’s nested in their minds. Convincing your reader that you may well be right is a challenge. If a piece of text that challenges their fundamental beliefs is deliberately argumentative for effect, they will defend their worldview and form an opinion of you that conflicts with theirs. At that point, you’ve lost them.
You may decide to challenge people’s belief systems. We’ve all been dismayed and even angry with items on the News from Ukraine, the way the earthquake was dealt with in Turkey and Syria, the effects of Covid, Famine, and so on. Your readers are tougher and more resilient than ever before. Like us, they hate political or journalistic spin, lies and BS.
That is what you’re up against every time you mail or write to someone or write your own website, you tweet or load pictures to Instagram.
That is why text is should be powerful.
Seth Godin makes the point about belief systems in his book “Tribes”.
People don’t believe what you tell them.
They rarely believe what you show them.
They often believe what their friends tell them.
They always believe what they tell themselves.
What leaders do: they give people stories they can tell themselves,
Stories about the future and about change.
So, having seen what you’re up against, let’s get to work.
We may not have all the answers, but please challenge any of these arguments. We’re here to help. Contact us now on