Do you want to do things well?
Most people do. Nobody wakes up in the morning hoping they will do something badly. That would be a pretty negative way to live our lives. But there have definitely been times where I’ve woken up and believed I would fail at a task, whether I wanted to or not. I’m human, I mess up, it’s a fact of life.
But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Take this blog post, for example. I’ve been staring at a blank document for a while. I’ll think of a few sentences, hesitate, flip to a different tab. Google something. Hesitate again, flip back to blank document.
Which, I’m sure has never happened to you, right?
The conclusion I’ve come to? Writing is hard. Finding the right words is hard, putting them in the right order is hard. The whole ordeal is hard. Writing engaging, interesting, entertaining content that will keep people reading when they could have better things to do is hard.
So what are some things that will help make writing easier? After doing some research (googling things isn’t procrastinating when it’s helpful) I’ve come up with 6 tips that will help you (and me) write engaging, interesting and entertaining content.
1. Write what you know
When you are knowledgeable about something, it makes it about a billion times easier to write or talk about it. People can tell when you’re talking about something that you know nothing about – and they’ll call you out on it. On top of that, writing about something you don’t understand makes an already hard task into a ridiculously difficult one. You don’t know what to say or how to say it, and you’re left with a blank page and endless amounts of frustration.
But if you write something you’re passionate about, that’s a whole different story. When talking about something you enjoy, do you ever wave your hands about and grin in excitement? That’s how your writing should be. When people are reading about your business, they should be able to tell that you both know what you’re talking about and are excited about it.
This will also make you a more credible source. People will be more likely to trust your writing, and therefore your business, if they feel like you understand what you’re talking about. It’ll boost your SEO, giving you a better ranking in Google and thus making it easier to for new potential customers to find.
2. Tell a story
Sentences don’t work if they’re just filled with facts and boring statistics. There’s nothing wrong with those, of course, but you need to add something extra to really engage your audience. Your sentences should be filled with logic, emotion, and credibility, also known as logos, pathos and ethos.
When your sentences have these three elements to them, you are a storyteller instead of a textbook. Stories are simply more interesting that facts. They engage readers and give them an emotional connection to your work that will motivate them to trust you and come back for more. You don’t always have to try and explain how a single event in your life miraculously resulted in a guidebook to your business, but try to make sure that your writing has a point and an arc to it.
People don’t like taking some random person’s advice; they want to know who you are and whether you’re trustworthy or not. Giving them a chance to get to know you both makes your writing more entertaining to read and builds credibility.
3. Be creative
Have you ever received an email from an alien? Or read a blog post from the perspective of “The Internet”? That would be pretty awesome. Stretching your limits and thinking about doing things a little outside of the box can create some truly spectacular content. It helps you stand out from everyone else and be memorable in a time where everyone’s attention span seems to be shortening by the second. But if being creative is so great, then why aren’t more people writing in ridiculous ways?
Probably because it’s dangerous. People could react badly, it could be confusing, it could, it could, it could. . .
Enough of that.
Now, I’m not saying that you need to write your next blog post from the perspective of an alien or anything. But I am saying that you should try and break out of your “safe” (and boring) mentality. Be creative! Do things that other people wouldn’t think of doing. Make your writing interesting to read because you’re doing something that nobody has thought to do before. You don’t have to do this all the time, as there is definitely a place for writing normal, safe content. But every once in a while try to branch out and do something new. Take a few risks and who knows! It could be more than worth the temporary anxiety.
And hey, if it doesn’t work, you can always try something else next time.
4. Know who your audience is
Understanding your audience is key to connecting with them. If you don’t know their likes, dislikes, concerns, problems, ideas, thoughts, etc, then how on earth are they supposed to trust you to solve their problems? And, why would they ever bother to read anything that you’ve written if you aren’t writing it for them?
If your audience is really into football, don’t talk to them about Dungeons and Dragons. If they’re really interested in mechanics, then don’t talk to them about mountain scenery. There might be some people that cross over between the categories, but don’t risk alienating those who don’t. People are coming to your blog/website for a very specific purpose, so don’t disappoint them.
After all, your audience is the reason you’re writing in the first place. Make sure you understand them and are catering your content to them. If you spend too much time talking about things that they don’t care about, then they’re going to leave. Don’t lose sight of those that keep you in business in your desire to write the best thing ever.
5. Edit, edit, edit
Congratulations! You’ve finished your writing! If you’re anything like me, you now want to get that piece of content out there as fast as possible so you never have to look at or think about it again. Yay. Done. Relief.
Don’t do it. Publishing unedited content can be one of the worst things you can do. When you finish writing, just set it aside and leave it alone for a bit. Sleep on it, go read a book, do something else until you don’t feel like your brain is going to explode anymore. And then, once you’re back, tear it apart and make it better..
Never send out a rough draft of anything. You can always make something better, and after you’ve cleared your head a little you’ll be able to see all the problems that your rough draft has. Clean it up. Check for grammar mistakes (there’s nothing worse than realizing you have a typo in a published piece). Make sure all of your thoughts are coherent and that you aren’t repeating yourself too often.
Give yourself some space between writing a piece and editing it. Some people say sleep on it, look it over in the morning, and then decide whether or not it’s actually the best piece you’ve ever written. Read it aloud to make sure it actually sounds as good as you think it does. Do whatever you need to do to make sure that your writing is as polished as it could possibly be.
You know the idea that you’re brilliant all on your own and don’t need anyone else’s input in order to refine or test your ideas? Yeah, me neither. Don’t ever think that you can risk trying to write when you haven’t been reading anything. Read advice, articles, books, whatever you want. Just read. Analyze what those writers do well, what they do wrong, and what you think you could do better.
Reading challenges your original ideas. It forces you to think outside the box and understand what is going on in your niche. If you just spout off random ideas when there’s an actual conversation going on in your industry, you risk the chance of sounding repetitive and irrelevant. Know what the others are saying. Not to mention that reading just naturally increases your ability to write. Seeing people do it well will only encourage your own ability.
Obviously, every person needs to figure out their own particular writing style, but when you sit down to write something, think about some of these tips. What are you writing and who are you writing it to? Have you read up on this topic and do you understand the current conversation going on about it? Are you planning on presenting it in a unique and creative way, or are you doing the same thing you’ve always done?
Whether you answer those questions at the beginning of the process, mid-way through, or after you’ve finished, it doesn’t matter – just as long as they get answered. After all, we’re submitting our work out into the world where anyone could read it! Let’s make it as good as possible.
Writing is hard, but doable. If I could finish this blog post, then you can finish anything. So get to it!
But what about you? What are your favorite writing tips? How do you make sure that your content is engaging your audience and interesting to read? Tell us below in the comments!