Tuesday, November 22, 2016

6 Quick Tips to Make People Enjoy Reading Your Stuff

Growing up, I was not a good writer.  I really wasn’t!  Some people today might read my stuff and ask why I put that last statement in the past tense, but…

Assuming that you’ve gotten this far, you’re already proving that I’m a better writer today than when I was a kid.  (You would have stopped reading somewhere around the middle of the first sentence…from self-preservation.  I really wasn’t very good.)

To this day, writing does not come easily for me, but I’ve done a lot during my adult life to improve.  It’s definitely been a conscious effort, opposed to some people who were just “born to write.”  So it’s probably easier for me to explain (to you) specific things I do that seem to work for me.

Here are a few writing tips that I’ve taught myself over my adult years.

1. Use Good Titles
What do they say about “First Impressions?”

I’m not really offering anything new here, but I can’t emphasize the importance of using good titles nearly enough.

If I don’t catch your attention, I’m going to lose you.

If you don’t know what you’ll be reading, you’re probably not going to start.

I try to write my titles in a way so that it’s obvious what you’re going to be reading, unless I’m trying to be cryptic to pull in you a bit, but I can’t make you wait too long, even then.

Honestly, the title of this one is nothing special, but you definitely know what you’re reading in advance.  If the topic interests you, you’re probably going to “click” on it.  It’s up to me to find ways to keep your attention once you’re here, but it all starts with a title.

BONUS: Sometimes, it’s good to use a controversial angle with your title.  That gets people curious, too!

A good title sets the stage for the rest of the conversation…well writing, but it’s really a conversation, which leads me to…

2. Conversational Tone - Write Like I am a Good Friend
Set the stage right from the beginning.

Yes, I might be an “expert.”  (Maybe not, but work with me here…)

However, I’m nothing more than a person, and so are you.  Each you and me are simply trying to find ways to make ourselves better.  Otherwise, you would not be reading something like this, and I wouldn’t try to share it.

Of course, I have things I want you to know, but I want you to hear me, not “fear” me.  I want you to feel like I’m talking directly to you, because I probably am.

You can do this, too!

I’m simply writing to you in a way that I’d explain things to someone really important to me.  I want you to understand, but I want to help you grow, not bore you or make you feel small.

How do you want the person to feel?  Are you “talking” with them in a way on paper (or the computer) the way you would in person?

Ever notice that some writers try to lecture you?  It’s like they see themselves as more important than you or more “worthy.”

Even if you are better than the person you’re trying to help, nobody I know wants to feel that way.  Treat them like the equal human beings they are.

I’m trying to help you, not teach pupils.

3. Know Your KEY Message
Have a clear message.

One way to put this is…

If someone reads this and only gets one (1) thing from reading it, what I do I want to make sure they DO NOT FORGET?

What do I want you to remember a week from now?

I have a lot of suggestions, but I want you to know that you can write and truly reach people.  It’s not an assignment; it’s a chance to make a difference - one that’s really important to you.

Make sure your reader knows what you don’t want him (or her) to forget.  (…and make sure you know what you’re trying to say or write.)

4. Know WHO Needs This
No matter how good a writer you become, you’re not going to reach everyone with everything you write.  (I don’t, either.)

Who is supposed to read this?  Yes, maybe it’s okay for anyone to read it, but who do you really want to make sure doesn’t miss this?

In this case, I’m trying to help two (2) people:
(a) the person who writes boring things but wants to get better, and
(b) the person who feels like writing is hard but wants to write.

Everyone else is welcome to read this, but those are the two (2) people I’m trying to help.  I want you to read this and feel like, yes, I can do this.  I want you to write better things, because I’m not a good reader.  I get bored really easily, and a lot of people who write fail to hold my attention…or respect.  They’re talking AT me or writing for the sake of it.  They’re definitely not talking to me, much less with me.

Write as though you’re talking WITH someone…someone you really want to get your message.

5. Use Your Ideas - You’re Smarter Than You Think
Of course, we get most, if not all, of our ideas by taking in things from other people.  That’s okay.

Just don’t rehash these other things and pawn off them as your own.

Lists are okay, but they’re databases, not writing.  There are places for lists, sometimes even within blogs or websites.  I have nothing against lists.  In fact, more often than not, I like them.  When done correctly, they’re an efficient tool for grabbing a lot of info quickly.
That’s different than reading things that people write and quickly realizing that I’ve read this before…many times before.  No, I’ve never read what you wrote about it, but I’m getting no new insight by reading this. It’s just rehashed malarkey from things everyone else is saying or writing.

BORING! (and useless, too!)

If I am not coming up with something entirely new, then at the very least, I make sure that I’m offering my unique take on it.

This specific blog post is a perfect example.  I’m not the first person to try giving you writing tips, but hopefully I’m offering some angles that you’re considering for the first time.

It’s my own take, and you can only get my own take from one place…ME.

People can only get YOUR take from one place…YOU.

Write about a new idea that’s yours, or write about an old idea/topic but with a new angle…YOUR angle.

Sharing other people’s ideas are okay, but make sure you’re offering something unique to the reader…make it worth his/her time.  If you’re taking time to write about it, you probably have something valuable to share.  Share THAT value!

6. Lead Them

A friend of mine told me that one of the first keys to being a great leader is to want to help people, and I think he’s right.  It’s not the only thing, but it’s a great place to start.

Most of us also like to be led.

If you want them to do something specific after reading it, make sure they know.  It’s best to ask them at the end…if they get that far.  Otherwise, it probably won’t matter (to them) what you want.  It might not, even at that point, but if there IS any time to ask it’s after you’ve developed a mini-relationship with the reader.

When you’ve done your job, your reader connects with you.  That’s the perfect time to lead them to the next step, but don’t overestimate the amount of connection (i.e. trust) they have for you after simply reading just one post.

Make it clear that you’re trying to help them, and make it clear (to them) how you’re going to help them…IF they just take this next step.

In this case, I simply want you either to
(a) share some writing tips with me (via email or the comments here), and
(b) sign up to receive my blog updates.

I’m curious; has any of this helped you?

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Hey there! Thank you for taking time to read my post and share your thoughts with me and my other readers. I'm always tickled when I get a non-SPAM comment. Honestly, sometimes I'm even okay with some borderline SPAM.

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Thanks, again. I look forward to seeing you soon.