I’m not your typical writer. I’ve never been classically trained in language arts so needless to say, writing has not always been (and still isn’t) second nature to me. There’s a constant balance of writing well and creating content people will enjoy. Finding that balance is often difficult.
Recently, I’ve immersed myself in a whirlwind of blog articles with the sole purpose of studying successful writing styles. It’s always interesting to see which posts are successful by reading how users respond in the comments. Over my time as a studier of blog articles, I’ve learned some simple tips that have helped me create content people respond to and enjoy.
“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.” -Benjamin Franklin
Here’s a simple list of tips that will help you capture the imagination and intrigue of your audience.
1. Choose Your Title Wisely
I’ve heard it said that a blog post’s title is 90% of the battle and I’ve always found that to be true. The fact is, people skim quickly so their attention must be grabbed before they find other articles to read. Gaining attention by title recognition is a numbers game so if you’re not choosing your title wisely, you’re going to lose that game.
A good rule to follow is the 40/60 rule. Spending 40% of your total time on the title and the other 60% on content is a great way to create a solid title that naturally grabs the reader’s attention.
2. Create a Framework and Stick to It
As writers, we’re constantly struggling to get our thoughts across in the most efficient way that’s easily understood by our audience. I recommend developing a framework for your articles and sticking to it. This can be done by writing each point you’re going to make and developing a consistent flow of ideas before the content is ever written. I do this in every article and it always helps me stay moving in the right direction. It can be something as simple as:
1. Why red is better than blue.
2. The argument for red.
3. There’s always purple.
Creating a simple framework keeps you on point with your ideas so you don’t become too ambitious by drifting away and thus, alienating your readers.
3. Tell a Story
People like stories. They relate to them. They live them. The quickest way to capture someone’s imagination is by telling them a story. The best writers in the world are the ones that master storytelling and use it to their advantage. Being as descriptive as possible will naturally paint a picture of the world you’re describing.
When writing blog articles, this technique can be extremely powerful and ultimately, drive the reader to the next sentence. Using stories as an aid in getting your point across is a common thread in successful blog writing.
4. Find Your Whisper
When I write, I constantly vocalize the words in my whispering voice. This is a useful tactic in finding your personal writing style. When writing blog articles, it’s important to write the way you speak, as if you’re teaching a class.
Speaking the articles back to yourself is a powerful way to understand how the reader will perceive your sentences. Getting the statement out of your head and into the air will help you see and fix the errors more quickly.
5. Make the Content Visually Simple to Digest
Breaking up your content into short statements or simple lists is a great way to create visual hierarchy and give readers the opportunity to understand what you’re saying in the most simple way. Nobody wants to read 900 words without stopping. Giving the user some time for a mental break ensures they’ll stay with you for the long haul.
6. Avoid Lofty Language
Stick to the point and don’t use language that makes you sound intelligent. If your language is too technical for the average reader, they’ll become easily bored and consider your content dull and mundane.
7. Be a Reader
It’s important to be a reader before you ever consider writing. I firmly believe that studying other writers is a great way to gain effective knowledge and master your craft. I think this concept goes deeper than writing and can apply to anything in life. If I’m a drummer (which I am), then I study drummers. You get the picture.
8. Say Something Worth Saying
When blogging or writing anything, it’s important to add value and give the reader something they can chew on for a while. The worst thing ever is investing time in reading a blog post, only to find that you didn’t gain anything of substance. If you’re writing, make sure it’s something that you would personally find interesting and valuable. If you can achieve that, then you have to believe someone else will find it valuable too.
I recommend writing on a subject you’re passionate about. If you are passionate, people will see it and your enthusiasm will rub off on them.
There are always ways to grow as a writer. It’s important to conduct a self-evaluation once in a while and test if your skill is growing. By following the above steps and expanding past them, you’ll naturally improve your writing ability and provide content that people enjoy and find useful.
Whatever you do, just don’t stop writing.
Matt Boyd is co-founder of Sqwiggle, an app designed to make remote working a more collaborative experience.