We’re going to skip the cliches about love, romance, and other sundries.
You want to know how to make people fall in love with your articles.
Let me be frank with you: it’s not a walk in the park. It takes being honest with yourself and practice, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile!
These 10 steps will help you connect with readers, build your exposure, and you’ll have a lot more fun with your writing in the process.
Let’s get started.
1. Calling all thrill-seeking titles!
A good title is the difference between stating “I have a story to tell you” and “you’re not going to believe what just happened to me.” The latter always trumps the former – always. People want to be surprised and even possibly shocked. They want to feel included, like you’re sharing some private secret or giving them information that’s exclusively for them.
Write a title. In fact, write up to 10 different titles approaching your topic from varying angles – surprise, danger, hope, happiness, etc. Review your list. Which one jumps out and grabs you the most? Pick the title that uses strong power words, promises information while still evoking curiosity, and is most relevant to your readers.
For more on giving your titles a little TLC, click here.
2. Ha! You call that an introduction?
“Benjamin Franklin was a great inventor.” Yawn! Stop writing like you’re a teenager just trying to get by with your boring old essay introductions to your English teacher. “Want to lose weight?” Well, considering there’s 192,000,000 results in Google alone for that phrase – that’s a safe assumption for a good many people. Can we do a little better, people?
You can. Forget the niceties and jump right into it. Introductions are no place for small talk – they are where you reveal information that compels your reader to continue reading. Make it honest. Make it memorable. Make it count.
For more on writing engaging introductions, click here.
3. Nice body.
Are your articles easy on the eyes? Many authors make the mistake of writing articles, again, like they’re writing an essay for their high school English teacher: An introduction, body, and conclusion without pause between paragraphs. Or they write 400 words in one fat paragraph – the equivalent of throwing reader’s attention span into a pool and demanding it to hold its breath for 2 minutes.
Whip your article body into shape! Watch those word counts by trimming irrelevant information. Keep paragraphs between 4-5 sentences (depending on the length of each sentence of course!). Break up content into bite-sized chunks using revealing sub-headers before main paragraphs as well as integrate easy-to-read ordered or unordered lists.
For more on basic article formats, click here.
4. Leave your fingerprint.
You wouldn’t attempt to peddle a knock off, like a purse, shoes, or device, of another brand, would you? So why would you take another author’s idea and spin it or try to pass it off as your own? Knock offs are never better than the real deal. Your content is an extension of you and your brand. It’s your contribution – not someone else’s – to your niche.
Don’t imitate, spin, plagiarize, and be ambiguous. By that token, you obviously can’t hold yourself back by reinventing the tried and trusted proverbial wheel. Create original, custom content that has your unique fingerprint. Share your experiences. Use your voice. Tell your story through your writing. Allow your personality to shine.
For more information on writing great content, click here.
5. Drive action with active voice.
First, we have no objections to passive voice – it has it’s time and place. However, when your readers want answers and they want them yesterday, the ever promising and less-confusing active voice is the way to go. Next, consider if you were speaking in front of a room full of strangers looking to you for help: would you rather be that charismatic motivator or the wet-blanket afterthought? Hopefully, not the latter because you may be in the wrong business.
Motivators activate. A good way to remember how to use active voice is to situate your writing so your subject performs the action, rather than receives it. For example, when this passive statement, “excuses should be let go by you,” becomes “let go of excuses” (with a few liberties on dropping “you” in commands of course), we’ve activated the tone. Compel with action: use active voice.
For more information on active and passive voice (with examples!), click here.
6. Write conversationally …
… while adhering to acceptable etiquette of course! (Please keep profanity to yourself!) Most people don’t go out of their way to avoid ending sentences in a preposition. For example, in the formal “For whom is this apple?” vs. the informal “Who is this apple for?” most readers are inclined to feel the latter is more relatable – more their speed – than the former. My point is not to call attention to whether it’s a sad state of affairs that grammar is evolving at an unfavorable speed (or direction) or not.
People feel more comfortable with contractions (like “You didn’t write” vs. “You did not write”) because it seems less accusatory or that sense of finality. They like short to mid-length sentences that don’t make them feel clumsy for tripping over a semicolon. It’s not about challenge – they still want challenge! If they didn’t, the likes of Leo Tolstoy and James Joyce would be lost forever. It’s about understanding the content in a way they can relate to and understand in as little time as possible. Again, this is article writing and content marketing – not academic writing. Keep it simple!
For more information on formal vs. informal writing with examples, click here.
7. Stir emotion!
Your writing can make a huge impact on your readers – but only if you choose to be honest with them in a way they can relate. Now, I’m not saying every part of your article needs the “wear your heart on your sleeve” honesty. However, I am saying that if you want to connect with your readers, you need to appeal to their emotions.
Emotions are triggered by memories. So tap into your readers’ happiness, anger, joy, frustration, hope, and emotional identity by sharing yours in multi-color. Again, think of yourself as a charismatic speaker in front of a crowd. If you get up there to tell them black and white facts, all you’re going to hear is the occasional cough interrupting the crickets. You know you need to develop momentum and no forward building motion is built better than telling an honest story that readers can relate to.
8. Make them feel.
Feeling and sensation is a powerful tool that many authors fail to achieve in their writing because they often confuse it with emotion. Tapping into feeling can make your articles more memorable: it’s the difference between saying, “He was ready to take offense” and “He was prickly.” The former is a personality trait that’s not entirely memorable. However, the latter depicts a bristling man whose thorny attitude will only result in pricking you should you choose to engage with him.
Tap into your audience’s senses: sight, touch, smell, and taste. Describe moments or ideas objectively or subjectively. Employ analogies by comparing two or more things, use similes to show how something is like another, and try out a metaphor to convey an idea.
For more information on writing more descriptively, click here.
9. Don’t over promise and under deliver.
Many, many new authors make this mistake: Promising all of the answers in the title, but failing to deliver in the article or not delivering any new information than what already can be found. So when readers stumble into titles such as “Get Rich Quick” (suggests to start an online business, but fails to state anything beyond that) or “Lose Weight FAST” (suggests the standard drink water, exercise, and watch your food intake), readers are bound to be disappointed. That’s not to say the information in the articles wouldn’t be helpful! The issue is the author set the readers’ expectations and hopes too high without delivering upon those expectations.
Be honest! Besides writing a great title (see point 1 again) that you can deliver on, the key to preventing your articles from dashing the hopes and expectations of readers is by over delivering in your article body. This will involve continuous discovery, critical thinking, collaboration, and niche study. Why? Because you’re going to be a leading authority in your niche and you need to build your authoritative knowledge so you can deliver content that makes an impact.
For more information on cultivating unique knowledge you can wow readers with, click here.
10. Encourage feedback.
It’s implied that you keep tabs on your audience by asking them questions or soliciting feedback. In some cases, you may feel like you’re stalking them on social media. You need to know your audience, but do they feel like all of that feedback they have invested or may invest in you will be lost to the abyss of marketing schemes? Are you actually listening or are you just making them feel as though they’ve contributed?
Show them that you’re listening in your articles. Show them you are responding to their feedback, comments, questions, and suggestions. It may be as simple as sharing their question (“Katie, a client from New York asked recently …” or “I was having a discussion Greg from the Google+ community …”) and then illustrating your response. At the end of your articles, encourage more questions, comments, and suggestions. Ask them what they want to see in the future and then deliver.
For more information on repairing your connection with your audience, click here.
Whew! There’s a lot of information in this post and still a lot more where that came from, but trust me when I say this: you’ll find these 10 tips more than worthwhile when you see the results and the solid connection you’ve only begun to build with your audience.
Your feedback is important to our community of Expert Authors! What tips or advice would you add to our list? We’d love to hear from you! Please share your comments, questions, and suggestions below.