5 Tips for Writing Compelling Content

Jul 23 2018

5 Tips for Writing Compelling Content (Even If You’re Not a Pro Writer)

By Kathryn Aragon

writing tips

To connect with your audience, you need compelling content…

That goes for emails, blog posts, videos, and social media, as well as any sales copy you add into the mix.

But how do you ensure your content will capture people’s attention and get them engaged with your message?

Here are 5 tips for doing just that.

Make It Relevant

If you want people to care about your message, you need to make it relevant to them. Your message should never be sent to someone with no interest in your topic at all.

Naturally, if your readers have subscribed to receive information about a particular topic, anything you write related to the topic is relevant.

But what if your brand includes different types of products related to different areas of interest?

If that’s you, you have two choices:

– Segment your messages, so people only receive information about topics they’ve shown interest in

-Find a point of intersection between your topic and a hot button all your readers are dealing with

This second approach is a great way to make semi-relevant topics very relevant.

Start your message with a problem or hot-button topic. Stir it up. Then once your reader is engaged, transition to your topic.

The transition should never be jarring or obvious. And it won’t be if there’s a strong connection between your reader’s hot button and your topic. Just be careful about straying too far off topic.

Make It Interesting

Before writing any piece of content, ask yourself, Why should my readers care? Why should they take time out of their busy days to read your content?

There needs to be some intrinsic value to reading your content — even if they never click through or take action. It should be interesting, entertaining, or informative. It should make your readers feel good about taking time to read it.

What do readers find interesting?

-Stories

-Weird or surprising facts or statistics

-Trends that could impact their life

-Information they can chat about with their friends (especially if it makes them look smart)

Making content more interesting is similar to making it relevant. Start with something that captures your reader’s attention and draws them in.

Once you have them hooked, keep them riveted. Tell stories and useful information throughout your content so readers will read it to the end.

Give It A Point

Pointless communications are going to be seen as an interruption, a waste of time. No one has time to read something that doesn’t have a point.

Content should:

  • Share information people need and want

  • Show them how to do something that will improve their lives

  • Suggest new products or services you think they’d be interested in

  • Give tips for doing something better, faster, or less expensively

  • Entertain them, make them smile (especially if that’s your brand promise)

The point is, no piece of content should be produced for its own sake. A publishing schedule isn’t a good reason to create a blog post. Your desire to stay top of mind isn’t a good reason to send an email.

Only create content that adds value to your readers.

Make It Readable

Compelling content is clear and concise. It’s not wordy. It’s not a lot of fluff.

Your goal as a content writer is quality. Which means you need to get to the point, engage your readers, and not waste their time in the process.

How do make sure your writing is readable?

Shorten sentences and paragraphs. Long sentences can confuse readers. And long paragraphs look like they’ll take too long to read. You want a variety of sentence and paragraph lengths, sure. But try to keep your sentences at 25 words or less and your paragraphs at 4 sentences or less.

Use active verbs instead of passive ones. Active verbs are more powerful and interesting. Passive verbs (is, am, are) tend to be boring. Interestingly, if you strengthen your verbs, you’ll fix a lot of other weak writing habits too. So make this a high priority.

Use simple sentence structures. Even college professors prefer an easy read when they’re shopping. By simplifying your sentences, you make them easier to understand even if someone is just scanning your content. Think: noun-verb-noun. You can vary it every now and then, but simple sentences are far easier to read.

Remove unnecessary words and phrases. Newbie writers like to include adverbs, adjectives, and lots and lots of phrases. Don’t do that. They ruin the rhythm of your writing. They add length and complexity to your sentences. And they don’t add any value.

The rule for readability is simplify, simplify, simplify. Cut anything that doesn’t add to your message, and you’ll find your messages get more engagement — probably because they’re easier to understand.

Be “Invisible”

This goes against the grain for many writers. They want to impress readers with their verbal skill.

But the truth is your words should be practically invisible.

What do I mean by that?

I mean no one should be aware of you, the writer. Don’t try to impress anyone with your writing skills. Just share your message in plain language, as if you’re talking to your reader face to face.

Put your focus on the message, not the words or your writing. And you’ll find that people love your writing.

It’s ironic, but if you aim to be invisible, your writing will stand out. Not only will it be more compelling, it will attract more readers as well.

It’s Easier Than You Think

Compelling content isn’t as hard to create as it might seem. If you can talk, you can create it.

The key, of course, is in the editing. Write like you talk, then take time to clean it up.

See, when we talk, we’re far more engaging and interesting. We’re more concerned with our message than with our words. And that’s perfect for your first draft.

But the spoken word is often messy. Stream of consciousness isn’t easy to follow. So we need to go back and tighten things up: deleting unnecessary words and phrases, strengthening the verbs, and everything else we’ve covered in this article.

Which means anyone can do it. Compelling content isn’t hard. It just takes time.

So put in the time, and watch your engagement go through the roof.

Kathryn Aragon is a content strategist, consultant, and writer who helps businesses tell better stories and get better results from their content. She is author of The Business Blog Handbook and co-author of The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing. Connect on Twitter and Facebook.

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