How to write persuasive content that works!
Writers today have probably the most unenviable job. The task of creating content that is catered towards a generation that is overexposed to it. Many schools that claim to ‘enable’ young writers craft persuasive content have sprung up all over the place. Brands, SEO experts, and pretty much everyone a writer meets, has an opinion on what tonality, voice, verbiage and other ‘technical’ aspects of content ought to be.
While everyone is entitled to their opinion, this does not solve the hapless writer’s problem of churning out pieces-des-resistances on tight deadlines, and on subjects that they often have no clue about. So today, let’s get a few facts straight.
1. Persuasive content is simple: I implore you to leave words like ‘implore’ out of the equation. Persuasive content isn’t about how flowery your language is, it is instead about getting your audience to respond in a certain way. So think about inducements to get them to do what the client wants them to do. Most often it will be something simple, like click a link to register their email address, for data capture. So the inducement for something simple, should be equally simple. Like a 20% digital discount coupon. Remember this especially when writing content for web banners, website homepage captures etc. When writing a blog post, the trick is in a good title. What normally works for me, is getting straight to the point, like this article for instance, the title is pretty self explanatory. Keep that in mind when writing your next blog post. When it comes to the meat of the matter, make sure it is well researched, and written in a simple, easy to read format. Use bullet points and keep your sentences short. That’s about as simple as it is really.
2. Get your facts straight: The net is a wonderful research tool, at the same time, it can be quite the sword of Damocles. Therefore before putting out any piece of content, always ensure that you get your facts straight. After all, the information you’re trying to put out, exists in several different forms, across the worldwide web, and it is virtually child’s play to have it verified, by virtually anyone.
3. Write something you’d want to read: Think from the perspective that you are the reader. Be selfish, and put out the kind of content, you’d actually enjoy reading. If it is good enough for you as a reader, there will 7 times out of 10, be readers who will appreciate the kind of stuff you’re putting out.
4. Lucid, simple, straight: Whether it is product descriptions, or feature articles, remember the KISS formula. Keep It Simple Stupid. Always get to the point in about one or two sentences. Remember in the digital age, time is indeed money and engaging the reader with your introductions is the only guaranteed way to own their interest. Big words, euphemisms and overly descriptive texts are best kept to books, and you aren’t writing one (we maintain that Facebook is NOT, a book.)
5. Practice makes perfect: As cliched as it may sound, your ability to write is directly dependent on the amount of time you spend perfecting it. Spend a couple of hours every week, writing for yourself and exploring new styles and genres you aren’t familiar with. Remember, that the more you step outside your comfort zone, the more versatile you will become. And that’s a good thing!
6. Syntax: While this ought to be implied, always use grammatically correct language. Sentence construction ought to be sacrosanct. Most essentially however, write first, then edit. Be dispassionate, and not too attached to your work, this way you will edit a lot better.
7. Have some fun with it: Write something that will bring a smile to your face. Make it such that you have a good time writing it. Do not ever, and I repeat NEVER write in a foul mood, it will reflect in your work. So before you sit to write, clear your mind, take a deep breath and then get started. Make sure you have fun writing, else I can guarantee, no one’s going to have fun reading what you’ve put out.
8. Imitate, never plagiarize: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; plagiarism is just, plain theft. If you have a favourite author or writer, it is natural to want to write like them. What’s not however, is blatantly ripping off what they’ve written.
9. Follow a style guide: What works for me is that I read a lot and specifically follow the style guide of certain magazines. In the lifestyle space, GQ Britain (www.gq.co.uk) makes for interesting reading, in sports the Bleacher Report (www.bleacherreport.com) and for sheer entertainment value Cracked (www.cracked.com) are worth a read. While on these (or any other sites) look for 3 things you could use in your daily writing, (a) The style (b) The content (c) The wit. What these three elements help with, is keeping your writing interesting, light and enjoyable.
Writing is a craft. Honing your craft is all you can do, in order to stay at the very top of your game. I hope these tips help you write better. As always we’d be more than happy to hear your thoughts on the matter, in the comments section below.