No matter what your business is, you have to write.
Social media posts, emails, website content, blog posts or proposals; our little fingers tap away on screen or keyboard with great enthusiasm, eager to get our healthy messages out to the world.
However, I’m disheartened to tell you that readers are a lazy bunch.
The average percentage of content a reader gets through is around 20 per cent. So, for every 1,000 words you pen, only about 200 get absorbed! Sad…yes, but reality.
Sparking interest in your reader and taking your content from bleh to brilliant – and getting them to read past the first paragraph – has a lot to do with your word choices. The language you use speaks volumes for your message. A terse, overly professional tone will likely turn the general population off. Similarly, content teeming with flowery personal language may have some audiences reaching for the bucket.
Naturally, there will be instances where you must choose your words a little differently, but for the day-to-day running of your business and sharing your message to the world – here is my top writing tip:
Blow off the sales speak and write your words from the heart.
When something is written from within, rather than by forced necessity or formula, it is more genuine, more exciting and a lot more compelling to the discerning reader. This is a reader who, like us all, is bombarded with words daily. It is human nature to be a little picky. (It is at this point I would like to thank you for hanging in there with me, as we are past that 20 per cent roadblock!)
Every time you sit down to write something, make sure it is interesting and informative – make it stand out from the crowded marketplace we inhabit every day and keep your readers moving through your content with enthusiasm. Here are some extra writing tips for getting your reader past the first paragraph and taking your content from snore-fest to fabulous.
Four key writing tips to make your content more interesting
- Be gone with boring adjective
In perfect content, you want your reader to visualise what you are saying so clearly, they can taste it.
Words like ‘wonderful’ are not always….well…wonderful. Can you do better? Is your retreat experience cosmic, enlightening or soul-nurturing? Is your new meal plan deliciously unique, choc-full of goodness, or so simple the kids can cook for you? Is your massage therapy blissful, melts away pain or envelopes recipients in a deep therapeutic embrace?
If you struggle to find alternative words to the usual, online thesauruses may help. Microsoft Word offers synonyms by right-clicking on the offending adjective and scroll down to find a replacement. It also pays to scope out the opposition. Read how they describe their goods and services and try to think outside the square when it comes to creating your own. DO NOT ever copy their descriptions though – you can do better!
- Provoke an emotion
If you haven’t already, I recommend you have a quick read over my features vs benefits blog post. The basic premise is that features do not sell – people want to know what’s in it for them. This creates emotion and a personal connection to the product or service. Ultimately, this is what will persuade them to keep reading and take the next step in contacting you.
Use your words to appeal directly to your audience. Let them know you understand them through emotive – but always genuine – language. Ensure you use the right connotations too and think carefully about how different words for the same thing can create a very different meaning.
For example: The multi-step fitness program takes dedication to complete. Not so appealing.
The Fast & Furious Fitness Program has been specially designed to keep your fitness spark glowing hot as you work through each endorphin-boosting phase of the multi-step process. More appealing.
In this example, I avoided the word ‘motivation’ as it is used A LOT in this kind of marketing. Instead, motivation is implied by describing the BENEFIT – keeping the fitness spark glowing hot. Instead of ‘challenging’, I used the words ‘endorphin-boosting’ to keep a positive spin on the description.
- Use active rather than passive voice
This is a tricky one, even for someone who has been writing for a living for over a decade. Passive voice is when something is done TO something else. For example: The massage was expertly performed by the therapist. The workout was overseen by the trainer. The meal plan was created by the highly qualified dietician.
In active voice, the subject is doing the action. For example: The therapist expertly performed the massage. The trainer oversaw the workout. The highly qualified dietician created the meal plan.
Ok, so these examples aren’t all that interesting, but you get the idea?!
- LASTLY – ALWAYS EDIT and take out words
One of my bad habits is to use the words ‘actually’ or ‘pretty’ (as in ‘pretty tired’). These are unnecessary words and only work to clog up the sentence. Weak adjectives such as ‘really’ or ‘very’ are also unnecessary. These can be removed altogether, or replaced with something stronger. For example: The facial was really nice. Blah. How about: The facial was nice. Still boring. Try: The facial was blissful.
Editing is vitally important to any great content. The best tip here is to read over it in a different format (such as printing it out) or reading it aloud. This is a great way to spot duplicate words, overly long sentences or a collection of letters that don’t make sense. If you have family or friends close by who you can throw it to as well, a fresh set of eyes does wonders! (In my case, my editors are either my husband, mum or, on occasion, my daughter who does a phenomenal job at aged 10!).
With these top writing tips, you can beat the 20 per cent and more effectively get your message to your readers. In time, this equates to better connections, expert standing in your field, and clients and customers who will support you along your business journey.