Do you remember being in school? Remember having to write 15-page essays that forced you to be as verbose as possible? The more flowery language you were able to use meant the less real research you needed to do. That little skill we all know and love is now doing a disservice to your professional writing.
I was fortunate enough to go to this year’s Interlink Conference in Vancouver with my lovely Creative Team where I also took in Stephanie Hay’s all-day workshop, Writing Compelling Content. Stephanie was fantastic at driving the point home that most websites are boring. Boredom results from cliched content, tons of jargon and information that doesn’t mean anything to the reader. Websites guilty of these infractions don’t entice the reader to take action, or get involved in any way.
Not to worry! Stephanie offered the class great advice: practice. Like any skill, writing takes work. She recommended keeping a diary and committing to 750 words per day. This might start off as “OMG, I can’t believe I ate the entire bag! LOLZ!!” But with time, your writing will mature, and you will grow more confident and successful in communicating your message.
My “Aha” moments
Focus on who it is you are talking to
When you write, picture that one ideal person who you want to take action. They must have a face and a personality. Writing for "women ages 35-48” will not create compelling content.
Write in a genuine tone. To test this, read the piece out loud. If it sounds ridiculous, like an infomercial, start over. You don’t want to sound like a used car salesman or an astrophysics professor. It’s important to remain personable, and communicate in a style that best matches your brand. My hero Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing, talks about the importance of being genuine: “Authenticity in business is all about realizing that your strongest asset in your company should be you. When you stop trying to pretend to be like other people and focus on your own strengths, you bring authenticity to the table.” So be real with your audience and celebrate your fabulous self!
Consistency matters! A lack of consistency raises questions in the user experience. So be mindful with details such as ending lists with periods (or not), choosing to capitalize headings, using Website or web site... the list goes on. Developing a style guide that lays out the language and standards for communications will help solve this challenge. Implementing the style guide will help provide uniformity in the style and formatting of your website.
So commit to creating good habits! Develop a strong tone that supports your brand but keeps you approachable. Create a clear description of who you are communicating with and remain focused on engaging them about your call to action. And practice! Block out 20 minutes a day away from all distractions and get writing!