If you’ve been keeping up with the How To Become A Better Writer series, you’ll notice we’re close to the halfway point. Admittedly, I’m enjoying writing these posts even more, the further we go! I’ll continue to jam-pack these posts with as much value as possible. But without further ado, let’s jump into Part 5: Optimizing your writing for Internet readers!
1. Make Your Content Meaningful, Relevant, Practical And Memorable
Your content needs to have meaning. It sounds like a no-brainer, but thousands of romantic hopefuls have flocked to the Internet, banged out a quick post, published it on a free Wordpress blog and then (sometimes perpetually) hung their head in shame when nothing remarkable happened.
I’ve mentioned it in previous posts, but this point bears repeating: You will not see impactful, lasting success if your motto is, “If I build it, they will come.” Success just isn’t that simple or easy, folks. I urge you to embrace this slightly uncomfortable but important truth in order for your dreams as a writer to succeed.
Getting back to the main point, your content should not be mindless blathering. You should be striving to provide actionable information that helps solve your readers’ problems. It’s not that you need to give all of your experience, wisdom and insight away for free all the time, but in order for people to know, like and trust you, they need to see how much you care about their success.
Your content should be as relevant as you can possibly make it. What worked in 1996 probably did not work in 2006, and what helped others a decade ago has probably still transformed slightly. Yes, it’s true; valuable, actionable, practical content is one variable that hasn’t changed, but the modes and mediums through which people have consumed content have changed.
Relevance has a lot to do with attention: How to generate and maintain it.Relevance has a lot to do with attention. Click To Tweet
Gary Vaynerchuk is a huge proponent of pointing out that you need to provide your content where people’s eyeballs are. Medium is an awesome new platform that is doing insanely well right now and getting a lot of people involved. It’s free to publish and your post might be the next to get 1,000 views or more.
Guide your readers via writing how to best ensure their writing will be seen by others. Every writer has to start somewhere, so those who are just beginning can benefit a lot from your expertise. For a total of 15 practical tips you can take today to get your writing read and shared, please check out this article and then this one.
Your content should be practical. People are (ideally) coming to you for solutions. You should be doling out your own experience, tips, tools, tricks, marketing hacks, content platforms, raw advice and more. Your posts and content should be packed to the brim with real-life actions your readers can apply as soon as they’re done reading.
Last but not least, strive to add memorable content. A quick marketing and content hack for posts is to make it concise and easily understood, but also intriguing. Content that fits all the aforementioned characteristics will slowly but surely attract readers like a magnet.
Take this series as an example. When all are done, there will be 12 posts on how to become a better writer, each with its own specific category of detailed action prompts and advice. It’s easy to understand, you can wrap your mind around it at first glance, and in order to get the full experience you’re encouraged to read all the posts.
2. Use Power-Packed Sentences
Readers who head to the Internet are looking for two things: Quality information and solutions.Internet readers are looking for quality information and solutions. Click To Tweet
If your writing does not fulfill these two desires, you’ll lose readers.
The consumer also has full control when using the Internet. They can open, close and modify windows and tabs as they please. Your content has to stand out if you’re going to have any chance of people liking and sharing your stuff. It also has to be quick and easy to read.
Therefore, keep your sentences succinct. Don’t add more than is necessary. Elaborate on your point just enough to provide value without becoming redundant. Short sentences are easier to remember, easier to implement and easier to share. For even more value and actionable advice on this, here’s an article I wrote on how to optimize your writing for Internet readers.
3. Share Real, Accurate Information
In similar fashion to an earlier point, including accurate information in your writing is of deep importance. You’ve earned the trust of your readers, so you should not handle this lightly. Provide the steps your readers can take to get similar results. Your mission should be about helping others as much as possible, with your own financial gain as the icing on top of the cake. If you flip this outlook, you will remain in the dark regarding finances and your message will probably reach fewer people.
In tandem with this point, remember to always qualify your statements with the fact that no reader should expect to get the exact same results you got. This is important for both sides. You are never providing a 110 percent, fool-proof recipe for success, and your readers should have the opportunity to openly understand this. You are simply a coach; nothing more, nothing less.
4. Space Your Paragraphs Liberally
Even when writing long-form content (such as this series), it’s ideal not to make anything too long. Sure, there are apps like Pocket and Evernote, and I’m not trying to diminish their appeal. The goal here is to help you understand what will appeal to the majority of Internet consumers.
Call me harsh, but the facts show there are increasing numbers of “skimmers” – Internet readers who find blog posts and articles and essentially speed-read for the largest subheadings, bullet points and images. Pre-cater to these readers by keeping your subheadings punchy and your paragraphs concise and liberally spaced.
5. Share Your Content When It’s Done
One of the biggest self-imposed obstacles to becoming a successful writer (and other forms of Internet success) is being a perfectionist. First of all, there’s no such thing as anything that’s completely perfect. Second of all, trying to complete “perfect” work is a deterrent to actually getting your work published and in front of eyeballs.
You have to start somewhere. Don’t worry about making your first blog post, book, article, eBook or forum post your best. In fact, I can assure you your first will probably be your worst. I know this was the case for me and thousands of others.
Don’t allow your first crappy piece of work to get you down, though. Rather, use it as fuel to improve your next piece of writing. Learn from what didn’t work the first time.
6. Comment On And Provide Feedback For Others
Every writer loves knowing their work is getting better. At the very least, we love knowing someone else took the time to read what we wrote and provide feedback, even if all of the above were simple. Want to know a fast way to make a long-lasting impact with other writers?
Here’s a five-step process:
- Seek out blogs you enjoy
- Comment on the posts
- Respond to the comments of other commenters
- Be honest and helpful
- Provide links to resources you’ve vetted yourself and enjoy
7. Be Helpful And Provide People With Useful Tidbits
People love receiving help, especially when they ask for it. Being extremely helpful is about balancing these two elements:
- Offering concise, actionable and insightful commentary
- Going further with people who engage you and mention they value your commentary
Also, take advantage of the fact that humans are a visually-oriented species. We absolutely love pictures, infographics, videos and anything similar. Movement- and eyeball-oriented content is particularly helpful.
For my all-time favorite software that curates and posts highly valuable content to your social media channels, check out Post Planner! Their prices are a steal for the value they provide.
For even more tools, downloads, websites and resources that can increase productivity and decrease frustration, check out The Ultimate List Of Marketing And Content Tools.
Click this link for my favorite Twitter cheat sheet made as an infographic!
8. Keep It Primarily Positive
Writing as much as you can in a positive tone is an incredibly easy way to add light and breath to your message. There should always be hope evident in what you’re offering. Getting people excited about what you’re providing is a great way to get people hooked (in a healthy way, of course).
Remember to keep your positivity balanced with truth. You’ll only alienate readers if you promise the world and aren’t able to deliver. Positive, encouraging words should be tempered with real-life examples from your own story, and sharing the truth about hard work. There are no overnight success stories, and in fact, failing along your way to success adds massive credibility to your current and future message.
9. Keep An Eye On What Kind Of Content People Want
As you’re growing your blog and overall readership, remain vigilant of the comments people leave on your posts. A great leader is a great listener, and those who become the most successful are people who watch carefully for what people desire, and then provide it in a valuable way.A great leader is a great listener. Click To Tweet
Packaging up valuable solutions and information in the form of what people want (and being able to repeat this process) is one of the core components of success with any endeavor.
10. Spread The Message You Were Meant To Share
Most of all, always spread the message you were meant to share. For most of us writers, knowing the message we’re carrying isn’t the issue; it’s actually being disciplined enough to carry it out and continually share it with the world.
This takes time. This takes practice. This takes humility. This takes energy. This takes failing, and starting again.
It requires all of the above, and often a bit more. But sharing your message – no matter how bold, tender, precise, empathetic or academic it is – requires courage and positive action.
Take some time today to write the next post or piece that will share your specific message with the world. You will never reach your intended audience if you don’t optimize your posts to reflect your big-picture message as often as possible.
For a great “exercise” post on how to find and hone your writing voice, check out Jeff Goins’ post here.
For an unbelievably precise and helpful post on developing and sharing your message, check out this link.
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The How To Become A Better Writer Series: