My Secret Tips for Writing Engaging Content

by Jennifer Good | October 29th, 2012 5:10 AM | No Comments

Writing Engaging ContentAs a blogger or producer of a content-based website, engaging content is pivotal to building your following and brand. Without it, you don’t have a product. When you’re selling an actual product, it’s even more imperative to write copy that engages and then sells. This is a lot of pressure for a do-it-yourselfer marketer. You could hire a professional copywriter to ease your mind, but in a lot of cases it isn’t an affordable alternative. Over the last 13 years, I’ve written thousands of articles, sales copy, product descriptions… you name it, I’ve written it. I’ve certainly made mistakes, but I’ve also learned a lot. I’ve taken that knowledge and created websites that have some of the highest stickiness ratings online. My top 1,000 site had an average of 21 pages read per user. A typical user spent 45 minutes at the site. Talk about engaging the user!

So what are these great tips I’ve learned over the years? Let me share a few of my favorites:

Tell A Story
A story is an easy way to capture the attention of your readers. It keeps them engaged and hopefully wanting to know the outcome of the situation. A story typically has a clear start and a clear end, making this style of writing very intuitive for keeping you on track and focused. I think the best benefit of storytelling is that it’s incredibly easy for others to spread your message. Stories capture the imagination and are therefore retained easier. If you’re able to weave a story about your product, article topic or blog post topic, do it.

Get Your Reader To Visualize
It’s a writer’s job to create a world or story that captivates the reader and draws them in. This is especially true for writing sales copy or anything that requires your readers to take an action. You need to write in a way that captures the reader’s imagination and gets them to visualize themselves using the product or techniques you’re writing about. You can do this simply by asking questions. This gets your reader thinking about your topic or product as it relates to them. What questions could you ask to get your reader to think deeper and visualize your topic or product?

Keep It Simple
I think a lot of us fall into the trap of expecting our readers or customers to know everything we’re talking about. We’re usually so surrounded by people in our business world and social media circles that it’s easy to assume everyone knows our industry. This is a huge mistake. It’s a good practice to write for the lowest common denominator. Don’t overcrowd your message with huge words or technical terms that someone will have to look up just to understand you. If you must use technical jargon, provide definitions or links to explanations of the term.

Keeping it simple isn’t just about word choice. It also plays an important role in sentence structure. Unwieldy and superfluous sentences don’t sell a product or concept. When in doubt, cross it out. In most cases, just moving a few sentences around will provide you the flavor and flow you were looking for.

Don’t Try To Be A Literary Guru On Your First Draft
There are countless stories of literary geniuses and bestselling authors who have to write multiple drafts of their work before it’s even good enough to send to their editor for even more review. For me, the best way to write is to just sit down and let it all flow out. I consider it similar to a brainstorming session. I just write everything on my mind in regard to the topic. I’ll even leave paragraphs half written because I’ve thought of another point of interest in the topic that I don’t want to forget.

When I’m done with this dumping of my thoughts, I read what I’ve written and then move things around into a more logical flow. A lot of times, I’ll completely cut out what I’ve written, or I’ll save it for another article or post on the same topic. Once I have the overall flow down, I’ll go through and look at how I can improve each paragraph, sentence by sentence. If I see something that doesn’t need to be there, I cut it. Other times, I just move some of my sentences around to make it flow better. The more comfortable you get with making mistakes and editing your own work, the stronger you’ll become as a writer.

Keep It Flowing
Once I’ve finished editing my work, I always go back to make sure everything has a natural conversational feel to it. I want each paragraph to flow or segue to the next. This keeps your reader’s attention, paragraph by paragraph. In many cases, they’ll find themselves reading all the way to the end without realizing they did. I think this is the most important writing strategy I’ve used. I don’t worry about getting the reader to the end of the article or page, I focus on getting them to the next paragraph. By doing this, your reader will read the entire message naturally, because they were so engaged.

Have Your Work Checked By Someone Else
No matter how skilled of a writer you are or how well you know the language, always have some proofread your work. Always! If you’re lucky enough to have someone who is also a writer, even better. Let them have some freedom to replace your words or move them around. I’ve always thought that two heads are better than one, and often another person can bring a fresh perspective to your writing. Always be open to changes, and honestly evaluate whether or not they’ll communicate your message more effectively.

Writing is always an evolving skill. Every time you write, you get better at it. Kind of rewarding isn’t it? Now that I’ve shared my tips, what techniques do you use or plan to use to help you write more engaging content?

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