When I’m not busy curating cool information all over the web to write about for the Ghostit blog, I work with youth.
Let me explain.
When you have a conversation with a kid, it’s entertaining, humorous and uplifting. Why do you think that is? Kids are transparent, literal and give it to you straight.
Kids are just honest you know? From the opinions, they have, to how they see the world. There’s no fluff, dirt to dig through or cryptic messages to… decrypt.
But I’m not done.
I was thinking about what tips I would give as a content writer to people starting out in copywriting when a memory popped into my head. It was a couple weeks ago when I was giving a workshop presentation on money management to a group of teenagers. I asked the group what they thought a rainy day was.
A boy enthusiastically put up his hand “Me, me, me!”
“A rainy day is a … wet day!”
Bless him. But really, that got me thinking.
Our natural instinct is to latch onto the simplest understanding of something, the simplest explanation, especially when it comes to language. Forget about the fancy metaphors, the complicated sentence structures, and the big jargon-ey words. Occam’s razor am I right? When you think about viral blogs or viral videos, aren’t they basic, simple to understand content that doesn’t require a lot of thought? Aren’t the blogs that are easily digestible, form imagery and read like a smooth dream the ones you enjoy the most?
In putting together this list of tips on how to actually write content people want to read, I want to thank the Ghostit creative team for taking the time in between cups of coffee, deadlines (and tears) to e-mail me these tips. Luckily we have enough for an entire blog – Hoora!
So let’s dive in.
1) Your first sentence is the most important sentence
This is because the weight of the entire piece of writing depends on how much interest you’ve garnered from your readers just from that first sentence. Do you think someone would want to continue reading if the first sentence didn’t strike a cord? It should be short, sweet and serve as a hook. Take mine, for example, this is a blog about copywriting, yet I started the first sentence talking about my other work with kids. Wasn’t that weird? Weren’t you curious? Did you continue reading? Well... you’re welcome.
2) Don’t Make the Reader Do the Work
Wait... what does that mean? If you don’t get my point just be reading the headlines than I’m obviously doing something wrong. What I should’ve said was “Make your sentence simple to avoid interpretation,” but that would’ve been too mouthy.
My headline might not be the simplest but I compromised it for creating curiosity. You’re interested in what I meant in my headline so you continue reading. The simpler the sentences, the less interpreting your readers have to do, making the article smooth to read and smooth to digest.
3) Use symbols (when you can!) in place of words. #%#$%#$!!!!
Let’s be honest, when you’re browsing the internet you don’t read, you skim. I’ll be damned if you’re actually reading this blog word for word! When you skim, you naturally glaze over big bulky text, that’s why for formatting (tip number 4) is so important. It’s not just that though, your brain locks onto symbols because they are a simple one-character way to explain a concept.
Eyes look for easiest to consume information first which is why we read and comprehend 2 + 2 way faster than two plus two. The brain picks up “+” and “&” as “and” way faster than the word “and” itself.
Money = $$.
I’ve probably said this before but 99% of people consumer online information through their smartphones!!! Just kidding, not 99% but pretty high up there. So, big blocks of text are a big no-no.
Simple + clean + spaced out + easy to scroll + easy to skim = viral.
5) Don’t sell your product or service
You shouldn’t be spending your time selling your product and service through your content, you should be selling a concept. Convince your readers there’s a problem to be solved, and provide that solution in the content. Good content makes your readers want to get to the end, so how do you do that? Like a good story, you provide a plot, a climax, and an ending. Your concept needs to be true, to be interesting, and to finally, be informative. Following a good piece of content, your readers should naturally gravitate to your product or service. No need to directly sell it.
So go ahead, use these quick copywriting tips, and start practicing. You'll see a change in quality.