My friend Jeff Goins is guest posting today…
How do you write a message that gets heard in today’s noisy world? If you’re a writer, the answer may surprise you. In fact, if you’re a communicator of any type, this may shock you.
The answer to getting heard isn’t speaking more. In fact, it’s the opposite.
Effective communicators know something that the rest of us don’t; they understand that less is more. That in a culture inundated with media and marketing, the messages that really stick are the ones that are personal and relevant.
In other words, you need permission.
Nobody has time for another email, another magazine they won’t read or useless subscription. That’s why direct mail has gone down the tubes and why some people are claiming inbox bankruptcy and starting over.
We are all just too busy to care what you have to say.
But… we need your voice. We need your message. So what are you supposed to do?
How about trying to be a copywriter?
I’m not talking about that 1960s Mad Men style of advertising. No, I’m talking about good, ol’ modern writing for an audience.
Whether you’re a blogger, preacher, or computer programmer, you need to understand the basics of copywriting — if your message is going to matter.
Three basic principles of copywriting that apply to anyone who has something to say:
1. Start with a good headline.
This is what shows up at the top of your readers’ RSS feeds, what they see on Twitter or on Google.
If you don’t have a good headline, people won’t bother reading the rest of your message. If you don’t hook them at the beginning, you don’t get a chance to speak your mind.
A good headline is simple, believable, and catchy. For some, this means using numbers, like “10 steps to…” But for others, it means saying what others won’t say, (e.g. “The brutal truth about…”)
2. Write each line as if your life depended on it.
Never assume your reader will continue reading your piece once they start.
Whether it’s a Facebook status, a news article, or an email, the job of each line you write is to get the reader to read the next line.
A good writer knows this, that in a world full of distractions there’s no guarantee someone will continue reading your work. Not if they get bored.
So make each line count.
3. Write for an audience.
It’s okay to write for yourself — in your journal, for an upcoming memoir, whatever. But if you’re writing for the web and want to actually be read, you need to be intentional.
Have someone very specific in mind when you write. Give this person a name, a hair color, a hobby. Find out what she likes and hates. Make it up if you have to, or pick a real-life person.
Be specific. And then write to just that person.
The result is those who read your work will think you are writing just to them (and you are). At the same time, others will dismiss your work as irrelevant. And that’s okay. It’s the cost of good writing, and quite frankly, worth the trade-off of earning some dedicated readers.
So what are you waiting for? Become a copywriter today.
Jeff Goins is a writer, idea guy, difference-maker, and author of the bestselling eBook, You Are A Writer (which is free today until midnight). He lives in Nashville with his wife, newborn son, and dog. You can connect with him on his blog or follow him on Twitter.