Do your posts feel lifeless and bland? Are you struggling to make a connection with your readers?
If so, you’re probably speaking to your customers “head” instead of their heart. Others call this speaking “at” your audience and not “to” them.
Understand that your writing style isn’t your fault.
Our schools taught us that writing was a monologue where we presented our ideas and walked away. You didn’t expect readers to comment, retweet, or like your essays on Facebook. Writing was a take it or leave it exercise.
When we got a job, corporate types tutored us in the art of the abstract. They stripped any lingering “I” and “you” from our writing and replaced them with oblique references to “we” and “them.” For years, I jockeyed between the “make me sound smart” corporate world and the “let’s talk” blogging space. I understand how hard it is to break these old habits.
But to succeed at blogging you need to write “conversational” posts. These posts feel natural and unhurried. They lower your reader’s guard and slips inside their mind like a good friend. Writing these posts take some practice but they are worth the work.
Here’s three simple exercises to get you into the “conversational” writing groove:
#1 Start with “You”
I’m talking to you. I’m not writing for an audience. I want you to understand what I am saying and take action. My goal is for you to be able to pick me out of crowd by simply hearing my voice.
See how that last paragraph felt?
Go to your blog post and scan it, looking for the word “you.” If you are speaking in the third person you can be sure that your readers are putting you in the “ignore” category.
#2 Role Play
Go to flickr and search for the reader you see in your mind’s eye. Print out the picture and write to that person. The picture will help your brain shift gears from “audience” to “friend”
Next, imagine your reader saying “I need your help. What is the most important thing I need to know/do/or say right now”
Now, answer them.
Write a paragraph, look at your picture and imagine your reader saying “I don’t get it, give me an example”
Spend a paragraph demonstrating your point with a story.
Then, imagine your person saying “Now I get it. But how do I make this work for me?”
That’s right. Write a paragraph explaining how to implement your idea, product, approach, point of view.
Last, picture your reader with a broad smile on their face. They say “This is exactly what I was looking for…how can I help you spread this message”
Go ahead and write a sentence telling them how.
Look at your post. I’m willing to bet a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato that it is punchy, personal, and shareable.
#3 Read it Aloud…Quickly
Boring writing takes forever to read. The sentences distract and the words tie your tongue into knots.
But “conversational” posts flow like water down a water slide. Get your post and read it aloud fast. Clean up any part that makes you stumble. Be ruthless. Don’t worry about word count. Keep pruning and editing until your post sounds natural.
Can I Take a Look?
Once you’ve written your post, come back here and put the link in the comments. I want to take a look and cheer you on. Of course, if you have any questions put them in the comments too. Get to it!