Inside: Five tips for writing in an engaging, conversational tone, so you don’t put your readers to sleep.
Do you want people to read your blog articles?
Silly question, I know. Of course you do. You wouldn’t spend time writing them otherwise.
But does your writing make it easy for people to read every word? Or could they use it instead of medication for insomnia?
I always thought it was easy to write how you talk.
Until… my husband tried blogging.
It was like dictionary vomit all over his posts – and the longer the words, the prouder he was. I was more like, ugh! 🙄
You see, the guy’s been in the Air Force for over 20 years now.
Also, you should know that military-speak is something extra special. (If you haven’t had to deal with it, consider yourself lucky. It’s similar to politician-speak – talk a lot without saying hardly anything at all.)
And when my husband sat down to write, all that came out was military-speak, even though he was writing about his favorite subject – sports.
It was unreadable by my standards.
But over time, with a little guidance from me, he improved a lot. And today, I’m sharing five tips that helped him improve the most.
#1 Keep your sentences short and your words simple
No, I don’t mean three words, single syllable each. I mean, opt to use a short word instead of a long one (use over utilize, for example) and break up long sentences.
A lot of people talk in run-on sentences, and that's ok – when they're talking. In writing, break it up a bit because nobody's going to read a wall of text.
Ideally, keep your paragraphs to 3 lines max. They’ll end up being longer on mobile screens, which is where most people are especially prone to skimming.
Got technical descriptions? Simplify them. Flowery prose? Put it in your novel.
Seriously, short and simple wins the day.
The point of your article is to make a connection so…
#2 Talk directly to the reader
This isn't a speech you're giving, so don't write like you're talking to a whole group of people.
Instead, imagine you’re sitting in your favorite booth at your neighborhood coffee joint, talking to a friend. This friend just happens to be interested in the same things your reader wants to know. (Convenient, huh?)
You wouldn't refer to yourself in the third person in a conversation like that, so don't do it in writing either.
And use plenty of contractions – isn’t instead of is not, can’t instead of cannot, etc. – just like you do when you’re talking.
Also, don’t be afraid to…
#3 Add some personality
Sure, you’re writing for the interwebs, so no telling who all will read it. But reading content devoid of personality is like watching paint dry. Boring!
So if you have a favorite saying, use it as liberally as you do when you talk.
If you are an emoji fan, sprinkle some throughout your articles. I do. Mine aren't very frequent, but that's because I use them sparingly in real life too.
For more tips, read 3 easy ways to add personality to your website.
Personality goes hand-in-hand with the next tip:
#4 Use relatable stories
Let’s go back to your friend at the coffee place. You’d tell her a story or two to illustrate your point, right? So do the same when you’re writing.
Stories help you connect with your readers by evoking emotions. They resonate with readers who can now imagine themselves in the story.
Plus, everybody loves a good story. It’s how knowledge was passed on from generation to generation for thousands of years before some cool soul invented the alphabet.
And last, but not least…
#5 Read your writing out loud
I’m not kidding.
Go ahead and read what you wrote. Out loud.
Pay attention to how easy it is to read. Which words did you skip or substitute? Which ones did you trip over? Make the corrections right away.
Oh, and don’t read it like a machine. You’re not Siri.
Instead, pretend you’re recording a podcast or a video, and add emphasis, pauses, chuckles, and all the other bits that make regular talk so engaging.
Doing this will help you catch and correct overly wordy sentences and any parts that don’t make sense. (It happens.)
Rinse, lather, repeat
Follow these five tips, and your writing will go from sleep-inducing to engaging in no time.
Even my husband, the one with Air Force blue in his veins and military-speak to match, eventually wrote fun-to-read articles that involved a story of a bad haircut.
Now, if you like my writing, you should totally sign up for my weekly emails. (Pearls of wisdom, all of them, hehe.) Grab this freebie, and not only will you get my emails, you’ll also get a quick checklist to make sure your website is up to par.