Writing is a passion for many people. It’s a great way to express ourselves; releasing the build-up of thoughts that spin around in our heads every day!
But what about when you need to write for an important purpose?
You might need to write to:
- Get work
- Get attention at work
- Make sales through great writing on your website
- Draw attention to your business with an article
- Grow your business through blog posts and Facebook postings
From a resume to an email, website copy or an article, I’d like to share five tips over two articles that will help you write like the pros do:
1. Write for your reader
As an ex-copywriter, I used to get paid to write for one reason: I wrote for my audience. Not myself.
Most of us spit out an article or blog post, a resume or an email at work, and just write whatever we feel we need to say.
A professional writer spends all of their time focussing on the reader, asking themselves, “What does my reader need to hear?”
If you want your writing to stand above the rest, then writing for your reader is incredibly important.
The easiest way to do this is to picture your reader standing in front of you. She or he may be the interviewer for the job you’re applying for, the potential customer on your website, a member of your team at work, or the editor of a magazine you want to write for.
Write for them.
Get inside their head and think about life from their point of view.
How can you:
- Make their life easier?
- Make them smarter?
- Make them richer?
- Save them time?
- Give them hope?
- Make them laugh?
- Help them escape?
If you can write in a way that reaches your reader on a personal level, helping them achieve their own personal goals and objectives, you have mastered half the art of writing well.
2. Focus on the important bits
Professional writers focus the majority of their time on their:
- Headline / heading / email subject line
- Opening statement
- Closing statement
These are the three most important parts of any document.
If your heading does not get attention, no one will bother to click on your article or open your email.
If your opening statement isn’t captivating, no one will bother to continue reading what you have written.
And if your closing statement doesn’t leave your reader with a clear instruction on what to do, or a great piece of advice to take away, the rest may be all but forgotten.
To write a great heading, you need to be completely clear and state exactly what people will gain from reading your writing. Or you need to make them curious.
When you’re writing for the web, it’s best to write headings that match what people are searching for. This is why ‘How to’ and ‘Tips for’ articles work especially well.
Job applications and most professional documents also require clear headings or email subject lines, because people are expecting what you have written. They don’t need to be coaxed into opening it.
So when do weird or surprising headings work? When should you make people curious?
When you have a captured audience (such as a large online following, or your immediate team at work), and you want to pique their interest to open your email or read your article. Simply think about what would intrigue them, and then make a heading out of it.
“You won’t believe the nerve of this guy”
“The reason my kids are crazy”
“This one thing could save your life”
Once you have the perfect headline/heading/email subject line, you want to create an opening statement that is just as enticing.
To do this, you might:
- Ask a question
- Provide a surprising piece of data
- Quote someone relevant
- Provide an anecdote or start an interesting story
- Make a statement that your reader can relate to
The aim is to reach your reader on a personal or professional level, and make them excited to keep reading.
The ideal closing statement:
- Reminds the reader of what you have just told them
- Gives the reader clear instructions on what to do next
- Reminds the reader of the benefits of taking action
- Tells the reader how to get more information
In the copywriting world, we call this a “call to action”.
Let’s look at three examples of great closing statements for different purposes:
“My ability to manage excessive workloads, achieve high level results and excel within a team environment would make me an asset to your [name] department, whilst providing me with the opportunity to expand my skills and knowledge in an area where I am keen to build a successful career.
For more information, please contact me on 0400 000 000 or email me at rachel@…”
“I understand that this may be a difficult change, but like all company policies it will help provide a better working environment for us all.
More information can be found in the attached Policy Change document.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation.”
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A great closing statement can make all the difference to getting the interview, gaining cooperation and respect at work, and turning a potential customer into a paying customer.
So take the time to get it right…and then enjoy the results!
Have these two tips changed the way you view writing in general? Do you think they will help you in your everyday writing tasks?
Stay tuned for part two, where I’ll cover: how to ensure your message is understood, how to write persuasively, and the number one tip for writing (anything) like a professional.