Those of us who studied formal communications at a time when rules were paramount probably have the greatest trouble writing for today’s online audience. Although content writing is, in a manner of speaking, formal communications, the rules have changed. The object is to engage the reader and a highly sought after copywriter will focus on that. What I have learned in more than a decade of writing with literally tens of thousands of articles online is that rules were meant to be broken – so break them!
The Rules of Engagement
No, you aren’t training for the military but you are surely going into battle. The competition is stiff out there and the only way to ensure a lucrative career in copywriting is to learn how to engage the reader. You need to know how to write many different types of content, ranging from AMDA reviews to press releases. It’s all about keeping them reading long enough to actually hear what you have to say. If you lose them too quickly they will bounce off the site and on to the competition. This does not bode well for your client and certainly doesn’t reflect well on your ability to engage.
Beyond Readability – Engagement Sells Product
There is just so much information out there on the importance of marketing to a target audience and how important it is to engage them that it is foolish to go into all that here. The point is, you are being hired to write content with the ultimate goal of increasing your client’s bottom line. Whether you are hired to build brand, write product descriptions, build effective backlinks or simply craft informative blogs, the ultimate goal is to increase revenue for your client. That’s the bottom line and what you need to keep in mind at all times. Good writing sells products. Period.
Today’s Reader Is Looking to Be Entertained!
How many times have you happened upon a web page that simply bored you to tears? If you make it through the first paragraph you are a better person than I am! If I lose focus that easily, imagine what the layperson will do? You’ve got it! Bounce right on out of there. Of course we want information and that’s why we searched in the first place, but we also want to be entertained. The internet has become our social life and even the brands and products we engage with have taken on a more social aspect. If you expect to earn a living as a content writer, you might be better off taking courses in improve than in technical writing!
If They Wanted to Be Educated They’d Read an Encyclopedia
The trick is to give them all the information they need to make a buying decision without sounding like the Encyclopedia Britannica. Keep it short and sweet. Keep it light. Yes, you need to give them information but if you get too technical, they won’t read it anyway. Tell them as much as you can in as few words as possible and you’ll keep their attention. Remember, the supposition here is that you are getting paid to promote a brand or product. If that client didn’t expect a return on his or her investment (the cost of hiring you) you probably wouldn’t be hired. Just basic economics here.
So, in the end, is it what you say or how you say it? Probably a little bit of both! Just remember that you are getting paid to engage an audience that wants to know who your client is. You are trying to develop a personality for that client so consumers will feel a kinship, a sense of trust. By all means speak from a position of authority but forget the Rules of Grammar and immerse yourself in the Rules of Engagement. If you can do this, you’ll build a successful and lucrative career as a copywriter. And that’s the truth.