When you confuse your readers, you lose your readers.
So here are 11 ways to keep your writing clear and people engaged.
Before you start writing
Clarity comes from having a plan. Don’t start writing or typing without a clear structure in place.
Who are you trying to reach?
Why should they care?
What do you want them to do next?
How does the content align with your goals?
Write for one person
You need to know your target audience. How can you write clearly if you don’t know who’s reading your content?
Getting to know your audience is a must. But when you’re writing, it’s good to have a person, avatar, or character (whatever you want to call it) in mind.
You’re not writing with all men over 40 in mind. You’re writing to reach Steven. He’s a dad of two young kids who feels he’s not doing enough to help others. Steven wants to set a better example.
You can go your own way
When you have a plan and a person to write for, think about your content format.
Will Steven have a spare 30 minutes to read an in-depth PDF or annual report?
He might have five minutes to read a short blog post or two minutes to watch a video.
Don’t feel you have to fit into a particular box. Instead, work on what you think will work best and test and refine.
Too many people say they don’t have time to write content.
For example, you might want to take a commonly asked question and write or record an answer.
Clarity will save you and your audience time.
Use shorter sentences
Short sentences help make things clear.
Longer, rambling sentences like this one can become more difficult to follow because when people’s minds start to wander they begin to focus on other things and that’s when you’ve lost them…
Keeping things simple is often best but there’s nothing wrong with varying your sentence length (within reason) to help your content flow and make sure it’s engaging.
Use plain language
In all the years I’ve been a copywriter, no one has ever said my content was too easy to understand.
Some people get too creative when they write and miss the point.
Others get too technical for their audience.
Using plain language helps clarity, readability and keeps readers focused.
Get to the point quickly
Does your content meet the promises of your headline?
For example, when you’ve said you’ll give your readers three easy ways to solve a particular problem, do you think they want to read a lengthy introduction?
Deliver the good stuff higher up the page.
Be as you are
Lots of people feel they have to write in a certain way.
Why? Because others in their industry write in that style.
You can use this to your advantage.
Try to write the way you speak as much as you can. Remember, your words are trying to make Steven feel something and want to take action.
How would you speak to him face-to-face?
The world needs to hear your hidden voice. It’s what makes you stand out in the sea of sameness.
Make your writing easy to skim
Short sentences on one line.
- Bullet points
- Bold text
- A clear call to action (more on that later.)
People are short on time. When you have their attention, you need to keep it.
Clicking on a link to be greeted with huge swathes of text is a turnoff.
Edit in a different environment
Let’s say you wrote a blog post in your office.
- How focused were you?
- Was there background noise?
- Were you distracted by emails or other messages?
Editing your content in a different place makes sense.
Give yourself physical and mental space. Clarity will follow.
Don’t be harsh on yourself.
Be realistic about whether what you’ve written meets the goal you set out in your plan.
If it doesn’t, trim the fat.
This could mean cutting sentence length, getting rid of tired old phrases people have read before, and keeping Steven in your mind as you edit.
Ask people to take action
Giving your audience helpful content is great. A big tick for addressing their pain points.
But what do you want them to do next?
Writing content for the sake of it is pointless.
Be clear, be bold and ask people to take the next step.
If you enjoyed reading these tips, take a look at our copywriting services.