Do you watch the news? I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I used to be a local TV news anchor and reporter. For those 10 years, I wrote stories with strict time limits between 10 seconds and 2 minutes. Not sure what that equals in word count, but it’s not much. Journalists have to get their point across quickly, effectively, and in a way that doesn’t make people change the channel.
When you’re writing content for software buyers, the same principles apply. You don’t have to put on a suit, excess makeup, and tease your hair up high like I did, but you do need to act like a journalist. Here are the top three rules of the trade:
- Be Succinct. If you’re naturally wordy, the best way to handle this isn’t when you’re writing; it’s during the editing process. Write everything you want to say, and then go back and ask yourself, paragraph by paragraph “is this really important?” From paragraphs, move on to sentences. “Do I need this sentence to make my point?” Your final read-though looks at each word. “Would this sentence mean the same thing if I removed this word?” Going from paragraph to sentence to word may seem like a long process, but as you become less verbose, you’ll be able to check all three of these in one read. There’s no rule about how long an article should be. Just don’t make them any longer than necessary.
- Be Impactful. Since your blog posts and articles will be succinct, you must use your words carefully. Reporters in the field don’t read from a script, but they do usually have a small list of very specific points they want to get across. Try creating a similar outline before you write. It could also help you format your writing in a way that’s easily digestible, with bullet points and lists. This is also a good time to double check what your point is. Look at your outline and ask yourself “is what I’m saying insightful, helpful, and/or interesting?” If not, start over.
- Be Interesting. Generating interest starts with your title. If your title isn’t interesting, nobody will even make it to the first sentence. If your first sentence isn’t interesting, nobody will read the second, and so on. Also, I’m not talking about whether or not you think it’s interesting. If you can’t even hold your own interest, you have a whole ‘nother problem. Try testing your content on somebody who’s not in your industry. Does it hold their attention? If your mom couldn’t make it through a quick read, it’s time to make some edits.
For journalists and writers like yourself, your reputation is everything. If what you’re writing doesn’t follow the three rules above, why would people come back for more? With television, people flip between channels, half-listen while they cook dinner, or don’t bother watching at all. Be a reliable source of succinct, impactful, interesting content, and you’ll build a viewership readership that’s here to stay.
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