Write Like A Guru

Write Like A Guru

I will readily listen to advice from somebody who I know practices what they preach. Neil Patel, founder and primary writer of quicksprout.com, one of the leading social media blogs on the internet, recently wrote an article and shared some writing tips. To me some of them were more attention-getting than others and I'd like to share and comment on those particular tips here…. not so much because I or you have never heard them before but moreso because we may have strayed from adhering to them.

1. Use you instead of we or us

Yes, I struggle with this sometimes too. It seems that there are times during the writing of an article or post that the first person voice seems more natural but then there are times when it doesn't make sense and I find myself wondering if I should go back and change a previous "I" to a "we" or "most people" or some other pronoun.

Perhaps chosing the right subject voice gets easier with practice. 

4. Focus on your titles and headings…

I certainly agree. However, I often see content written by people who probably make more money than I do but they use what I consider to be pretty ´´lame titles. I think there eventually comes a point where being contrarian just for the sake of standing out in the crowd does make sense… i.e. veering from the standardize formulas that most article title generators tend to produce. I think it's especially appropriate to have a unique title style if you're trying to name a name for yourself.

Even Neil uses the word, "shit" in one of his ads that I saw. But it hasn't gotten to the point where we hear all of George Carlin's 7 Words You Can't Say on TV.

6. Practice writing fewer words

You've seen those one or two sentence paragraphs, right?

I don't know about you but every time I see writing like this it makes be cringe because I think of all those 'carriage returns' … Ka-Ching! (I learned to type on a real typewriter which actually had a 'carriage').

This is one of the rules that not many people talk about but apparently it works well for some types of writing. It's something that I usually try to do but am not always successful at. Neil (Patel) is good at it.

I think it depends on the type of writing you're doing but I can also attest to the fact that almost every time I've written an article and not published it til later I always wind up shortening it a lot when I come back to review it. 

7. Write shorter sentences

This rule is very similar to Rule #6. Both refer to what I consider to be the same challenge of respecting the reader's time. 

8. Harness the power of single sentence paragraphs

Same as Rule 6 and 7. I've have gotten better at keeping my paragraphs shorter. I shoot for 3 or 4 lines maximum.

9. Brainstorm unique CTAs

This is a rule you don't hear much but I have often felt uncomfortable with using the time-worn phrase 'Click Here'… feeling subconsciously that I should come up with something more original.

10. Bold or italicize important statements

I don't do this very often. Probably because I feel it's the kind of thing that can easily get out-of-hand. Of the two (bolding and italicizing) I probably italicize more.

12. Don’t be afraid of the word I

To my mind, the value of this practice is that you should always try to be a real person in the reader's mind. So…tossing in an occasional "I" is OK. I think if people feel like they know you better, it's easier for them to buy from you or believe you. 

13. Use personal stories

In theory I think this is probably a good idea and I've never heard it specifically emphasized as a writing practice. The caution should be to be careful to keep the story as short as possible. Story-telling is an art.

16. Start strong

I agree that in principle this makes sense but I think it's also hard to judge whether you pull it off successfully or not. 

17. Read it aloud

I totally agree with this. I do it often (but not consistently). If you try it, I can guarantee it will improve your writing. I find it amazing how often I write something that initially seems OK but when I read it back to myself I think, "Hey! I don't talk like that nor would I think somebody who talked like that was interesting to listen to."

18. Make friends with a thesaurus

This is a good idea. The only caution I would give is that we need to remember that the average person reads at a 6th grade level. Did you know that Ernest Hemingway wrote at a 4th grade level? Believe it….here.

20. Use subheadings

I've seen this recommended before but I'm still reluctant to do it. To me, it just seems like 'filler' fluff. OK…I'll try again.

21. Stuck? Try combining ideas

"What's the ROI of your mother?" ??!! That's the example given in the article.

I think this might be creative but I don't think I'd call it a 'best-practice'.

22. Stay actionable

I actually like this idea a lot. In fact, I think I wrote something along these lines just recently. It's long been my theory that the internet has given too many people the opportunity to blather on about whatever strikes their fancy-of-the-moment.

23. Make friends with summaries

I like this idea too. In fact I've recently started doing it more. I think it's a good idea to leave the reader with a clear idea of how they benefited from the time they spent reading your article.

25. Bookend important points

This is, to me, similar to Rule #23 because it tends to ensure that your reader leaves with a feeling of benefit or accomplishment from what they just read.

26. Be brutal when editing

I agree with this rule and I think it can't be emphasized enough. Every time I evaluate something I write against this rule, I always find words to cut out.

27. Use transitions

I like Neil's example here and it reminds me how often I read, and cringe, when people use pronouns… on the shaky assumption that I remember who or what "it" or "he" or "they" or "that" refers to.

And here is Neil's article conclusion and close:

Conclusion You don’t need years of study to become a master copywriter. But you do need to practice. And you need to practice a lot. Your writing will only get better if you take the time to refine it. Every day, make it your goal to write something, even if it’s not much. You might be surprised to see how quickly your wordsmithing improves. What’s your biggest writing challenge?

Thanks Neil. Great article!

And thank YOU…..dear Reader for reading this.

 

Art Williams is available to write for your blog, website, or social platform.
713 701 1853
Skype: atwill4

 

 

 

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