The day I walked into college I knew the path I wanted to take.
My goal was to go through the university’s Entrepreneur Program where I would learn about business.
The classes were pretty much lined up for me throughout all four years. But there was room for a few electives and options.
I tried a few different classes including history and science (not my favorite). But one of the electives I took turned out to be my favorite class during my entire college career: Creative Writing.
I can’t remember if it was a 101 class, but it had to be a basic level. The class was very enjoyable and I found myself engaged the entire time.
It’s been quite a few years since I was sitting in that classroom, but I still remember some of the lessons I learned and I think about them today while I’m working on blogging and content marketing.
1. Use Uncommon, But Recognizable Words
A tendency with any type of writing is to use words that you wouldn’t use in normal conversation. I can’t say why we do it, but I’m included in amongst the guilty with this one.
Leave out the big words. Simple is good.
And on the same topic, look for words that are uncommon, but recognizable. This isn’t easy.
I like to look at songwriters for inspiration here. The best songs are ones that have something fresh while also being familiar.
There was a song a few years ago that came out called Big Green Tractor. The phrasing was new. Normally songs would say John Deere Green or something like that. This was a little different, but people instantly knew what it meant.
2. Short Sentences And Paragraphs Work Best
Shorter works better. I remember the course instructor telling everyone to always cut out words.
We’d go through our first drafts and he would tell us to look for ways to make it shorter and to make it shorter again.
People just seem to gravitate toward shorter blocks of content. Think of how we interact now with smartphones. We’re always coming up with shorthand for all kinds of words.
3. Remember To Use Imagery; Appeal To The Senses
In anything you’re writing, blog posts, guides or whatever, always try to include words that appeal to people’s senses.
When you’re telling a story, share the details about what you saw, what you smelled and how things felt when you touched them. That all connects with the readers and really gives them the whole picture of what you’re talking about.
Engaging content is something you read about online, but it’s hard to describe. Using imagery is always a good way to create something engaging.
4. Telling Stories Connects You With Your Reader
Building the idea of imagery is the concept of telling stories.
One of the things I wanted to do this year with the GBW Blog was to include more personal stories. So I’ve tried to talk about things I’ve seen on trips or things I’ve observed here at home.
I try to share a little background about me like you read earlier in this post.
I don’t know the science behind it, but people seem to connect with stories. So it makes sense to tell stories with your content. Use it to build up to the point you’re trying to get across.
For example, if you’re a plumber, tell a story about a situation you had with a client and then move into how a person could DIY a similar situation.
5. Consider The Sound Of Words
Finally, pay attention to the way words sound.
When you’re creating content online like blog posts or guides and things like that you’re usually not paying attention to the sound of words. Videos and podcasts are different stories, but it applies to it all.
Again, I like to look at songwriters. They’re experts on the sound of words and phrasing. They know that it’s not just about writing something that looks good on paper. The words need to have a certain flow in a way that’s interesting to people.
Every word has a unique sound.
Think about words like bar, tavern and saloon.
Bar has a pretty short, to-the-point sound.
Tavern has a little bit of an edgy sound.
Saloon is more cartoonish and campy.
They all mean the same thing, but when read or heard they make people feel and react differently.
These are lessons I still use today in my blogging. I think they’re some of the most universal lessons for any content you’re creating whether it’s a blog post, guide, video or whatever.
Follow these rules and you’ll find people more willing to listen to what you’re saying, which gives you the opportunity to earn their trust and attention. That leads to earning their business.