You are a writer, you just don’t know it yet.
Anyone who’s ever written a letter, Facebook post, Tweet, or even a comment on an Instagram post can be considered a writer.
However, becoming a professional writer is an entirely different thing.
To get paid for writing, you need to put in a lot of work, learn, read, and practice writing every day. And, more importantly, that passion for writing needs to come from deep inside of you.
These days, anyone can use ChatGPT or any other AI tool to generate articles and essays. But you first need to be a writer before even using those tools. You need to learn how to craft compelling content.
Different writers have different approaches to writing content. This is my approach.
Step 1: Research and Understand Your Audience
Writing is about educating and/or entertaining. And before you do either of those, you need to understand what your audience wants.
If you want to write about search engine optimization (SEO), you first need to learn about the people who handle SEO. The issues and problems they are having. What type of topics they are interested in and what their goals are.
You can only write a great piece of content when you understand your audience.
Even comedians who entertain people for a living know this. Before they travel to a city or country to do stand-up comedy, they research their audience to write jokes that are relevant to that specific audience.
Even if you’re writing a novel, you should think about the type of person who would want to read your story. And understand why they would enjoy it. That’s the key difference between writing great content and mediocre content.
Step 2: Finding Your Writing Style
My wife is a university graduate and she can write essays really well. But our writing styles are completely different.
She was trained by the schools and universities to write in a more technical writing style. There are minimal conjunctions and style in that writing style. It’s just straight facts and statements. That college writing style does not work for online audiences.
Even though she had knowledge and qualification, my wife had to learn from scratch to find her writing style.
It might take you a while to figure out your writing style. Some prefer to write more creatively and some prefer to use the technical writing style. Whichever style you choose, don’t try to force it.
Use the writing style that you’re most comfortable with. Because there’s work available for all types of writers. However, it’s worth noting that, with the rise of AI, the demand for technical writers will decrease over time.
Step 3: Master Headlines and Introductions
Before you go see a movie, you watch the trailer to see if it’s good. Or before you buy a book, you read the preface to see if it’s for you. The introduction of an article is very similar to that.
You use the headline of the article to grab the attention and convince your readers to visit a web page. And then they read the introduction to see if it’s good enough to keep reading.
This is an important part of crafting compelling content. It will make or break your freelance career.
That doesn’t mean you need to resort to click-bait titles and misleading intros. Just try to step into the mindset of your readers and read your titles and introductions aloud. And ask yourself, is this something you would want to read?
Step 4: Evoke Emotions Through Storytelling
I never pretend to be an expert at anything. I’m not a great writer, not even close. You’ll often find errors and mistakes in my writing. But I don’t care. Because I’m proud of where I am today and being able to write like this and get paid to do it is still a miracle to me.
I never graduated college and I have no qualifications to call myself a writer. I barely finished high school and learn English as a second language by mostly watching movies, YouTube, and reading.
If I can do this, anyone can too!
I shared this quick story as an example. It may not be the best example but storytelling is an important part of every piece of content you create. I used it a couple of times in this article alone. Read from the beginning and see if you can spot them.
Step 5: Use Psychology To Persuade
Everything we do has a connection to psychology. Most of the time, we do things without thinking but those things are operated by the unconscious mind.
There’s a reason why we immediately stop at a traffic light. No one tells you to stop but you do it when you see the light turns red. That decision-making process happens in your unconscious mind in a fraction of a second without you even knowing.
Your content has the same power to persuade readers to take action. And that’s what makes your writing more powerful.
Whether it’s to encourage your audience to signup for a program, buy a product, or even help them change a habit, you can take advantage of psychological tricks to achieve your goal.
To do this, you should first study psychology. As a starting point, read Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini.
Step 6: Edit, Edit, And Edit Some More
You can always say things using fewer words and your sentences can always be shorter. Let’s give it a try.
“Write with fewer words and short sentences.” It’s the same sentence but with fewer words.
Be like Master Yoda when editing your articles. And don’t hesitate to delete entire paragraphs if you have to. Sometimes, getting straight to the point is more important than telling a good story.
Respect your reader’s time. That’s it!
The MOST Important Step!
Practice is the key to perfecting your writing skills. But writing daily is not enough.
You also need to learn to write better, read good books, listen to podcasts, and follow online courses. That process of refining your craft never stops.
Platforms like Skillshare and Blinkist have been like treasure troves for me. I’ve learned so much from them. I encourage you to also find platforms that are suitable for you to continue the process of learning and practicing your craft.
And don’t cheap out on learning. The best investment you can make is in yourself!
Images via Freepik.com