Is your writing full of jargon and technical-ese? Most writers, myself included, have been guilty of boring readers to death with a hard-to-follow style, just for the sake of sounding intelligent. Unfortunately, in the lightening-paced realm of the blogosphere, readers have become less and less forgiving of such a mistake. But the good news is that you can grab reader attention and communicate your message in a memorable way by paying attention to the new rules of writing for an online audience.
Rule #1: Be a real person.
Share experiences, talk in first person, and let readers see not only your strengths but also your mistakes—especially if you learned something from them that’s worth sharing. Think through every post and determine your message and main points before you just dash off something for the sake of having new content.
Rule #2: Talk like a real person.
Blog posts and personal communications should be conversational. That means you can break a few rules. Like using sentence fragments. Occasionally. And using short sentences. Avoid lots of multi-phrase sentences that require an entire chalkboard to diagram (remember high school English class?).
Rule #3: Connect emotionally with your readers.
Use humor if at all possible. Humor breaks down barriers and puts everyone on equal footing. You don’t have to be cracking jokes in every paragraph, but inserting your natural sense of humor into your writing style will keep readers smiling and help them stick with your message.
Another way to connect emotionally is to create a sense of urgency or need. Demonstrate how your information will make the reader’s life better, solve the problem of world hunger, or just make the sun shine a little brighter.
Rule #4: Ditch the jargon.
Incorporate industry-wide best practices with the end goal of utilizing real-world marketing strategy and maximizing return on investment. Come again? What does that even mean? I’m not sure I know. And if I’m fuzzy on it, my readers probably didn’t even make it to the period. Ditch industry jargon and just say what you mean in terms they can relate to.
Rule #5: Write for readers, not bosses.
How do we end up with pages full of jargon and technical-ese in the first place? Sometimes, it’s because writers are being pressured by higher-ups to stuff as many industry-related buzzwords into the copy as possible. Keywords are great, but in the end, if your content doesn’t communicate clearly to the reader, it’s not worth beans.
Bottom Line: Be human. Speak to other humans. Reap the rewards.