Engage your audience by being you
Developing your writing style can be instantaneous or it can take you a few months. This course is not so much about how to write, but more about how to write so your article gets as much exposure as possible. So today we are going to talk about some techniques and mindset shifts you may need to adopt to engage your audience. Again as with all of the lessons here, this is not about changing your own unique style of writing.
Your unique style is though the most important aspect. The best way to hone your unique style is to be you. Not the nervous negative you, which sometimes sits down at the computer and is unsure of what to write. No, it’s you who is comfortable in your own skin. Aware you are perfect in your imperfection and know you have something valuable to share. There is no right or wrong when you are being you. Just go for it. Like everything in life, you will engage your audience which is right for you. Your unique style may not be everyone’s preferred reading choice, and that’s ok too. What you need to concentrate and take joy in is when you engage your audience, the one that loves your style.
Be an authority
Whatever you choose to write about, it’s good to know and feel you have some authority. Being an authority means people know you have something valuable to say and as a result, they want to read your articles. You don’t have to necessarily be the worlds leading expert on your chosen topic, but you do have to know something about it. You can claim authority by the experience you have, the circles you mix in, and your researched opinions about your topic. Writing a book, or having articles published in credible places can help here too. Try answering questions on Quora, this can be a key platform to show your expertise and find out what your audience is interested in.
Find out what your audience is interested in
When I first started out, I wrote about what I loved. I started off by writing random articles about spirituality and combined those pieces with some practical information about my area of expertise. I was on a flight of fancy and didn’t really get the concept that people were only going to read what they were interested in. Now I know that, and so I do take notice of what my audience is interested in and attempt to write about those things. One of the most successful writing campaigns we did was when we followed the topic headings from the Centre for Creative Leadership, which set out their research on the most challenging topics for leaders in the next 5 years. Not only did we thoroughly engage with our leadership audience, but our writers had lots to say too.
You can find out what will engage your audience by undertaking some keyword research, discussed in lesson 6. Alternatively, you can scan industry publications and articles and find out what your audience is reading right now. If you still aren’t sure, then ask them. Very early on I conducted a poll about what my audience wanted to hear about and the result was the 6 categories we use in the magazine. As mentioned earlier, another really useful resource is Quora. Your audience may well be on Quora and it’s also a good opportunity to answer some questions on the platform and establish yourself as an industry expert.
Keep on topic
Don’t diversify too much. Keep fairly tight on your topic. So if you decide to write about food, straying into other lifestyle issues may well simply turn your reader off. That doesn’t mean your topic has to be really narrow either. If you decide to write about a few aspects of your chosen subject, that is fine. You want to consolidate your writing to engage your audience, so they go away with what you intended. If you write about food, for example, you might be able to write an odd article about the benefits of different utensils to use when cooking. Writing to your target audience about how to dance the tango, because that’s something you’re into at the moment will be a bit of a stretch.
It’s really useful to plan your articles, and create a calendar with broad topics, so spontaneity doesn’t cause you to go off on a tangent. You can be spontaneous in mixing up your calendar, but not about writing for something totally unfamiliar to your audience.
Encouraging interaction is good for your audience. When writing articles remember to ask them questions or invite comments. If you’ve got something new to share, invite them to get in touch with you via your online email address. Share widely across social media, and make sure when people like or comment on your writing you acknowledge it or comment on it. We talk more about sharing your article in the next lesson.
I watch a UK-based program called “The Hotel Inspector”, it’s one of the few programs I actually record to watch when I relax (not often I know). One of the things I like about it is that it has a consistent format. The Inspector picks a hotel which is not doing well, she discovers some shocking things. The hotel owner is upset about her findings and resists change. The Hotel Inspector is dogmatic in her persistence, and finally, the hotel owner is won over. The owner grudgingly gives their thumbs up to the work of the Hotel Inspector and hey presto, their fortunes are turned around.
What attracts me to the program is that it demonstrates how even with something as simple as managing a hotel, so many people just simply cannot see what they are creating. I also love it when they have “light bulb” moments and they polish up their act.
So what has this got to do with engaging your audience you might ask? Well, writing articles is similar in that the format should be consistent from one article to another. Deciding on your particular structure and format is key because they need to be the same each time you write an article. After all, if any of you have seen Disney movies, the majority of them have a very similar underlying format. Most of which include heroes, villains and overcoming adversity.
The trick to keeping the format the same frees you up to experiment with content and topic). The style, length and structure of the way your article is delivered should be consistent.
The most popular writers, complete articles most days. If you find it difficult to get motivated to write an article at least every week, then you need to change your mindset. Writing as often as you can means you are consistently engaging and extending your reach. It’s like having a low-cost advert out there across the internet every time you share. It’s been proven that the more you write articles, the more people engage. Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit with your frequency. Sometimes it’s about how you share your article which means you get the widest reach.
Recap and Checklist
The art to engage your audience may take a little while to hone. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Don’t be afraid to ask your audience how things are going or what they want. Here is the checklist for you to make sure your audience is engaged over time.
- Be you, don’t be afraid to experiment with your writing style. Find a style that is wholly comfortable for you. Test out some early articles with friends or your network and be prepared to act on any honest feedback which might mean you have to change. Be grateful and build on positive feedback.
- Find your particular niche and establish yourself as an authority. Be open about your experience, who you have worked with or what you have researched. State your credentials and qualifications.
- Get clear about what your audience is interested in, undertake some keyword research, scan industry publications or find out what questions are on Quora.
- Keep on topic, plan your articles where possible, and prepare a range of interesting subjects which span the breadth of your expertise, and are still interesting to your audience.
- Find ways to be interactive. Encourage your audience to comment or otherwise participate. Respond to comments or reactions across your social media platforms.
- Get into a routine in terms of format and structure, and be consistent so your audience knows what to expect. They should be able to recognise your articles as soon as they see them. They will also know how to navigate your articles so they get the best out of them.
- Experiment with the frequency of publishing your articles. Write regularly. This might be every day, week or even every month. But be consistent and your audience will look forward to receiving your writing as regularly as clockwork.
- Read Article 9: where we look at the best ways to share your article!
I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.
I collaborate with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience.