Be Specific and You’ll Write With Power
You’re here because you want to get paid for your words.
Medium is a great place to do it. You don’t have the traditional freelance troubles. No looking for clients. No deadlines. No one breathing down your neck. You just sit down and write to your heart’s content.
Getting paid is a bit different than freelancing. You don’t send out an invoice to anyone. Your audience is everyone who stops by to read.
Or is it?
The business of selling words
Your headline is like a banner ad in a shopping center. It’s an invitation that says, “Come in and get your thirst quenched.”
Of course, you can’t satisfy every thirst. You serve lemonade. If those who come through your door are hot and sweaty, lemonade can satisfy like nothing else. But if your browser is riding by in an air conditioned car, he won’t want what you’ve got.
You really don’t want people looking for steak when you’re selling lemonade. You won’t sell children’s clothes to people shopping for business suits. That’s okay.
Being specific isn’t a trap. It’s an advantage.
When you meet a friend for coffee, you might let the conversation flow wherever it will. But even if you claim no agenda, you’ll find one:
- What happened at work this week
- Where you’re going on vacation this summer
- What you did last weekend
- What challenges you face raising kids
You have interests and so do your friends. That’s your connection. You find common ground and talk about it. They might listen to you ramble on about your passion for a while, but eventually the conversation will circle around to something that captivates both of you.
If it doesn’t, your friend will politely excuse himself.
Write to connect
Your reader is your employer.
They spend time with your words. If you have something else to sell that grabs them, they’ll spend money to have it.
Your job is to be interesting and captivating. It’s not enough to grab interest. You’ve got to sink your hooks in and hold on until you’re done.
How does that work in a blog post?
Write an enticing headline.
Your readers want something. Do you know what it is?
- to feel important
- to feel good
- to know they’re right
- to be entertained
That’s the big picture. Call it creating rapport. When you appeal to what’s going on underneath the surface in your reader’s life, they’ll walk into your shop.
Make it specific by telling your reader the reward she’ll get for her time. There’s so much competition for it, it’s ridiculous. How can you convince her your words are better than the rest she could read? How will her life be better when she reads the last word?
Your post isn’t a big box
I’m using retail analogies because I owned children’s clothing stores years ago.
We limited our offerings to clothing and accessories because we had limited space. We couldn’t sell chainsaws and sofas and still have room for the main things we sold.
Pick one topic and dive deep into it. Build a body of work. Soon people will see you as the go-to expert on that. If you dabble in too many things your posts will be as vague as a general store.
But if you go into a general store, you’ll notice that even they have figured out what their customers want.
Be specific. General is boring. Limit yourself to passionate readers and you’ll find more evangelists for your cause.
Keep each post to one idea
You don’t sell more lemonade by adding more water.
If you want to stretch your muscles, you do more exercise. Then your punches will break through more walls.
Write about one idea at a time. Then you can spend your words making your case, proving it, and asking for action.
Making your case means:
- You define the problem
- You ask a thought provoking question
- You point out a hole so people can see it
Next, you become a tour guide and lead your reader where you want them to go. Along the way, share a few facts about why this is the right way. Suggest they’ll be happier if they follow your suggestions. Show them what happens when they take a different way.
Make it personal by sharing what happened to you when you made a mistake, discovered the right path, or walked a friend through the process.
Tell stories. Don’t lecture.
Paint a picture of the future that looks so good they can’t imagine not going there.
You’ll sell more words with service than selfishness.
The destination matters
Decide before you write the first word where you want to land.
You don’t just jump in the car and hit the highway when it’s vacation time. You pick a beach to visit. You call ahead and make sure you’ll have a room when you get there. You set aside money for food, gas, and fun.
Your destination sets your budget.
Your goal sets the course for what you write. Ask yourself:
- What do I want my reader to experience?
- What do I want them to believe?
- What do I hope they’ll do differently when they’re done?
Be specific. Capture your idea in one sentence. You’ll set guardrails to keep you on course the whole way. Then your reader won’t be so tempted to roam off into the woods to check out the birds.
Now go pack a punch with your words.