One of the most common questions a freelance content writer may face is how to write a text that is compelling and relevant to even a very broad audience. Granted, writing anything for the purpose of universal appeal is largely an exercise in futility, but from a marketing standpoint, it is necessary to take as much of a “no reader left behind” approach as possible.
The reason for this is simple: you want the copy that you write to reflect its intended readership. In marketing terms, it should be at least appealing enough to motivate people to share or recommend it to others.
In professional and academic terms, that means following directions and presenting the information in a specific, pre-determined way. Good writers always maintain a professional edge while keeping the language of what they write on par with what readers in key demographics expect.
Good, marketable, high-quality writing doesn’t have to be too heady; writing over people’s heads is never a good idea. It just needs to be well-presented and consumable by anyone who might find the subject matter and information relevant.
Here are several ways to ensure that whatever you write appeals to your target reader as well as anyone with ties to the subject who might have occasion to either share the content or stop scrolling long enough to read it.
Know Your Audience Well
In some cases, this is very simple. Academic papers need to engage the professor and they need to present facts and ideas in a specific way, usually outlined in a syllabus. For professional copywriters, syllabus often takes the form of a brief or style guide with similar expectations placed on the content and its overall quality.
Anything written for public consumption must have a more universal appeal, especially if what you are writing is going to be marketed to an online audience. Even if you are not going to be personally involved in the marketing of a specific piece, it is your responsibility to know of whom general readership will consist and write directly to the piece’s ideal audience.
Write to Inform, Not to Impress
We’ll add “entertain” to the mix here too even though it treads closely to the “impress me” line. The impression should come from the quality of the writing and the information contained therein. Make the goal of your writing to provide good information in an entertaining way or to present a narrative that appeals to readers based on its quality, not its showmanship.
The reason this is such a dangerous concept is several-fold. First, writing with the “wow” factor in mind forces the writer to keep raising the bar. This is a great way to watch the perception of your content become less positive over time. Writing to impress can also polarize your audience with smaller niches responding favorably to your style and delivery while alienating the very readers needed to keep the content visible.
Use Appropriate Language
Unless the piece specifically calls for it, slang, profanity, and other forms of common vernacular should be avoided. Instead, show readers how well ideas can be conveyed using simple, straightforward language that has mass appeal.
Even in academic situations, offering text that is too heady or pedantic can actually work against you. Any writer from a professional essay service can attest to this on levels of both quality and readability. Let’s take a look at several types of writing and how the language should line up.
- Adheres to all rules of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure
- Followed a pre-determined style and format
- Generally appeals to a single reader or small group of readers
- More conversational
- Relaxes the rule of grammar, syntax, and structure (sentences, paragraphs, etc.)
- Typically has a sales or similarly-motivated angle designed to make readers take specific forms of action
- Written for and to specific demographics and niches
Fiction and Other Narrative Writing Styles
- Tells a complete story
- Immersive, exciting, and able to hold the reader’s attention long-term
- Has a specific, identifiable, and reachable market
Research and Use Timely Keywords for Blogs, Web Articles, and Social Media
Any writing that is designed for online consumption must be easy to find. That means adhering to all relevant rules of SEO as they relate to marketing copy. If you are a professional copywriter or plan to work with one in the future, it is important to understand how SEO works and develop text that keeps the target website or blog climbing the ranks in organic online searches.
This is why keywords remain such a vital part of the equation. Writers who research keywords that are relevant on a per-piece basis typically find that the content fares better with its target market. Market demands change frequently, especially in online markets.
This is why using static keywords in any online consumable text is ill-advised. Research the keywords for every article and blog before writing so the search engines regard it as timely, relevant content worth indexing for easy discovery.
Track Progress and Make Necessary Changes
This piece of advice is a bit nebulous when writing for purposes beyond marketing, but it is still important. For students and academic writers, it means sussing out where points were lost on essays and papers and developing better skills to avoid those pitfalls in the future.
Practice does make perfect, even if the professor is a margin monster, leaving more red on the page than black. Those red marks will tell you everything you need to know about where improvement is needed. Take them at face value and deal with them absent of ego.
For marketing purposes, the concept of tracking progress is much more concrete. There are numerous systems like Google Analytics that can give writers a clear gauge of how content is being received in target markets. Those numbers show all the strengths and weaknesses of both the writing and how it is being marketed.
A Gradual Process
Getting good at appealing to a specific audience is a skill developed over time. It involves developing a better writing style that more directly matches the target readership while maintaining a posture of informing and entertaining. It’s a delicate balance that only successful writers ever develop, but given time and effort, it does become easier. We hope you will take the above advice and use it toward the end of getting better at your craft.