How to Make Your Writing Stand Out
If you’ve Googled ‘how to stand out as a writer in an internet age’ – or variations of the theme – then you probably got numerous hits with articles telling you to ‘listen to your intuition and be your authentic self’ and to ‘empty your mind and go with the (verbal) flow’. This is all very helpful if you’re meditating in the downward dog pose in an Ashram in India; possibly less so if you’re sweating over severe writer’s block and an internet-inspired inferiority complex.
Jane Austen never had to deal with this s***, you might well say. No, she didn’t, but she probably wouldn’t have let it get to her anyway. She would have quietly observed from a distance, a subtle smile on her face as fascinating human dramas flashed by – 140 characters of raw emotion, stupidity, intellect, emoji’s. And this is perhaps still the strongest weapon in a writer’s arsenal today: the power to observe.
So we need to observe. What else? Here are some hints to make your digital articles stand out:
Add value: Perhaps the most important lesson of all. Time is the most valuable commodity of the digital age – competition is rife and attention spans are short. Get to the point and say something that has meaning.
Tell a story: The art of the raconteur is to deliver the same information in an entirely different way. This means details, lateral thinking, a conversation – a story. People engage more when they emotionally connect.
Find an angle and stick to it: Tangents are wonderful rabbit holes but they’re not always conducive to a logical flow of argument or strong angle.
Trim the fat: Edit, edit, edit again. There’s a place for adjectives, but economical sentences are usually more impactful.
Find a hook: You have very little time to draw people in. Open with a bang.
Have a conversation: Don’t try to overcomplicate things. Often, it’s best to write the way you speak.
Jump on a trend: Tactical content opportunities often build on conversations that already have momentum. If you use an existing trend as an in, ensure you offer something new and valuable. Google trends, Buzzsumo, Google news and Twitter hashtag trends are good places to identify what people are talking about. Use hashtags to include your content in an existing conversation.
Think of a great headline: Spend some time thinking up an exceptional headline. Pithy, evocative, short, snappy and intriguing – all boxes you want your headline to tick. SEO also plays a role here.
Make use of multimedia: Rich multimedia vehicles like video can get more traction because of the visual component. However, ensure the script and production are well executed, in line with the brand and message being conveyed. Infographics are another avenue to explore.
Capitalise on all content vehicles: Come up with one cohesive strategy to push a well-written article across all available platforms, including social media and YouTube. Consider boosting a Facebook/ Twitter post if you feel the content has the potential to go viral.
Of course, you could also hire an exceptional PR team to write and distribute content on your behalf. (Wink face – #we’rejustsaying).