Today’s post is written by Tanja Gardner
Finding it hard to figure out your business writing voice? You’re not alone!
Back in June, I ran a survey asking my audience of mostly introverted, heart-based entrepreneurs about their biggest copywriting challenge. The answers that came back were varied, but a couple of responses cropped up over and over again.
One of the biggest issues people mentioned was figuring out their business writing voice – how to keep their writing authentic, while still resonating with their readers. They talked about the frustration of people not reading or acting on their copy… or, on the other hand, feeling inauthentic if they followed standard copywriting “tips and tricks”.
So if either of those issues are a problem for you, you’re definitely not the only one.
Most introverts are fine with the “authentic” part
I want to acknowledge that, for the most part, we introverts are pretty good at authentically expressing ourselves in writing. Possibly, that’s a function of our natural preference for reflecting and processing – and many of us spend time journaling, blogging or writing creatively by choice too.
That means we’re often used to figuring out what we want to say, and then clearly expressing it through the written word. Where our problems so often start is when we try to use our natural talent for writing in the online business arena. We discover that people read differently onscreen – and suddenly, we need to learn a whole new, reader-focused way of writing.
So how do you resonate with your readers without losing your own voice?
There are plenty of resources online that will teach you the “rules” for writing to be read onscreen. (If you haven’t found any yet, just download the free guide I’ve linked to in my bio). What many guides *don’t* tell you, however, is how to write your content in a way that will also genuinely resonate with your reader.
Here are three tips for writing business copy that feels authentic to you, and that also works for your reader.
1. Get strategic about your writing topics
It’s always important to write about subjects you have expertise in and passion for. For effective business copy, however, you also need to write about the things your readers want to know.
So the first step to writing authentically AND resonating with your reader is a strategic one. It’s about identifying the “sweet spot” – the intersection between what you want to write about, and the topics your audience wants to read about.
To clarify what your audience wants, use your introvert superpowers of listening and reflecting to:
- Make a note of the business-related questions that clients and other business friends are asking you.
- Observe the conversations in your social media communities. What do people complain about having difficulty with?
- Actively ask people what they want to know. Create a survey for your email list, or ask in online communities you’re part of.
Then, once you have that information, identify which of the issues you’d genuinely enjoy helping people to solve. What are you authentically interested in writing about? Voila: there’s your sweet spot!
2. Let people know what you’re writing about (and why it’s important) up front
Let’s be brutally honest: we introverts can sometimes ramble in our writing. That can be a major problem when the average reader gives a page just 10-20 seconds before deciding whether or not to click away.
That means it’s really important to let people know exactly what they’re going to find on the page they’re reading – and why it matters to them. What problem are they having that your words will help them solve? Once they’re clear on that, they’re much more likely to keep reading. To help them get clear:
- Create an accurate, informative page heading or subject line that sums up the benefit people will get from reading. Notice how I did that with the title of this post?
- Spend a paragraph or two at the beginning setting a context for why that benefit is important. Remind readers of the problem they’re dealing with now, and how it’s affecting them.
- Use frequent subheadings throughout the page to signpost the specific information readers will find in the section that follows. This helps to break your text up, and allows the 80% of people who scan in an F-pattern to feel confident that yes, they do need to read your page in more depth.
3. Use reader-focussed language wherever possible
There are several pieces in the puzzle of writing in reader-focused language. You don’t have to use them all; but the more of them you use well, the better your copy will resonate with your readers. Three of the most important puzzle pieces include:
- Write conversationally. This is essential, especially if you’ve come from a corporate or academic background where stiff, formal, stilted language is the norm. Imagine you’re sitting down face-to-face with your reader for a cup of coffee. Think about how you’d explain the topic if you were speaking out loud – then write in the same voice.
- Use “you” language. Talk directly TO your audience, rather than talking about them in the third person (“they”, “their” and “them” language). The former makes it easier for people to see the relevance to their own situation, where the latter distances them as readers from the people you’re writing about.
- Use the same words your readers do. Look at the specific terms your readers use to describe themselves, their problems, and what they most want. Those are the terms that they resonate best with, so try to actually incorporate those exact words and phrases into your copy.
Writing authentic copy that resonates with your readers isn’t easy, but it’s worth it
Navigating the balance between staying true to your authentic voice and writing in a reader-friendly way can take effort – but the results can be dramatic. You can expect more engaged readers, more opt-ins… even more sales; and all without jeopardising your authenticity.
About the author
Tanja Gardner is a professional copywriter, word weaver, and story sculptor at Crystal Clarity Copywriting Ltd. She helps heart-based, introverted entrepreneurs like you write with concise, creative clarity that your readers intuitively “get”. That means they understand EXACTLY what you offer – so you can make more of a difference in their lives.
Discover more about how to write copy that people actually read by downloading her Make Your Web Page Crystal Clear guide.