Whether you’re writing content for a webpage, an email, or an article these guidelines apply–at least if you want that content to get people to do what you want them to do.
- Be brief. If you can say something in fewer words, do so. Brevity is the soul of wit, and all that.
- Be clear. Use simple words and avoid jargon.
- Avoid time sensitive events, or news that will quickly become old news. You probably want people referencing this for at least a few years, rather than just a few months.
- Avoid politics and religion. As soon as you put anything political in, regardless of which side you mention, or even if you mention both, you turn off a bunch of people who are trying to avoid anything political. You distract others. I find it’s better not to reference at all in most cases. Nobody is offended or distracted when you leave it out.
- Be consistent. If every point begins with a verb…or is it an adverb? Ah, I don’t care, the point is if you have points that start with “be human, build a community, etc.” then every point should start with “Be, do, use, make, reward, etc.”
- Link any number or stat. If your piece reads “With attention spans falling (down to 8 seconds), 30% of users only given content 5 seconds before leaving,” the first thing a professional editor and many readers will ask is “Where did you get this number from and why didn’t you link to the source?” And always link to the original source, not somebody else quoting the source. It’s also generally good to link anything else you can link. If you’re talking about how Denny’s Tumblr account is doing well, or how SNL is putting up fake websites, then link to those things, because as soon as you mention them people think “Wow, I want to see that…but there’s no link :(“
- Use lots of tangible, easy to understand examples. People understand words, but they understand words that draw pictures better.
Bonus guideline: Break rules. Including all those above.
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