In an interview with The Irish Times' Sara Keating, former US poet laureate Billy Collins spoke words of wisdom not only to poets, but also to all who write with the intention of having people eagerly read their work.
That goes for you and me and all online business owners and marketers as well.
Where you see the word "poem" in the quote, substitute blog post, or web page, or whatever it is you're working on.
When you see the word "poet," substitute online marketer, which is what you are if you're selling your wares online.
Listen up; this is good stuff.
"When I start a poem, I assume the indifference of readers,” he says. “That there might even be a touch of hostility. There is a line from a Patrick Kavanagh poem that really resonates. It goes: ‘Tomorrow’s Wednesday. Who cares?’ Well, the reader can’t be expected to be interested in your life, the life of a stranger. The job of the poet is to seduce the reader, to make sure they are interested, to make something happen for them that is unexpected.”
It is about achieving a balance between “clarity and mystery”, he says. “It’s important to know which card to turn over and which to lay face-down. But the beginning of a poem should always be very clear, to get a reader on board, and only then can you be confident that when you move into less obvious areas of metaphor or fantasy that they will go with you. It is like an eye chart, with its big E at the top, and the letters getting less legible as it moves along. A poem should be like that.”
A blog post and an article and a web page and an ebook and an email should be like that as well, although I might say to limit your eye chart to no more than three lines, else you'll lose people along the way.
As online marketers, we never want that.
We want to draw them in ... keep them reading ... and leave them wanting even more.
THAT'S the secret to good online writing, the kind of writing that leads people to want to sign up, click here, click there, download this, purchase that.
But here's the thing -- to begin, we must assume that the reader is ready to say, "Who cares?!?" to whatever we publish.
Your webpage? Who cares?!?
Your blog post? Who cares?!?
Your email? Who cares?!?
And against THAT backdrop, we write to MAKE them care.
We write to show them, tell them, why what they're about to read is important to THEM, in their worlds, in their lives.
When you accomplish that task, you've won a large part of the battle.
P.S. This is post #20 in my 30 Day Blogging Challenge!
P.P.S. Curious? Join my tribe to learn more!
Do you sweat the small stuff? Do you want your online presence to inspire trust and confidence? Do you grit your teeth when others don't care enough about YOUR web experience? Are you all about creating an excellent website and excellent content that makes it easy for people to get to know, like, and trust you and buy your stuff?
I think we might be soul mates. And I'd love for you to join my tribe.
When you do, I'll alert you to new blog posts, new programs and products, and new ways for you to create excellent, frictionless, online experiences that lead more people to YES! I promise to be relevant and real, and to send only thoughtful content and advice.
Renae Gregoire is a content mentor and clarity expert changing the world one outstanding leader at a time. The coaches, consultants, and experts she works with have big visions for creating transformational change--if only they could create that content! Her work typically involves a blend of strategy and wordsmithing, with a heavy focus on the reader's perspective. Renae is also the creator of the Blog Post Inspiration Deck, the Blog Your Brilliance online program, and the Content Coaching Club.