Posts

Pick your corner as a writer!

William Zinsser, a revered writing expert, said the following in On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction:

Every writing project must be reduced before you start to write. Therefore think small. Decide what corner of your subject you’re going to bite off, and be content to cover it well and stop.

This advice is especially important if you’re writing something short, such as a blog post.

However, this advice also applies to longer projects, such as white papers. Picking a corner will help you focus on a narrower set of readers. The more specific and focused you are on solving the problems of your target readers, the better those readers will react. That’s because they’ll feel that you understand their problems and you’re helping them. That’s powerful.

By the way, I’d like to thank Andy, one of my newsletter subscribers, who forwarded to me this issue of Mark Frauenfelder’s Book Freak newsletter with this quote.

Disclosure: If you click on an Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I provide links to books only when I believe they have value for my readers.

The image in the upper left is courtesy of tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Focus on WIIFM, not the article

Nobody gets excited about reading an article. That’s the thought that crossed my mind when I received a newsletter that opened as you see in the image below.

 

The person sending the newsletter had good intentions. He knew that the SECURE Act brings changes that can affect the retirement planning of his clients and prospects. However, he didn’t convey that the changes were going to offer opportunities for readers to gain—or to experience pain. As a result, few people are likely to click on the link to read the article. It might be a great article. But the newsletter doesn’t give readers a reason to click.

Readers care about the WIIFM—What’s In It For Me. They want to know how they’ll benefit—or how they can minimize their pain.

The SECURE Act offers both gains and pains. That could inspire better headlines, such as:

  • GAIN: Avoid required minimum distributions—and the related taxes—for longer under the SECURE Act
  • PAIN: New limits on “stretch IRAs” mean you may need to adjust your retirement plan.

If you think about it, I bet you can apply this lesson to create better headlines.