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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Write Great Hooks that Draw Readers In

how to write a great hook
How do you ensure your writing can grab a readers attention and keep hold of it long enough to get your message across? It's all in the "hook".  Master it and you're readership will grow by leaps and bounds.

A hook is useful in all forms of writing and consists of the first sentence or two which tell a reader to  "drop everything and pay attention to this!" Of course, the hook accomplishes this indirectly by evoking emotion, asking a question or instigating an action.. See what I just did there? :)

The first step to developing a hook that works for your writing is to know who you are writing for.  For example a blog post is more informal and conversational, but if you are writing a marketing proposal for a major corporation; you would obviously want to avoid being too casual.

Next is understanding the goal of your piece.  Are you solving a problem? Sharing information? Trying to get people to buy something?  Your goals will also determine the type of hook you want to develop.

Once you know the goal of your piece and the type of audience; you can craft a great hook.

If your piece is developed to solve a problem - state the problem and invoke feelings of empathy for the reader.  Let them know right out of the gate you know what the problem is and how it feels to have that challenge.  This develops an immediate connection and sense of trust.

If your piece is informational - sometimes opening with a question is best.  Ask your reader a question "Did you know? How do you? Chances are they may have ideas in their mind already, but will want to see how their notions align with yours.  Questions pique curiosity and draw people in.

Use captivating words and for Heaven's sakes don't be boring.... "In today's article I will discuss.."  zzzzzzzzzzzz  Don't make it about you! ALWAYS write for your reader - no matter what type of writing you do! 
So, there you have the basic components of what makes a great hook.  Practice of course makes perfect and this is one skill you want to hone.

Did I miss anything? What are your tips for creating great hooks?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Use Trigger Words to Persuade Readers

Do you want to make your writing grab your readers attention? It can be easy to get lost in a sea of other writing, so little things like trigger words make all the difference. 

Here are a few words to use more because it will ensure that your readers are more compelled to act - whether that means buying products you are endorsing, or simply reading more of your work. 

Your words should incite emotion: 

Empower and Overcome - are two great words to encourage others to resolve a problem for example. 

Want to trigger empathy - express frustration with "tired" or "exhausting" - things people can relate to when faced with stressful situations; the very solutions your post, product etc. is about to provide.

Make your readers take action with words like "now" or "hurry" - see how those words evoke a sense of urgency? This is what is known as a call to action. 

Appeal to the laziness in all of us with words like "Easy" and "Quick".  

Of course there is a lot more to the science of choosing the right words. The good news? You can learn this art in depth and improve your writing immediately by reading this hub: How to Write Words That Captivate Your Readers

Friday, February 27, 2015

How to Capture Your Readers Attention Visually & Reduce Bounce Rates

Everyone knows the importance of polishing our writing skills, but what many don't talk about are the visual cues that will make your article instantly more appealing. 

People who read on the web have notoriously short attention spans, especially if they are coming from search engines.  They want an answer to a question or for you to solve their problem and they want it now.

From the time they enter you have approximately 3 seconds to capture their attention!

To grab a readers attention and hold it you need to:

  • Use short paragraphs and make use of white space. 
  • Use bullet points, subheadings, and other dividers that make information easy to scan. 
  • When possible, use an eye catching visual like graphs, images, charts, tables
  • Don't dawdle, get to the point 
  • Offer clearly defined links to further relevant information in a prominent location
Never write long paragraphs.  If someone clicks on your page and sees a long wall of text, it is an instant turnoff.  They will look for something that appears more simple 9 times out of 10.  This paragraph you are reading right now will be about the right size. 

White space physically makes reading easier on the eyes.  Use white space to your advantage.  Cluster groups of things in odd numbers also - it's naturally more appealing.  (1 image or 3 instead of 2)

Learn More 

I have several hubs that cover the art of captivating writing.  Use them and you'll see results immediately.

How to Write Words that Captivate Readers  Learn how word choice can make or break any piece of writing.

Writing Lessons in Infomercials  Ever wonder how these things get in your head and stay there? Learn how to use some of the same techniques to make your writing "stick". 



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

3 Places to Edit Your Writing Online Free

If you are newer to writing, or just need fresh eyes and have no one around to edit, consider these free online tools. 

Paper Rater 


This site offers free and premium versions.  You can copy and paste your work into the free version and it will grade your paper for you.  It will ask you a series of optional questions like the education level of the writer, what dialect you speak (English UK vs English USA etc) and the type of paper it is.  You can also choose to check for originality. 

This grader is harsh and will pit your average against others for things like overused phrases and transitional phrases.  It is a harsh teacher.  I just received a "C" on a piece I published that everyone is raving about and sharing.  Keep this in mind while using it, but do take its advice.  For an automatic paper grader, this tool is sharp!

Ginger


This is another excellent source, especially for those who may be reading who use English as their second language.  It is designed to improve your grammar to be like that of a native speaker.  Considering many native speakers also struggle with our difficult language, it's a tool I recommend for anyone.

You can check a single tricky sentence or passage on the main page, or download the full program for free. 

After the Deadline


Paste some text and hit the button.  You'll see it reappear with red, green, and blue lines for spelling, grammar and usage mistakes.  This one is kind of picky, making it great for catching errors.  Unfortunately, with my sample it also picked up words that were not misspelled, so for that reason I don't rate this as highly as the others.

It is very easy to use however and does throw back a lot of suggestions.

So, there you have 3 quick places to bookmark to do fast edits on the fly.  Enjoy your day!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Three Quick Tips | Improve Your Writing Immediately

Writing is a craft that can always improve. No matter how many years of experience you have, or how long you've written in your niche, there are things you can do to polish your prose.

Here are 3 very quick tips you can use now that will greatly improve the impact of your writing, especially on the web. Internet writing is very different from the traditional writing we are taught.

Online writing should include plenty of white space, so that reading the screen is easier on the eyes. It should also be short and to the point because online readers are looking for answers quickly.

Quick Tips  


  • Remove excess words. Be concise. 
  • Use bullet points and short paragraphs to help your readers and highlight important points.
  • Read it out loud before you post. This is the easiest way to find all types of errors from spelling, to word usage and punctuation mistakes. 

 Editing 


Writing is where you let yourself have fun.  Don't try to edit as you write, doing so blocks the free flow of ideas.  Write first, edit later.

When you do your first edit read each sentence and ask yourself - can I tighten this up? Are there shorter phrases or different wording that can make this more concise and on target?

Look at your piece as a whole.  Are there white spaces or long walls of text? Do you have enough visual cues to break up the page and make it more inviting to readers? Subheadings, short paragraphs, lists, etc. draw readers in.  Long blocks of text make them click away.

Next, read it.  If it "sounds" right, chances are it reads well also.  If you have trouble reading it aloud; you have usage and grammatical errors. Go back through the piece again before publishing. 


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Welcome to the new format!

I'm in the process of transferring all the information from my previous static website to this blog.  Hopefully the change of venue will allow me to easily provide new and important information and keep it organized.

It will also give me a chance to interact more with my readers and hopefully be able to answer your questions. So do speak up and feel free to comment and let me know what information you would like to see, what questions you have and of course any suggestions.

My name is Christin.  I'm a freelance writer with 15 years of experience in several writing niches.  My goal is to share knowledge and resources with other aspiring freelance writers.