Tips for writing compelling content - what are your secret ingredients?

Writing a compelling article or blog is like creating a new recipe that you hope everyone will want to emulate and share. You start with an idea, do some research, experiment a bit, and finally, with some new ingredients of your own, an old recipe is new again — with a fresh twist.

Whether you’re aiming to delight customers or dinner guests, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and do the “the same old thing.” But don’t let this negative mindset hold you back. You can always add new flavors and spice things up along the way. Consider these tips when you sit down to create your next masterpiece.

Know your audience and teach them something new

Isn't it wonderful when you share a new dish and everyone asks, "Can I have the recipe?"

The same can be said for writing. When you're able to teach people something new through your storytelling, they will be delighted and want to learn more. 

But it's also critical to keep your audience in mind for each piece you write. What is compelling for one audience may not be for another. Think about who you are targeting. Are they carnivores or vegetarians? 

Choose a theme and entertain

Personally, I love choosing an unrelated theme to intrigue and entertain (I mean, really, what does cooking have to do with writing? See my point?). 

I particularly enjoy using figurative language such as metaphors, but similes and analogies are also great ways to write in a fun, meaningful way. Choose a theme and center your writing style around it, but don't let it dilute your key messages. 

When it comes to writing, your options are limitless. Think about some of your favorite movies, television shows, or books to help you brain storm. e.g. "Your recipe for success in 2019, as told by the cast of Game of Thrones." Also, I recently saw a headline that said something along the lines of "Tips for writing as told by Darth Vader." 

Write a catchy subject line, followed by an intriguing introduction

Find a hook. Write something relevant that will captivate your audience and prompt them to read on.

Some ideas are: 

  • Ask a question, such as "What's your secret ingredient?"

  • Share information — cliffhanger style... "Want to know the secret to..."

  • Tease with an offer (but follow it up with substance). "Secret sale just for you.."

Now that you've invited readers to join your story, follow yoursnazzy subject line with a brief, relevant introduction. Like a good appetizer, it should be enticing, but not overwhelming. After all, you don’t want to spoil the main course and give it all away up front. And depending on the device your readers are using, the introduction will likely serve as "preview text," so this is another reason to be thoughtful about how you kick off your article.

Save the meat and potatoes for the main course 

Personal experience is the secret sauce in your articles that no one else has. By sharing your own stories from your vantage point, you are inviting readers to join you on a unique journey. If you are struggling with how to connect your own experiences, consider interviewing friends or colleagues. Chances are they will have interesting stories to tell that you can weave into your piece. 

Less is more. Share relevant anecdotes, but at the same time, make sure to stay on point or you'll risk losing your audience. When I read an article that is intriguing, yet takes too long to get to the crux of it, I usually move on.

Brainstorm and experiment often

Don’t get sidetracked when that internal voice of yours says “This has already been written about over and over.” There are thousands of chicken recipes out there, but isn’t it wonderful when you find a new way to prepare it? There are also countless ways to tell a story. Keep brainstorming, outlining, and researching. 

When I have a new topic I want to cover, I start with a brainstorming session and I write down (or type) everything that comes to mind. And don't forget you'll have plenty of time for editing later. Right now your primary goal is to tell your story. 

If you're struggling, take a break for a day or two, work on something else, and come back to your topic with a clear head.

Research for inspiration 

Performing research for an article is standard operating procedure, but what if that process helped uncover hidden gems you had forgotten were there?

Like certain flavors or aromas, some personal experiences lie dormant and need a trigger to be awakened and re-imagined. Whether you're reading a book or performing an interview, recognize your triggers and be inspired by your own stories once again.

Food for thought 

Your personal experience, along with your unique style, are the most insightful and impactful ingredients available to you.

Don't be afraid to experiment and take readers with you on your journey as you explore the depths of writing compelling content.