There’s a way to become a better, more successful writer.
Here it is: write like you talk.
Hardly breaking new ground there, am I? I’m almost certain that little nugget of advice has been said countless times before, but not by me, so there you go.
Write like you talk. Or at least write like the voice in head talks. Not the demonic one, the normal one.
When I became a writer for hire in 2011, I read a lot of stuff about how to write online — the style, the structure and how you have to cram in loads of keywords so that people can find what you write. That was the way things were done back then. Which reminds me, if you ever need copywriting services in Middlesbrough, North East England give me a shout. That's an SEO gag. Just ignore it.
Anyway, I read all kinds of crap and copied the techniques with clients. I was like a tribute act of more successful writers. It worked, though, because I was raking it in…$5, $10, sometimes $15 dollars a time. Making it rain, baybay!
I understood that conversational writing was the way to go with blog posts, with a more corporate approach to copy. But I’d write with all the personality of a garage door because I thought that was the way forward. No one complained so I just carried on.
I’d use words like ‘leverage’ and ‘ballpark’. I might have even used the word ‘synergy’. SYNERGY! I really hope I didn’t use that one, but I wouldn’t put it past me, that was the lingo I was dealing in.
I was a jargon whore. Give me your 10 bucks and I’ll make readers think you’re all intelligent and biz cool.
Most writers at that level were doing the same thing. We were all the same. All writing the same, all getting paid the same.
I carried on like that for a while — a good couple of years.
But then I got to thinking. How can I stand out from the others to get more work that I enjoy and better pay?
The answer was simple: write in a way that only I can write. And the only possible way to do that was to write like I spoke.
Stop writing like everybody else and using words I’d never dream of using in real life, and start writing like me.
I had to clean up the grammar up a bit, of course. If I literally wrote how I spoke every sentence would have an ‘um…’ and end in ‘like’ or ‘‘n tha’. And I’d be punished by Google for spamming the word ‘twat’.
Writing like you talk is easy when you get used to it. It’s not forced. It flows better and it’s more enjoyable for the reader.
(Little tip: to make sure I stay on point I read everything I write out loud. If something sounds forced, I get rid.)
The simple change brought me more clients and more money per job than I ever thought was possible when I was an — *put on your boring voice for this* — ‘SEO content writer’.
People now hire me because of the way I write.
It’s an obvious bit of advice this, but I see so many writers churning out dull content with no personality. Not bad writing, just boring. A small tweak could work wonders.
I know it’s not always possible (or necessary) to be swearing and droppin’ the ‘g’ to sound like a G, but using your own voice allows you to inject some of your personality in everything you do. And people will hire you to do exactly that.
So there you go: try writing like you talk. Your career might well be better and much more enjoyable for it.