If you’re a subject matter expert then you’ve read countless books, articles, essays, and blogs on your particular subject. You’ve also probably written plenty on your particular expertise. If you think back to how you gained all your hard-won knowledge, you’ll know the most appealing books and articles were the ones that held your attention, and holding a reader’s attention is the bottom line of good writing.
It Was No Accident
So, how do you hold your audience’s attention? How do you craft blog entries that will engage them and keep them coming back for more? You write in the language they speak.
It’s no accident that well written books, articles, and essays hold our attention. This happens by design. Professional writers craft everything they write to match the expectations of their given audience. If you’re going to convince an audience to hike four miles into the mountains to fish for trout in a little hideaway you discovered, create a first person narrative to describe the setting in lush in details you will never forget.
Describe the landscape, the condition of the trail, the sights, sounds, and smells, and the beauty of the river upon arrival at that special fishing hole. Write an article that is rich in facts about proper footwear for the terrain, the types of bait that will work best, and what time to head back down the mountain to avoid hiking in the dark.
Remember, you’re not writing a how-to on hiking or fishing. You’re selling an experience through words and this means engaging your audience through exciting language. You want them on their way to the trailhead the moment they’re done reading your article!
Know the Jargon
Good writing hinges on telling a convincing tale, even if it’s a how-to book or a technical manual. One of the easiest ways to keep your audience engaged is convincing use of jargon easily associated with the given topic.
If you’re writing about computers to a computer-savvy audience, you’ll lose them with a lot of talk about Random Access Memory, or 500GB hard disk drives, or network interface cards. Your audience is already familiar with RAM, gigs, and NICs, so why pretend they’re not?
By not using familiar terms in your audience when addressing a hip audience, your work will actually come across as being written by a poser who’s trying to convince insiders he knows what he’s talking about. You’ll be sniffed out as a fraud in a New York minute, and in terms of longevity as a writer this is a bad thing.
Creating Different Personas
If you are a good writer and truly know your subject, then you already have the ability to present it in different formats to different audiences. If you’re an expert chef who is sharing a recipe and techniques to other chefs, then you know you don’t have to explain terms like “braise”, “cut on the bias”, “roux”, or “flambé.”
If, on the other hand, you’re writing to interest amateur cooks into stretching their skills to try more advance recipes, then you’re going to have to explain each term in words that will resonate with them. When you introduce the term “cut on the bias” for the first time, you will need to share with these readers that it’s really just a fancy term for cutting a meat or vegetable on an angle to give it a more polished look.
“Imagine a carrot being cut from one end to the other resulting in a dozen or so perfect round pieces,” you might write. “Now, instead of making carrot rounds, we’re going to make angled pieces for a more professional look. To do this simply take the carrot and turn it on an angle to your knife blade. Each cut will result in an angled piece. This is called ‘cutting on the bias’.”
Your experienced chefs will yawn if you write like this for them because they already know the answer. Inexperienced cooks, however, may be reading the term for the very first time, and unless you hold their attention through a simple explanation of what you want them to do, chances are they’re not going to attempt more difficult recipes because they’re already convinced it’s too much of a challenge and they just don’t get it. In short, you’ve lost your audience because you didn’t meet their expectation as burgeoning chefs who still require a lot of explanations and instructions.
Remember, writing professionally is all about marketing your skills, and the easiest way to do this is to consistently prove your ability meet the audience’s expectations. Do this, and you’ll create a loyal following of readers who will come back time and again because you’ve enticed them.