Keep your promise, don’t use gimmicks, and forget what works

Keep Your Promise

Anyone will tell you that you have to capture your audience with a killer opening, and one way to do that is by drawing their attention to something they really care about. Starting with whatever your audience wants to achieve, whatever bothers them, or can make their lives easier, is likely to catch their attention.

But what you should avoid at any cost is starting with a promise and failing to deliver.

Make sure you can deliver on your explicit or implicit promise. Not in theory. Not in the future. Here and now, within the scope of the content you create.

Failing to deliver on your promise will leave your audience disappointed. You might draw their attention initially, but they will never return to read your next piece or watch your next video.

If you wish to create a relationship with your audience, you should treat them like any partner: never knowingly promise something you cannot deliver.

Don’t Use Gimmicks

Anything meant just to draw attention and doesn’t have real value in the context of your content is a gimmick. And your audience can spot gimmicks in no time.

A moving picture? Name dropping? A funny meme? Use them if they are connected to what you write about, and they add some new information, perspective, or insights. But if they are just there to get the reader hooked, remember, that’s not what you aim for.

Getting attention is essential, but it is not the goal. Your goal is to provide your audience with value with every sentence, paragraph, and visual. Any part of your content that does not contribute to this value should be left out. If anything, it can create the opposite reaction once the audience realizes it is just bait.

Forget What Works

What could be easier than trying to recreate your success or the success of others? It seems like a reasonable thing to do. If you wrote something that was well received, why not write something similar next? If you used a specific structure that seems to work, why not reuse it over and over again?

The first rule of good content is: there are no rules. Well, obviously, there are some rules, but if you want to write authentic content that brings value to your audience, trying to force it into a “proven template” or “the perfect generic structure” is likely to have the opposite result. It can feel mechanical or artificial, regardless of its previous success.

Don’t aim for what works. Aim for what feels right for this piece of content. It’s certainly more challenging than applying what worked before just one more time. But this is what makes your content creative, personal, and engaging.

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yellow spice version: 2022.05.0017

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