Yuck, it's that time again, newsletter time. Are you stuck in front of a blank page or computer screen? Do you struggle each time you have to write? People seem to find all other tasks preferable to writing an article. We have a friend who finds himself washing out socks instead of writing. There's a term for it: "shaving the yak."
Originally coined by Seth Godin, marketer and author extraordinaire, "shaving the yak" means that when faced with writing, some people find themselves doing any other chore they can think of, eventually finding themselves down at the zoo, shaving yaks.
Writing can be painful to many people. It doesn't have to be. Here's a basic outline of how to write an article quickly and without the painful struggle.
1. Pick a topic that appeals to your readers. This may not be what you think they want, so you need a way to ask, or find out what they want to know. Either ask them directly, or use keyword search tools to find out the most popular requests on the web in your field.
2. Write to appeal to basic human emotions. While you may know a lot about software engineering, or whatever your field, you have to hit readers where it hurts, where they feel, rather than appeal to their brains. So even if your article is about finding a computer networking solution, base your article on the pain that readers encounter with this problem.
3. Get to the point quickly in the first paragraph, using the key words you know people are looking for on Google. State the problem on an emotional level, then make a bold statement to indicate you have a solution.
4. Exaggerate the problem and the pain. Give some real-world examples of how it manifests in your readers' lives, affecting their work, play, family, physical and mental well-being. Use emotional words that resonate with readers, appealing to universal human dilemmas.
5. Next, suggest three ways to solve the problem. The brain finds it easy to think in threes. Limiting your solutions to three points makes it easier for readers to digest your ideas. It also makes it a whole lot easier and faster to complete your article.
6. Summarize the problem with the three solutions. Be sure to repeat your key words used in your first paragraph.
7. Finally, go back and write your title. This is the most important step of all, because your title provides two important keys:
a. It ensures readers will open and read it when they see the title.
b. It ensures that readers will find your article on the web when they search for solutions on Google or their favorite search engine.
8. Write an effective resource box, with your name, website and blog URLs, your credentials (what makes you an expert), and how and why people should contact you or use your services. Offer them a free report or white paper on your website to entice them to visit and leave their email address with you, and make sure you offer something compelling.
Now, if I had followed my own advice, I would have given you only 3 steps. You see, I struggle with brevity myself, having been cursed with an over-active brain and too much education.
Here's what you can do right now to solve your writing woes: Write down your topic (a painful problem), tell your readers how bad it is, and then give them 3 solutions they can take to rectify the problem. Open up a new document in Word and start now!
That's how you can write articles quickly and easily, without having to wash your socks or go down to the zoo to help shave the yaks.