I work with values-driven businesses. People who do what they do because they want to help others. Because they want to make people’s lives better. So, of course, they need to ensure their words make an impact. They need to write helpful content. And it needs to spark. But how?
The classic error
Here’s what I see people do. All the time. And I do it too, even though I should know better. I do it because I’m one of those values-driven businesses. My partner (the life, domestic, partner-in-adventure sort, not business sort) said to me last week, ‘Really you’re all about helping people do more of what they want to do aren’t you?’
And this is why I make this classic error too. I want my content to be helpful. When I run workshops or courses I want people in them to get so much insight/energy. So I stuff more in.
And that’s the mistake. Doing too much. Offering too much. Soooo much ‘helpful content’. It feels like a kindness to your reader/client/workshop participants. But it isn’t.
One thing that will make a difference
I try (and gotta be honest, often fail) to stick to this principle when I write. Each piece of content (or section of longer content if you’re writing a book or something) needs to centre on one thing. And that one thing is something relevant to the reader.
And even more than that, it’s something they can make use of. Something that will make a difference to them. Something they can take away and act on, or think on.
When it comes to learning, or habit change, or anything to do with making a positive difference, the ‘try this, or this, or maybe this one over here’ approach feels like it should be helpful. But it’s not. It’s overwhelming. It leaves your reader confused. It leaves them processing all the options rather than actually making any progress.
So pick one thing you want to help them with. Just one. Explain why it’s important, how it will make a difference, and what they can do to start putting it into practice. And do not be tempted by the ‘and you could also try this…’ monkeys.
Use fewer words
Once you’ve got your one thing you want to help them with, don’t beat around the bush. Yes, it’s good to add a bit of flavour. Let them see you, the human, bring it to life. Use stories to show your thing in action – stories of clients its worked for, or stories of you using it yourself.
But don’t start second guessing yourself, or meandering too far off the beaten track. Remember you’re trying to write helpful content. You want to help the people reading it. So stick to the point. Be clear on the message or lesson you’re getting across. Add some colour and humanity. Invite them to take action. Done.
Now you try it
I know how hard it is to stick to one thing. I know the urge to push lots of tips and offers onto your clients because you really want to help. You want them to see a difference, you want it to work, so you offer more. I know it feels counterintuitive to do less. But put yourself in the position of reader for a moment. When you’ve read something that’s given you lots of ideas or tips, how many do you then go away and put into practice? If you go to a class or a workshop, how often do you come out and do all the things you’ve been shown?
I know for me that rarely happens. I have all sorts of good intentions but it soon fizzles out. But if I go somewhere and learn one thing, and focus on that, I do it. I give it my best shot, not my half-hearted, ‘well there are hundreds of other options’ sort of shot. And so often it’s the doing that makes the difference, not just the learning. Reading about mountain climbing is not the same as mountain climbing.
So to write helpful content you need to do this each time: choose your one thing that will make a difference. And get it across clearly.
I’d love you to give it a go. In my free group, the copy kitchen, you are always welcome to share blogs or pieces of helpful content (not sales posts). So here’s your invitation. Write about your one thing. Then come and share it in the group. You never know who you might help.
See you in there soon.