I'll be honest.
Here's why most writers fail to be seen in a world full of trends and TikToks:
They can't capture attention (or keep it) for their lives.
The reality is, things have changed...
You used to be able to scrounge up some words on a page, press publish, and watch the cash stack up like monopoly money. Not anymore. There’s a new form of writing in town and it's taking the internet by storm.
You may or may not have taken note of its arrival. Either way, be ready.
I’m teaching you how to win back the world with your words...
We're about to go deep...
But first, you should check out my newsletter, The Profiting Publisher!Let me see it!
🥇️ First Things First
If you're gonna win the game digital writing, you gotta know the basics.
They fall into 3 buckets:
- Capturing attention
- Keeping attention
- Evoking emotion
If you can run the reader down your rabbit hole, you got 'em.
That's essentially what I'm attempting to teach you...
And before you get antsy (because I know you're ambitious), I'll quickly brush over these buckets. Then, you'll get the tactics. The techniques. The strategies.
The good stuff.
And I'm not in the business of wasting time.
🪣 Bucket #1 → Capturing Attention
Let's set the record straight.
If they don't click, they don't read.
If they keep scrolling, they don't read.
If nothing about your writing is inviting, then guess what?
They don't read...
Quality hooks are vital. On social media, and pretty much everywhere else on the internet. And since we can't always use visuals to grab the attention of our readers, it's essential that our writing does the job.
Take the first line of this section for example:
"Let's set the record straight."
As soon as you saw that, your mind became curious. You wanna know what we're setting the record straight about! Because who knows, maybe you had it wrong.
There's only one way to find out (by continuing to read).
That's exactly how we wanna "hook" people.
But capturing attention doesn't only live on line 1. You must do it in headlines, subject lines, and any other initial wording you use.
Because if they don't click, they don't read...
🪣 Bucket #2 → Keeping Attention
I won't lie.
This is where it gets a bit difficult. Now that you've caught their attention, it's imperative that you can keep it.
Keeping attention comes down to a few concepts. And if I was forced to sum it all up into one simple phrase, I'd tell you:
"Don't be dull."
Our writing needs to have energy.
And the reader knows when we're not into it. They can see right through us like a glass enclosure at the zoo. If you're not feeling it, neither will they.
Try these suggestions.
You can use copywriting strategies that play on people's emotions, you can tell stories, and you can write with personal experience. There are many tools that can keep a reader engaged.
But what you don't want to do, is ramble.
The second you lose your flow, it's over. It's just like when you read. You might daydream and miss the empty words as they sail through your skull.
It's common for most people (myself included).
As the writer, you gotta keep it interesting...
🪣 Bucket #3 → Evoking Emotion
Here's the goal of writing online:
When you tug at the emotions of the masses, they're much more likely to resonate with your words. Which means, you can't just write anything.
You have to understand your audience and their:
Emotion = Resonance.
If you can pinpoint these "soft spots" readers are much more willing to not only follow your journey but open their wallets. If you ever plan to monetize your following, you better make sure you're evoking emotion.
It's an instant trust builder.
And on the internet?
Trust = Money.
✍🏼 Tactics, Techniques, and Strategies
Finally, am I right?
Hopefully, I didn't bore you with the basics, but I had to clue you in.
The content that follows will be actionable, insightful, and delightful. And we're going rapid-fire, so don't blink. By the end of this, you're gonna have a way better idea of how to write in the era of attention.
Buckle up, let's begin...
😵💫 Copywriting Formulas
For digital writers, copywriting is the greatest invention since the keyboard.
Allow me to introduce a couple of friends (more like formulas):
- AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action)
- PAS (Problem, Agitate, Solution)
They have weird names, I know.
I'll provide examples for both, explaining how you can use them to make readers slide down your screen like a slippery slope.
AIDA → Attention, Interest, Desire, Action
Tell me, have you ever struggled to make money writing?
It's a common frustration that plagues most people. And here's the problem: You aren't focusing enough on the reader.
But I have a solution!
Instead of all the “me, me, me,” it’s gotta be “you, you, you.”
When you're constantly investing in the audience, it forms a bond like no other. They idloze the source. They want to know more. And best of all...
They'll open their wallet!
Wanna learn more about succeeding on social media?
Grab my eBook!
Now let's break it down...
ATTENTION: "Tell me, have you ever struggled to make money writing?
The goal of line 1 (and with most digital writing) is to grab the reader's attention. Here, I do it by asking a question and highlighting a common struggle.
INTEREST: "But I have a solution!"
After obtaining attention by highlighting a common frustration, I introduce a solution. This is simple. I literally tell the reader that I have a solution.
DESIRE: "...it forms a bond like no other. They idolize the source."
To create desire, you must mention something the reader wants. In this case, it's likely they're after some sort of influence or reader resonance (so they can sell).
ACTION: "Grab my eBook!"
The "action" or "Call-to-Action" (CTA) is clear-cut. You plug whatever it is that you're trying to sell, or direct them to wherever you wish.
PAS → Problem, Agitate, Solution
Now check this out...
You're shouting into a void.
You work hard → You hear crickets
It's no way to grow or have fun while writing...
That's why I share insights, tactics, and frameworks every single week in my newsletter to help you feel heard.
The readers are constantly showered with notifications...
Ready for the breakdown?
PROBLEM: "You're shouting into a void."
The first step is to present a pain point (don't worry, we'll console the audience in a moment). It's important to target something that upsets the reader.
AGITATE: "No likes, no followers, no engagement..."
Now we twist the knife (I know this sounds brutal, bear with me). Really dig into those pain points. Give examples. Tell them why the pain is so bad.
SOLUTION: "That's why I share insights, tactics, and frameworks..."
Now present your solution. Since you got them in their "feels," you'll offer something to soothe their pain. They're much more willing to act now.
Here's a real-world example of me using PAS on LinkedIn:
💥 The Importance of Line #1
Let me ask you.
If I started this section with a dreary, long, useless sentence, do you think you'd stick with me 'til the end?
The answer is no.
So let's get one thing straight. The first sentence of anything you write is by far the most important. Got it?
Take this Tweet for example:
Twitter took the bait, that's for sure.
And it's true. When you start writing, it can't be boring. That should be obvious.
You have to speak AT the reader. I like to make line 1 short and sweet. That way, the reader can effortlessly slide down the slope of my words.
Take a few more examples of top-tier opening lines:
"Here's a fact."
"Let me ask you."
"Have you heard?"
"I strongly believe this."
"I hate when people say this."
These are fantastic examples that'll make your reader feel the need to continue reading. They move to the next sentence almost as if you're holding their hand.
That's what we want.
Take them on a tour through your words. This can be done with both short-form and long-form content. It doesn't matter.
Give 'em a shot!
🔗 1-3-1 Technique
I must give credit where credit is due.
I picked up this technique from a digital writing pro. His name is Nicolas Cole. I'm sure it's been around for quite a while, but he introduced me to it.
And you wanna know something?
I'm using it right now. Notice how easy it is to jump between sections of text? This technique single-handedly took my writing to the next level.
Allow me to explain how it works (if you haven't caught on already).
This “system” is called 1–3–1.
It’s where you write one sentence like the one up above. Then you follow up with 3 sentences. Exactly like these three.
Then you follow up with a final sentence.
As soon as I learned this tactic, I couldn't stop using it.
It works so well because the first sentence grabs the reader's attention, and then the small block of text (the 3 sentences) captivates them. That's "the meat." Then the last sentence starts the cycle over again.
You can even change up the middle number to your preference.
I find that 3 work best for me. A good way to go about this is by asking a question with line number 1. And after that, you can answer it in 3 sentences.
As you can see, this entire section was written using the 1-3-1 technique...
Telling stories is by far the best way to entertain an audience.
Who doesn't love a good story? You can use them to educate, empathize, or even sell. And I'd like to dive into that last one for a moment.
I'm assuming that you're writing online to generate some form of income.
Well, there happens to be a real-world example that took storytelling (for profit) to a whole new level. They toyed with the emotions of the reader so that they were more willing to reach for their wallets.
Allow me to introduce...
The Wall Street Sales Letter
Back in 1975, this letter was sent out to Americans all over the country in an attempt to sell subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal.
And get this.
It sold over $2B worth of subscriptions. In the 1900s. That's a billion with a "B."
Check it out for yourself:
This is just page 1.
I won't focus on the rest because for the purpose of this section, we only care about the story. It's brilliant. Copywriting crack, some may call it.
Telling the story of two men, going their separate ways, this story lures you into the lives of the subjects. Then, when you find out that one is far more successful than the other (despite them being so similar), you wonder why.
The letter then tells you it's because of "knowledge."
Which happens to be the main focus of the Wall Street Journal.
You see, with a proper story in place, you can accomplish almost anything.
🏛 Vary Sentence Structure
Sentence structure has more to do with the topic of long-form writing.
And if you're here, that makes me think you either:
- Have experience with long-form
- Would like to get into it
And by "long-form," I mean writing that isn't a character-restricted social media post. Things like blog posts, newsletters, and eBooks.
Allow me to show (not tell) you the importance of sentence structure:
Imagine I wrote like this. One sentence, then another. You'd get bored. The writing has no rhythm. It's like a robot wrote it. But I'm no robot. I'm a writer. Like you. Trying to be better.
Ugh, I think I'm gonna vomit.
That paragraph is like one giant block of nothing. No whitespace, no rhythm, no energy. It's the enemy of every digital writer on this earth.
When we're writing, it's a good idea to vary the length of your sentences. Like this. Because when I do that, they ring. They sing. They have a rhythm that changes the beat. And it immensely improves the reading experience.
A famous American writer by the name of Gary Provost put it best.
Behold this timeless passage of wisdom:
To me, this is utter perfection.
A masterclass on sentence structure. So, please. Vary your sentence length. You'll "write music," as Gary says, which will increase your readability.
Your audience will crave you.
Next time you write some long-form content, give it a shot.
I'll say this once.
You don't wanna write without proper formatting. And if I'm being completely honest? You don't wanna read it either.
No one does.
Especially with short-form content. The formatting of a character-restricted social media post is more important than ever. Remember when I said (at the start) that we're competing against the latest trends and TikToks?
Well, in a visual world, we need to give our writing some aspects of imagery.
It's how we "package" the content. What it looks like.
Take this Tweet for example:
Can you see how this Tweet was carefully crafted?
It starts with a clear hook.
Then follows up with bullets.
With a solid use of white space.
And do you see how I used a cascading format to present the above information?
Do you see how I'm fitting words on one line, and then using other methods of formatting to make the text look different in every piece of this section?
This might be the prettiest part of the guide.
And I'm doing it completely on purpose.
Here's even more cascading content.
Doesn't this just look stunning?
It's really satisfying to read.
Hopefully, this gives you an idea of how to format your own writing (whether short-form or long-form) so that you can keep your reader on the page and effectively capture their attention with visual elements (that aren't images).
Make sure to get creative with this.
🎨 Content Styles
When it comes to digital writing, certain styles succeed.
Just as the way you package your writing, the way you present it matters too.
Are you teaching people?
Are you entertaining people?
Are you empathizing with them?
These 3 content styles greatly impact your success in the digital landscape.
If you do one of them, that's great. But all 3? Jackpot.
But the way you do each is different. And you can't abuse one, or else you run the risk of losing balance. For example, if you teach too much, you might bore your audience. Entertain too much, and they might lose faith in your intellectual gifts.
Writing online is a delicate game.
And since so many people are fighting for the spotlight, you must be on the ball.
Here are some examples of each content style:
One good way to teach your audience is by using a listicle.
You can share a list of tools, strategies, frameworks, etc. It works wonders because it presents the knowledge in a way that's easy to digest.
Teaching doesn't have to be complicated.
And the more writing real estate you have, the better off you are. But that doesn't mean you can't effectively teach with something like a Tweet.
Here's a thread I wrote teaching people my Twitter growth strategies.
As you can see, it did quite well (for me) coming in with 100+ likes.
People value actionable strategies that they can go and use for themselves. If it's helpful, it'll get seen. That's how the algorithms are designed.
And on top of that, when you share your knowledge with an audience (and they find something that they didn't know before), they idolize the source.
They see you as an authority figure.
That's very good for you and your personal brand.
Entertaining isn't as easy as it sounds.
Try studying comedians, they're the kings of entertainment. See how they frame and deliver their content. After all, they are writers (technically).
The way we entertain people is by saying things that they subconsciously understand, but don't often talk about.
Like here, with one of my Tweets.
It was meant to be humourous (whether you think so or not is another thing), because a lot of people use this term on Twitter.
I see a lot of people calling each other "bro," so I took a stab at it.
People received it pretty well and it got some good comments. Try to focus on things like that in your own writing.
Be funny. Be silly. Be relatable.
Entertaining isn't super complicated, but it can be difficult.
Empathy is a powerful tool.
When people relate to your writing, it gives you leverage.
See this example:
In this Tweet, I've highlighted something that most digital writers struggle with (at some point in their journey).
I can remember back to a time when I would post an article on Medium and hear nothing but their chirps of silence. It wasn't fun.
So, I created a listicle to harp on those feelings.
And since most other writers struggle with the same thing, they see that I'm just like them. They see that I can relate to their hardships. It builds trust.
This was one of my better-performing pieces of content.
And I owe it all to empathy.
🧠 Final Thoughts
Writing online is an art.
I suppose it could even be considered a science. After a year of writing on the internet, I've learned a lot.
Here are some of my takeaways that may help you:
- Don't obsess over analytics, utilize them well
- Not every piece of content will be a hit
- Practice your skills relentlessly
- Show your emotions
- Stay vulnerable
- Be patient
There are many more. Most, you will find on your own. That's a good thing.
Everyone's journey is different, and comparison is the death of your talent. Don't pay attention to what others are doing, just put one foot in front of the other.
I believe in you.
Good luck, and happy writing!