How to get rid of stiff, boring writing once and for all

Practical ways that you can add more style + personality to your writing. Simple + effective tips that get results + make your writing more appealing.

Why does your web copy lack oomph?

Writing for the web can be challenging. It's unlike any other writing environment that you've ever worked in.

You've probably been taught to write essays, resumes, briefs, reviews & whatnot. But those lessons don't seem to be working for you online.

That's because your reader wants to feel like you’re a real, approachable person.

They want to see & feel the person behind the business. It’s the online equivalent of making friends - but you can’t see the other person that you’re making friends with.

Everything I’m going to tell you today will help you write with style & personality that makes your reader feel like you're standing right in front of them. 

Ignore your high school English teacher

“Don’t end sentences with prepositions!”

“Don’t start sentences with conjugations!” 

“Sentences have subjects and objects!” said every English teacher ever.

Do you feel the onslaught of those rules when you try to write for your website or blog?

Well, good news: you can r e l a x.

Those rules are what’s making your writing seem stiff, formulaic & unoriginal. So, this is your permission slip to ignore the rules like a rebellious teen.

The secret remedy to boring writing that has no voice & doesn’t sound like you is: write conversationally.

You have my permission to abandon old-school notions that writing should be professional (+ stiff) / proper (+ boring) / formal (+ formulaic).

Those old school ideas don’t hold up anymore when writing online because we read differently online than we do when reading on paper.

Use your quirky phrases of choice

If you’re the type of person who says, “It’s Friday. Time for drinkee poos.” Then, type that out on your keyboard & into your draft right now.

It doesn’t matter if it’s quirky. It doesn’t matter if it’s weird or potentially offensive (if that’s your thing). Embrace the F word in your writing if it’s how you speak & how you want your brand to be online. Fuckity fuck fuck it. Just go for it!

I’ve got plenty of examples of blogs that offend me, but attract thousands of people who aren’t offended. Despite offending little ol’ me, those websites are still successful & make plenty of money.

@@Your online writing has a goal: to attract clients with similar values or quirks & repel the rest@@ 

If you can’t relax & be yourself with a potential client, do you really want to work with them?

My guess is: hell no.

It’d be just like that awful corporate job that you fled, but with less benefits.

Embrace contractions

Remember contractions from Grade 3 English lessons?

Is not = isn’t. That’s a contraction, in case you forgot all the fancy jargon.

You’ll sound like a robot if you avoid contractions when writing online. In real life, would you be more likely to say, “I do not understand what you mean” ... or “I don’t understand what you mean” ... or maybe even "I don't get you"?

“I do not understand what you mean” sounds weirdly robotic because there's no contraction. It's something you might write to your professor or a boss when formality matters. It's also the version you're least likely to say when you write or talk naturally.

So you're free as a sparrow to use a contraction, like "I don't understand."

Contracts put you firmly on the road to writing like you talk because you use them all the time when you're speaking.

And writing like you talk helps you sound like an approachable person (and we all want our dream clients to feel comfortable approaching us because that's how they hire us!).

Use informal, casual words

Choose words that you’d really use if you were speaking. It helps give the reader an idea of who you are as a person. It adds personality to your writing.

This is a real passage that I found on a life coaching website.

Our coaching program is a solution-focused process incorporating awareness tools and honest conversations. You are empowered to strive outside of your comfort zone, design your ideal lifestyle and start living the life you love!

Would you ever say that to someone standing in front of you?

Probably not. If you did, I’m guessing the conversation wouldn’t last long.

A better option might be:

Our coaching program is all about finding you solutions. We embrace heartfelt, honest conversations and awareness tools that empower you. You’ll feel ready to step outside your comfort zone, design your ideal lifestyle and start living the life you love!

See the difference?

The first version is robotic.

The second version evokes an emotion - it helps the reader feel that sense of empowerment before they’ve even begun a session.

That's because tedious corporate-speak has been abandoned in favour of simple, conversational words. "Solution-focused" is easily replaced by "solution" to simplify & clarify the message.

@@You don't need to over-complicate your writing@@

Let it be casual, simple, informal or whatever it needs to be to get the message across. It will help you create a clearer message that is easily shareable & likeable.

Read your writing out loud

Does your writing sound like you when read out loud?

Reading your writing out loud helps you sense whether it really captures your personality, word choices & phrasing preferences.

You’ll be able to tell immediately if it’s not right. It’ll make you feel silly or squirmish to say words that aren't very you.

If that happens, follow these 3 steps:

  1. Talk about your subject & record yourself.
  2. Listen back to it & write down any words or phrases that you use that don’t appear in your writing.
  3. Insert some of those snippets into your writing and watch as your personality fills the page.

Your challenge

Apply these lessons to whatever you're writing this week. It might feel like a gamble to start off with, but you'll get more and more comfortable & confident with each new article you post.

Best of all, your writing will have personality - YOUR personality.

Alyssa Martin

AlyssaMartin.com, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia