All good writing is persuasive by definition.
Think about it. Would you read something that’s not enticing? With the millions of ways we can keep ourselves busy in today’s world, I certainly won’t.
I only read something when it’s so persuasive I can’t ignore it. And as a writer, my goal is to produce the same type of writing.
In fact, I believe every single word, sentence, and paragraph you write must be persuasive. Otherwise, it’s a waste of your time. Think of…
- Email subject lines you write at work
- Text messages you send to your partner, friends, co-workers
- Ads of the things you’re selling on social media
- Jobs you apply to
I can go on like that for a while. The idea is that you always need to be persuasive otherwise people won’t read your writing. And writing that gets ignored is bad.
The rest of this article contains 10 rules I’ve learned from writing persuasively. You can use these rules to inspire others to take action simply with your words.
1. Always address the emotions of your readers
Look, we’re emotional beings who primarily care about ourselves. Every piece of writing you do must answer the following question for your reader:
“What’s in it for me?”
Are you helping someone? Entertaining them? Teaching them? If you think about the above question BEFORE you start writing, you will force yourself to put yourself in the shoes of the reader.
2. Establish credibility by backing up your points with facts or experience
Your writing must be based on something. Where do you get your insights from?
If you’re telling someone to do something, why is that? Do you have any research or experience to back it up?
Your writing will be 10X stronger if it’s backed by a foundation of truth.
3. Include a personal touch to everything
With the rise of AI writing, we MUST set ourselves apart from the machines.
We can never outsmart AI but we can out-emotion it easily. All we need to do is add a personal touch to every piece of writing.
You can do that by sharing things from your personal life. No matter how boring your life might be, at least you have a life—AI is a machine.
4. Keep it short and simple
I know, I know, this is something you always read in these types of articles. But it’s so important it’s worth mentioning.
Always remind yourself to NOT overload your readers with too much information.
Humans are smart but we can’t process too much information. So stick to one point per piece of writing. That’s how you keep it simple.
5. Break down complex concepts into smaller chunks
Make your writing easy to digest. If you’re sharing a lot of information and you can’t stick to one point, break it down into clearly visible chunks.
Use sub-headlines (just like this article) for every single point. Make the headlines bold and clear.
6. Speak directly to the reader
When you write, imagine you’re talking one-on-one with a specific person.
Even if you write for multiple people or the internet, imagine a single person when you write. That will make your writing more personal, which is more persuasive.
For example, as I’m writing this article, I’m thinking of talking to a friend who’s not a full-time writer. I don’t try to write for everyone.
7. Use rhetorical questions to drive home your point
I do this a lot. Look at the beginning of this article: “Think about it. Would you read something that’s not enticing?”
When we speak to others in a casual way, we often use rhetorical questions.
This is why so many of us use, “Right?” as a filler word. It’s because we love rhetorical questions. Just like anything, if you do it too much, it becomes annoying.
Only use rhetorical questions occasionally, especially when you want to emphasize something.
8. Utilize powerful words that evoke emotion and inspire action
Get started, let’s do it, excited, love, exclusive, inner circle, private, hidden, instantly, now.
These are some words that spark emotion. The funny thing about these words is that they will come out naturally as you write.
When you study persuasive writing by reading books or taking courses, you will pick up these words automatically. You won’t have to think about them consciously.
9. Use examples, case studies, and analogies to illustrate your point
I love using examples when I write. I do it a lot in my articles (see the intro of this one). But I also do it in emails or other pieces of writing.
Let’s say someone reaches out to me about one of my products. In my reply, I will give an example of someone similar to the prospect who has used my product in the past.
That way I can inform the reader without trying too hard. I simply share an example of someone else. The key is that the examples, case studies, and analogies need to be relevant.
10. End with a call to action
Persuasive writing inspires people to take action. But you can’t inspire people to do anything unless you give your reader a suggestion.
A “call to action” is nothing more than a suggestion. You’re basically saying, “What do you think about doing X?”
And X is the thing you’re asking for or offering.
But you don’t have to use the phrase call to action. I see it in some articles and it looks a bit odd. Simply ask what you want or offer what you have.
For instance, my website has multiple pop-ups and forms that offer free resources like ebooks or an email course.
And this article’s call to action is about my best-selling online course ‘Effective Writing’ which teaches you to become a clear, credible, and persuasive writer.
Now, you don’t have to use a call to action for every single piece of writing. Most of my articles don’t have an ask or offer.
The call to action in my articles or books is more advice or suggestions to live better. The point is that non-fiction or business writing always has a purpose.
People read your writing to get something out of it. When you end with a call to action you’re making that very clear.
So if you enjoyed this article and you want to improve your writing, consider joining my course.