How to Set Your Writing on FIRE - Get More Sales from Your Digital Marketing Efforts | Steve McDonald | Skillshare

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How to Set Your Writing on FIRE - Get More Sales from Your Digital Marketing Efforts

teacher avatar Steve McDonald, Excel and Photoshop Geek

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Set Your Writing on FIRE


    • 2.

      Use Verbs to IGNITE Passion


    • 3.

      Hook Readers IMMEDIATELY with this Marketing Strategy


    • 4.

      STOP Making This Common Mistake


    • 5.

      A PICTURE is Only Worth 20 Words


    • 6.

      Tell Stories to SELL MORE


    • 7.

      Recap and ACTIVITIES


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About This Class

Do your emails, web pages and advertisements burn red hot, or do they fizzle out?

  • Is your internet marketing strategy getting results?
  • Is your email marketing strategy getting clicks?
  • Is your web content generating the traffic that you want?

If not, your online marketing plan needs to include more persuasive writing. Persuasive writing is the key to any online marketing strategy. Words have the power to move people to take great action.

This course is for copywriters, internet marketers, bloggers and sales people.

It's designed to help you put sizzle in your writing. It's designed to teach you how to write in a way that gets results. It includes dozens of real life examples. Each lecture also includes actions steps that you can take to put your knowledge to work right away.

Join today, and learn how to MOVE people with your writing!

Meet Your Teacher

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Steve McDonald

Excel and Photoshop Geek


Learning is easier if you are given the right tools and instruction. In every one of my courses I take you step-by-step through the tools and knowledge you need to accomplish your goals. 

My talent is taking complex subjects (like Exce... See full profile

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1. Set Your Writing on FIRE: you're writing constructor memories and feelings like the pleasure of licking cold ice cream as it drips down the cone in the hot summer sun. Or it can lull them to sleep like yoga music played in the dark, quiet room. In the following videos, I'm going to show you five ways to set your writing on fire so you can give your readers the Bam Pap like you see an old Batman Comics. First, I'll show you how to use verbs to create action in your writing. Then I'll show you a cool strategy of putting the punch line first, so you get their attention right up front and suck them into your story. I'll show you the importance of speaking human by using simple, straightforward language. I'll show you how to paint pictures in their mind. As we all know, a picture is worth 1000 words that you can create a picture in someone's mind with way less than 1000 words. And finally, we'll talk about creating stories because everyone loves a story 2. Use Verbs to IGNITE Passion: so the first way to set your writing on fire is to use action. Verbs, verbs, ignite, verbs, create action. Let's take a look at an example of an active versus passive voice. If we're talking about a man purchasing a hat, we could say the hat was purchased by the man. That's our passive voice to change that toe active voice. We would say the man purchased the hat, too. Subtle difference. But the active voice gets to the point more directly, and that's a good thing. But let's take it a step further because we can certainly do a lot better than that. How can we make the action in this sentence more dynamic? How about the man jumped at the opportunity to purchase the hat? The reason that action is so important is because action invokes emotion. If someone jumps out an opportunity, there's some excitement involved. It must be an incredible hat or a great deal where there must be some compelling reason for this man to purchase the hat. But if the hat was purchased by the man, were inspired at all, were unaffected by that emotionally. Let's look at some more examples if we're trying to sell a video course. We could say this course might be of interest to you, but a better way it say it would be You're going to love this course and an even better way would be to say This course is going to change your life. Now we've got some real action, some really motion along with using action verbs, verbs that instill emotion, weaken B'more, descriptive and dynamic. We could say I wasn't very happy with my job today, but wouldn't it be more descriptive if we said my job sucked the life out of me? Today you can almost hear the miserable, soul sucking sound that describes such a terrible day on the job. Let's look at another example for, Ah, horse racing ad. We could say horses, air, very fast animals, and there are a lot of fun to watch. Or we could say adrenaline surges and the crowd roars as the horse's hooves pound down the track that if we want to really put some emotion in there, we could add someone's going to win a fortune today. Now we're getting really personal in talking about people's hopes and dreams. Let's take a quick look at an example from a call to action. Calls to action are very important part of your sales copy. So it's worth taking some time to put some active verbs into your call to action. Let's look at him. Example. We could say, Here is our email newsletter pretty weak call to action. Or we could say, Join our newsletter Little better active. We can do even better by getting detailed sharing specifics of what you're going to get out of the newsletter like this joined now so you can get started today and even better would be joined now and try it for free for 30 days or joined now and mastered the art of negotiating in just 24 hours or whatever your compelling offer is. But if you had action into a compelling offer, then you really have a strong call to action. So those are a few examples that I want you to take a close look at and follow them in your own writing to use verbs that ignite and add energy and emotion to your writing. 3. Hook Readers IMMEDIATELY with this Marketing Strategy: that collapsed into my chair and shock. I felt like I'd been hit in the gut with a sledgehammer. This is an example of putting the punchline first in your sales copy. The story goes on to say, after 11 years of hard work and dedication to the same company, I was being let go. I had no idea what to do next or how I would care for my family. At first, it felt like my life was ending. Then I read this in just a few lines. You've created a lot of emotion and a very personal story that leads straight into whatever copy you're going to share. This one is hugely powerful, but be careful to not overdo it. The reason it works so well is that you get the reader's attention right up front. You pique their curiosity early, which allows you to then go back into a slower starting story and maintain their interest until they get further into the piece. As Joe Sugarman says, all the elements in an advertisement are primarily designed to do one thing and one thing only. To get you to read the first sentence of copy and the sole purpose of the first sentence is to get you to read the second sentence and so on. So it stands to reason that that first sentence is of critical importance in getting your readers to read on. So by starting with the punchline first, you can grab more attention right up front. When you start slowly into a story, you run the risk of losing half of your readers before you even get to the meat of the story, let alone your call to action. So by doing this, you can avoid that risk to give you a contrast ing example. Let's take a look at what this story would look like if we started from a logical beginning 11 years ago, I started a new job. I worked hard and was dedicated to the company. I expected that I would be working there until I retired. Then I found out that I was being let go. I had no idea what to do next or how I would care for my family. At first it felt like my life was ending. Then I read this so you can see it's still a powerful story. But in those 1st 2 lines. Many people will be thinking, Where is this story heading? And I don't have time for some boring story about some guys. Boring career This one is hugely powerful. Still, I use this strategy sparingly for a couple of reasons. Number one. You don't want to overdo it. If you do this all the time, especially, for instance, in an email newsletter, you're gonna burn people out and they're going to get tired of the dramatization. The other reason is that it's more difficult to use keywords and keyword phrases in a punchline first type of headline. Still, it's a great way to mix things up, put a little excitement up front, and when you really need to capture readers, it's a great way to capture a larger percentage of your readers with that very first line. 4. STOP Making This Common Mistake: let's talk a little bit about how to speak human. What do you mean by speaking human? Well, what I mean really is using simple, straightforward language, using shorter words and shorter sentences to make your writing easier to read. First, I'll share a couple of examples and that I want to share something with you about using simple language that I stumbled across on a government website of all places that explains how to use simpler language. So which of these is easier to read? A male ambulance did into a drinking establishment, seated himself and requested libation. Or a man walked into a bar, sat down and ordered a drink. None of the big words in the first version add anything to this story. They just make it harder to read. It's okay to use bigger words and longer sentences if it describes your product better, but not if you're just trying to make yourself sound smart. Here's another example. We could say it like this is the prospect of unwieldy monthly insurance expenses causing you fatigue, Or we could be a little more straightforward and say, Are you tired of paying huge insurance bills every month now let me share some examples from the plain language dot gov website, which I stumbled across sort of by accident. But I thought that their little write up on how to use short, simple words was pretty fantastic. And they're describing how to write federal government documents without making them miserable to read. And their description goes like this. Federal government writing is often stodgy, full of long, dry legalisms and other jargon. H. W Fowler's summed up these recommendations for making word choices. In his influential book The King's English, first published in 1906 he encouraged writers to be more simple and direct in their style. So here are his guidelines prefer the familiar word to the far fetched. I prefer the concrete word to the abstraction prefer the single word to the circumlocution . In other words, the long tangent prefer the short word to the long and prefer the Saxon word to the romance word. And to give you some fantastic examples of what they mean by the difference between a Saxon word and romance word, here are some good examples. The Saxon version or the simple version would be to chew the romance version or Latin version would be to Mastic eight. The Saxon version or simple version, would be boss. The Latin or romance version would be superior. The simple version would be to drink. The complex version would be to imbibe. The simple version would be to ask the complex version would be to inquire. So those were just a couple of examples to kind of give you an idea of the difference between the effectiveness of simple versus complex writing. And here's one final tip to consider when determining the simplicity of your writing. Know your audience before you write. If you're writing to a group of nuclear engineers, you're probably safe using some jargon and some technical terms that better describe what you're talking about. If you're writing for just an average human being, the general assumption is that the average American reads at 1/7 or eighth grade level, and most recommendations for readability say to write at about 1/7 grade level. So if you're not writing to a specific level of professional or technical education, then it's best to keep your writing simple and accessible so more people want to read it. And to be honest, I'm friends with a couple of nuclear engineers, and I assure you that when they're not at work, they don't use big words and long sentences. They speak just like anyone else and those long, boring business documents. Lol them to sleep at their desks. Justus Muchas they do anyone else on activity that you could try with your writing is after you've written something, go back in and try and cut out 1/3 to 1/2 of all the words in your sentences. This will force you to make your writing more simple and direct, and will help you to learn to cut out the fluff. And remember, when it comes to eating, you should chew your food, not masticated your food. Now there's some food for thought. 5. A PICTURE is Only Worth 20 Words: a picture is Onley worth 20 words. The old saying goes that a picture is worth 1000 words. But that's not true if you know how to use dynamic verbs and descriptive adjectives to paint a picture in your reader's mind. So in this video I'm gonna talk a little bit more about how to actually paint that picture , and I'm going to give you an example of how to do it with 20 words. So let's look at an example of a very short sentence that paints kind of a vague picture. And then I'm going to spice it up and paying a much more vivid picture. Using less than 20 words, a man walked into a bar, sat down and ordered a drink. Well, besides the fact that it sounds like the start of a joke, that short sentence gives you a vague idea of what's happening in the story. Someone's walk into a bar that's sitting down the ordering a drink that doesn't give you much details. It doesn't give you much action. It doesn't give you enough meat for your imagination to sink its claws and teeth into. So let's look at another version. The weathered cowboy walked into the bustling saloon, sat in a dark corner and demanded a whiskey. Now you're starting to see the scene. The descriptive nous makes a huge difference in this story. Words like weathered, bustling, demanded and whiskey capture our imagination. Whiskey is probably the weakest of the words, because the stereotypical drink you'd expect a weathered Cowboys order. We could actually make it more interesting by saying he politely ordered a water and that would make the story completely different. Then it starts to bring up questions. Why would he order a water? Is he thirsty? Is the ordering water because he can't afford a whiskey? And if that's the case, if he doesn't have any money, is going to get kicked out of the bar later in the story. Or what if he ordered a pink martini, then you'd know that you're really in for an interesting story, like maybe something Hunter s. Thompson would right. So the goal of your writing is to paint that picture in the reader's mind in a way that their imagination can begin to fill in the details. They can start to see the wrinkles on the Cowboys face his seat in the dark corner and the drink on the table in front of him. Whether it be water or whiskey or a pink martini, they can smell the dust and the old wood. In the bustling saloon, they can hear the den of the other customers and the spurs clinking on the wooden floor and even seethe staircase above the cowboys dark table in the corner. That goes up to the mysterious second floor where the hotel or brothel is located. And we accomplished all of that with less than 20 words. So if you want to set your writing on fire than practice using more dynamic verbs and more descriptive adjectives to paint a picture in your reader's mind. 6. Tell Stories to SELL MORE: everyone loves a story. Storytelling is very powerful when it comes to sales. So to illustrate the power of storytelling, I just want to tell you a story. It's about the worst night of my life. There aren't any slides for the story, so you can just kick back and listen. I was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. It's a 2000 mile like it's a backpacking trip that takes about six months to Dio. I set out on the journey to get to know myself better to test my limits and overcome fears . I wanted to spend some time alone in the wilderness. As it turned out, I started hiking with a couple of friends and met many more. And three months into the hike, I was hiking with a dozen people. It was a great experience. We're having lots of fun, but it wasn't what I had set out to do. I was determined to go camp on my own. So one night I broke off from the group and hiked a few miles further ahead and found a quiet, solitary campsite. I set up my tent and cooked my dinner, and as the light faded from the sky. I crawled into my sleeping bag justice. The last traces of light left the sky. I heard a horrifying noise. I heard an ear piercing woman's voice screaming in the night, followed by a scuffle of leaves and branches. And then nothing. I listened intently, holding my breath for another sound. But still absolutely nothing, I shouted into the still darkness. Is anyone there? I was answered with silence that scrambled for my headlamp and stood up out of my sleeping bag. I showed my lamp into the darkness. All around my camp, all I could see in every direction were sparsely populated trees and dry leaves on the ground. I walked toward the place where the sound had come from. Not more than 100 feet from my tent, I shouted again. My voice cracked as it came out of my throat. Still no response. That couldn't really have been a woman screaming, could it? But that's exactly what it sounded like. The sound of the struggle in the dry leaves was unmistakable. Was I losing my mind already? After four hours alone in the wilderness, I looked around some more, but saw no evidence that what I had heard was anything other than, ah hallucination. But I knew I had heard it left. With little other choice. I returned to my sleeping bag, clutching my headlamp tightly and waiting and listening for another sound. The silence and darkness were oppressive. The sound of my breathing was amplified by the silence. I paused and held my breath, straining to hear any sound. But all I could hear was the sound of my own blood thumping in my ears. And like, perfectly still and strained at the silence for what seemed like an hour and finally just asleep was taking hold, and I was drifting into that dream like space. Between sleeping awake, I heard a crunch on the leaves. I bolted awake and strained again to hear more. Another crunch and then another sounded like footsteps in the leaves. They were frighteningly close, 20 feet away. At the most, I was frozen. Did I turn and face it, or did I wait to hear more clues about what it was doing and where it was going? Another crunch was definitely moving toward me. I had no choice. I grabbed my headlamp, I spotted my singing bag, has shined my headlamp in the direction of the sound. There was nothing there. How could there be nothing there? I heard footsteps there. Seconds ago, a headlamp started back and forth as they looked for my attacker. Still nothing. I froze again and waited. Then I heard it. Another footstep. I must be going crazy. I shouldn't have camped by myself. My eyes strained at the darkness, my ears strained at the sound. And then I saw it. A large beetle stumbled from one leaf on to the next, and as he fell, he made a crunching noise. He lumbered slowly across that leaf and on to the next. And as he fell another crunching noise, I laughed a very nervous laugh and breathe out my first solid breath of relief. I really needed to do something about my imagination if I thought that a beetle walking on leaves with someone coming to kill me. But there was still the mysterious noise in the scream that was unmistakable, but with no way to explain it and no evidence of anything, I had no choice but to go back to sleep in the morning. I waited for my friends when they arrived I told them the story. Most of them listened. Wide eyes, jaws open. But one of them waited patiently till the story was over. And then I saw a smile slowly creep across his face. What? Why you smiling? He said. Have you ever heard a screech? I'll kill something before. No, of course I haven't. I had never heard of a screech owl, he said. Oftentimes screech. I'll sound exactly like a woman screaming as they descend on their prey in the middle of the night. And at this point in the story, if you were my customer, I would then insert the product line. Maybe it would be a certain self service coverage that works in the wilderness or a satellite phone service. Or maybe it would be an app that helps you coordinate with friends to hike with. So you're never in the wilderness alone for an advertisement for bear spray or, in my case, Beatle spray. But you can really see the power that a story has to captivate your attention, so use that in your sales copy. You confined stories from customers. You can find stories from the news you confined stories from personal experience and weave them into your copy to make your copy compelling to make it stand out and to connect with your readers on an emotional level, Thanks for listening. 7. Recap and ACTIVITIES: Okay, let's recap what we've learned in the last few videos. You've learned a number of ways to set your writing on fire. The 1st 1 is to use verbs to ignite your writing. Birds create action by taking your writing out of the passive voice and putting it into an active voice. You could do a lot to add energy and action and a dynamic feel to your writing. Another strategy we looked at is using the punch line first. So you put the punch line up front and it acts as a hook to draw them into the rest of the story and makes it easier for them to get through sort of the introduction to your story. The next one we learn, is how to speak human by using simple, straightforward language, shorter words and sentences and just making your writing easier to consume. We learned that the saying that a picture is worth 1000 words isn't true if you know how to use dynamic verbs and descriptive adjectives to paint a picture in the mind of your reader . And then finally we learned that everyone loves a story, so if you can captivate the imagination and emotions of your reader with a story, it will make your sales much more effective. So now I want you, Teoh, take what you're learning and put it into practice. And I have to activities for you. You can pick one of these or you can do both of them. 1st 1 is find something that you've already written in the passive voice and rewrite it in an active voice using action verbs. And if you remember, example from the verbs ignite video. The passive voice sounds like this. The hat was purchased by the man, whereas the active voice sounds like this. The man purchased the hat and then we took it even a step farther. And we said the man jumped at the opportunity to purchase the hat. The second activity for you to try is in 20 words. Paint a mental picture that would make a reader want to buy the model of cell phone you own . This should come fairly naturally to you. If you've used your cell phone a lot, I'm sure you can think of some compelling reasons that someone would want to buy it. And here's an example. I have a droid Maxx, which I love, and in less than 20 words, I could say this. Just my luck. My phone is dead again. I have never said because the battery on my max is a beast. Or here's another one that uses 18 words. After my phone hit the concrete, he gasped in amazement as he picked up the perfectly intact phone. Okay, so give those who try so you can put what you're learning into practice right away and see the results immediately.