5 Timeless Ways to Earn Your Audience’s Time and Attention

Brian Clark wrote the words in that quote a few years ago, in a reply to a comment on this blog.


It’s not always very comfortable to face, but there’s no way around it.

To succeed with content in 2019, you have to go beyond the ordinary. You have to rise well above the sea of thin, mediocre content that floods our inboxes and Facebook feeds.

It’s our mission on Copyblogger — week in and week out — to help you accomplish that.

Here are five ways I’ve found to create content that escapes invisibility — five ways to create content that’s worth seeing.

#1. Cultivate an obsession with your audience

Content and copy are written to serve audiences.

And that means we have to get a little obsessed about who those audiences are — what they want, how they think, and the words they choose.

This is an easy step to overlook, because it can feel like “not really writing.” But until you really understand who you’re writing for, your work will always feel a little flat.

You can tune in to social media conversations, run surveys, interview potential customers, or any of a dozen other ways.

However you get there, you need that “voice of customer” in your head in order to craft the content and persuasive copy that helps them get what they want.

Remember Kathy Sierra’s timeless advice:

It does not matter how awesome your product is or your presentation or your post. Your awesome thing matters ONLY to the extent that it serves the user's ability to be a little more awesome. - Kathy Sierra

And you can’t make your audience a little more awesome until you deeply understand who they are and what they care about.

#2. Think like a novelist

Dull content has its place. There’s a role for dry lists of facts and features.

That place is Wikipedia. Not your blog, video channel, or podcast.

If you want your content to get read, viewed, and heard, study techniques from fiction writers to bring more life to your work.

  • Study popular movies for ideas about how to immediately hook an audience with a fascinating situation.
  • Look to novelists for skillful character development that allows your audience to really see themselves in your content.
  • Read poetry or listen to great songwriters to see how a well-chosen phrase can paint a vivid emotional picture.

And of course, fiction writers are masters at one of the most effective communication techniques we’ll ever use:

#3. Tell a compelling story

The human brain has a tough time resisting a great story.

From jokes to quick vignettes to in-depth case studies, a story can bring your work to life and help your audience truly understand what you’re trying to convey.

Just like the great stories we read or watch, terrific marketing stories weave together characters, conflict, and plot. They’re one of the best ways to teach without pontificating and sell without pushing.

#4. Lead them on a journey

Some content exists just to keep people amused or give them a way to kill five minutes at work.

But content marketing takes the audience on a journey.

How will your reader be a different person after reading your blog post?

What will your listener finally understand after hearing your podcast episode?

Content marketing should take our audiences on a journey of discovery, understanding, and growth.

We’re not just here to inform or to entertain. We’re here to transform.

#5. Offer a solution

The best businesses solve real problems.

And your content is part of the path to solving that problem.

If your audience is hurting (and we’re all hurting over something), lend a hand to make it better.

Some days it will be free advice. Other days, a paid product or service is what will give them the greatest benefit.

If your content isn’t here to help people solve their problems and get what they want and need, why should we spend our time creating it? And why would our audiences spend the time to read it?

How about you?

What’s your favorite way to make your content worth seeing?

Let us know in the comments. 🙂


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