I have a confession to make: I love going to the App Store and literally start wandering around, looking for new apps to try. I am a geek after all. One of the latest apps to get my full attention was featured in the App Store a while back, and it’s called Quartz.
Quartz acts like an edgy newsreader in your pocket, in the form of text messages sent to your phone – yes, that includes GIFS and emojis. Digestible nuggets to keep you in the loop – definitely targeting millennials, too busy to spend hours on BBC News apparently.
If we just ignore the positive and negative implications in the realm of journalism, Quartz pretty much summarises how people, in general, are consuming, digesting, and repurposing content these days – says, writing endless posts on her blog. In a world of bullet lists and 3-step solutions, we are more and more surrounded by quick haikus or information (marketing, blogging, health).
From 140 characters to 24h pieces of content, there are only two possible avenues we can go down – I don’t believe there is such a thing as right or wrong.
Keep it short
Let information be bite-sized. I mean, we can even buy Kit Kat minis – if that’s not a sign, I don’t know what that is.
After years and years of blogposts telling us that 5000-word articles are the way to go, concise and pragmatic writers will rejoice by knowing that the audience in 2016 digs short, inspiring, straight to the point insights. That said, your blog has a great deal of competition (especially when you think of Facebook and Instagram).
Nevertheless, you can become an expert in your field by simply becoming a medium of information (a bit like Quartz does) and commenting on the latest trends, rather than writing verbose how-to articles.
If you think I am being biased, you couldn’t be further from the truth. I am probably the most verbose human being you’ll meet at a dinner party – I warned you – so I definitely do not reside in this Haiku category.
However, I find it interesting how quick opinion pieces, mixed with unicorn GIFS, are becoming more and more the norm. We have a good number of shorter articles on our online magazine as they serve the purpose of shorter news pieces to lure people in with relevant time-sensitive information.
Make it long
This is more where I reside, I guess. To be honest, I did launch an online magazine – let me repeat that – a digital magazine.
“Oh, that sounds like a fun side hobby”
“Ahem, it takes us around 20 hours per week to draft, proofread, schedule and review the Goddamn thing, so we’d better not call it hobby”
“Today is such a wonderful day, isn’t it?”
(Oh the Brits: love them, hate them, cannot live without them.)
Dragging myself back from the tangent, I do believe in the power of editorial – of informed and researched articles that have something to say.
In the age of big online publications feeding you 12 takes on the Low-Carb diet each and every month (I did check, for the love of research), information overload has its downfalls.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not have anything against these publications – however, I am much more of a fan of longer, researched, in-depth articles that come from reliable sources. Well-thought editorial, engaging, and interactive. This same principle you can apply to your writing anywhere.
The key thing you need to keep in mind is to make sure that your writing has a clear purpose – or what I like to call purpose.
Once you know the message, lesson, or goal you are trying to convey with your piece, it’s time to walk through my 3-step formula.
Step one: It all starts with a story
Whenever I am starting an article (on Medium or elsewhere) I come back to a story. Small or big it may be. This can take 100 words or 500 – in most case
Personally speaking, I am not using one single technique to reach my audience, but I am instead combining different techniques in order to maximise the reach depending on what people need, and ultimately what I do enjoy.
One thing you cannot negotiate on though is the ability to tell an engaging, convincing story is an art that requires training, just like going to the gym would do. It can also make you a powerful influencer, as it taps into the power of persuasion.
When it comes to practising your story, I recommend you bringing your story out for a date: I love networking events for this sort of exercise.
Find an event that looks enticing enough, and go there on your own (come on, I know you can do it). After introducing yourself to other people in the room, practice telling people about your mission and how you are planning to make an impact. The more you practice your story, asking others questions about themselves, and incorporating direct experience, the better you will become at influencing others.
Stories are a great way to ease into your overall lesson or point – however, elaborating on your point is not enough sometimes. Here’s where my second step comes handy.
Step two: add research
Sometimes there is so much you can say about setting smart goals. You break down the acronym, get a few examples here and there, and in 500 words you are pretty much done. Damn. All right, quick Fab, think quick.
I am a lover of essays – seriously, they were my favourite thing about university. You could say my first book is a collection of essays. I find that research is such an invaluable tool to add more quotes, reference examples, and overall trusted information on your topic.
Truth is, you can find pieces of research pretty much on every single topic – oh, the joys of the internet.
As long as it’s appropriately cited – nobody likes plagiarism – and linked back to its original source, research can truly enrich and article and add some reading time with the added bonus of adding value.
Do I hear victory trumpets?
Step three: leave your article for a bit
I know, this may sound counter-productive, but I always recommend people to leave their articles on their own for a bit. Unless it’s a timely, short and direct piece (Haiku style), I’d often recommend people to take a bit of time between writing the first draft and coming back to, obviously, proofreader, but also add more to it.
You’ll be surprised about how many times we may find an extra article that ties in with our drafts, or a new piece of research, or a new story that can enrich our writing.
All in all, I find that great writing can be like the best wine (or cheese). It needs to be left by itself to age well.
Remember, what may feel long to you is still relatively short to most. To me, 1,150 words feel like a good average length I can strive to for most pieces – always remember to add a clear call to action to make them even more compelling.
My name is Fab Giovanetti and I am a writer, author, marketing consultant, founder of the Creative Impact Group and professional troublemaker. I help people grow their online audience and monetise their content and unleash their potentials as creatives.