It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a blog post or a book or a sales letter or an email. It’s a good idea to think before you write. Here are four questions to ask before you write a word.
Who Will Read This?
Good writing starts with knowing the reader. Describe a real person who will read your writing.
It’s easy to do that for an email. You know who you’re sending the email to. But if you’re writing for an audience, you should pick one single, real person to write to.
Real person means real person, not a demographic description. Pick a person who is the center of your target. He or she should have a Social Security number and a few bad habits.
What Result Do I Want?
When a person finishes reading, what do you want that person to do? Define what you want them to do, say, or think after they read your stuff. Be as specific as possible.
What Do I Want to Say?
You know who you’re writing to and the result you want. Now, boil your message down to a sentence or two. Your English teacher might have called that “the thesis statement.”
How Will I Make It Happen?
Write down your plan for writing. If you’re writing a blog post, this might be a one-sentence description of each paragraph. You might do an outline like those ones you learned in school. If you do, pay special attention to the transitions between key points.
If you’re writing a persuasive piece of marketing copy or email, consider using the AIDA formula. Those letters stand for Attention, Involvement, Data, and Action.
Describe the person you’re writing to.
Define your ideal result.
Boil your message down to a sentence or two.
Develop a writing plan.