Our writing style matches our personality: it’s humorous, bold, saucy, intelligent, and practical.
In addition to matching our personality, our writing should also adhere to the following nifty guidelines we developed. These will help us stay on track when writing and presenting information.
#1: Be Interesting And Informative
- Note that interesting comes first, before informative. People don’t want to go to school. Whatever we write, it has to be interesting to read.
- Blogs should start with and contain at least one story.
- Include practical help—something useful or of value.
- Don’t just inform people, incite people to action. Focus on the action that matters. Focus on what to do, not on what not to do. Make a call to action.
- The key emotions are (in order of power to incite action):
- Benefit (of using product or service)
- Punishment (for not using product or service)
- Snob appeal (social reinforcement)
- Need for acceptance (lack of social reinforcement)
- Avoid a problem or punishment
- Fix a problem
- Always encourage readers to leave comments, ask questions about the product, or share the information with a friend.
- Topics should have something to do with the product and helping people be more successful using it.
#2: Be Visually Engaging
- All copy should have at least one illustration, graphic, or video to accompany it.
- Use analogies and metaphors.
- Provide multiple examples.
- And while we like to paint pictures with our words, actual pictures are even better.
#3: Emphasize Why We're Different
- Say what only we can say. We don’t want to get lost in the crowd, so we focus on why we’re unique.
- Don’t disparage or beat up the competition. Why not? Well, just because you convince someone that the other guy is a crook doesn’t mean they’ll trust you. You’ll probably just convince them not to trust anyone.
#4: Use Correct Grammar
- Don’t use incorrect grammar or make spelling errors.
- Have someone proofread your writing before posting.
- We can make up phrases like “that’s Moneypants!” but we still use proper grammar when doing so.
#5: Keep It Simple And Brief
- Use as few words as possible when explaining a concept.
- Avoid complex sentences. If it’s too long, turn it into two, and then use examples to illustrate. Use 25 words max per sentence.
- Use shorter words, not longer.
- Keep the words on about an eight-grade level. We’re not publishing a scholastic paper, and we’re definitely not trying to impress people with our vast knowledge (even if we do know cool words like “anthropomorphic” or “fastidious”).
- Avoid jargon (insider baseball stuff).
- And for heaven’s sake, avoid math, especially %. Nobody understands percentages (they’re confusing).
#6: Avoid Danger Words
- Try to avoid these absolutes:
- Instead, use words like:
- “helps with”
- It makes our message more realistic and less extreme.
- Don’t use a word like “always” unless you can take it to an extreme and it’s still true. Examples:
- “I will always love my son…even if he is on death row” (correct use, still true).
- “I will never tell my child ‘no’…even if he is taking a nap on the train tracks” (incorrect use, totally false)
#7: Think Like Our Customers
- Put yourself in that person’s shoes. What are they worried about? What questions do they have? Write about that.
- Show empathy.
- Talk about how people feel, not how people think.
- Use confidence that what we are doing is the new trend and is socially popular.
- Avoid the word “parenting”. Remember, a person’s parenting style is something many people take more personal than their religion.
- Use pronouns such as we and you.
- Avoid offensive words #!%!
- Don’t talk down. Be casual, conversational, warm, inviting, welcoming, and inclusive. Make the reader feel like they’re part of our team. We want them to say: You hear me. You get me.
- Keep it personal, never corporate.
- Don’t be patronizing. Every time we talk about the negative stuff, such as mistakes, how painful or wrong or bad something is, we write in the first person – either as I or as we, and we always define who that “we” is. We make the bad stuff happen to us in our stories. Sometimes we use an undefined neutral third person, “them”. We’re making a neutral third person feel bad about what is happening. That way we don’t patronize the reader and we don’t make her feel bad.
- Then, every time we talk about the positive stuff, such as benefits, expected results, how things will turn out, praises, we write to “you”—the second person, the reader. We make all the good stuff in our writing happen to you. You will get good results. You will avoid problems. You will get better clients. You will earn more. You will be happier in your professional life. You don’t have to feel any pain.
- Our target audience includes people who are struggling with lack of knowledge, lack of time and energy, or lack the desire to have to think of or come up with their own system.
- We avoid politics and political views, the one exception being if there are laws that are damaging families, children, or parent rights. We will speak out against policies that hurt families.
#8: Focus On ONE Message
- Each campaign, article, email, and blog must address a single message. Don’t try to make multiple points.
- If we have another point to make, we create a new message.
#9: Be Right!
- Most importantly, no matter what we say, we had better be right. Our credibility depends on it. If it’s not something we’ve personally seen, experienced, or tested—and we don’t have any solid scientific evidence—we don’t make a claim. Be honest. If we don’t know something, we admit it.
- We state facts, not opinion.
- Avoid making claims without references.
- When citing a study, try to find the actual sources. The newspaper is not a source—find out what their source is. Typically, this would be a government agency, an academic body, or a nonprofit organization.
- Headlines and buttons should be Initial Caps: “Learn More”. “A Second Chance At Success”. If it is not a complete sentence, then don’t add a period or punctuation at the end.
- Everything else should be sentence case: “This is the main reason for having bonuses.”
- For audio and video scripts, don’t worry about grammar. Write like the speaker talks.
- For blogs and emails and pretty much all written communication, don’t use contractions. Write out the words individually to avoid confusion. For example, don’t use “don’t”. Instead, use “do not”.