Some months ago, I decided to change how I write.
I’d realized that much of my writing came across as preachy. “People just want helpful information,” I theorized. “People don’t want to be preached at.”
So, I wrote posts geared towards being helpful and did my best to avoid sounding judgemental.
And something strange happened. These posts didn’t get so much traffic. People started unfollowing me on Twitter. My writing frequency decreased.
I had a difficult time deciding what to write. I’d often open up Twitter, then immediately close it because, well, I didn’t have anything to say.
My decision to avoid sounding preachy had removed the best aspect of my writing: the passion. And people lost interest.
When I changed back to my old, ranty style on Twitter, people immediately began engaging me. Even though I was standing on a soapbox. Even though my bold claims had some slight inaccuracies, or didn’t apply to everyone. Even though some of my statements were a bit idealistic and simplistic.
Looking back over my blog and tweets, the difference is amazing. Bold, controversial content always gets more interest. Some people get mad, but even more thanked me for speaking up. And then they subscribed to my newsletter, followed me on Twitter, or bought my ebook.
I’d changed my writing because of my fear of dissenters. I was tired of having people nitpick my arguments. I was afraid the only reason people were reading was because of the controversy—that they didn’t really care what I had to say. I didn’t want people to think I was just rocking the boat so they’d buy my stuff.
I was wrong. Developing a voice and taking a stance are what earn you an audience. It’s how you form relationships instead of just earning customers.
If no one’s upset by what you’re saying, you’re probably not pushing hard enough. (And you’re probably boring, too.)
So when you’re writing landing pages, blog posts, and emails for your business, take a stance. Say something bold. Make some people mad. You’ll find that people who share your worldview will gravitate toward you.
And do yourself a favor: spend your time talking to those people, the people you like, rather than arguing with grumpy strangers on the internet. You and your audience will be a lot happier.
Design's Iron Fist is a collection of essays with advice for both design learners and professional designers. It's been featured as one of the best free design books by the Creative Bloq and the AIGA.
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