This one simple writing tip will waste your time

one simple tipIn my downtime between copywriting tasks, as any budding freelancer should, I scour books and blogs for tips and tactics to better understand the world of content writing. Half of the people on the internet offering advice, it seems, have one incredible tip that could change everything for you. They’re anxious to share it with you, but it’s hidden behind a fortified essay of additional information.

This one tip will double your sales!

…some people don’t like to be tricked into reading essays.

I can’t speak for the rest of the internet, but I don’t trust adverts that offer something amazing without telling me what it is.

If you promise me a simple tip and spend a thousand words getting to it, I feel like I’ve been duped into giving you my time. And my time is important to me. One day I’m going to die having only done half the things I wanted to, and if part of the reason for that is because my time was wasted trudging through the spiel of an enticing email with an unimpressive tip, my coffin is going to steam red hot with murderous rage.

A headline like this doesn’t just hook a reader, it promises a little piece of treasure at the end. It’s great if your tip really is incredible. Not so great if you string your reader along and reward them with fool’s gold. All too often, though, if the tip really is incredible, it’d provide a good headline on its own, and wouldn’t rely on a cheap hook.

Some of the simple remarkable tips I’ve seen recently that have changed people’s lives, and warranted an essay about everything that led up to this discovery, have included:

  • Start work sooner
  • Drink more juice
  • Buy a new laptop
  • Work on one thing at a time

The headline works great for such tips because it gives readers an opportunity to marvel at how much you can write about an inconsequential murmur of a revelation. If you led with the tip, people might just hum unimpressed and move on with their lives. Much better to have a headline that promises a simple, radical piece of advice, with a long-winded preamble and an anticlimactic finale, so your reader can waste a greater portion of their time and regret ever encountering you.

All too often, vague rewards come from those with the least to offer. Ambiguity in your promise makes it look like you’re worried about how much it’s really worth. It’s like saying “I’ll give you a present if you pretend to be my friend for a while.” If I see someone promising “one simple tip” or “this clever trick…”, or any other ambiguously enticing titbit that doesn’t really tell me anything, I’m inspired with feelings of distrust, not curiosity. It screams at me “Please read me!” rather than “This is helpful.”

Maybe it’s just me; obviously content leading with such headlines get clicks. And that’s what it’s all about really, isn’t it – getting people to read what you have to say. But when I see emails with one simple tip that’ll change the way I do everything, I have the same feeling I get when I see an advert that offers a simple weight loss trick. I have difficulty believing it’s worth reading.

Disclaimer: The tip promised in the title of this post may or may not have wasted your time, as there isn’t one simple tip at the end of this post.


2 responses to “This one simple writing tip will waste your time

  1. Enjoyable read, yes that rubbish gets clicks, but probably few conversions, which is the real point to them. Love to hear your thoughts on scientific terms made up to promote a product. My personal favourite being boswellox, some magical anti-ageing goo. Do people buy into that boswellbollox? Enjoying your website immensely.

    • Thanks for the comment Gary, glad you liked the article (and the site). I’d be interested to know the results of made up words myself, seems hard to believe people take them seriously – although if they are effective, I could spend all day amusing myself making up words. It’d be too much like fun.

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