Fix This Writing Mistake to Engage Readers with the Right Challenges

Fix This Writing Mistake to Engage Readers with the Right Challenges

Reader Comments (20)

  1. Thank you for this read Loryn! I’ve been struggling with actually generating some meatier content. I’ve only just started writing and blogging, and I feel as though most of my posts are fluff. I was particularly encouraged when you advised writing a more challenging piece while still learning about the subject. Much as I have wanted to write weightier pieces, I’ve felt that I am not able to because I am not yet a master in the topic. I’m excited to hear that it is ok for me to start writing more now! Thank you!

    • Yes, indeed, write now! As long as you’re honest about your experience, there is nothing wrong with covering a topic you’re still learning about. I’m sure some of the masters in your topic would argue that they are “still learning” as well 🙂

      Happy writing!

  2. “An engaging writer cuts trivial information ruthlessly, so that every sentence contributes to the value of the whole piece of content.” a very interesting quote from your writing.

  3. Great stuff Loryn. Empathy. So happy you used that word. Be empathetic and compassionate. Feel your audience. Or feel how they feel. See through their eyes. No problems engaging readers if you see issues from their perspective because you will know exactly what to write and how to write it to induce chats and to keep readers glued to the screen.


  4. I read a great quote once to the effect that one of the best ways to really understand a topic is to write about it. Makes perfect sense and what you’ll find writing about a topic (especially ‘how-to’ type content), is that it really clarifies your understanding of the topic.

    Especially after you read your first draft and you begin to realise what’s missing, what needs to be reworded or restructured, and so on.

    Plus, writing frequently also makes you a better writer. Added bonus!

    • Yes it does! Teaching or writing forces you to really think about a topic, so I have to agree — it’s a win-win all around 🙂

  5. Interesting thought. It’s good to remind ourselves that we don’t want to dumb down our content, or make it inaccessible. Balance is always good.

    I’m curious though, what did your Shakespeare professor do to create flow? You say she gave you utensils, and knew how to meet or engage different students. I think the utensils in particular is a great metaphor but I’m curious to how she did that?

    • Thanks Matthew! Yes, there’s definitely a healthy middle, and you find it by knowing your audience 🙂

      As for my Shakespeare professor, she was amazing at leading discussions. We spent entire classes just talking, and it felt very student-directed. But by the end of class she would have guided us to each of the points she wanted to make, while still allowing us to find our way there ourselves. It was so subtle, I never realized what was happening until class was over and I discovered I had learned something 😉

      • As a former college professor (philosophy), I have to point out that while that Shakespeare professor might have been perfect for you, some other students might have rated her poorly. For me when I was teaching, and now when I am writing or marketing, the ultimate compliment was or is: “You made me think.” But many students and readers most definitely do NOT want to think. They’d rather be told what to think.

        So it’s wise to remember that In our world, it takes all kinds. No one way of writing or working suits every reader, and the readers who want something different aren’t wrong; they’re merely different.

        • You make a good point, Marcia, it does take all kinds. That’s why I said the key to writing engaging content is, truly, to know your audience, and present the challenges that are appropriate for where they are — which may end up being 95% spoon-feeding and 5% challenge 😉

  6. Wonderful content, and also challenging! I love the tip about writing while you’re learning. It’s easy to forget how confusing or difficult was to learn something if we went through that a long time ago, and that makes it hard to relate to the readers. That’s going to change how I approach some of my content for sure!

  7. Brava, Loryn!

    Although I’ve long learned to expect great content on the Copyblogger blog in the 12 years I’ve been a reader, some stand out.


    Wish I had written it.

    • Wow, Lori, you made my day. I can’t think of a better compliment to receive from a fellow writer. Thank you so much 🙂

  8. I love this! I write about folklore so I don’t necessarily have something for readers to learn to do when they’re reading…but I still want them to walk away with new information that they’ll remember. And I’d like them to feel entertained while they do so. I’m going to try and focus on creating a story (or flow) in my next article to see what difference it makes!

    • Certainly! This tactic definitely applies to learning “about” as well as learning “to do.” Storytelling is a great way to create flow — all I really mean by “creating challenges” is simply giving your readers a chance to stretch their minds 🙂 Hope it goes well!

  9. This definitely made me think, Loryn. Thank you.

    I’m often hesitant to write while I’m learning because I find it so much harder to articulate concepts in my own words. Also so much of my blog is based on personal experiences. This will really make me rethink how to approach it.

    That said, I’m finding it difficult to make this concept concrete in terms of how to shift my approach. It would be helpful to have more concrete examples or perhaps to get feedback on where I’m being too simple or where I’m being too complex.

    Perhaps that can be a webinar topic?

    • A webinar might not be a bad idea! I’d like to think the post itself is a good example of how to execute the strategy — I tried to write to readers as equals, and expand their horizons by taking them on a mental journey alongside me.

      For me, it’s really a mindset shift: instead of worrying about leaving some readers behind, ask yourself if your content engages the readers who will want to dive in deeper. The actual techniques used in engaging, challenging writing are so numerous and varied they could be a subject for a graduate thesis 😉

      And, having to articulate concepts in your own words is exactly why it’s so useful to write about something as you’re learning — not only do you learn the topic better, but the phrases that make the subject “click” for you are likely going to work for your readers as well.

      Hope it goes well, Renee!

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