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About 7.5 million blog posts are published every day, and it’s no secret that not all blog posts are created equal. If you want to turn your readers into interested leads and customers for your business, you’re going to need to invest time and effort in writing engaging conversational blog posts.
When you can explain and communicate your expertise in a simple, everyday tone, people will see you and your brand as approachable — and that can lead to some great business down the road.
Ready to change the way you write content from boring blog posts to engaging, conversational content? Check out these seven easy tips that will help you engage readers.
For more tips on writing content to win readers:
Consider a research paper, or report you might have read once that didn't use contractions. They usually spell out every contraction, like "should have," "there is," "do not," or "could have."
You might find this way of writing very formal. And depending on what you're reading, say a global report published by an authoritative research group like Nielsen or McKinsey, that might be the right tone and voice for the piece.
But if you'd been reading something in the same tone and voice on a regular, everyday blog post, you might have found it a little out of place. Your consumers might feel the same way — if you're currently publishing content that's overly formal and scholarly, you might not come across as approachable. This tip applies to anything you might publish online, not just blog posts. Check your copywriting on social media or email newsletters, too.
Below is an example from a blog post from Hosting Canada. The topic of their post is quite technical; it's about popular content management systems (CMS) and how much market share each one enjoys. However, because the author doesn't shy away from contractions, it makes a technical topic easier to digest.
Bonus tip: contractions are more likely to engage readers because once they see a contraction while skimming, they're likely to go over and reread the sentence.
Remember when your English teacher would tell you to always write in complete sentences? While that's an important rule to follow for scholarly writing, it's not always the case in real life.
We're not recommending making a habit of writing incomplete sentences in an attempt to seem more conversational — instead, use them only when necessary. How do you tell when it's necessary to use phrases? When it makes it easier to understand than a grammatically sound sentence.
Did you notice how we've snuck in that phrase?
If we used complete sentences, the above paragraph would read like this: "How do you tell when it's necessary to use phrases? Only use phrases when it makes it easier to understand than a grammatically sound sentence."
While there's technically nothing grammatically wrong with those complete sentences, they sound a little wordy and repetitive. Jumping straight into shorter phrases still manages to get the whole point across, so don't feel like you have to stick to this grammar rule every time.
The key to writing more conversational content? Writing like you're carrying a conversation.
Whenever you're writing or editing your content, check whether you sound like you're carrying a natural conversation. Are there words you probably wouldn't use in an everyday setting? You might be better off substituting them for more familiar words.
For conversational writing, you can get away with much shorter sentences and paragraphs. We recommend having a mix of long and short sentences just to give your writing a little more flavor, so don't sweat it if you've got a few longer sentences here and there. (This blog post has some, too!)
Short sentences are easier to digest and process. They're quicker to read, and you get to the point straight away. With longer sentences, writer Rudolf Flesch believes that your mind may find itself struggling to remember the point of a sentence, especially if it goes on and on.
Literature and fiction, even scientific or legal writing, may benefit from using prepositional phrases, subordinate clauses, and run-on sentences. But for conversational content writing? You'll be okay without too many.
Still, we recommend having that healthy combination of long and short sentences. After all, if every sentence in your writing is short, it may come off as too predictable and dry. Use writing tools like the Hemingway app to help you find a healthy mix and make your conversational writing pop.
When we have conversations with other people, we naturally tend to tell stories. And a story is essentially something with a beginning, middle, and end.
When you're trying to write conversational content, telling a story is giving that content a beginning, middle, and end. You want to have readers thinking, "What's next?" even if your post is promoting a sale on your online store.
With blog writing, it's much easier. If your goal is to explain concepts and give tips, start by telling readers why they might need to keep reading. Maybe they've struggled with this pain point for too long, or perhaps they're just looking to learn more about the topic. Whatever it is, make your conversational writing have its own story and natural flow.
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The passive voice works great in scientific journals and research papers because it can make the writing more objective and precise. With conversational writing, however, that's not usually the case.
You can use the passive voice whenever it makes a sentence smoother or easier to read but use it sparingly. When you use more of the active voice, your tone will read far more conversationally. This is because the active voice helps make sure you use words like "we" or "you," which can seem more engaging for the average consumer.
Finally, the real test of conversational content: can you read it out loud naturally?
Reading your writing aloud is a great test to see if you can shorten some sentences, switch from passive to active voice, or use more contractions. It's a helpful way to proofread and puts yourself in your customer's shoes reading your writing.
Here's a good practice to remember: while you're reading out loud, if you stop at any point of a sentence to catch your breath, that might be an excellent place to end. Rewrite the sentence so it's shorter or split a long one into two.
The litmus test is seeing if your writing flows the way you speak. And as you read, you may notice yourself changing, rearranging words, stumbling over phrases, and the like. Use this as an opportunity to self-correct and make your writing flow better.
People like to do businesses with brands that are approachable to them. That's why you'll want to make an effort to write engaging conversational content to turn readers into interested leads. The tips above should show you everything you need to know to make your writing flow, catch your audience's attention, and keep them hooked on your writing.
Originally published on April 26th, 2021, last updated on September 16th, 2022.