The first time I made money from writing was in 2016. I had just graduated. My cousin offered me a job in his eCommerce startup. I was given lists of keywords to make something up around them in about 700 words. The four words I never heard from them were, “focus on your audience.”
In fact, I never heard them mention the word audience.
It was so fun I had to quit the job and take a few digital marketing courses.
One of those institutes hired me back as, you guessed it, a content writer. In that job, I was taught everything there was to know about how to game the algorithm by optimizing content for search engine bots.
Yet, none of those tricks worked. You would get good ranks, but not so much for high engagement. Viewers would bounce off left and right.
Why so? Here’s something that will blow your mind.
Scattering bold formatted keywords all over the content don’t do much for the reading experience. It’s like reading those emails from all those Nigerian princesses.
Except, maybe they were more effective than these keyword bombs. And they won’t get flagged by Google for keyword stuffing, as you would.
Clearly, there was a gap between what I was being taught and what actually worked.
Now, years later, I’m living a comfortable life, earning 5X more money, by doing the same thing — writing blogs.
If you ask me: “What made the difference?” I’ll say it’s because I stopped writing for the algorithm and started focusing on the people.
Here’s how you can do the same.
01. Ask Yourself, “Would I Read It Had Someone Else Written It?”
Being lazy and delusional is easy but not highly rewarding.
Sure! You can dump a few passages, optimize them to death with relevant keywords, and hit the publish button. By doing so, you will be putting yourself out there.
But would that be enough to get people to read your work?
Don’t be a fool. Think for yourself. 4.4 million blog posts are being published every single day. Would you read any of them if they don’t have something of value to offer?
No. As a consumer, you are picky.
Your audience has every right to be as picky as you. And they are pretty good at exercising that right.
So instead of expecting people to show up just because you have dared to put yourself out there, focus on your audience. How to do so? Ask yourself:
- Who am I writing for?
- What are their dreams?
- What are their fears?
- How can I make their lives a little easier?
02. Go for Credibility, Not Cheap Clicks
Some aspiring bloggers figure out early on that people won’t pay attention — at least, not so easily. So they go ahead and try to hack that as well.
They try to shock the audience with clickbaity headlines and thumbnails, misleading claims, and baseless stats.
They want you to think they are providing you with some value while selling you tea leaf juice in a classy wine bottle.
But that’s not how you build a loyal audience base.
So if you want them to keep coming back, pretending won’t cut it. You will have to provide real solutions to their real problems. The more you give (and the more effective your solutions are), the more they trust you.
And the more they trust you, the more likely they are to sign up for your email list, purchase your courses, or hire you for high-paying gigs.
03. Focus on Readability Over SEO Score
This one might sound counterintuitive. But prioritizing readability over keyword placement or SEO score is, in fact, a better SEO strategy.
Posts that are readable will definitely result in more returning visitors and a higher conversion rate. So in the long run: readability ranks.
Good readability helps your target audience digest your content, thus influencing their behavior signals, which Google measures. Google prefers content with high readability that provides a satisfactory experience to the end-user.
So the next logical question will be, “How to make my content more readable?”
Here are a few quick tips to improve your readability:
- Use short paragraphs: Long paragraphs can be intimidating, especially on a screen. Instead, try to break them into 2–3 sentences and make them more easily digestible.
- Use headings and subheadings: Smart usage of headings and subheadings can be very powerful. It is another way to break up the text and make it easier for readers to understand the article.
- Use bullet points or numbered lists: These can be a helpful way to present information clearly and concisely.
- Use simple language: Avoid using complex vocabulary or jargon, as this can make the content difficult to understand for some readers. Instead, try to use simple, straightforward language that is easy to understand.
- Use quotes and statistics: Including quotes from experts or relevant statistics can help to add credibility and interest to your content. Just be sure to properly cite your sources and provide context for the quotes or statistics.
04. Use the Power of Storytelling
Do you like to be preached to by random strangers on the internet? No? Join the club. Nor does your audience!
That’s where most aspiring writers go wrong. They pretend to be inspiring without being relatable first.
Don’t do that. Don’t try to look cooler or more successful than you really are. Do the opposite. Be a human.
Show them your flaws.
Let them in on your mistakes.
Share your deepest regrets.
And the best way to do that is by telling stories. It pulls your reader into the narrative, helps them understand what you are saying and why you are saying it, and makes you more relatable.
05. Focus on Emotions
We all have countless stories to share. But not many of us can tell them well.
Bad storytelling comes in many forms:
- Lack of coherence
- Too many details
- Flat delivery
How to avoid them all? Simple. Focus on the core emotion. And everything else will fall into their place.
According to studies, you are more likely to go viral if your content evokes strong emotions in your audience.
It doesn’t matter whether it is positive or negative. All you need is an emotional impact. That would be enough to make an audience share the content with its friends and family.
Answer me this. Why are search engine algorithms there to begin with?
Their whole purpose is to provide users with high-quality and trustworthy search results.
Sure! SEO is important.
But guess what! It is only one factor that search engines consider when ranking pages. That’s trying to cheat the system, overlooking your target audience, never works.
Want to satisfy the algorithm? Focus on your audience first.