Let’s talk about writing with emotion

Let’s talk about writing with emotion

Skim brief. Facebook. Read comments and look at pictures. Read brief. Read website. Google things that make you feel something. Put on headphones. Turn on music. Turn off music. Walk around. Repeat.

That’s my ritual.

I do that before I write copy because when I sit down to write, I need to get into the right space inside my head. Writing compelling, emotional, motivating, donor centred copy is not as simple as following a formula. And it’s even more challenging when you’re writing online.

At some point, I’m sure that you’ve Googled how to write copy for the web. And the articles read something like this:

  1. Keep it short and simple
  2. Be personal and donor-centred
  3. Use stories
  4. Be emotional
  5. Make your ONE ask clear

Those are all extremely important to be sure. Especially number 5. If people don’t know what to do or have too many options, they won’t do anything. I highly recommend repeating the ask, using the link multiple times. But stick with just one clear ask, please.

Those are the basics. In fact, you probably knew those before you started reading this article. So if you have all the pieces in place, best practice elements are there, but something’s not quite right, why? How many times have you found yourself asking that question?

Blame it on number 4: Be emotional. That’s a challenge.

Writing emotionally, with heart is a very personal experience. Of course, when I write copy, I’m not writing about my life, my struggles, or my successes. But wait, I am actually doing just that—in a way. Drawing from my own experiences, I conjure up specific emotions.

Wait! It’s not enough to have your own emotions present. If you truly want to engage and move your readers, you have to write to their emotions. I’ll revisit my past and think about my hopes and dreams in an attempt to feel whatever emotion it is that I want to readers to feel. But you can’t tell them how to feel.

Play on your supporters’ motivations and emotions—work with what’s already there. Consider and even ask others what they feel, what motivates them, etc. Have those conversations with other staff, beneficiaries of the organization, and the target audience. You can also read what people are saying about you online (thank you Facebook and Twitter!). And then, think long and hard what it is like to be them.

If you’re finding that to be a challenge, consider this:

What do you want your reader to feel while they’re reading and afterwards? How do you feel as you sit down to write? Determine if how you feel and how you want your audience to feel are the same. If it isn’t, find a way to feel how you want your readers to feel.

Go ahead, put on some music and start writing.

If you’d like to chat more about writing compelling copy for online, contact Cynthia Foster at cynthia.foster@hjcnewmedia.com.

Cynthia Foster is the lead copywriter for hjc. She’s a passionate writer who finds happiness in writing compelling online copy for organizations and donors who are changing the world.

posted on Apr 20

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