Do you view numbers as one thing akin to Frankenstein’s monster? Does the considered doing math ship you operating into the night time to flee hideous calculations?
I typically hear content material entrepreneurs say, “I went into writing (or a creative field) to avoid numbers.”
That will help you recover from the concern, you want an “exercism” – a exercise that may practice your writing muscle tissues to wrest all advantages from numbers. (For those who missed the 2 earlier writing exercises, Learn how to Make Your Writing Extra Highly effective and 5 Extra Workout routines to Make Your Writing Highly effective, add them to your routine earlier than the tip of the 12 months.)
However earlier than we start, please do one factor. Change that image in your head of the inexperienced, hideous monster with bolts in his neck with the magical, completely nice Glinda, the Good Witch. She will be able to encourage you to craft spells of higher content material with story magic that may each entertain and illuminate your readers.
1. Flip numbers into individuals
ORIGINAL: Over 80% of dentists surveyed advocate sugarless gum.
REVISED: 4 of 5 dentists advocate sugarless gum.
WHAT CHANGED: The revision converts the proportion to the variety of dentists.
WHY: Translating percentages into numbers of individuals (or issues) permits the reader to raised visualize who or what’s being counted or affected.
Translate percentages into numbers to permit readers to visualise who/what’s being counted, says @AnnGynn by way of @cmicontent. #writingtips Click on To Tweet
TIP: Each time you write a share, ask whether or not the story can be extra highly effective if readers envisioned the particular person or factor being measured. If that’s the case, you may merely say the “percent number” out of 100.
Within the instance above, it may have mentioned 80 of 100 dentists. However that large quantity remains to be onerous to visualise, so simple arithmetic can scale back the proportion to the smallest entire quantity. The phrase “four of five dentists” is rather more relatable – readers could visualize the place their dentist can be among the many 5.
2. Use percentages to indicate pervasiveness or lack of pervasiveness
ORIGINAL: About eight million American employees use public transportation to journey to their office.
REVISED: About 5% of American employees use public transportation to journey to their office.
WHAT CHANGED: As an alternative of quantifying the variety of individuals, a share was used.
WHY: If you wish to present how frequent or unusual one thing is, citing a share could be simpler. On this instance, eight million individuals appears like lots. A reader might be impressed by the quantity. However when the 5% is used, the reader realizes that comparatively few employees use public transportation.
If you wish to present commonality (or lack thereof), use a p.c determine, says @AnnGynn by way of @cmicontent. #writingtips Click on To Tweet
TIP: If you wish to present commonality (or lack thereof), use a p.c determine. Now, if you wish to exhibit pervasiveness (or lack thereof) AND put it in actual individuals/issues phrases, use each a share and a quantity. About 5% (eight million) American employees use public transportation.
three. Rely down
ORIGINAL: The most effective film of 2018 is Loss of life of Stalin. Learn on for my second by means of 10th place picks.
REVISED: The 10th greatest film of 2018 is Mamma Mia! Right here We Go Once more. Learn my countdown to find what leads as much as the 12 months’s first place winner.
WHAT CHANGED: The unique piece from CBS Information counted in sequential order, whereas the model from Self-importance Honest began with the very best quantity and counted right down to No. 1.
WHY: For those who reveal the perfect instantly, readers don’t must proceed studying to see the payoff – what’s No. 1 on the listing.
TIP: Use the countdown impact to create suspense on your reader. Readers respect and count on a payoff (a la David Letterman’s Prime 10 lists). However don’t simply write an inventory that would seem on the identical display. Craft compelling content material that prompts the customer to maintain scrolling.
A countdown creates suspense on your readers and retains them scrolling, says @AnnGynn by way of @cmicontent. #writingtips Click on To Tweet
BONUS TIP: And if you would like causes to do prime 10 lists, take a look at the Prime Issues About Prime 10 Lists printed by The New York Instances a couple of years in the past. (And see which technique the writer makes use of to disclose them.)
four. Rely up
ORIGINAL: Constructing a brand new house is an thrilling alternative. To get it in move-in situation, you have to choose your inside paint colours, purchase the roofing supplies, get it framed, and construct a robust basis.
REVISED: Constructing a brand new house is an thrilling alternative. To get it in move-in situation, you have to:
- Construct a robust basis
- Get it framed
- Purchase the roofing supplies
- Choose your inside paint colours
WHAT CHANGED: The to-do listing mirrors the order wherein they must be accomplished – they’re in sequential order.
WHY: By incorporating the 1, 2, three, your readers can simply see how the massive image comes collectively and/or comply with it themselves.
TIP: For those who’re educating your reader on a course of or informing them on easy methods to do one thing, use numbers. Writers typically use outlines to craft their content material. Outlines are actually a proper numbering system. For those who suppose it is sensible to do an overview, it could make sense to do a sequential listing.
BONUS TIP: Even in the event you don’t have a course of or a prime listing to share, consider using numbers. Labeling concepts with numbers – and noting that within the headline – creates an expectation for the reader on how a lot they’ll study. Plus, a numerical listing is simpler to scan. Readers who’re accustomed to some ideas can transfer on to the subsequent.
Labeling concepts with numbers – & noting that within the headline – creates an expectation for the reader on how a lot they’ll study. @AnnGynn by way of @cmicontent #writingtips Click on To Tweet
5. Promote the story in 150 to 160 characters
ORIGINAL: Dressing up in costumes and trick or treating are common Halloween actions, however few most likely affiliate these lighthearted fall traditions with their origins.
REVISED: Few most likely affiliate the lighthearted traditions of Halloween with their origins in Samhain, an historical Celtic pagan pageant.
WHAT CHANGED: Within the unique, the lede grew to become the de-facto meta description. Within the revision, a meta description tailor-made for search was written.
WHY: The intent of a searcher typically is completely different than the intent of the on-page customer. Whereas the lede must be written to seize the eye of a reader, a meta description must be written to seize the eye of a searcher. (And if there isn’t a meta description, Google typically showcases the start of the article.)
A lede grabs the reader’s consideration. A meta description captures a searcher’s consideration, says @AnnGynn by way of @cmicontent. #writingtips #website positioning Click on To Tweet
TIP: The act of writing a succinct, intent-based meta description (150 to 160 characters) earlier than writing the article lets you acknowledge what the main target of the piece must be.
Overcome your concern of numbers
Now there, that wasn’t so dangerous, was it? You’ve received 5 non-scary methods to make use of numbers in your content material that may profit your audiences.
Simply consider the magic you may create – you may flip numbers into individuals and issues into numbers. You may conjure up countdowns that create suspense and spells to assist individuals get issues carried out. And at last, you may assist conquer the Google monster and get the correct content material in entrance of your viewers.
And all that may occur with no magic calculator.
Train each weekday to strengthen your content material advertising and marketing. Subscribe – and browse – the free CMI publication.
Cowl picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content material Advertising Institute