Andy Capaloff
July 30, 2020

When It Comes To Writing Content, Keep It Simple, Stupid!

When Writing Content, (and Living Life!) Keep It Simple, Stupid

The KISS theory really needs to be applied to more things in life. And one of the areas it needs to be kept steadfastly to, is content writing.

“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”

—Woody Guthrie

First, Know Your Audience (KYA)

I don’t suppose for one second that your content should be simple if you want it to be consumed by seniors of an Ivy League university. Likewise, there’s no need to simplify too much for lecturers or lifelong students. So let’s exclude academics and intellectuals from whom this particular article is aimed at. Almost. Nobody knows everything.

On the flip side of that, if you’re aiming at beginners, introduce concepts, then explain them, and presume they know nothing.

Most Audiences Are Somewhere In Between

If your audience is of mixed experience levels – and most are:

  • Always spell out your synonyms before introducing them
  • Don’t make it a mission to show off the great word you learned yesterday – at least not without explaining it!
  • Presume that most people know something and nobody knows everything
When It Comes To Writing Content, presume that most people know something but nobody knows everythingClick To Tweet

Why Is It Important To Write Simple Content?

Firstly, if everyone got everything, I wouldn’t need to explain this. And nobody would read whatever you or I write!

Some people will know a lot about your chosen subject but not be into long words. I have a better vocabulary than most but get really irritated when people apparently feel the need to throw in every 10+ letter word they know. What are they trying to prove, anyway!? Do they think readers will look and say “wow! This guy’s a bleeping genius!”. For those of you who don’t know the answer to that, the correct answer is a big fat no. To use an English slang word, they’ll think you’re a tosser! We have so much better slang! 😆

While I’m on this subject, how many times have you ever spoken the word plethora in a sentence? It’s possible that I’ve never spoken it except in disdain for those who do! Don’t write it, or other words that are rarely spoken. This isn’t a school essay. You’re not trying to impress teacher! You’re actually trying to communicate with people on their level – at least you should be! And you’re trying to pass on information that some will find useful – or at least you should be. So, as I said last week, write as you talk!

To go back to the podcast with John Espirian and Douglas Burdett that I also mentioned last week, here was my favourite line.

“If you’d never say it out loud, don’t you dare write it”

It’s great to find someone who is as passionate as me about this stuff!

John introduced me to this great quote by Ann Handley:

Ann Handley Keep It Simple quote

What You Need To do

When you introduce concepts that not everyone can be expected to know, give a brief explanation before jumping into whatever you want to say about it. But ALWAYS hyperlink to an article that explains it in more detail. Not everyone wants to know everything about everything. But you should presume that some people could be intrigued enough to want to know more.

If you introduce a synonym or a name of any type, don’t presume everyone knows it, so follow the above advice. Some people get really hung up on what things are called, and others just do stuff without calling it by a name. Others may know things by different names. So, don’t exclude people from sections of your article due to labels. You should instead strive to be as inclusive as possible.

You may also want to read: So You Have More Time On Your Hands And Want To Take Up Blogging?

Final Note

It’s really important at this stage, that I add a footnote, of sorts.

It’s just a fact of life that some audiences are more advanced in certain subjects than others. So whereas you must try to be inclusive and explain stuff, set the tone for your article in the first paragraph. To use a cooking analogy,

If you’re writing an article on cordon bleu cooking, don’t open by explaining how to boil an eggClick To Tweet

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Andy Capaloff

Andy Capaloff is the COO of Curatti. Prior to moving into the world of Content Marketing, Social Media Management and the day-to-day running of a Digital Marketing company, Andy spent over 3 decades in various aspects of IT. It is here that he honed his writing and technical skills, and his ability to ask uncommon questions.