Why You’re Too Qualified and Respectful to Produce Great Content by Pace Smith

If you’re like most bloggers, you’re making two huge mistakes with your content. You’re suffering from both qualification and respect when you write.
You’ll need to leave both of those behind if you want to be a successful writer with high conversion rates. The only way to write powerfully is to be bold, and to write boldly you must stop qualifying yourself and being overly respectful.

Don’t believe me? Here’s what you’d be reading right now if I had written the opening of this post in a qualified and respectful manner instead of boldly.

Writers often struggle to make their points effectively. It can be difficult to be precise and respectful while still being bold enough to persuade. Being precise and respectful has the advantage of not lowering any of your readers’ opinions of you. Being bold has the advantage of persuading more people and increasing your conversion rate. Either choice is valid; it’s up to you which one you choose.
Which opening is more likely to engage you and persuade you?
Don’t qualify. Be bold.
Here are some concrete examples of rephrasing things from qualification (”There are several things”) to bold (”There is only one thing and this is it”).

Example 1

Qualified version
I’m going to talk about two very important words and explain why those words are so crucial. I hope that this will help you be a more effective blogger.

Bold version
By the end of this post, you will be a more effective blogger, all because you learned two very important words, and the specific reasons why those words are so crucial.

“Can I really know that the reader will be a more effective blogger? Maybe they won’t put it into practice. I’d better qualify that statement, because it’s not 100% true when I think about it.”
No, you can’t know for certain. But if you strive for 100% qualified accuracy, your writing will end up reading like a dry academic paper or a technical instruction manual. Few will read it and zero will be moved by it.

Example 2
Qualified version
There are many factors that can affect buying decisions. But in my experience, I’ve found that prospect fear is the most important factor that can cause potential customers to choose not to buy.

Bold version
There’s a hideous troll hiding under the bridge. Every time you get close to making a sale, the troll springs out and scares your prospect away. Get rid of the troll and your copy will start converting better than it ever has before.
The ugly, smelly, dirty, bad-mannered troll is prospect fear. And it’s sitting there right now, stinking up your landing page and scaring good customers away.
This example uses both imagery and boldness, but again sacrifices academic precision. Which opening makes you want to read more?
Don’t be respectful. Be bold.

It’s difficult enough to stop qualifying everything we say, now we’re about to make an even dearer sacrifice: respect.

Example 3
Respectful version
Five Grammatical Errors that May Detract From Your Credibility
Bold version
Five Grammatical Errors that Make You Look Dumb

Will they really make you look dumb to everyone? No. But if you add a “may”, a “sometimes”, or a “to some people” every time you want to avoid offending someone, you’ll end up with a very respectful wet dishrag that is so wishy-washy it will flop to the floor the instant you wave it in anyone’s direction.

Wet dishrag version
Five Grammatical Errors that May Sometimes Make You Look Dumb to Some People

Example 4
Respectful version
There are lots of ways to make money, and many of them might work for you. One way that I’m going to talk about today is solving real problems.
Bold version
If you want to make money in the real world, solve real problems.
In these examples, the author risks pissing off the readers.
“I make those errors. Are you saying I’m dumb?”
“I want to make money from advertising instead of solving real problems, are you saying I’m wrong? Are you disrespecting my choice?”

Write for the fence-sitters.
When writing to persuade or advise, there will always be three groups of people:
those who agree with you
those who disagree with you
those on the fence

Write for those on the fence. Ignore the other two groups.
If your goal is to get people to stop making grammatical errors, the people who already agree will say “Yup, good post,” and move on. The radical descriptivists who call you a fascist for attempting to dictate how others use language are going to disagree with you no matter how well-written your copy is.
But those on the fence can be convinced.
Those on the fence can be sold. (And as a bonus, you’ll automatically appeal to those who agree with you.)

Study these examples. Practice rephrasing things boldly. Find or write an example of something wishy-washy and rewrite it boldly. Find an example of something bold and rewrite it wishy-washily more precisely or more respectfully. Let’s practice together — you can improve your writing skills right now in the comments section.
Be bold. It’s the only way to make a difference.

About the Author: Pace Smith, generally a qualified and respectful person, is the co-author of The Usual Error, a book about communication and relationships, and the co-leader of the Freak Revolution, where she and her wife Kyeli are boldly changing the world.


About DigitalPlato

Poch is a Bookrix author and a freelance writer. He is a frequent contributor to TED Conversations.
This entry was posted in blogosphere, Ethics, philosophy, psychology, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why You’re Too Qualified and Respectful to Produce Great Content by Pace Smith

  1. pochp says:

    Hi Pace,
    Because of your boldness, I was convinced and impressed to repost your piece. WELCOME!

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