Ask a 7-year-old what he wants to be when he grows up and he’ll tell you. “YouTuber”. Getting paid to create online sounds like a lot of fun, but most people don’t grow it. For every 100 people who start appearing on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, 90 drop out before the end of the first year. They’ll say it wasn’t for them and they’ll join another bandwagon, never engaging and never seeing real success online.
The difference between dazzling successes and majority dropouts? High impact writing. The ability to communicate a message clearly, in a way that builds an audience and motivates them to become your customer. Learning to write and applying your skills to scripts, tweets, articles and newsletters is the biggest investment you can make in your creative career and your personal brand.
Kieran Drew left dentistry to become a writer and now shares what he learns while building his creative business. With 160,000 Twitter followers (having only opened his account in August 2020) and over 20,000 subscribers to his Digital Freedom newsletter, he explains the frameworks and strategies that have kept him in the game. Prominent content creators learn to write based on Drew’s suggestions, and they see their measurements evolve soon after applying his methods.
I asked Drew the common writing mistakes creators should avoid making on Twitter, and here are the top 10.
1. Keep sentences the same length
“You don’t see what you read, you hear it,” he explained. This means that “if every sentence is the same length, it gets boring. To avoid this mistake, aim for 20% long sentences and 80% short ones. Make your sentences sing so you never bore your audience again. Make them look forward to your messages by taking them on a melodious journey with every line .
2. Not following the “rule of one”
“If you try to please everyone, you don’t please anyone,” Drew said. “If you try to say everything, you say nothing.” Instead of watering down your message to avoid trolls and haters, make it even more specific. “Big idea, compelling story, central emotion, central benefit, call to action.” Drew thinks “specificity is the secret”. What is your main message and how can it adapt to this rule?
3. Use adverbs
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs,” said Stephen King. And he is not wrong. “Most people think adverbs reinforce your message,” Drew said, “but they ruin it. Avoid words like really, quickly, rarely, etc. If a word ends in -ly, it’s not not your friend.”Use these as an opportunity to trade off for bigger, bolder language.”Your message will be stronger, less fluffy, and more memorable to readers.
4. Use the passive voice
“Passive voice is wordy and confusing. It can make your reader uncertain,” Drew warned. “And uncertainty is a killer.” To avoid serious headaches, see if your sentence passes “the zombie test.” , which goes like this: “If you can add ‘and by zombies’ to the sentence, it’s passive. If you can’t, it’s active. It’s the difference between ‘The world was shaken by Kieran (and by zombies)” and “Kieran shook the world (and by zombies).” You want the latter, and so do your audience.
5. Not having a process
“Most people aren’t bad at writing; they fear systems. There is a difference. Linguistic genius without systems is talent without leverage. Don’t let yours get lost with Drew’s recommended “Triple Tap Writing System”. “Fast first draft, slow second draft, one week stamp.” Simple. “Allow time between your drafts and plan content a week in advance.” Let your subconscious mind work on your words when you do other things and come back with fresh eyes ready to improve.
6. Too smart, not clear
What you learned in class doesn’t translate into high-impact writing. “Schools teach you that the smarter you look, the better you are. The internet shows you otherwise. Instead of trying to look well-educated, “distill basic ideas down to form the easiest”. Be clear instead of smart. It makes you easier to consume, instantly memorable, and more than profitable in the long run.
7. Bad formatting
“Optimize for skimming,” Drew advised, which is especially important when writing on Twitter. “Before people read, they assess whether reading will be worth their time.” Answer with a resounding yes. “Even the best ideas are ruined by poor presentation,” he warned. Add line breaks to break up your paragraphs, use catchy phrases, bullets, and white space. “The secret is to be easy on the eyes.” Earn more eyeballs by making them happy.
8. Not enough editing
“Like it or not, the internet is a battle for attention,” Drew said. “You’re not just competing with creators, but companies like TikTok. You can’t afford to procrastinate. Editing is worth it. Use the 33% rule,” he added “Cut a third of your draft before posting it. People are busy. Write like that. Even if you think what you’ve written can’t be cut, try it. Keep chopping until you get it.” ‘It’s a third shorter and much punchier. You won’t even remember what you cut out.
9. Hedging bets
“Weak writing, weak results,” Drew said. Your audience doesn’t want weak, they want strong. Its members want a message they can get across. “They want to be sure that you have the solution. So if you want them to care about your ideas, make sure they hit home. Delete fuzzy phrases such as “I think”, “it’s possible”, “you could” and “probably”. Don’t be afraid to take a stand.
10. Be the guru
“Don’t be the guru, be the guide,” Drew explained. Instead of being one of those internet experts with no experience, show them how you did it. “Less how do, more how I,” he explained. This means openings such as “When I started…”, “How I started from…” and sharing a message based on your results. And don’t assume that your method is the only one that will work. Share it as something useful that can help someone else, not as the absolute blueprint.
Avoid these 10 common mistakes to write better and have more impact online, especially on Twitter. Reinforce your message by not hedging your bets, but writing from experience and being clear instead of smart. Improve your structure by editing better, adding variety to your sentences and formatting for skimming. Transform yourself into a powerful communicator for an impressive personal brand and a profitable business.