As one respondent to my last newsletter said, you’re never going to please everyone – and nor should you try. Not everyone is going to want what you sell, though that needn’t stop you aiming for world domination if that’s your desire.
You make your products for your market and you tailor your blog or newsletter to people who are interested in your products. Good – but you still won’t please all of them all of the time. Not unless you’re the writing equivalent of a Stepford wife.
So don’t worry about it.
There, isn’t that a weight off your mind?
Maybe some of your readers will un-subscribe from your list. No problem. If they aren’t interested, they’re not going to be good customers for you anyway. You’re going to rub them up the wrong way whatever you do, because even if you make your writing “plain vanilla” you’re still a fully 3D personality in real life, and that’s what your real-life customers see – and want to see.
So let your hair down. I think that trying to please Teacher and, later in life, everyone else who might possibly read your pearls of wisdom, causes more writer’s block than anything else. “Oh, I can’t say that, it might upset someone” is a real killer when you’re staring at that blinking cursor.
If you truly think something, say it (unless, of course, it’s bitchy or libellous; there’s no joy in being unkind just to get attention). If people disagree with you, they’ll either start a conversation or walk away. You can work with that; at least you know where you stand. The customer is, of course, always right – so the people who walk away aren’t your real customers.
They may end up being your competitors’ real customers of course, but life and business are meant to be fun, not anodyne: who wants to spend their whole life being all things to all men just to hang on to a few customers? (Well yes, I have too, back when I started my business, but it was never going to last!)
Once you stop trying to please everyone, writing becomes much more of a pleasure. Write first and tone it down, if necessary, later. It’s remarkably liberating to turn off your inner censor.
While you’re at it, break the rules of grammar the Victorians imposed on us. I know, I know: I’m on record as saying that grammar matters and I still firmly believe that. But lots of the rules never really mattered. Firefox had a very apposite quote as their thought of the day recently: “Ending a sentence with a preposition is nothing to be afraid of”. Indeed not! And you can start sentences with conjunctions – if it was good enough for Shakespeare, Dickens and Burns (and they all did it), it’s good enough for me.
Play. Have fun with the language. Turn it on its head. Invent new words. Surprise us. It’ll keep us much more interested than the plain old same old.
I’d advise keeping the punctuation right, mind you, or you might end up with misunderstandings like the glorious one Lynn Truss produced: “Dicks in tray”. An apostrophe and a hyphen make all the difference …
But try something different with your next newsletter or blog post. Be outrageous, let the skeletons out of the closet, ruffle a few toupees. I dare you!