I reached 100 million views on LinkedIn.
And today, I have 42,000 followers.
Not all the views are mine.
I ghost write for founders to help tell their stories.
All of these founders started with close to no presence on the platform.
I didn’t have leverage to work with except their stories.
After posting close to five thousand pieces of content in the last three years, I’ve honed the process of creating engaging copy.
For the first time, I will release the step-by-step playbook in this post.
This way you can write stories that get viewed by millions.
Are you ready?
1. Mobile Optimized
More than half of all engagement with LinkedIn, 57% in fact, takes place via mobile.
However, people still don’t understand how to write mobile-optimized content.
They stick with chunky paragraphs that make it hard to read.
Through 2017, I only noticed a few writers taking into consideration mobile first when writing.
And these writers were getting millions of views like James Altucher.
But few of these writers regularly participated on LinkedIn.
And none were participating in the status area.
This opened up a HUGE void for someone to fill.
That person was me.
By writing mobile first, you’re helping the reader consume your content. It’s hard for them to read blocks of text on their tiny phones.
They lose their place.
They lose their attention.
And you lose engagement.
2. Create a Wave Pattern that Draws the Reader
That’s what people feel when they see this design.
You’re about to run down a hill.
As you start running – you pick up speed.
The anticipation of moving faster excites you.
Now if you’re running on a flat street there’s a lot less of it.
This type of curvature in the picture below is like that of a hill.
You see the sentences shortening.
Your reading speed increases.
Then it stops for a second.
Maybe it’s a one or two-word sentence.
It packs a punch.
All the emotion makes you want to read on.
So you continue with the next sentence that’s much longer.
And the pattern repeats.
By providing anticipation – you’re providing the reader more emotion.
As a result, they’ll like or share your status.
3. Understand Your Audience
LinkedIn usage is the highest among the 18–29 year old age group.
Here’s what the age split looks like:
- 34% of 18–29 year olds use LinkedIn
- 33% of 30–49 year olds use LinkedIn
- 24% of 50–64 year olds use LinkedIn
- 20% of 65+ year olds use LinkedIn
Here’s what the gender split looks like:
- 31% of online men use LinkedIn
- 27% of online women use LinkedIn
Because these stats don’t heavily skew one way or another, you need to pay attention to other relevant cues.
These include posting times and who you’re connected with.
If I’m connected on LinkedIn with mostly people in the U.S., then my Friday night is their Friday night up until west coast 9 p.m. (I live in Los Angeles).
I’ll post a status like this one:
By using the phrase “Friday night” and posting this status on Friday night, my hook is now more relevant to my audience.
I’ve done this with Saturday and Sunday, too.
There are a thousand ways to get creative here – it depends on your audience.
“Who am I connected to? And what do I share in common with them?”
4. How to Start a Status
Every quality piece begins with a pain point, significant change, announcement, career relevance or credibility.
You can mix and match these characteristics.
Here are a number of examples:
I start with pain.
Then I dig into the pain with a tangible example.
I start with pain.
Then explain it with a tangible example.
I start with pain.
Then explain it with career relevance.
I start with a major change.
Then explain it with controversy.
I start with pain.
Then I dig into the pain with career relevance.
I start with career relevance.
Then lead it into controversy.
I start with controversy.
Then lead with more controversy.
To make it easier, here are a number of openers that will make your statuses pop:
Now that you know how to start a status, the hard part begins.
5. Use Tangible Conversation
The more tangible your piece, the more engaging it is.
To make a piece tangible, it means the reader can imagine what’s happening.
And most tangible writing is re-enacting conversation.
There’s a fine balance.
You need to leave a little imagination to the reader, but not enough to make them pause to think.
If the reader pauses to think – you’ve lost them.
Here’s an example of a re-enacted conversation:
Notice how I didn’t put the “I asked” or “He replied” after the quotations. I have it lead to the quotations because it reads faster. It keeps the reader from pausing.
You can also see this in the example below:
I recommend using one or two pieces of tangible conversation in every status.
This will take your game to a new level.
The next step is to be specific.
People will write “it’s expensive.”
How expensive was it?
“I lost money.”
How much money did you lose?
If you’re not specific, then you’re not tangible.
You’re giving the reader too much room to think.
There is a balance.
You don’t want to say “I helped my brother, sister, mom, dad, and uncle.”
Say, “I helped my family.”
It’s up to you to find it the balance.
Put yourself in the shoes of the reader.
6. Simplify Complex Words
Don’t overestimate your readers’ intelligence.
Complex words will lose them.
Even if they know the definition – if it takes them a second to recall it, then you’ve lost them.
Here’s a list of words you should stay away from.
I included the simpler version on the right.
- Cognizant — aware
- Commence — begin, start
- Inception — start
- Leverage — use
- Optimize — perfect
- Prescribed — required
- Proficiencies — skills
- Subsequently — after or later
- Numerous — Many
- Sufficient — Enough
7. Be Known for One or Two Adverbs
Adverbs make your writing unique.
And they destroy your writing at the same time.
If you use the word “so,” then don’t use the word “just” in the same sentence.
For example, don’t write “So he could just go on his way.”
This is awful writing.
Stick with one or two to sound personal.
The more adverbs you have – the more people think.
If they’re thinking, then you’ve lost them.
And when it comes to adverbs – don’t use any that end in “-ly”
There’s no exception to this rule.
Here’s a list of common adverbs to stay away from:
8. Avoid Common Adjectives
This is my biggest pet peeve.
Common adjectives will cripple any status – no matter how engaging the intro or outro.
Adjectives give room for readers to interpret – the opposite of what we want.
We want a clear picture of the story you’re writing in their head.
“It was great.”
How great was it?
The problem is obvious – adjectives are blanketed statements that mean nothing.
Never, and I repeat, never use these common adjectives:
A few of these adjectives in a status can derail the entire piece.
And this is where most writers fail.
Don’t be one of them.
9. Avoid Non-Definite Words and Phrases
If you’re not definite in your writing, then you’ll lose the reader.
It makes you appear not confident in your opinions or ability to recap stories.
“I think he went to the store.” vs. “He went to the store.”
You trust the second sentence more.
To build more trust with your audience, avoid these words and phrases below:
10. Avoid Unnecessary Questions in the Middle
I don’t know why this has become a thing, but it is.
People use rhetorical questions in their writing.
And it makes the reader pause to think.
As a result, they get no engagement on their statuses.
There are four times when you can use a question in status writing:
1. Self-conscious thoughts of the writer
“What would my friends think?”
“How would my mom feel?”
2. Intro-ing your last one or two sentences
3. Ending on a question for engagement
4. Tangible conversation
11. Don’t Interrupt the Flow
Stay away from these words and symbols.
This word elongates your sentences.
Here’s how to avoid the word “and.”
You can write the paragraph this way:
“I don’t expect most people to know what it’s like. I moved cities to live with my co-founder, built the company on a credit card, and had friends call me crazy.”
Or, it can be broken down in a more engaging way.
Bad example: I could run for it or take the bullet.
“I had two choices:
Run for it.
Or take the bullet.”
The second example pulls the emotion out of the “or” by adding a pause with the colon after the word “choices.”
If you’re a descriptive writer, then an exclamation mark won’t add value.
For example, “It was great!” vs. “It was great.”
There’s no difference of emotion between these sentences..
Use a description over an exclamation mark.
If something needs to be said, then say it.
Don’t hide it.
It will only serve to puzzle the reader.
Somehow this is a thing, too.
Ellipsis don’t provide suspense – descriptions do.
Avoid them at all costs.
12. Be Dangerous
My high school grammar teacher would kill me for saying this.
You don’t need to write in complete sentences.
You need to write for momentum.
Here’s an example:
I don’t include the subject in the last two sentences.
It doesn’t matter because you know the subject.
The momentum keeps the “he” present.
Here’s another example.
I end a status on two incomplete sentences.
And again there’s no subject.
The momentum keeps the “You’re choosing” present.
This takes a lot of skill.
If you can master it, you’ll stand out as a top-tier writer.
13. How to End a Status
Tie it to a call to action.
Then back to the premise.
This is where most statuses fail.
People read it through, then don’t know the main takeaway.
In the example below, the ending ties back to the company.
This is the organic CTA.
Then the status reiterates the premise while making it about the reader.
It ends on a note of biased inspiration – something everyone can agree with.
Here’s another example.
The status ties back to the company’s culture – this is the organic CTA.
Then it dives into biased inspiration.
If you don’t make it about the reader, then make it about your employees.
Or, make it about both.
If people don’t walk away feeling a strong emotion, then don’t expect them to like, comment, or share your post. Adhere to what works.
You’re Ready to Write Copy like A Pro
This step-by-step guide – is only that, a guide.
You need stories worth telling that make the read worthwhile.
And it’s hard to write with tangible examples and momentum if you don’t feel it.
The hardest part is not understanding copy principles –
It’s feeling enough empathy to know the reader will have a strong emotional response to what you wrote.
You can’t train this.
It comes from the experience of living through the stories worth sharing.
If you don’t have them.
Co-founder of BAMF Media, Josh has evangelized growth for a couple of the fastest growing SaaS companies, authored five marketing books, and was awarded Top Quora Writer of 2017 & 2018. He has over 200+ million views on his writing.