People like to read about people. The magazine of the same name is proof of that. Celebrity profiles, personal experience articles, and how-to pieces are among the most popular.
We all like to read about the rich and famous, as well as people who have learned from a mistake, triumphed over a tragedy, or overcome insurmountable odds. But readers are also looking for practical advice on how to raise teens, find a new job, get along better with their spouses, and draw closer to God.
Tell the story with anecdotes
For people-based articles to succeed, fill them with people. How? Write about:
- A farmer in crisis, rather than crop failures.
- Two real seniors in love, not romance during the golden years
- A couple who saved their marriage, instead of America’s high divorce rate
You still cover the basic information about farming’s challenges, old-age romance, and divorce, but sprinkle your articles with the stories of real people, being sure to quote them.
In my article, “Communicating from the Heart: What People Really Need and Want from You,” (The Lookout, May 28, 2002) I could have prattled on about what I believe people are looking for in relationships—but who cares what I think? I’m no expert.
But I can ask people what they need and want and then share what I find in an article. Here are two examples from the article mentioned above.
A friend of mine had a successful restaurant business for years. He credited it to his weekly round-table meetings with his employees. His wife Anne told me Frank knew his people would not be effective if they were carrying emotional baggage. So each Monday morning he invited them to share whatever they wished – especially those things that might distract them from their work.
“At the end of the meeting you could feel the change in the air,” Anne said. “Burdens were lifted and people felt closer to one another because they knew some of the challenges others faced.
Joe worked part-time for a stationery supply store doing data entry in the back office. He remembers the difference one person made in his life when he started the job. “My first day was agony,” he said. “I wanted to bolt. I realized I had so much to learn.”
But Joe stayed because of the power of four encouraging words. An older woman who had been the company bookkeeper for 25 years brought him a cup of coffee during a break and sat down to talk with him. “You’ll be just fine,” she said with a twinkle in her eye and Joe said in that moment he knew he would be.
Put people into everything you write and you’ll become a sought-after writer.
Karen O’Connor is a mentor for Christian Writers Guild and an award-winning author of books and articles for children and adults. Visit her online.