Staring at a blank page is a feeling that every writer knows well. It’s even harder when you’ve got a ‘boring’ or ‘dull’ topic ahead of you.
But here’s the secret: There is no such thing as a boring topic.
If you can find the right angle, the right audience, and the right tone, then you can make consistently great content. In any industry.
At Bitcatcha, we write regularly about web servers. It’s hardly the sexiest topic in the world, but we get a great response on the blog. Why? Because we have learned to find the hidden gems in any topic!
If you want to be a successful freelancer, you need to know how to create a good story out of anything. Even the boring stuff!
1. Find the human story
Nothing is boring when there’s a good story to tell. Always look for an emotional angle or the human story. Everyone loves content they can relate to.
Real life stories connect with people. We like to see how people have overcome difficulties. We like to learn from others.
Case studies and interviews are fantastic here. Try finding a success story in your industry, and hosting an interview with that person. If it’s your business or your blog, tell your own story.
Even if the industry is boring, humans are always interesting.
Bamidele has a great list of ways to generate article ideas if you’re still struggling to find that emotional angle.
2. Be enthusiastic
Enthusiasm is infectious. You should be able to write passionately about your own industry! Look for the little details that you love about your business.
If you’re writing for a client, spend some time finding out what makes them tick. Highlight those things that gets them excited and passionate. That’s what you should write about.
Chances are, there are plenty of others out there that love it too. If they’ve stumbled across that particular blog, they’re already interested in what you’ve got to say.
Write with enthusiasm, and the words will jump off the page.
3. Tap into people’s hopes and dreams (and fears)
Content is super effective when you help people realise their dreams. If you can teach someone a skill that they can use to unlock their future, you’ve got a reader for life.
Again, this all comes back to making an emotional connection.
For example, tutorials always make great content. But, you need to go further than the ‘how’ and the ‘what’.
Talk about the ‘why’.
Why will their life be improved by following the tutorial? How will it help them get closer to their dream?
If you do that, it becomes more than just standard web content.
Let’s say it’s a tutorial about building a website. Don’t just go through the basics. Focus on how that website will help them achieve their goals. Do they want to start a business, and break away from their current job? Do they want to make money? These are dreams and ambitions. If you tap into them, they’re very powerful.
Always look for the deeper connection.
You can do the same with fears. Rather than saying:
- How to speed up your website (boring!) …
- 7 Reasons why a slow website is killing your sales
The content and advice will be the same, but you’re tapping into real, human emotions.
4. Solve problems, be useful
A lot of people think their content needs to be funny or exciting. After all, that’s the kind of thing you see all over social media every day.
But some topics just don’t need humour. Sometimes, we’re just looking for simple, straight information.
If your business is fixing roofs (it doesn’t get much duller than that), people aren’t looking for funny content. They’re looking to figure out why their tiles are coming loose! They’re looking for answers and real information.
Be helpful, and solve people’s problems.
5. Turn dense topics into quick facts and statistics
People very rarely read dense paragraphs online (even in the exciting industries!) Instead, they skim the page, and look for highlights. Thick chunks of writing almost never work.
Instead, break it down into bite-sized chunks. Turn your thoughts into quick facts and bullet points. Use data and percentages to get your point across. It’s much easier to digest than a paragraph of writing.
It will take some clever editing, but find the best facts and statistics. Then highlight them.
6. Use pictures and graphics
We tend to respond much better to pictures and graphics online. Plus, they’re a great way to break up dense writing.
Most of us are visual learners. We digest content much better when we can see it. If you’re tackling a boring topic, try turning your facts into an infographic.
Or you can go one step further, and turn it into a video or podcast. It’s more engaging if you can put a real personality behind the information. These mediums are much more engaging, and they tend to get shared a lot more.
7. Forget about going viral, just reach your target audience
A lot of writers are obsessed with ‘going viral’. But virality shouldn’t necessarily be your goal.
You goal should be to reach your target audience.
Imagine 100 people read your latest blog. 10 then sign up to your mailing list, and 5 buy something from you. That’s a success!
On the flip side, 10,000 people might read your blog, but if they’re not the right target audience, they won’t buy anything at all.
Numbers are only useful if they convert. Always remember that.
Focus on reaching a very specific audience. Target people that are actually useful to you or your client.
Remember, your content is always going to be interesting to your target audience. Forget about everyone else.
8. Create a unique tone of voice
A good storyteller can make even the dullest topics readable and and interesting.
If you can develop a unique tone of voice, you’ll keep people reading, no matter what the topic.
It’s not always easy, but my best piece of advice is to just start writing. Write like you speak, and let it flow! A natural tone of voice will naturally flow onto the paper.
Inject the writing with little bits of humour. Keep it conversational. If you write in a friendly tone, people will enjoy it. Even if you are writing about dust collection pipes. (True story, I really have written about that.)
9. Keeping it short and sweet
One of the internet’s most prolific and respected bloggers, Seth Godin, regularly posts blogs that are less than 100 words long.
His last 100-word post got 3,000 shares!
Don’t use more words than you need. Especially in difficult and ‘boring’ industries.
Say what you need to, and then get out.
This is where editing is a really great skill to learn. It’s tough to chop up your own writing, but you’ve got to be strict with yourself. (Authors call this ‘killing your darlings’!) Sometimes, you’ll have to lose great sentences because they’re confusing your point.
Don’t make a dull, complicated topic more dull and complicated.
Try it now…
Next time you’re stuck with a tricky topic, remember these facts.
Find the emotional connection, create a friendly tone of voice, and always remember the audience.
Daren Low is the founder of Bitcatcha.com and co-developer of the free Server Speed Checker. With a decade of experience in website development and internet marketing to his name, Daren is considered a premier authority on all things related to building and managing an online presence. Feel free to pick his brain by connecting via Google+and Twitter.