The Writing on the Wall: 4 Overlooked Blogging Tips to Augment your Content Marketing Efforts
I’ve been writing, professionally or otherwise, long enough to know that writing isn’t hard. The hard part is in figuring out what to write about and where to limit the scope of my writing. When it comes to writing, I’m part of that school commonly referred to as stream-of-consciousness. I could spend days thinking of an angle to approach a subject but once I’ve found what I’m looking for, writing is effortless. So effortless in fact that I often found my work branching out and covering topics that I never planned on covering in the first place, which can be a problem of its own.
I’m certain this problem isn’t just specific to me but I do know that each writer have their own strengths and weaknesses and what I consider a problem might actually be an advantage to you. In creative writing, we’re allowed a certain degree of freedom in the name of creativity but when it comes to more purposeful writing such as content marketing and journalism, there are established best practices that writers have to take into account in their writing.
Writing not for the sake of writing
Do you know why everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, likes to sing in the shower? That’s because there’s no judgment whatsoever and you’re pretty much the only person who’s going to hear you sing, plus the poor souls who might happen to be sharing a room with you. Singing in the shower or alternatively, a solo karaoke session, is singing for the sake of singing. It’s difference when you’re singing in a public or when you’re hoping that one of the judges’ chair in front of you is going to turn.
When you add a purpose to anything, everything becomes just that more complicated. Now you have a set of goals and requirements that you have to fulfill and that when you fall short of those goals, you’re going to be judged. This is what makes content marketing trickier than other types of writing because it involves a certain level of expectations. It’s not that creative writing doesn’t involve any expectations, it does, but it’s decidedly more abstract and subjective than what you get in content marketing.
You can’t use a number or a letter grade to judge a piece of creative writing because a work of art doesn’t work that way but in content marketing, there are numbers and statistics you could use to check if a piece of content is working. There’s the concept of return for investment (ROI) for example that is commonly used as a barometer. Remember, content marketing is directed to an audience so while each writer might be unique in how they approach writing, the following tips should still be applicable as they’re meant for the audience.
Be observant of your surroundings
One of my favorite Instagram account is the various Overheard accounts. The most popular is Overheard New York and Los Angeles, where the account post random, hilarious things that people have overheard in those two cities. Inspiration can be found almost everywhere and if you’re observant, it’s easy to find something that might be worth writing about. Here’s a tip, when you’re out in public, keep a notebook on hand and put away your phones and earphones and always keep an eye and ear out for anything that’s interesting.
Be updated on what’s trending
Marketing is very much an in-the-moment thing and if you want to have any chance of succeeding in this field, you have to keep yourself updated on the zeitgeist. As I’m typing this for example, the stories that are dominating my news feed is the Notre-Dame fire, the premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones and the harassment of Katie Bouman, the 29-year-old scientist that was instrumental in capturing the photo of the black hole from last week. It’s important for writers to always keep themselves updated and try to involve some of of these knowledge into their writing.
If what’s trending has direct implications to your industry, you could do an in-depth piece diving into the details of these implications but even if they’re just tangentially related, even a simple pop-culture reference will do. The great thing about keeping up with the zeitgeist is that you’re practically guaranteed to never run out of things to write about because the world is an ever-changing place and even when there’s nothing happening around you, someone somewhere is always up to something.
Don’t be afraid to ruffle some feathers
Take a look at what Trump has been doing in the past five years or so or the rising profile of John Bercow, the House Speaker that became a celebrity for his use of language during all of this Brexit debacle or of the Egg Boy. You might not agree with what they’re doing but you can’t deny the impact they’ve made on the world and how they managed to dominate the headlines simply by being provocative. I’m not advising you to be provocative just for the provocation’s sake but if you have something to say that you truly believe in, don’t be afraid of stirring the pot; as long as your company’s on board with it.
Make your case first and use supporting arguments later
This is somewhat related to the point above; when you start your piece with a hot take, it would add additional incentives to the readers because naturally, they’d be curious as to how you managed to come to that conclusion that they’ll be willing to read the whole piece. State clearly by readers would be interested in the piece right at the beginning and then use solid arguments to back up your position. This would also have the advantage of making sure your piece won’t meander aimlessly as the main text should always serve the original point of the piece.