One of my most boring jobs was writing jackets for science books at a publishing house. The job was fine, but there's not much you can do to make liquid chromatography or macromolecular crystallography sound awesome. Unfortunately for writers, that's no excuse for content writing that puts readers to sleep.
We'd all like to write the next Coca-Cola campaign, but for now, some of us have to stick with content writing that covers less-than-dazzling topics. In many cases, the client expects you to know how to make the topic sound fun. If you're up for the challenge, it can be done. Here are five ways to turn your boring topic into scintillating content.
1. Learn more about the topic.
One reason I couldn't make the scientific gobbledy-gook in my past job interesting is because I didn't understand it well enough to put it in my own words. Let that be a lesson to any content writing professional - know what you write.
If you're not into cars, carburetors may seem like the most boring topic in the world. But studies show that the more you know about something, the more interesting it is to you. Thus, if you start doing research on topics you normally wouldn't care for, those topics generate more interest on your part, which motivates you to learn more, which helps you learn to write about them in a compelling way.
2. Choose an angle that everyone can relate to.
Seinfeld became a classic because it was about nothing, but it was the kind of nothing we've all faced, from waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant to being annoyed by workplace birthday parties. Take this been-there-too approach when looking for a way to make a boring topic interesting.
Good content writing requires the ability to connect with your readers, so talk about the topic as if it had affected you. If you have to write about the mechanisms of an irritating oil called urushiol, you'll generate more attention if you include an anecdote about that summer you itched incessantly from the prime source of urushiol: poison ivy.
3. Connect the topic to today's headlines.
Most Americans don't care much about quantitative easing. In the wake of the 2008 recession, however, their ears perked up when the Federal Reserve talked about it as a way to stimulate the economy. If you want your boring topic to sizzle, find a way to tie it to the news of the day.
This actually happens all the time. Experts on infectious diseases don't get much press until there's an outbreak of influenza or some other communicable disease. The intricacies of criminal law are only interesting when a sensational murder trial is on Court TV. To make your content just as hot, scan the papers for a captivating story and connect it to your content.
4. Find a way to make the reader participate.
Teachers and college professors alike have realized that their lectures aren't getting through to their students. They don't take it personally; they just know that people don't respond as well to a one-way conversation. When it comes to content writing, boring topics are a lot less boring when the readers can take part in the discussion.
Obviously, you have to write the content, so write it to prompt readers to participate. Include an interactive survey, where readers must give detailed answers to thoughtful questions. Require them to complete a short quiz after each section before they can move on to the next. If readers are part of the topic, they're more likely to pay attention.
5. Make the topic more visual.
Do you remember those filmstrips where you watched an animated figure eat food and then digest it? That was the filmmaker's way of making the digestive process more interesting. Luckily, you're never too old to appreciate a video or photo that presents a boring topic in a visual context.
Infographics are a great way to show long-term trends, regional or demographic breakdowns, and other representations of dry statistical data. If you have to describe a long and complicated process, skip the typing and draw a storyboard instead. When a boring topic is also tough to follow, visuals make it easier - and more fun - to grasp.
In a perfect world, content writing jobs would always focus on the glitz and glamour. Until that day, though, follow these steps to add a little glitz and glamour to everyday topics."