Content is king. That’s what they say, anyway. But when you’re not the least bit interested in your writing topic, you’ll be lucky if your content can even make it into the royal court as a servant. Let’s face it: Everyone does a better job — no matter their industry — when they’re interested in what they’re doing. This is especially true for copywriters, content marketers, social media experts, and anybody who’s writing anything meant to inspire sales.
When you write good content, you’ll ideally be speaking to your audience in a way that’s familiar and comfortable to them. You’ll be hitting their pain points, piquing their interests, and convincing them your product or service (or that of your client’s) is the answer they’ve been looking for.
Die-hard searchers may wade through uninspiring content if they’re convinced it offers them the right solution to their problems or desires. But most people will click away before they’re halfway done if they aren’t interested in what you’re writing.
So when you don’t care about the writing topic, how can you make it interesting for your target audience?
One effective strategy is to “fake it until you make it.” Imagine you’ve been left alone for an afternoon with that one great uncle who only wants to talk about his stamp collection. 30 seconds into peering at stamps with a magnifying glass, you’re ready to throw in the towel. But you promised your mother you’d keep him company.
And nobody wants to disappoint their mother.
So now you’re stuck for several hours with a topic you couldn’t care less about. Enduring is okay, but why not make the most of it?
This is what you do: Act interested. Listen to your great uncle until you have a question. And once you have a question, POUNCE on it because you finally found The Thing that’s interesting to you.
Rinse and repeat as many times as you need.
Now do this with your clients and topics. I once had to interview a man about mini racecars for a newspaper article. Prior to the interview, my interest in mini racecars went from 0 to 60 slower than an ancient snail on its last leg (last muscular ventral foot, to be exact). But HE was interested in the topic (obviously), and so I faked enthusiasm.
Pretty soon, I began to feel real enthusiasm for his mini racecar and associated events. When I went to write the article, my notes were filled with interesting quotes and facts. It was simple to make the article worth reading for my audience because by feigning interest, I had stumbled upon the interesting bits of mini racecar driving.
Tell a Story
Listing facts about pest control isn’t going to excite you, and it certainly won’t entice readers to learn more about your client’s ant-killing service. Instead, imagine you’re telling a story to the person in your life who would be the least likely to be interested in ant poison. This person has never thought about ant poison and would rather be doing anything else (looking at stamps, perhaps) instead of talking to you about it. How are you going to make the ant poison interesting to this person?
As a story.
We all love listening to stories; it’s why fairy tales and fables are retold again and again in 1,000 different ways. We love to see them acted out on stage, on the screen, or in our heads. We especially love to imagine ourselves in those stories. Cinderella becomes more interesting when we think about how the mean lunch lady in 2nd grade acted an awful lot like poor Cinderella’s evil stepmother. Guardians of the Galaxy puts us in the scene when the ‘80s songs strike up nostalgia from different phases in our lives.
So put your reader in a story about ant poison. How would your reader feel if she woke up to a line of ants marching off with bread crumbs in her kitchen – and all before she even had time to have her morning coffee? How would your reader feel if he let his toddler play on the back porch for a few moments, and returned to find him covered in ants?
Let them imagine these scenarios by writing copy that puts them in those situations. You’ll enjoy writing imaginative copy, and they’ll be guaranteed to pay attention as they imagine the horror of those situations.
And the bonus? Your story will make the problem so real that they’ll be ready to consider your client’s pest control.
Find the Golden Nugget
Every subject has that one thing that’s so compelling, so interesting, people can’t help but pay attention. Every subject. Even your great uncle’s stamp collections. Or your accountant neighbor’s spreadsheets.
I once had to write an article about a new crosswalk.
I wracked my brain on how to make the topic interesting. The first thing I did was ask myself: Who wants to read an article about a new crosswalk? Well, the people in the neighborhood might care to know there’s a new, safe place to cross the street. Why? Maybe their neighborhood has had a lot of accidents lately. Maybe pedestrians have been crossing willy nilly all up and down the street, and now that will end.
These little nuggets are the WHY.
WHY is this story worth telling? And what else is unique about it? The particular crosswalk from my article employed a new technology. It really wasn’t that interesting, but it was the first crosswalk in the state to use the technology. Groundbreaking technology (even when it’s just a crosswalk) is a golden nugget of information that’s worth noting.
It doesn’t do a whole lot to simply write that there’s a new crosswalk. Ask yourself WHY until you find the golden nugget of information that will make people care.
WIIFM? Yes, Me
You’ve heard this one before: What’s in It for Me?
When you’re selling something to someone as you do when you write copy, you need to demonstrate why this thing you’re selling is relevant, needed, and/or desired by your target audience. They need to know what they stand to gain from buying your client’s product or service.
You already know this.
But if you don’t believe in the product or service, you’re going to have a hard time convincing somebody else to do so. So what’s in it for you? Before you can sell the product to someone else, you need to first sell it to yourself. What would make you part with your hard-earned dollars to snatch up that product or service today?
Make a list of the benefits someone can gain from your client’s product or service, and then narrow in on the ones that are most enticing to you. NOW, imagine how those benefits would improve your life.
I’m not a jewelry person, but I once had a client who sold customized jewelry. To me, the earrings and necklaces were frivolous expenses and I struggled to see their value or desirability. But then I listed out the benefits and found a few that spoke to me.
- The jewelry could be customized to represent a special occasion in someone’s life.
- The customization meant the jewelry was one-of-a-kind.
- Because it was an internet company, a customer could play with the customization tool in their pajamas and order a new piece of jewelry without having to speak to a pushy salesperson.
These things appealed to me, and while I didn’t ever fork over the cash for the pricey items, I could finally see why somebody else would do such a thing. Finally, I was in the customer’s heads, and I found dozens of interesting topics to write about.
Just Start Writing
You can’t create something from nothing. If you can’t find any interest in the writing topic, open up a blank document and just start writing about the topic.
- Write about how much you hate the topic, and list the reasons why.
- Write about why you think somebody might be interested in the topic.
- Write about what that kind of person would be like (even if you write negatively about that type of person).
- Simply write a description of the product or service you’re trying to promote.
- Make a list of words that relate to your topic.
- Just write.
The act of writing — especially when you’re writing about your writing topic — will open your mind. Even as you write about how much you hate the topic, you’ll be writing about the topic. And suddenly, that golden nugget mentioned above will reveal itself.
You can even copy and paste information about your topic and arrange it into a logical order. This act will get your brain in gear. Just be careful to remove the copied text before you begin your own writing. Don’t plagiarize!
Take a Walk — Seriously
We weren’t made to stare at computer screens, but when you’re in the business of content creation, that’s what you do for much of your waking hours. I’ve found that too much time with my computer stunts my ideas.
I’ve never read anything to support this theory, but I’m convinced that our thoughts get trapped when we isolate ourselves in offices, staring at the computer. There’s just nowhere for thoughts to go after a while. Taking a walk outside gives your eyes something else to look at, your ears something else to listen to, and your thoughts so much more room to travel.
Take a walk at least once a day, and let your mind wander. You don’t have to think about your client — or the boring topic. In fact, try not to. Just enjoy the time away from your computer.
Don’t like walking? Schedule some time to do something you do enjoy — something that isn’t related to work. The point is to get your mind wandering. It’s in the wandering you’ll stumble upon new ideas and inspiration that you can take back with you to your office.
How do you find the motivation to write about something that isn’t interesting to you?