3 tips for writing compelling content

Mar 11, 2016 by
3 tips for writing compelling content

Creating compelling content isn’t simply a case of brainstorming for interesting topics, following the commonly accepted structural rules of blog writing and promoting via social media.

If you’ve been blogging for a while and your articles still aren’t generating engagement, there’s a good chance that you’re making some rookie mistakes with the writing itself. Here are some top tips that the pros use to turn bland content into the kind of stuff that truly excites and entertains people.

1 – Leverage vulnerability

cambridge-web-marketing-co-blog-content-image-compelling-writingEveryone wants to showcase their expertise and paint themselves in a positive light; this is to be expected. However, it’s far more rare for people to openly admit their mistakes when things go wrong. Counterintuitively, this often helps to boost your credibility rather than diminish it. No one really expects companies to be perfect, and when mistakes are openly talked about, this truly injects a human element into your brand.

For instance, Moz guru Rand Fishkin published an extraordinary blog post in 2014 which detailed his battles with depression. While it’s no secret that the life of an entrepreneur can be turbulent at times, it’s exceptionally rare for the psychological issues to actually be discussed. People consider successful entrepreneurs to be stoic heroes like Marcus Aurelius, so when they admit to having fears and self-doubt, it makes them relatably human, just like the rest of us. The aforementioned post by Rand Fishkin received insane levels of engagement, and many people left heartwarming comments which undoubtedly left an impression on Rand.

For a slightly more prosaic (but also effective) example of leveraging vulnerability, Kevan Lee’s post for Buffer, entitled “We’ve Lost Nearly Half Our Social Referral Traffic in the Last 12 Months”, should absolutely be checked out.

2 – Use sensory language

To quote Henneke Duistermaat, a highly regarded business writer:

“Using sensory words can help you captivate your audience—a business audience, too. Sensory words help you write with warmth, drawing your readers closer to you. They add personality and flavor to boring content. They help you stand out in a sea of grey voices that all sound the same.”

Essentially, sensory words pertain to how we interpret the world. Words related to the senses of sight, touch, hearing, taste and smell all help to create a more visceral piece of content. Particularly in business writing, a bland choice of words can create a bland impression on your audience, so avoid this at all costs! Check out this awesome sensory word bank and start thinking how you can swap out some of your bland vocabulary for words that are infinitely more emotive.

For an amazing example of sensory word usage, try reading the introduction for Jon Morrow’s article, “How To Be Unforgettable”, without getting chills up your spine. You won’t be able to!

3 – Don’t be afraid to polarise

To quote writer and 21st Century philosopher, Eminem:

“You’ve got enemies? Good, that means you actually stood up for something.”

The best way to impress no one is to try and impress everyone. While it’s never a good idea to deliberately offend people, sometimes writers hide too much of their personalities due to a fear of rejection. If you can muster the confidence to put more of your personality on the line and not care if some people dislike you, this will imbue your content with a sense of authenticity that is very hard to replicate.

Steve Pavlina is one of the most popular bloggers in the field of personal development. Yet, many of the things he finds valuable are repugnant to sizeable portions of the population (such as veganism, polyamory and complete disdain for organised religion). Steve doesn’t write about these topics because they’re inherently controversial, but because he deeply believes in them. Because he’s okay with one demographic disliking him, he’s able to draw a huge amount of engagement from a polarised demographic which truly believes in him. If he stuck to writing about safer subjects, he wouldn’t be anywhere near as popular.