Every content writer alive has written about something that is, well, boring. In my case it was toilets. I had to write press release after press release about government-funded toilet blocks, and let me tell you, after a while, I daydreamed about flushing myself down one of those toilets so I could escape to the sea like in Finding Nemo.
Sometimes the topics you write about are going to be a bit dry, and sometimes you might have to write out of obligation (for instance, when you have to acknowledge a sponsor or funding body as in the case above), however that doesn’t mean you can’t make it interesting for the reader.
I want to inspire you to make every blog post intriguing, no matter what the topic, so below I share my secret sauce to turning even the driest topic into a blog worthy of reading to the end.
How to turn dry topics into stories worth reading to the end
When I write blog post recipes (aka storytelling frameworks) for clients who want to write their own content, the first task is to determine how that story is going to be introduced. If you can hook your reader in at the intro, you greatly increase the chances of them reading right through to the end.
Sometimes the story starts with a question, sometimes two, sometimes a scenario and sometimes a personal story. In fact, there are about 15 ways you can introduce a topic, but the key thing to remember is, in each case, the focus should be firmly set on the reader and what you want them to get out of the blog post.
Here are a few intro examples from some pretty dry topics:
Topic: How to Post on handling separation with dignity, avoid the conflict and anxiety of separation (How to Post)
Sample Intro: The woman sat in a cafe staring at her wedding ring. She was thankful nobody could see the turmoil in her head but on the inside she was reeling. The week before her marriage had come to a bitter end. “What do I do now?” she pondered. “What about the kids? How do I move forward from this?”
In this example I paint a picture of the turmoil experienced when someone is going through a separation. You can just picture yourself sitting in that cafe and you can feel the anxiety. Imagine, though, if I’d written that intro like this:
“What do you do next after you separate? Here are 10 tips to show you the way.”
It’s a pragmatic approach and to the point. However, it is decidedly dull.
Topic: How tarps protect your home during renovation (How to Post)
Sample Intro: Are you wondering how to protect your home during a major renovation? No matter what building project you’re undertaking, if you want to ensure rain or construction dust doesn’t ruin your home, you’ll want to put up tarps during your renovation project.
It’s okay to introduce your topic with a question and get straight to the point, but just do it in a compelling way so the reader is engaged from the very beginning. In this example I introduce the problem with a question and then relate that question to something the reader is likely to experience if they don’t take action.
Topic: New Alcohol Delivery Service (Media Release)
Sample Intro: No more beer runs! Now the beer comes to the party thanks to yet another innovative new online delivery service!
In the sentence above, I relate the new service to a trend (online delivery services). In a press release it’s important to always think of the newsworthy angle because the person reading it is not the consumer but the journalist.
Imagine if I’d started this post like so: A new service is bringing beer to your doorstep so you don’t have to go to the shop anymore.
Not quite as compelling as the first sentence, huh!
Topic: CEDA report on Australia’s economic future: an overview of the report and ideas about growth strategies (Research Breakdown)
Sample Intro: Are you prepared for economic changes that are already happening right under your nose? It’s normal to worry about external factors that can impact on your business, but now is not the time to stick your head in the sand.
If you haven’t read it yet, The CEDA report on Australia’s Economic Future is a must read, not only because it spells out what the future holds for Australia’s economy, but also because it shows you how to innovate in the face of change. To help you dissect the report, here’s an overview.
When writing about research, it can be difficult to convey the topic’s importance in a reader-friendly way, because research reports are often the epitome of dry. If you keep the introduction reader-relevant, you will have a better chance of reeling them in to read the rest of the story. In the above introduction I use a question to hook the reader, acknowledge where the reader is at, and then entice them to want to learn more about the report by pointing out how it could help them.
Topic: Benefits of Online Marketing Vs Traditional Marketing (Behind the Scenes News Post)
Sample Intro: If you’re still trying to decide if online marketing is for you, here’s a look behind the curtain sharing customer’s journey towards making the transition from traditional to digital. We share a little about what we’ve done for them and the results they are getting now.
In this introduction I begin by setting the scene and acknowledging a common problem for the reader: trying to decide if something is for you, or not. News posts are often dry and when you are doing a behind-the-scenes post about a business process it’s probably not as exciting as a behind-the-scenes about a celebrity event or adventure activity. That’s why it’s important to keep your focus firmly on how the post helps the reader.
In the case above, I stated that they’d get a sneak peak behind the curtain to show them what it’s like for a business to make the transition and what kind of results they can expect. This is a great approach if you want to liven up a story about a business process. Adding funny pictures (or just highly relevant ones) is also a good idea.
There are many other ways you can liven up boring topics. You can share anti-tips and turn your post into a satire (Note: be careful with this one as done badly it could back-fire on you), you can tell the story through the eyes of someone who’s never used the product or service before, or you can start by leading them down a path and then suddenly changing direction to reveal a hidden truth.
It takes practice to write great stories. However, it is possible to convey even the dullest topics in a compelling way by drawing the reader in at the start with stories, scenarios and questions.
And, if you need a helping hand to turn your next dry topic into reader gold, check out Writally!