How to make ‘dry’ content compelling
It’s Monday morning after a busy weekend and you’re faced with five solid days of writing about doorknobs. What are you going to do about it?
Writing ‘dry’ content while keeping your concentration can be tough and it’s easy to switch to auto-pilot mode to get each piece done. But you might just churn out repetitive copy that bores readers and doesn’t work for its money as well as properly crafted prose would.
Even if cable ties aren’t one of your top interests, the hundreds of product descriptions you’re typing will be of significant interest to plenty of people buying them and the company selling them. All copy should be good copy.
How do you do it? Try these tips.
Become the reader
Imagine it’s 3:30pm on a Friday afternoon, you’re on top of your work and you can almost smell the weekend. Suddenly, out of the blue, your boss informs you the photocopier has packed in and tasks you with finding the best deal on a new one online.
Do you look on the website that features endless reams of copy on each model, the one that has virtually no information, or the one that uses concise, snappy bullet points to list key features and benefits?
Even if you’re writing about something you wouldn’t use, you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes and consider what they’d want to read. If you’re really struggling for ideas, do a bit of research – Answer The Public is a free keyword research and content ideas tool that’s a quick and simple place to start.
Write with purpose
Remember, you’re producing the content for a reason. Whether it needs to be functional product descriptions, a useful guide, or a compelling survey write-up, the so-called ‘boring’ topic that fills you with dread might be riveting for the next person, or serve a purpose to them at the very least. Think of your target audience and what the purpose of your content will be to them.
Do some reading
Looking at what’s on other websites is a handy tactic for gathering ideas, but don’t just limit yourself to online content. Go old-school and pick up a magazine, book, or brochure to find out what the very best of the best are saying about your topic and how they are saying it. Does their approach inspire you? Could you do it better?
Don’t sit on the fence
Nobody likes a fence sitter. That’s a fact. If you’re writing an opinion-led piece, even if it’s on a subject you’re struggling to click with, show what side you’re on. Be as constructive as you like in your criticism but make your opinion known. You can never please everyone; better to please some than bore them all. And, if you spark a huge debate as a result of doing so, it might help to draw attention and sales.
Grab a thesaurus
Remember them? Yeah, that book that sounds a bit like a dinosaur can be quite useful. If you’re pressed for time, you can always use an online thesaurus instead. Everyone, especially a writer, should try to widen their vocabulary. Keeping your phrases fresh will be appreciated by your readers too.
Stick to the kinds of words your readers would use though. Nobody likes a show-off, and words such as ‘serendipitously’ never caught on for a reason.
Pictures, graphics, and videos aren’t just there to look pretty and break up copy; they can help answer questions, improve time on site, or communicate a mood.
But generic stock photography will make your audience tune out. Here are some alternatives to bad stock imagery to help you dodge that particular bullet.
Take some time out
If you’re spending a long time on one writing task, you’ll need a break to be at your best. Get some fresh air, grab a drink, or work on something completely different, even for just a short while. This should work wonders for both you and your readers. You’ll approach your task from a new perspective and think of new ways to jazz up your writing.
Edit, edit, edit
Less is usually more when it comes to writing, but this is even more important when it comes to dry topics. Keep it clear, keep it concise, and make it as compelling and as useful as can be. Cutting down copy rarely makes it worse. If you’re struggling to find something to chop, revisit your work after a couple of days or even wait until the following week so that you can look at your words with a fresh head.
Practice is key but these tips will help you to turn dry topics into engaging copy. Always try to write the kind of content you can be proud of and be respectful of your client and the target audience.