When you're new to content marketing, knowing what to write about is half the battle... and the other half is making sure that your content appeals to your audience. Actually, this can also be a problem when you aren't so new to content marketing.
Certainly, understanding your buyer persona essential, but it can only get you so far. Your content still has to be interesting.
Luckily, you can cheat a little bit on days when you're not feeling particularly engaging. Here are a few of my favorite tricks for days when I'm feeling more Lyndon B. Johnson than Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson—a.k.a. less than entertaining.
If you're more of a visual person (or Pinterest power user), here's a quick infographic we whipped up of all 9 tips!
1. Tell a Story
When Dwayne Johnson began his wrestling career, he was billed as "Rocky Maivia," a combination of his father's first name and his mother's maiden name. He struggled to distinguish himself and performed in front of increasingly hostile crowds.
After suffering an injury in 1997, Johnson realized he needed to embrace his audience's perception of him. He began speaking of himself in third person as "The Rock" and arrogantly insulting the audience, WWF personalities, and other wrestlers.
Today, we may know him as a quirky, beloved entertainer, but he rose to fame as the bad guy that wrestling fans loved to hate.
See that? I used a story to illustrate both how well stories can add color to a post, and how understanding your buyer persona can lead to better results. Emily will now begin referring to herself in the third person.
2. Add a GIF or Video
Whether you embed a TED talk by an innovator or drop in a funny GIF from your favorite sitcom, media will always help keep readers engaged.
While highly relevant visual content can improve your audience's understanding and retention, even the lowly reaction GIF can break the boredom.
So give 'em a little pizzaz.
3. Find a Quote
If you're stuck, turn to the greats. An insightful quote can add depth and complexity to a dull argument, particularly if you build on the point that's made. Of course, the quote doesn't have to be too serious, like one of my all time favorites from Kurt Vonnegut:
"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."
My blog post probably isn't going to stand up next to Slaughterhouse Five, but it's nice to know that Vonnegut struggled with his work as well.
4. Use a Thought Leader
Is there a thought leader in your industry who inspires you? Or who inspires your audience? If you can't think of anyone, you can always Google "[your topic] influencer." No one has to know.
Use that person's message as a jumping off point for your own argument (credited, of course). For the record, you don't have to find someone you agree with—arguing against a thought leader is a compelling angle as well. The key is to use that person as a trigger for ideas and analysis.
5. Make a Joke
Often, writer's block happens when you're feeling the pressure and keep doubling down on what you've already got. It's like Leia says when Tarkin threatens Alderaan—the more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.
If you're really struggling, it may be time to lighten up a little.
6. Embed Related Content
If there's anything that can help your audience understand what you're trying to say, whether it's a tweet, Instagram post, or YouTube video, why not include it?
For example, here's a little refresher for those who didn't understand the Tarkin/Alderaan reference.
7. Be Direct and Specific
If adding "flavor" doesn't feel right (e.g. if your topic is really technical, or about something serious), you don't have to have to weave in pop culture references and quotes from thought leaders. Instead, you can simplify your message and focus on being detailed and practical. Try to be the expert resource your reader had only dreamed of.
8. Identify the Part You Connect with
If you're a human person and not a Turing-test-passing computer program, there will be something about even the most boring topic that you can relate to. If your audience is anxious, you can probably empathize with their fear. If they're hopeful, highlight the opportunities that get you excited.
Perhaps you can wax eloquent about a concept involved, or geek out about a technical element of your product or service. Just look for the part you find interesting, fun, frustrating, or exciting and you have your "in."
9. Dig In to the Buyer Persona
You're probably revisiting your buyer personas regularly (Right? Right?!?), but it's worth returning to them when your content is feeling uninspired. If you did a thorough job of researching and writing your personas, you should be able to draw on details about their lives (family, hobbies, education, favorite member of the Beatles, etc.) to enrich your content.
So there you go! Those are the tricks I use when I'm burned out and have all the personality of plain oatmeal. If you're having this issue consistently, you may need to revisit your buyer personas and make sure you're creating the content they want to read! Luckily, I wrote this handy guide for exactly that purpose.