Everybody loves Potato Chips, and it’s true that eating just one is really hard. The same goes with all the junk content that many sites produce. When you’d rather offer a well-balanced three course meal, how can you make the content writing for your website stand out?
Quality. Engage. Transparent. Monetize. Skyrocket.
These defenseless words have been targeted as some of the most overused words in blogging. Though innocent in their own right, let’s let these stand for a tendency in web content—one of the worst insults that can be leveled against a piece of writing: it’s fluff. Snack food. As writers for branding agencies in Los Angeles, or anywhere, how do we achieve the opposite—writing that can fill you up?
Accurate language, and new perspectives.
It’s true that every single original potato chip Lay’s makes tastes nearly identical. What would happen if you pulled out a chip, ate it, and were surprised by the taste of…Thai chicken curry, or some other equally complex taste? At the very least, you’d stop what you were doing and take note.
People hear what they hear all the time. Anyone who writes about social media marketing knows exactly what I mean. We can achieve more by trying for more. Avoid going down a rabbit hole of self-referentiality—don’t lean too heavily on buzzwords to do the heavy lifting. These words, like the list that started this blog, tend to commandeer the writing, minimize your voice, and exert a strange influence on the quality of thought. Instead, try starting out with a novel reference point—maybe a metaphor that isn’t common, or at least isn’t overused—in your field. Having a variety of points of reference A) can broaden your readership base, and B) keep people’s minds engaged who, like you, read the same thing way too often.
Don’t neglect Structure
Too much content out there follows a painfully underdeveloped structure—something like “XYZ happened, and here’s a joke about it.” Just as in a three-course meal, structure actually does wonders for a piece of content. Maybe you need to write a piece that’s short & sweet; structure allows the piece to become short & sweet & meaningful—and probably more digestible to boot. Feel like structure is eluding you? Get back to the basics. There’s nothing wrong with a hook, details, and a conclusion that summarizes your ideas, yet points beyond to the next frontier of thought. Keep it simple—organization is one place where innovation usually doesn’t pay off.
Where does depth come from?
It really comes down to this question. What really is the difference between a potato chip and other, more nutritious food? In a word: more. The unfortunate truth is that, as with many things, there is only so much that can be done the easy way. The number-one thing to do to make yourself a better blogger is to make yourself a better writer—and the number-one thing to do to make yourself a better writer is to make yourself a better human being. That may seem blunt, and unhelpfully general, but it’s true—and it’s practical. Sleep better. Drink enough water. Eat sensible food as much as possible. Go to the museum in your free time. And read, read, read. Read real books, in addition to the potato chip web content you have to keep up with. As a writer of content, you’ll never, ever, have too much random information knocking around up there in your head. And there’s no such thing as useless information for a writer.
That’s an underdeveloped answer (this is a blog, after all), but this ceaseless, ever-connecting web of potentially useful information—that’s where depth comes from.
The perfect blog is outside…
Every writer for a branding agency in Los Angeles, and every novelist in New York, knows the feeling you get when you read a great piece. It feels…well, it feels a lot like eating. You’re being fed, nourished, given new information and perspectives. This is the reason writing was invented: it’s a way to record and transmit information. People didn’t painstakingly invent hieroglyphics—and paper—and the movable-type printing press—or the internet, for that matter—just so that you could space out for 5 minutes and read about 7 movies that could have starred Daniel Day-Lewis. Content isn’t a diversion, although that is kind of the current model of how it’s consumed. Written language is one of humanity’s crowning achievements. It’s a tool to record the thought history of our race. And like it or not, if you’re writing, you’re contributing toward that. Seek depth. And the most confounding, most rewarding thing about content writing, for websites, blogs, or anything—is that depth is most likely outside of your immediate field of vision.