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How Not What To Write Like

Writing meaningful content

If you’re writing content as a business or a brand, you’ll soon discover that you don’t write content just to express yourself and get an opinion across. You write it to evoke a reaction, to push a button, to open a door, solve a problem, or answer a question.

You’ll never answer that question by simply writing from your own perspective. Content needs to be for someone. You, as the author, are relatively unimportant. What you say is equally irrelevant if your tone and content don’t resonate with your target audience.

Oftentimes, it’s not what you are saying, but how you are saying it. To do that, you must put your potential audience at the core of your content.

Don’t believe me? Think about the content you enjoy. The bloggers you follow, the columns you read, the Youtubers you secretly subscribe to. What is it about their style that really speaks to you? And more importantly, how do you emulate that feeling with your own voice?

Writing content has never been about what you have to say. It’s about what someone else wants to hear. And, no matter how hard you try, you don’t control what someone else wants to hear. You simply have to provide it. That is the biggest challenge about writing good content.

The student becomes the teacher

Let me provide an example. When I think back to university, I always paid close attention to the word choice of my professors. Professor A hates colloquialisms, Professor B despises verbosity and Professor C might love quotes.

The reason? Well, if I had to submit the same essay to three different professors, I would write three completely different essays. I would customise the content, as it were, to the particular tastes of my potential readership.

Now, you can sit there, in your proverbial ivory tower, shouting that you’ve got it right and that everyone else is wrong, but your audience will just do the same. Someone’s got to budge. And let me tell you one thing that’s certain: it’s NOT going to be the consumer.

I imagine these professors at their desks, late at night, with a pile of essays on their table, the frustration clearly visible as yet another student overuses their least favourite word.

Then, suddenly, they read something different. An essay that was carefully written with their specific preferences in mind. It doesn’t compromise my opinions, but it certainly doesn’t contradict theirs. And, even if it does, it does so in a way that they can appreciate, using their own rhetorical style and cleverly deconstructing it. The language, the sources, the stylistic adjustments – everything is tailored to maximise the impact it will have on them.

You can call the professors biased, or the student a sycophant, but at the end of the day, this is how content works. Can you blame people for not liking what they don’t like? Of course not. They’re just people. We all are. It’s not an excuse to say that someone just doesn’t like your content. You need to make them like it. Better yet, make them love it.