Writing is difficult.
Writing coherent, imaginative, insightful material that people actually want to read is even more difficult. Just take a look at your inbox and see how many of the hundreds of emails you receive weekly are worthy of your attention. Or jump online and take a look at how few of the countless number of blogs screaming for your attention actually grab your attention. Not that many, right?
Yet there are literally millions of posts launched onto the cyber universe every day. And there’s an endless line of bloggers writing from every perspective about literally everything under the sun. Here’s the challenge: How do you distinguish your writing from all the rest? Two words: quality content.
In the initial entry of our series on taming the lion-sized obstacles that keep people from blogging, we looked at the area of authority and credibility. That’s the “who” question. Having resolved that, the next step is to concentrate on the actual blog content, the “what.”
Quality content—probably above everything else—is what’s going to keep people coming back for more of your work. The most successful bloggers not only know how to say things and say them well, they know where to find interesting, innovative, and useful material. Much of the time, it’s right in front of your nose. Here are some sources you can tap into in order to write something worth reading.
Look Back – Write about what you’ve done.
As you did in the last blog, another quick look at your resume or LinkedIn profile can help you identify your key areas of expertise and experience. Oddly enough, we’re often too close to our own lives to be objective. Do you have great insights regarding managing people? Write on that. Have you done a lot of research of business processes? Let’s hear your thoughts. Do you have extensive experience in new technology? Tell us what you know.
One of the best way of bringing your past to life is through personal stories. We’ve all heard the statistics and studies that confirm the fact that people remember stories and personal examples much more than they do facts and figures. In a way, we’re all merely fellow campers sitting around the fire waiting to hear the next great story. What are some real-life examples you can share about projects and processes that flourished? What about those that crashed and burned? These are all blog material you are not only qualified to tell but about which you can write passionately.
Look Around: Write about what you’re doing.
What is consuming your time, attention, and energy at work from a project and/or a process standpoint? What are your challenges? What are your hopes and dreams? What keeps you up at night and excited about waking up tomorrow morning to face another day of it all? Something must be. It’s what you’re spending your life pursuing.
What is the unique scenario you’re facing at work today? Why is it so challenging? What options have you tried and abandoned? Who has helped you along the way or added complications to your efforts? Have you encountered unexpected challenges or breakthroughs along the way? Chances are if you’re spending a lot of time and resources toward resolving an issue, others are likely having similar concerns and would love to know how you’re making progress.
Look ahead: Write about what you want to accomplish/become.
We truly live in an age like no other where the time frame between conception and possibility is getting shorter and shorter. It’s all driven by data which is leading to discovery which is turning into reality. IBM puts it this way: “Every day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data—so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”
What’s your vision of the future? Where do you want to be in the next few years—from a corporate and personal perspective? What do you want to see imagined, pursued, and actualized? Surely you’re thinking about these issues. Write about them.
In an age when content abounds, distinguishing your blog writing from the rest of the pack with imaginative and insightful writing may be merely a question of looking back at your past expertise, looking around at your present challenges, and looking ahead at your future aspirations.
Jim Ramsbottom is ThinkWell's writer-in-residence. When he's not authoring blogs (for clients or himself), white papers, animation scripts, website copy, or marketing content, you can find him writing screenplays or re-watching “Breaking Bad.” He’s an ardent of the Hopi proverb: “He who tells the stories rules the world.”