I’m so sick of people promoting writing formulas as a MUST DO for content marketing.
I tried quite a lot of them, but each time I ended up feeling like a big fat fraud. My writing was lifeless and boring! I want to be writing with passion!
I was writing content that I didn’t want to share. It followed all the rules, but it just felt wrong!
My content didn’t sound like me or seem authentic. I was so busy trying to get people’s attention by following all the formulas, that I forgot to be me. My writing wasn’t helping people, which was my real goal.
I fell into the trap of not wanting to stand out.
I think it’s something many of us do when we start doing content marketing.
It’s scary to take a different path with content marketing, especially with so many business coaches and content marketers preaching a formulaic approach to writing.
I felt icky! Honestly, writing with formulas drained all the passion I had for writing. It got so bad; I wasn’t even sharing my content on social media. As a writer and business owner, that was bad. As we all know, if you are not visible, no one will realise you are their dream solution.
went back to the drawing board. I wanted to offer more value with my content
instead of just being another piece of content that no-one was reading. It was also important to me
that my content sounded like me and was authentic, even if people didn’t like
Scary? YES, but so much more rewarding!
I still use formulas to springboard and structure my content, but I no longer follow them slavishly. I’ve stopped relying on them for my long-term success.
Like me, you may want to reconsider your approach.
The truth is that if we follow the same route as everyone else; we end up in the 90% of online content that will never get read because it’s all the same.
So when I write great content, I aim to share my passion with purpose. As a content creator, my aim is to show that I’m trustworthy and want to engage with my audience.
But how do we get passion and purpose into our writing without doing what everyone else is doing?
Let’s explore this together.
Writing Traps: Content Marketing Formulas
Let’s start with what is formulaic writing
Does all your writing sound and look the same to everything else on the web?
Are you overly focussed on following a layout and your writing seems to take a predictable path?
You may rely on formulaic writing, which is essentially a shortcut and a set of rules on how to write your content.
A search on Google will give you pages and pages on formulas that will transform your content from ‘blah’ to internet sensation that gets results in no time. Bet you’ve heard that a few times!
Writing formulas use a template approach to generate curiosity. Most rely on negativity like scarcity, and warnings if you don’t take action.
Don’t get me wrong, some formulas can work well, but don’t let formulas replace offering valuable content.
When a writing convention or formula becomes a rigid rule for you rather than a guideline, you may have a problem.
When you depend on using formulas for your writing, you lose your personality. Your content doesn’t even sound like you anymore. It will sound the same as everyone else’s content. Just another blog that wants a reader but offers no spark of a personality.
Often when we rely on a formula for our content writing, we are more general in what we say and forget about the details. This can lead to us promising a lot (especially in the headline) but rarely delivering on that promise.
I recommend breaking the mould. Start getting specific with your writing. If you want to stand out and be authentic, do your research and know what your audience wants and give people your perspective.
Writing without using formulas can be scary, you’ll need to put your personality and opinion into your content instead of being conservative.
It’s risky. By writing content without formulas, you are trying something that is an untested path.
Isn’t that what an entrepreneur does? Thinks outside the box and takes risks? So why not be unique with your content?
Maybe you aren’t taking such a risk trying this? By taking a different approach to others in your industry who all sound the same bland, whereas you will stand out and won’t be competing head-to-head with your competitors.
To avoid formulaic writing, get specific, tell a good story, offer YOUR perspective, and offer something that gives value to your audience. Instead of focussing on ranking and sales, consider how your writing is making people feel. Make sure you deliver on your headlines promise!
Don’t Make Your Content Marketing Meaningless
Before we dig into this, let’s be clear about what we mean by content marketing. Content is anything you write for your business for others to see. Your blog posts, emails, eBooks, podcasts, advertising and social media posts.
Content has no magic powers, and even terrific content won’t connect and create engagement until you add one thing… Purpose!
Content is meaningless if you don’t understand what your business and marketing goals are.
You also need to understand these goals to step away from formulaic writing and start writing with passion and purpose.
Basically, you need to understand why you are writing.
When you write each piece of content, you want it to connect to your overall purpose. Focus on where you can help the world and what you want people to recognise you for.
Aim to give value to your audience.
To be an effective content writer, you need to know who you are and what you stand for.
What do you do?
Who do you do it for?
Why did you develop your business?
Your content marketing is a perfect way to get potential clients to feel understood and to realise you’re the perfect person to help them.
Having a solid small business and marketing plan—even one page each — is an essential first step to writing with purpose and passion.
You can even cut time by aligning your business goals with your content marketing goals. This way you can double down on your effort and success.
Here are five main aligned goals for developing content.
- Increasing your profits through content aimed at increased customer conversion
- Reaching new potential customers or entering new markets or areas by using content to grow brand awareness.
- Having more sales and expanding your market share through content-driven lead generation
- Develop stronger relationships with your stakeholders with content aimed at customer loyalty and retention
- Establish yourself as an authority by developing content that is engaging and authentically you
Second, you need to understand who your target audience is and make sure you focus your writing efforts with them in mind.
One of the most common mistakes with our content marketing is we want to please everyone.
Social media shines a spotlight on what we do and how we present ourselves to the world, making us overly self-conscious.
I’m great at what I do, writing, and yet for a long time, I put off posting my content. It petrified me that people wouldn’t like my perspective… that they may judge me harshly!
Guess what? They can’t like my content if they don’t even have the chance to read it.
The irony is in trying to please everyone, you can lose your authenticity and the very people you want to impress won’t even notice.
They will see you as someone who agrees with everyone, having no opinions of your own – a rather boring, bland person.
Appeal to the people YOU want to work with, that will MOST enjoy your help.
Knowing your ideal audience helps you get more clients because you can show you understand them. This also makes writing so much easier.
You can position your content to answer your audience’s problems or pain points. If you know what they love, you can share that passion by providing your perspective and help.
When you don’t develop a content marketing strategy; or you’re producing content because you ‘should’, you have found the perfect way to end up with formulaic boring content.
One last thing to consider, do you have the patience needed to do content marketing?
Being committed to content marketing is a no-brainer for success online.
In this new digital environment, brands need a long-term content strategy. Make sure you are clear on the time commitment for effective content marketing.
Many people treat online content as an ad campaign, but the goals of content marketing are different.
Unlike ads which end once you stop paying, content has a long-term value that continues to attract people to your brand and website while educating and serving.
When you make monthly investments toward your content, whether it’s blogs, videos, articles, eBooks, white papers, and social media, you can expect to see a 100% to 400% return on your investment.
Just remember that short-term data is not the correct marker for which to judge your efforts.
By working out your purpose for content marketing and for each piece of content, you can easily build trust and connection with your audience.
How do You Write With Passion?
As a passionate content creator in your field, how do you share that passion with your audience?
We all know that connections are the heart and soul of any business, Content marketing goal is to connect, impact, influence and inspire your ideal audience.
Yet often in business, we can become conservative and this shows in our formulaic, bland same-same writing which is taking over the internet with 90% of it rarely being seen.
If you’re not showing your passion in your writing, why would anyone be passionate about reading it?
The reality is not even your friends and family will be enthusiastic about your content if you aren’t.
If you are writing because you “should” or for attention instead of being passionate, your audience feels that and will desert you for someone who shares their passion.
By sharing your passion in your writing, you will stand out, and people WILL notice.
Whether you write a coaching blog, a leadership article or even a technical how-to piece on coding, I believe by writing with passion you will capture your audience’s hearts.
Be authentic and passionate about what you want to share with your audience
Passion is what you deeply care about and what gives you pleasure. It’s what makes your life (and work) meaningful. Use this in your writing, share your ideas and passions to create content marketing magic.
This takes courage.
We need to overcome the marketing and society conventions that try to tell us the “right” way to do content. We can’t let the conventions stop us from speaking with our passion and in our own voice. It can be scary putting your passion into your writing whilst fighting overcoming the ‘what if they don’t like me?’ fear.
Truth is, some people won’t but others will adore you! When you truly want to give value to your audience, they feel this in your writing. When your audience accepts that you care about them, they develop more trust in you and enthusiasm for your content.
By understanding your audience at a deep level, you can write as if you are speaking with a specific person or group of people in mind, sharing the same passion.
Writing as if you’re talking directly to your audience, makes your words come alive, your content fun, and interesting to read.
Be passionate as you write!
Step away from the writing formulas and conventions.
Let your individuality shine!
When you know your topic, your purpose and are passionate about sharing with your audience, this shows in your writing. Passionate writing will turn scanners into readers as you enthuse them with your own excitement. When you write from the heart, the right people will read every word.
To help show passion in your writing, you need to be:
- Passionate about something
- Be prepared to not depend solely on formulaic writing
- Dare to walk your own walk and ignore the naysayers
- Have the courage to be vulnerable and share your perspective
- Let your heart and soul guide you instead of the latest content marketing trend
With my writing, I can be very passionate, but after days and days of research, I can find that my enthusiasm fades.
Sometimes it’s hard to feel passionate about what you are trying to write with everything else life can throw at you.
When this happens, it affects our writing and the result can be formal, unexciting, and bland,
What can we do?
Forcing passion is hard. We may feel like it just has to be there, but you don’t have to leave this to chance.
The best way to get out of this bland rut is to change the scenery, put some space between you and what you’ve written so far. Do things that refresh your passion (writing may not be your passion).
Also consider if you need to change what you are writing, maybe the topic is just not happening for you. Be clear on your passion and why. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What helps stir your passion?
- Do you want to share your knowledge because you find the topic exciting?
- Do you believe the topic can truly help people?
- Are you open to new ideas and learning new ways to think of your topic?
Maybe you’re passionate, but you’re just finding it hard to put all your passion into words?
I’d love to give you one perfect technique for capturing passion into words, but everyone is different. We all have our own unique way of communicating, including in writing, so what I use may be terrible for you.
However, here are some practical tips that may work for you to introduce emotion and find the passion in your content. (Just remember to throw out the ones that don’t fit your unique style)
Tip 1: Keep in Mind a Specific Person When You Write
I like to imagine you reading my blog, knowing I wrote it just for you! Not for Google, or for accolades, but to help you figure this writing with passion thing out.
For your writing to show your passion, you’ll need a thorough understanding of your intended audience. Take time to develop detailed personas that go beyond job titles and basic demographic information. Try to figure out what your person really cares about. What pain points are keeping them up at night? How can you talk to them most effectively? What information do they need?
Knowing who you are writing for makes writing so much easier. And helps your audience feel that you understand them. You can deliver passion into your writing by truly wanting to help your audience. Address their emotions whilst sharing yours when you write.
Put yourself in their shoes!
Share your emotions and insights from that perspective. For example, did you struggle with the topic at some point?
When you stop selling and truthfully connect, wonderful things happen. Words are important. When you write your content, are you truly talking WITH your ideal people or talking AT them?
If you are speaking to them, you use words like “you” and “yours?” Or do you speak about them, with terms like “customers” or “users?”
By imagining having a simple, personalised conversation where you talk directly to a specific person can go a long way to showing your passion in your writing.
Tip 2: Can People Read the Level You’re Writing?
It’s pointless writing some big fancy technical article using all the techie words, if the person you want to share your passion with can’t read and comprehend what you’ve written!
As a rule of thumb, aim to keep the reading level at a middle school reading level or lower. Unless your passion is extremely niche and technical, then totally ignore this tip.
You can check this by knowing your Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease score for your content. Use one of the available free tools to help you work out your score.
If your score is high, try to reduce the number of adjectives (words that describe nouns like sweet, quick etc) or complicated nouns. Exchange them with simpler, yet heartfelt language. Keeping your reading level low also helps keep your content relatable.
Tip 3: Have a Conversation, Don’t Lecture
Sometimes when we want to help people learn something we can get a bit teachy. This results in us being formal and using big words.
Instead, write the way you talk, whether that is fun and personable, uplifting, quirky and humorous, or authoritative.
Most people find it easier to trust real human beings who are warm and approachable with a personality.
You can achieve this by speaking directly to your ideal person, as if you had them sitting right there with you.
I know it’s tempting to add words you’d never use in real life, but you’ll just end up sounding fake. None of this helps get your passion into your writing.
Easy-to-understand, shorter, common words and phrases sound more conversational and engaging.
If you’re having trouble with this tip, try speaking and recording your content first, then write up the best bits. On a side note, this will help people discover your content when they use voice search.
Tip 4: Don’t Skim The Surface, Include Detail
How many times have you read something on the web that says nothing detailed? You get the basic idea, but no detail in how to apply it?
That’s because they’ve kept their content general and not shared their enthusiasm or passion. If you are passionate, you want to share the DETAILS!
Let me tell you a short story about my daughters when they were younger. They are chalk and cheese when you’re talking to them. With my eldest, she gives the bare details, focusing on facts and often leaves you hanging, wanting more information about her emotions. The other tells you all the details, and I mean ALL the details, but you get drawn in by her emotional descriptions.
If you are too mysterious, too factual, or offer too much detail your readers can get overwhelmed resulting in them turning away from your writing.
Good writing includes details and emotions.
Focus on the detail. It’s not enough to entertain your audience. Your content should help your audience become more than they already are.
Don’t give away everything at once but include enough detail that you connect with emotions and give a sense of what is happening.
We are often told not to focus on details with content marketing as people have short attention spans and will only scan the content, etc, etc.
But the people who read rather than scan your content are often the people most interested in what you offer.
Tip 5: Keep Concepts Simple
If they are so busy trying to understand your content, they won’t also be able to see your passion.
Keep your concepts simple, and to the point. Simple concepts are often more successful and are more easily remembered!
Use everyday examples that your person will get and break it down into steps or stages (you didn’t learn to read before you learnt your ABC, for example).
You want to make sure when someone reads your content that all their confusion disappears and they can see the path you’ve laid out for them.
Tip 6: Stop Using Meaningless Marketing Speak
You’ve become an expert at what you do and learnt many big words. You probably also know a ton load of acronyms (You know those letters that mean something to you, but not for people outside your industry).
Using meaningless buzzwords and big fancy industry words doesn’t share your passion, but it is likely to lose the interest of your audience!
Get to the point!
Writing content without formulas requires you to be vulnerable as you share your practice, insights, expertise, questions, challenges, failures, triumphs, and more …
Use your emotions, describe them, share them.
Sometimes this is easier to do after the initial draft. The initial draft is the time to just get all your thoughts out. When you edit your work, consider could you use more emotional words or a different phrase that is more how you would say it to describe your topic?
Tip 7: Be Bold!
Be prepared to experiment and play around.
Try and learn new things and most importantly have fun!
Writing is a creative process, not a set of formulas and conventions.
If you want to stand out from all the content available on the web, share your writing your way, not by some formula to impress some unknown algorithm.
The best writers share their passion by living their passion. They never stop learning or discovering new elements of their passion.
Writing with passion becomes so much easier and enjoyable when we are doing what we love.
Writing with passion is definitely a skill, one that you can develop.
I believe that our challenge is to allow our own individuality and passion to shine through in everything we do and consequently into our writing.
Merging Your Purpose and Passion
Content marketing without purpose or passion is a waste of your time and money and of your audience’s time.
Passion and purpose are exceptionally important in meeting your goals.
All writing has a purpose, you just need to define the purpose for your content.
When you are writing, make sure you consider what your audience will get? Will they learn something? Have you inspired them? Do they move from confused to Aha?
By knowing your purpose, you can write clearly to express your authentic viewpoint.
Purpose gives us direction; where passion lets us stand out.
By merging your purpose and passion, you will feel empowered to leave an amazing impression.
Your audience is waiting breathlessly for your viewpoint.
They’re stumbling around confused looking for the ideal solution, but you’re not standing out.
Inject your passion and purpose into your content to help them find you.
Content marketing is a long-term strategy.
Initially, it might seem like you aren’t making any advances in capturing an audience…
But eventually, if you keep writing with purpose and passion, even when no one seems to notice, the results will come.
And you won’t feel like a fake!
Let me know in the comments what your passion in?