The sword is fictional. A pen is hypothetical. I’m talking about the phrase “A pen is mightier than a sword”, of course. This phrase is used to emphasize that thinking and writing have more influence on people and events than the use of force or violence. We can all agree or disagree on this statement, but the power of the written word is humongous. That’s if done right, of course. Not everything a human hand had written over the last couple thousand years proved to be important and interesting. There are books written on this second matter. How to be interesting while writing? An excellent topic for another time. For now, we will dwell on the first one. How to provide something interesting to your reader? A clear logic will suffice here. What content do people find interesting?
You should provide something:
- entirely new, something never heard before
- new about the things that they’ve heard about before, but want to know even more (a deeper insight)
- unknown about something well-known
- educational, instructional or helpful
Where to start?
Ok, so you’ve decided on the type of value you’re going to offer with your blog post (or with some other content you’re creating your text for). That’s all good for as long as you’re writing about something you know about. However, what happens when you get the task of writing a blog about something you don’t know that much about? You might even not know anything about a topic you’re about to write about. I’m a journalist by profession, and over the years of my education, I’ve received formal education on writing and information gathering. I remember how my journalism professors were somewhat bitter about the growing trend of untrained journalists writing articles for newspaper and their online counterparts. Their general stance on the topic was that those people are “stealing” jobs from trained journalists while not doing it well. Alternatively, might it be that they’ve become worried about their (teaching) jobs?
It’s up to you!
The reason I’m writing all of this is to prove a point. Anybody can write, and anybody can offer value through the written word. Also, I believe that is the point of it, in the first place. The quality of your written content is up to you. Its influence on your content strategy is up to you. The way you use content marketing is, you’re guessing, up to you. What I’m trying to say is that:
- Anybody can learn how to write
- Anyone can offer value through their writing
- Each line of work has something interesting to offer (to write about)
- Everyone can get informed about the stuff they are writing about
Quality takes time
Blog writing is essential for your content strategy. However, is it complete? Certainly not. If you decided content marketing is the way to go, you should be aware that it brings results, you could hardly get with any other strategy. It demands much effort as well. You should be prepared for it. Besides blog writing, you should write content in the form of briefs for images, videos, case studies, infographics, etc.
Just recently, I had a chance to start writing about accounting and finance. I stated this last sentence in this form intentionally. Although I knew nothing about the topic and was disapproving of it in the first place, it made me get out of my comfort zone. Of course, it was hard in the beginning. I struggled a lot. However, what came out, in the end, was amazing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I’m an expert on this topic now. What is true, though, is that I can successfully write content about the issue now. The process took me a couple of months to master, but that’s just because the topic was so remote for me in the first place. If the theme were something else, I would undoubtedly be faster about it. The same goes for you.
Five easy steps… yeah right
I mentioned my profession at the start for a reason. The same thing’s happening with my fellow journalists. The only difference is that they usually have a much shorter time to get acquainted with the subject. A topic you’re writing about is like a newly acquired partner for a policeman in a way. To be successful at any given task, a police officer must know his partner well. Here are a few steps on getting to know your topic, and getting yourself to write about it:
- Gather Information – Obtain everything you can get your hands on. Sure, you might have some general idea on the topic, but if it’s worth writing about it, there’s probably more to it than you learned along the way.
- Process the gathered material – Some topics might be easier to learn about because there might be more material about them. That doesn’t mean you should read thousands of pages about them. Estimate how much is enough for you.
- Analyze – What are the things you’ve known so far, what have you learned? What is going to help you with your writing
- Take notes – There is a saying “Smart people are writing down, while fools try to remember. No matter how good your memory is, during some mental processes, you might struggle to recall the things you need at that moment.
- Discuss the topic with someone from the field – You might know that you know something, now that you read up on it, but before you start writing, do this if you get the chance. Explain that you’re not the expert, but you want to discuss the subject to check if you apprehended the most important things.
You might think that all of this looks like a long, laborious process. And you’d be right. However, on the other hand, by repeating this process, and changing the subject, you will get acquainted with all sorts of different fields of knowledge. Also, knowledge is power, especially with writing. So that’s it. You may start writing about that new, tricky subject you’ve been in agony about.
Have I left something out? Do you have your answer to the question in the title? Drop us a line or two in the comments.