What could a content writer possibly learn from X Factor?

What can these judges teach you about content writing?

I have mixed emotions about shows like X Factor. I hate the over-the-top emotion and worry about the kinds of artists that are judged to possess that “intangible thing” that is certain to lead to stardom — let’s face it, if acts like Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones were starting out today, they would only get a shot on the show for the comedy factor. At the same time, though, being the conflicted individual that I am, I still tune in every Sunday and Monday night for more. I guess I just love to hate it.

Everyone is a hypocrite, right? But putting my failings aside, it occurred to me that there are a few things a content writer can learn from  X Factor.

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So, what could a content writer possibly learn from X Factor?

1: Know your audience

I have heard many times the judges say something along the lines of, “You need to know who your audience is.” This is good advice. In any type of business — and the music industry is no different — you must know your target audience and what they want. For a pop star that means deciding on the genre of music and the way to act and look. A content writer, on the other hand, must decide on the style (formal, casual, humorous) and form (cases study, white paper, blog).

What do you think would happen if Stan Walker released an album of country songs? I’m fairly certain his fans would think he’d lost his marbles. The same applies to content writing. If your client is a business coach, for example, you will only alienate his/her clients by posting a blog on, say, cooking. Before you embark on a content marketing strategy, decide on the appropriate topics and the form they are to be delivered. Here are some ideas:

  • a plumber could create YoutTube videos on how to unblock a drain
  • a construction company could write a mix of case studies and Slide Shares about successful projects
  • a copywriter could write blogs on how to write a Home page.

 

2: Be yourself

Of course with content writing,  it’s not so much about who you are, but who your client is — most of the time you are writing for them. So, a good content writer should be able to assume the personality of the person or business they write for.

How can you do this?

Well, you need to get to know your client. Talking is good — in person, on the phone or on Skype. When I interview a client I always record the conversation. I do this for several reasons:

  • short hand is something I never got round to learning (my problem)
  • to capture everything that was said
  • it’s a great way to pick up on how the client speaks, the phrases they use.

 

Being conscious of how your clients speak is particularly important with less formal content like blogs.

 

3: Be entertaining

I spend a lot of time reading — I want to keep up to date with what’s happening in my industry. However, if the author doesn’t get to the point fast, it’s difficult to understand, or is just plain boring, I don’t waste my time.

I’m not saying you need to be a comedian; you just shouldn’t be boring. What’s my definition of boring? Here are a few points:

  • no images or diagrams
  • walls of words that aren’t broken up into paragraphs and headings
  • endless cliches
  • key words repeated too many times
  • saying nothing new
  • really bad grammar (or should that come under the category (“irritating?”).

 

When I find content that teaches me something new, I really appreciate it; I share it on my social networks and come back for more — like a pop star’s groupie. This is what content writing is all about.

 

If you found this post useful please share. I welcome your comments.

 

Related posts:

What is content marketing and why is it powerful?

Six steps for writing a case study

Three factors that make a content writer successful

  1. Hey Andrew,

    I’ve never watched this show but I love watching some of the YouTube videos of people who have tried out for it and I really enjoy the ones that were struggling.

    You’re right though and for the longest time I never understood the term “know your audience”. I mean I think in a lot of people’s minds we think that everyone would want to know this stuff. That’s not necessarily true and if you’ll look at your traffic stats to your site you’ll see your demographics and you can build from there.

    I love comparisons like this because it’s real! Thank you for sharing this one with us.

    By the way, you don’t have your Twitter ID set up so if I were to share your post, you wouldn’t have a clue & that’s very important my friend.

    Thanks Andrew and enjoy your weekend.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Hi Adrienne, thanks for that. Yes, I think it’s always good to make comparisons to get a point across. Thanks for letting me know about Twitter ID. I’d better sort that out.

  2. Hi Andrew
    I am sucker for tenuous metaphors so I applaud your bold/brave connection between X Factor and content writing. Bravo sir!
    Your observations about about what makes entertaining online reading and what does not got me thinking about a feature article I read last weekend. I had not seen anything presented like this before and was intrigued with the way it maintained/recaptured interest over quite a long read.
    If you have a spare minute please have a look and let us know if you think any of the techniques applied could be useful for copy writing:
    http://www.lostplane.co.nz/main.html#lostInClouds-1

    1. Hi Quentin, thanks for your feedback. It was a bit of a stretch, but I thought comparing X Factor to content writing might be interesting. I’ve checked out the link and to be honest, I found the article very difficult to read. There are awesome pictures and the aeroplane bit at the beginning is quite cool, but I found it quite distracting and the site was terribly slow. I think this could be an example of trying to be too clever which unfortunately puts people off reading the content.

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