What could a content writer possibly learn from X Factor?
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.
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?”).
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