The inbound marketing universe is teeming with content. It drips with it. And we bow-backed content writers, all spinning with coffee and the occasional cream egg, are pushing like steam-punk droids until it is out there. The infinite content. So, I often wonder how the influencers in our industry managed it. How do you become a content cult hero?
It isn’t easy. But then, consistently writing content isn’t easy either. And between you and I, most days I would settle for just creating a bit of content that will be read. Ah I suppose we all have to start somewhere, right?
You see, I have come to realise something. Content writing is a disciplined occupation. Like the actor and the soldier, the content creator must be on form – always. And, considering that we writers believe ourselves to be the very vessels of creativity, you can imagine that a militant existence doesn’t appeal to our bohemian ways.
But there is routine.
And, if we want to be a content cult hero, a legendary force within our industry, or just to be read once in awhile.
We still need to observe certain practices.
Read other relevant content every day
There are some writers that are just so eager to crack on with the journey to becoming a content cult hero, that they miss the most basic step. You can’t be a good writer unless you read. There are two very good reasons for this.
It is useful to have current industry knowledge.
Some industries never stop moving, and other industries have many diverse topics to discuss. By regular reading you keep yourself abreast of all the changes within the industry, and you can jump on the trending topics as they happen. Furthermore, another thought leader might have released important content that could potentially affect your own audience.
You can learn new techniques.
As well as being able to grab information from another source, it is important to view the craft of another writer in your industry. If there is one that you particularly admire, then read their content to find out why. It might be that they always give you such practical information. But it might be the way that they put it across to you.
The truth is, three hundred other writers might have given you the same advice. You haven’t picked up on it. But this one article sold you practical advice from the back of a glittering unicorn, and that’s why you remembered it.
It may have just been a matter of style.
Establish your own cult hero voice
What is going to bring people back to your content? I mean, you wrote this one article with crazy good information. You applied immense analysis to it. In fact, it would have taken Sir Isaac Newton to craft the equation that sums up how epic you are. People have been reading it, but that’s it. Very few of them are skipping over to another article. I hate to say this, but it might be a problem with the way you are delivering it.
Information is only ever as good as the voice that carries it.
Information can be presented in many ways. Instead of simply relaying information from one source to the next in the best English possible, play with language.
There are examples of more outlandish bloggers, and one of the more successful blogs I admire very much. FAKEGRIMLOCK writes articles such as Because Awesome in such a way, that you can’t help but smile. The writing tears up English conventions and presents itself in a bestial fashion befitting the author. But once you have acclimatised to the voice, the content amounts to great advice. Nobody will ever forget FAKEGRIMLOCK after they have read an article.
My suggestion here is not to go out of your way to be outlandish and quirky. It might work for you, but then also relaxing into your own voice might just do the same.
Start by writing as you’d speak, and then tighten up in the edit. Nobody’s voice is more unique than your own.
Tell us how it is
Apart from the voice, another reason people subscribe to a specific writer is embedded in the content itself. However, I’m not talking about the industry relevant items that any copywriter could have rehashed and delivered. It’s that part that only you can deliver. The way you see it. That unique point of view that only you can offer.
An analysis borne by your own individual perspective.
Certain changes in your industry might offer challenges to your business, or to your customers. How do you see these issues being resolved? Are they even serious problems? Do you agree with the writer who gave you the information? These are all good questions, and it is absolutely more than OK to disagree with another writer.
It doesn’t necessarily make them wrong – or you right. Very little information in the world sits in a nice black or white box. Feel free to analyse your situation, feel free to engage with other writers about the same issues. Link to them. Show your research.
If you can pull a compelling enough article, even if the reader doesn’t change their mind about a particular issue, they may be impressed enough to subscribe to you.
To analyse a situation, especially when another writer disagrees with you, is one of the scariest parts of your job. But you won’t become a content cult hero by taking the easy road out every time.
Visit the writer’s gymnasium
Have you ever had one of those days where words just won’t come? We can call it writer’s block, or a slump, whichever term you prefer. If you haven’t, then it is coming. No matter how much of a content cult hero you are destined to become, you are going to hit that wall at some point. It’s not that I am psychic – it’s just that you are still human.
There is one problem with this though – you still have a deadline to hit.
Writing through blocky-slump can be vehemently soul-crushing. But if you regularly flex those writer’s muscles you are more likely to avoid it in the first place. Or, you might have some back-up content.
Just like anyone who must work out and practice their craft, a writer needs to do the same. Write every day. At least for fifteen minutes. I don’t mean you need to punch out a 2000-word essay. But just a couple of paragraphs about something in your industry. You never know when it might come in useful.
It’s also another good way of honing your own voice.
Work out who’s going to read you.
Want to know something that might just grind your soul into jagged chunks? This isn’t about you! It’s about your audience.
But like Maggie Butler describes, “One of the hardest pills to swallow as a creative professional is that you are at the mercy of your audience”. She is dead right. Because without them, you have absolutely nothing to write.
If your audience’s concerns are not your concerns, that is a little bit tough I am afraid. You will never engage with an audience if you aren’t willing to address the issues that are important to them. If you don’t engage these readers, they are never going to recommend your blogs to other professionals.
You might not even get anyone opening your blog.
There may come a time when someone wants the exact thing you have been dying to write for years. And, when that comes, write the absolute hell out of it. But until then, a good content cult hero will write anything their audience wants.
So, you are on you way to becoming a content cult hero. The one thing nobody can stress enough is the difficulty you will face getting there. Very few people have written something, and the world has then rushed to elevate that writer to cult hero status. Especially as writers are constantly turning up.
This new preoccupation with writing has pros and cons. Yes, it will keep the best of us in work for a good while. But it also has made marketing a lot more competitive. To stay ahead of the competition, you are going to have to be determined to be a writer. There are going to be moments where you feel utterly replete. But if you persevere it can only ever be worth it.
The last bit of advice that I think is worth mentioning, is to enjoy the little victories. When you first see one of your articles ranking #1 on Google. When another writer takes you seriously enough to debate with you, or to incorporate you in their writing. It all means something.
If you have any advice to give to a fellow copywriter, please leave it in the comment below.