Writing Wednesdays is a series on writing tips and tricks that are published on Wednesdays. Not necessarily every Wednesday. But Wednesdays.
As a content marketer who’s worked on many marketing campaigns, I’ve been exposed to a huge variety of topics. If I’m lucky, I get to write about topics that are fun and interesting. More often than not, I am tasked to write about stuff that is niche, complex, or just … meh. These include:
- Enterprise Resource Planning
- Decorative laminates
- Satellite communication technology
- Enterprise storage solutions
- Application performance management solutions
However I feel about these, it’s still my job to deliver good copy on time. Here’s how I’d tackle them:
First, set judgments and labels aside. What’s “difficult” or “boring” to me, may be valuable or downright fascinating to others. It’s not about me the writer anyway; it’s about my target audience and how what I am writing about could help them. That’s one of the golden rules of marketing.
Step two, know what the heck I’m writing about. Otherwise, my noob-ness will show in my writing, and that’s not gonna help me gain the trust of my target audience. I just have to understand the topic well enough to be able to write convincingly. Some shortcuts:
- Don’t be afraid to ask. Before writing, clarify anything I don’t understand with the client or the account manager/project manager, even if my questions are stupid questions. Better to look stupid before I do the task, than to write something based on mistaken assumptions and get flak for “missing the mark”.
- Ask the Big “G”. No, not God. Google. I can’t depend solely on the brief or instructions I get. Sometimes, I need to understand the context of the subject, or the people I write for, so I need to research online.
- Know how to speak my target audience’s lingo. If I have to use industry jargon in my copy, I make sure I use them correctly. For example, when I wrote copy for the decorative laminates producer, I read various interior design publications in order to learn how they describe room decor with terms like “accent” and “art deco”. For tech topics, I like Tech Target’s very comprehensive glossary. For finance topics, Investopedia is a great reference.
Lastly, I never skip edits. Figuring out a challenging topic can use up a lot of brain energy, so when I’m done, I take a break and then edit my work. Or I ask my colleagues to give my work a quick sanity check if they are free. When I get too deep into something, I might develop blind spots, so a fresh pair of eyes is helpful.
I admit I still feel nervous every time I get a challenging topic to write about. But y’know what, it can be fun too. Fashion, travel, food, pop culture, etc. are interesting but too many people write about these so it’s hard to get noticed. On the other hand, not many people can write about something as niche as application performance management solutions in an engaging way.
Whatever topic I encounter, there’s always a story to be told, so it’s up to me to dig deep enough to find it, and then help make the story come alive.