What’s your assignment today? I’m sure you’ve got a great angle, an awesome story to tell, and the only thing you are in a rut about is how to make it worthwhile for your audience. It’s a tough task these days, as you clamour to do your job, forces are conspiring against you. I’ve been there.
The demand on your time and the way you go about writing has likely completely changed from when you first thought about getting into the business.
You need to not only write the perfect story that garners a big audience, but you need to think about all the SEO tips the consultant shared in a meeting, the right language for your “niche” target demo of adults aged 25 to 54 who live in the suburbs with their 1.5 kids and how you can make it all sexy with a photo, or better yet a catchy viral video meme.
Even if and when you accomplish all that, editors and marketing types are refining your story to get it just right for your brand’s voice. Copy changes, product mentions, sponsor tie-ins, all of it, is enough to make anyone bananas.
The truth is, there is a better way. I’m not suggesting that none of that is important, or even necessary in some cases, what I do think though, is that we’ve gotten so far away from the art of true story telling, that we’ve all lost our ability to actually cut through. That’s why we all got into this business in the first place isn’t it? To make art, and be proud, but also to have a voice, to connect. Great content for real people, will always find an audience.
Somewhere, in the race to make money, and appeal to the largest audiences possible, we’ve forgotten just that. It’s not about our publication, our brand, or even us, it’s about our audience. When we make that connection, organically, page rank grows on Google, without needing to stuff our stories with words that don’t fit or make sense, our readers share our stories on social media, and when we actually strike a chord, they post a comment. That is actually the story that is alluding all of us. Having more people read the great work we’ve created without relying on fancy tricks to get the job done.
I’m not advocating by the way, that none of those tools and tricks aren’t useful or important, but what I am suggesting is that if you strip away your story to its core and provide inspired, thought provoking, audience centric content, you are bound to succeed.
That’s the rub isn’t it, connecting on a completely different, less superficial level. I’d argue when you are able to match your audience’s sophistication on a specific topic, and tug in some way at their heart, you are bound to do better.
I don’t need to prove this to you on my own. Think about what your favourite authors, writers, poets and musicians have in common. They were all able to touch you in an emotional way and you for whatever reason related directly to their story. We all remember lyrics to our favourite songs, inspired speeches given by actors in movies or even that awesome op-ed piece that we read in our newspaper. In each of those examples, it was the message at the core of the content experience, that we remember, and share, not the stuff around it.
So that is actually the challenge. Ahead of worrying about demographics, psychographics or whether or not you can weave some highly sophisticated SEO key word matching, consider your audience on an entirely different level. Think of them as people who gravitate and connect with content that matches them not because they are a number or have browsed certain websites, but because like you, they are real people, who will remember what you’ve written. They’ll thank you, by not only connecting with your initial post, but coming back time and time again for your great content, written for real people.