Just because we are all publishers online doesn’t mean to say that what gets published is well written, factually correct or entertaining. I’m sure we have all come across stories that are just plain wrong, bore the pants off us, are a repetition of a hundred other stories, or are just dressed up opinions, or maybe not even dressed up at all. Simply opinion, and there are no end of opinions.
So what can you do to make your content stand out from the crowd? We would do well to look at some tenets of journalism because journalists are paid to create interesting stories that are factually correct, relevant and timely. Even entertaining too. I’m not going to go into detail here about how to write an intro or the types of formats that might make your content more compelling.
I thought I’d focus on some nuts and bolts – tips that will help you make your content more compelling.
1 Talk to people
So, sounds obvious but do you talk to people who have said something interesting to find out a bit more, why they said it and how new what they have to say might be? A lot of content is based on what comes to the writer or what they find through search, not from what they found out by talking to someone. By going to the source you get the story first-hand, you find out a bit more about that person, you gain a contact and you might unearth new avenues that might be worth exploring. More importantly for what you are writing, you get quotes and readers love quotes – they help tell the story. Stories are about people so make sure you get out there and start talking and asking questions.
2 Balance what you hear
Maybe this is just the journalist in me talking, but I really enjoy a balanced article in which the writer has sought out differing opinions on the same topic. It is hard to draw a considered conclusion on a topic from the opinion of one person. And to remain impartial as a writer you need to seek out more than one voice for comment. Seek out differing and opposing views and you start to build a more detailed picture. You start to create a context for the story which then helps bring greater understanding to the topic. If you want to produce high value content then seek out balance in what you write.
3 Check your facts
It is easy to create content which is based on what you read somewhere else. But is what you are writing based on fact? Has anyone checked the source of the information? Fact checking is not the easy option but if you want to become a trusted source of information then you need to know where data comes from, who said what etc. The upshot of fact checking is the opportunity to challenge what has gone before. You can become the signal amongst the noise.
4 Remain impartial
Over time journalists’ writing has increasingly featured the voice of the journalist as if the reader is interested in the journalist’s spin on a story. As an opinion piece that is fine, but once you put yourself in the story you are editorialising. A good journalist would let the facts (and supporting quotes) speak for themselves. This is the act of reporting – conveying what you have seen and heard. To be able to tell a story as told by others is a great skill and makes for powerful writing. This is about putting the subject of your stories centre stage – it is about them, not you.
I don’t know about you, but a well balanced article which has interrogated the facts and presented them in an impartial way is something you see less and less of. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it yourself. What are you waiting for?