Even though it can be difficult to make a topic like photo event sizes a blast to write about, I’ve learned some tricks that can end up making those not-as-fun topics equally as exciting.
Below, we’ll go over some of my tips, as well as HubSpot’s blog team, that help us make blog topics compelling for everyone.
Have you ever been assigned a topic and didn’t know where to start? Alternatively, have you ever procrastinated due to the dread of cranking out an article?
I’ve been there, and so have my colleagues.
The blog team at HubSpot likes to experiment with how content is presented. This has led to testing writing methods that inspire us as writers.
Let’s get into some ideas that have helped us when we get stuck.
When I’m assigned a blog topic I want to make more interesting, I think about times in my life the topic came into play and use that to make the information relatable and valuable. This approach is also used by a few of my colleagues.
“Before writing at HubSpot, I was covering topics related to science, medical technology, and artificial intelligence at other publications,” says Audience Growth Writer, Pamela Bump.
“To avoid abrupt exits from readers when I’m writing a very technical piece,” Bump notes, “I use my introductions to tell a story about myself and address how the discussed topic has impacted me or a colleague. If I can’t personally relate to a topic, I might present a question or scenario, like ‘Have you ever been in this scenario? … This technology is aiming to fix that.’“
Bump’s ability to put herself in the reader’s shoes and tie in personal events shines through excellently in this post about third-party cookies, which begins with an entertaining “Sesame Street” reference.
One of the first thoughts that pop into my head when I write a post is, “How can I turn this into a visual?” I’ve found that making compelling graphics and visuals has a few benefits for me.
The first (and biggest) benefit for me is that making a graphic helps a visual learner like me understand a highly technical topic. Second, graphics improve the readability of a post and break up sections of the text to make my reader’s experience more enjoyable.
The final benefit is that multimedia elements offer a different outlet to flex my creativity. I have so much fun making graphics that I get excited to write the rest of the post.
For more inspiration about how graphics can spice up a “dull” blog topic, take a look at this post about creating follow up emails that includes a visual example that made me chuckle.
“When I first started at HubSpot, I was assigned a blog post on the ins and outs of ROI. Given that ROI is pretty straightforward and most marketers know why they need it, I had to really think about how I’d make this post’s intro both entertaining and valuable,” Bump recalls.
“Ultimately, I decided to tell a story of one of the biggest ROI flops I could think of: ‘Evan Almighty’. While some writers would’ve just written a basic intro that reiterated why ROI was important, I decided to give the reader a story or anecdote they could visualize on a large scale,” she says.
Bump’s anecdote about “Evan Almighty” is one of my favorite introductions in a HubSpot blog post. Similarly, in this ultimate guide to search engine marketing, HubSpot’s Marketing Blog Editor, Caroline Forsey, compellingly relates Zappos’ SEO strategy to the topic.
“To make a dull topic more interesting, I usually try to come up with a pop culture anecdote for the introduction,” states Rebecca Riserbato, one of HubSpot’s staff writers.
Risberbato and I are avid pop culture fans, and I’ve found that introducing a topic with how the latest fast food Twitter battle relates to it makes me amped to dive into the details.
“Sometimes it’s relating the topic to a recent TV show or using song lyrics to hook the reader. Then, I always make sure to include information on how this blog topic will relate to the reader in the introduction so they understand why they’ll want to continue reading.” Riserbato suggests.
To see one of Riserbato’s pop culture music references in action, check out this engaging post about subdomains and subdirectories, which includes an entertaining anecdote about Taylor Swift.
Sometimes, I’m assigned to write about a topic I’ve never heard of before — but I know of someone who does. For instance, when I write about extremely technical topics within the SEO field, I turn to HubSpot Senior SEO Specialist, Braden Becker, for an expert opinion.
Becker has a talent for talking about complicated SEO topics in a way that’s easy to understand and compelling for readers.
Similarly, Bump suggests, “Even if you think a writing assignment is incredibly boring, someone with an expertise in that topic likely has a passion for it and will discuss it with vibrance. This is why quotes can be a very helpful way to add color to a piece and insight from an expert.”
Alternatively, if you’re writing about a niche topic and don’t have any experts within your company, consider reaching out to external thought leaders to collect quotes.
As Forsey notes: “By connecting with industry professionals, you can recognize the very human angle of the topic, which can make anything more exciting. For instance, for my psychology series I’ve interviewed psychologists, researchers, and public speakers. These conversations have sparked my interest in an otherwise ‘dull’ topic, and best of all, they make the pieces more interesting for readers, as well.”
To illustrate, check out this awesome article by Bump about aligning with your sales team, in which she interviews HubSpot’s marketing experts for tips and tricks.
Staff Writer, Jay Fuchs, notes, “One way I try to make dull topics more engaging is by having a consistent, fun narrative to link together examples of a concept.”
If you enjoy creative writing and want to make the topic a little more similar to a short story, taking on a consistent narrative could inspire you to make comparisons throughout, rounding out the piece and making for a more engaging reader experience.
“In this article,” Fuchs continues, “I highlighted the differences between two types of consulting by demonstrating how each kind of consultant would approach a hypothetical, failing Applebees-esque chain restaurant’s problems.”
“A stat or research-based fact can be one of the quickest ways to demonstrate why the topic or point you’re making is important,” says Bump.
This tip is one I use regularly when writing. If I experience writer’s block or want to boost the value of a topic that might seem dull to readers, I search for a statistic that shocks me. Surprising facts drive me to relate the numbers to the importance of the topic.
“Stats and facts are also very shareable online and can be repurposed into infographics or images, which can also zest up your post,” Bump suggests.
If you want inspiration about how to tie factual, reputable information into a post, check out how Meg Prater, managing editor of HubSpot’s sales blog, included a Harvard study in a post about writing smarter sales goals.
Even though it may not seem like it at the time, “dull” blog topics make us better writers. They push us to learn about something new and present it to audiences in a way that relates to them and keeps them hooked.
Turn the post into something you’d want to read about repeatedly. Perhaps sales organization structures aren’t your favorite thing in the world, but they could be to readers. You could also be the writer audiences turn to when they want an entertaining take on highly technical topics.
Fully own what you write about, and your readers will notice.
Originally published May 19, 2020 4:00:00 AM, updated May 19 2020