Maybe they are.
Maybe every time they see that newsletter, they can’t help but mumble, “this guy again?”
It might be out of plain luck that they haven’t unsubscribed – yet. But how can you really know whether your audience is sick of what you’re bringing to the table?
If you scour the internet, you’ll get tons of posts on how to create engaging content and why it’s so important. But what does that even mean? And is your content truly engaging compared to what the experts recommend?
While everyone has their own definition of what ‘engaging’ means, let’s take a few steps back for a minute.
You Have Been Duped
Most of us here went to school. And we all know what it felt like when we got the answer wrong.
6 years old, you raised your hand, praying that the teacher picks you. Maybe you could finally show your classmates (and Mrs. Brown) how smart you were – or better yet, finally fit in with the other kids.
But tough luck. You get the answer wrong, the class laughs up a storm, and you just gave Frank and the gang enough reason to take your lunch money. You sit down, slouch into your chair, and let every other question pass you by.
15 years old. No raising of hands this time because God forbid you get it wrong. Better stay in your own shell and draw comics in your dictionary than risk being a failure.
18 years old. High school is finally over. Look at you with your deep voice and fancy beard. Mom and dad are over the moon and now you can finally go to college and be independent. But wait. College? You hadn’t really thought about throwing your painting aspirations out the window. But what the heck. Better get a job than risk your business idea failing.
Strike three. Aaand you’re out!
The three scenarios are not all relatable to all of us, but you’ve probably resonated with one or two.
We’ve come to think that there is always a right way of doing things and that if we fail, punishment awaits. So it’s better to just sit back and go with the flow.
We fall into what is known as the bandwagon effect. If everyone’s doing it, that means it’s right, right?
Wrong, dear friend. You have been duped.
Your Audience Needs You
As a writer (or any creative), being submissive to the noise is not only tiresome, it sucks all the life within you.
Going against conventional beliefs is an artist’s equivalent to breathing. And yet we still make sure our articles are at the 1500-word mark when we have a lot more (or a lot less) to say.
We still scrape data to report on without giving our own opinion about it. Sure, AI is expected to replace certain jobs in the next X years. So what? As your reader, I want to know what you think about it.
Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? How do you think it’s going to affect our industry? Are you even an AI advocate to begin with?
We’re so scared of our opinions being wrong that we end up flooding the internet with more useless guides on topics that have been covered thousands of times.
Just go search “content marketing guide” on Google.
It took me a while to pronounce that number, but those figures are staggering.
The internet doesn’t deserve this.
What Do You Stand For?
Vulnerability requires a post of its own. But for what it’s worth, your readers need you more than they need another bland, do-this, do-that article.
If you’re too scared of being wrong, your work doesn’t reflect your personality. If your work doesn’t reflect your personality, your readers won’t know what you stand for. And if your readers don’t know you stand for, what’s the point?
It’s never about being right or wrong. Get your audience to think about something they would’ve never thought of before. Take them on a journey where it’s more about the process than it is about the destination. Where it’s more about the questions than it is about the answers.
And even when it is about the answers, it’s more about what lies beneath the answers themselves.
Cause if you ask me, I’d say that’s what engaging content is all about.
How To Creating Engaging Content
So maybe we should just get over this whole idea of ‘engaging content.’
There’s a whole plethora of opinions and who can really say that any of them are wrong? I’m not a linguist – heck, English isn’t even my first language – so I know I can’t even try.
What seems like the bottom line for me is if, after reading my article, my reader feels like I’ve posed a challenge. For her to not only be better at what she does but to also spread the same agenda within her space – so that they too can be better at what they do.
You might have different goals, but at this point, we can try and answer the question that started it all.
Is your audience secretly tired of you?
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Jay Acunzo slaved his way into writing an 8000+ word mammoth article on what it takes to create someone’s favorite podcast. What’s more is that this is only part 1! There are two more after this.
As much as this post (and the whole of Marketing Showrunners) mainly focuses on audio content, the wisdom over there can apply to any content creator. This specific post is one that opened my eyes into exactly how certain content gets lost in the sauce while others relate to people on an emotional (even scary) level – hence, never forgotten.
Expect to see a jazz-playing magic wand, some colorful illustrative visuals, and a whole lot of value. Grab a coffee for this one.
Among all the copywriters on the internet, Henneke is the first I go to whenever I need to read a post on anything copywriting related.
The above post is a reflection on how she learnt to brush off her sophisticated, official style of writing and replaced it with a more humane one. One that actually connects with people.
As with Jay Acunzo above, she stresses on the need to inspire – something that only comes when you write from the heart.
Brian Clark and Jared Morris talk about how content marketing has changed from the early days of Copyblogger in 2006, to the emergence of podcasts in the 2010s, to where we are now.
They challenge the phenomenon that creating better content is the way forward, how content marketing is being taught like it was a decade ago (despite things changing), content curation as a means of connecting, and how it all comes down to one thing – that audience is king, not content.
A lot of things are discussed in this episode, most of which are never talked about in the content marketing space. So consider this a tiny piece of gold found underneath a pile of gravel, garbage, and manure.
Lots of manure.