How to Make Boring Content Interesting (Or Less Boring)

People bored in a business meeting

Do you know what sucks about the death of Facebook for publishers?

No more clickbait in our News Feeds.  That and the loss of millions of website visitors to our sites.

I’m being a bit tongue and cheek, but in a way I’m serious.  Serious from a publisher’s perspective.

It’s more fun coming up with and writing clickbait than it is writing and publishing long, dull boring content for search engines.  The product promotion stuff.  The buying guides.  The how-to stuff.  The keyword targeted listicles.  All the content people search for because they want answers to something, want to learn something or want to buy something.

Blah blah blah.

Maybe, just maybe the problem isn’t with the topic or intended platform (search traffic).

Perhaps it’s the way you or your writers write the content.

It’s definitely the way many writing services write the content.

Outsourced writing, while it serves a great purpose and I order it in droves, is usually not the most interesting writing.  It needs what I call the royal treatment, especially the important articles.

I now instruct writers to NOT WRITE INTROS OR CONCLUSIONS.  I write the intros.  I’m no longer paying someone to write some fluff garbage that takes up the first 200 words.

I only pay for the meat, which I often dress up as well.

I’m definitely not the best writer.  I never will be.  Commenters around here have criticized me about it.  That’s cool.

Chances are you aren’t the best writer.  There’s only one best writer.

I don’t believe you need to be a great writer to publish great content.  I should say “interesting content”.  In fact, terrible writers can publish interesting content.

I’d rather be interesting than grammatically correct.

Here are tips for making dull content interesting

1. Inject your personality

I’m still working on this.  I like doing it.  I’m not the most outgoing dude around, but I like to think you get a bit of a sense of who I am reading my posts.

I’m also working on this on my B2C sites.  I publish a lot of content on those sites and plenty of it is pretty dry stuff. I do my best to spice it up with a bit of me and other nuggets that make it more interesting.

There are a few websites I read where the personality really shines through.  I read them because of the personality, not so much the information.

One example is the guy behind Wealth Magnate.  English isn’t his native language, yet he’s fun to read.  He holds nothing back.  He’s written a fair bit about his style and says when he started writing like he does, his blog took off.

For truly exceptional writing with personality, read this site.  I read it daily.  It’s not the first time I’ve referenced it around here.  It’s an extremely popular site not because of the information, but because of the writing.

2. Facts, Stats and Numbers

People love facts and stats.  Trivial Pursuit is one of the most popular board games of all time, which should tell you something.

Fact-based listicles are popular.

  • 10 Deadliest Spiders in the World. 
  • 10 Worst Roller Coaster Accidents of All Time

You know what I’m talking about.

How do you weave this into some hum drum article?

Suppose you’re writing about basketball shoes.  In addition to the boring description that you no doubt write, why not mention a basketball player who wears the shoe.

Bingo, you’ve just tapped something your visitor will like.  Fact #1: Mention the value of their current contract (money gets attention).  Fact #2: List products they endorse and how much he makes from those endorsement.  Fact #3: Performance stats.

That would do it.  You’ve now turned a boring article about some basketball shoe into something moderately interesting.

Another angle could be writing about how the shoe company started.  Business types like that kind of stuff.

Or interesting facts about the company’s CEO.  Salary, first job, toys, stock options, scandals.

3. Anecdotes and stories

We love stories.  We’re addicted to stories be it movies, TV shows, novels.  Even video games incorporate stories.

Why not inject story telling into your content?

Here’s an example.  Suppose you’re writing about how to save money using coupons.  Boooring.  Helpful, maybe.  Boring, yes.

Weave in stories of millionaires who got rich saving money.  Couponers love that stuff.  Savers love that stuff.  While I’m not interested getting rich saving, I understand the appeal.

You don’t have to go as far fetched as millionaires.  Mention a story of a family that paid for a vacation by couponing.  Or paid off their house couponing.

4. Jokes

You don’t want to overdo this, but a well-placed joke related to the topic can work wonders.  With the internet, it’s a no-brainer.

Here’s a good joke about writers:

A visitor to a certain college paused to admire the new Hemingway Hall that had been built on campus.

“It’s a pleasure to see a building named for Ernest Hemingway,” he said.
“Actually,” said his guide, “it’s named for Joshua Hemingway. No relation.”
The visitor was astonished. “Was Joshua Hemingway a writer, also?”
“Yes, indeed,” said his guide. “He wrote a check.”

– Source: Letterpile.com

Is that a lot of work?

Yes and no.  It’s more work than not doing it, but it doesn’t take all that long once you get the hang of doing it.

You don’t have to incorporate every option above in every article.  Not every article I publish gets the royal treatment.  But I am applying the royal treatment more and more often.

Visitors do take notice of this stuff.  If you slap them upside the head with something interesting, funny, personal they will take note.  Your domain name will stick out. They may very well be back.

This stuff is golden in email newsletters too.

 



What do you think? Leave a comment!

  • Nigel says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head Jon.

    It’s becoming clear that more and more content needs to get the “royal treatment” to perform. That’s not only true of blog articles, reviews and so on, but also other things such as on-site SEO – like title tags and (especially) meta descriptions. At our ecommerce agency, Analogy Marketing, we’ve seen how giving even meta descriptions the “royal treatment” have resulted in significant gains in traffic.

    You have to make every single word count these days – there’s no room for fluff anymore online – anywhere.

    Thanks for the writeup; it really struck a nerve with me!

    • Jon says:

      Hey Nigel,

      thanks for the comment. Good point on meta description. I too have worked to improve that part of on-site SEO. I suspect you could write a small book on the subject with regard to SERP CTR you’ve observed.

  • Anne says:

    That’s the future SEO – or rather the present one. Write for people. Boring fluff or just very poorly written texts just don’t cut it. Provide value – both educational AND entertaining – to real humans. Google’s AI is becoming smart enough to evaluate that IMO – and signals from users and how long they spend on your page matter much more than keyword density.

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