There it is. Another blog post assignment with your name on it. Sigh. Sound familiar? Granted, not every blog topic is a literal pain in the neck, but the sheer routine of corporate blog writing can take the wind out of your creative sails. Yet, successful blog writing rarely depends on what you write. It always depends on what you do not write.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. There are countless topics that you cannot and should not write about. Clearly, if you’re writing for a hospital, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever write movie reviews and then there are clear topics that cross the thin ice. Even if there are great clickbait topics, they may be beyond reasonable comfort levels of your employer and audience. However, if you take an unbiased look at your blog assignments, they all share the core element that there’s really only one thing you should never write about.
In the very early days of my career, I remember my journalism mentor noting that “the devil has four white eyes”. He was referring to the four corners of an empty sheet of paper and the difficulty of filling the empty space held hostage by them. His remark wasn’t so much a complaint but an expression of a routine every passionate writer has to go through. I always imagined him facing off with his writing devil in a challenge that he thoroughly enjoyed. This memory has been a guide throughout my writing career and was most apparent when I observed my mentor using his pride for language and applying it in the same way a painter uses a paintbrush to bring white space to life. His talent to use the letters of the alphabet to craft words and texts that were as entertaining as they were informative is something that still inspires me to this day.
While I often considered my mentor’s successful writings as a matter of an abundance of talent, I accidentally received a rather trivial piece of information that completed a puzzle and eventually led to a journalism and publishing career that I thoroughly enjoyed. Following my days as a print journalist, I was lucky enough to work for a small digital technology media publication that was showered with millions of page views every day. Over time, our success had become routine and it felt that it really didn’t matter anymore what we wrote.
It was this realization that led a CEO and his team of five writers to see that our content wasn’t living up to our own expectations and aspirations anymore. Yet again, I was fortunate that the CEO was a fantastic writer. While he did not have a formal education in communications or journalism, he was one of those people who was able to author great articles and posts, seemingly without applying any effort whatsoever. In one of our content reviews, we agreed that we simply needed to find more ways to make our content interesting again and get rid of the routine. So, how do you make content interesting? In his mind, it was simply a matter of paying attention – “you need to care”, he said.
More than 25,000 articles later, in media and corporate environments, I know that both success as well as motivation in writing depend on respect and care for your content before creating it, while creating it, and when finalizing it. So, my first advice for any blog writer in any organizational environment is to not write about anything you do not care about. This approach is even more significant when we realize that an article always reflects the writer’s intent, mood, and pride simply through its assembly of words. Caring for your post is necessary to make it interesting, which is necessary for it to be successful.
Keep it in mind that I wrote “caring for your post” and not “caring for a topic”. In many cases, you may deal with topics that look like the exact opposite of being interesting. However, caring for a post enables you to not only see the interesting in the boring and to see the relevance in the trivial: It is what makes a blog post more than just a replaceable piece in your corporate SEO strategy.
It is this that makes the blog and the author behind it great. It is what allowed my mentor to turn another review of a boring chess video game into an experience that perfectly balanced entertainment and information and achieved our magazine’s aspiration in a screenshot and half a page of text.