Nobody's going to want to read my stuff because my content and my subject and my practice area are boring.
Really? Says who?
This comes up a lot, especially with lawyers.
But some of us work us in areas that are a little cerebral, a little legislation heavy. And it feels pretty hard to produce meaningful content in a way that doesn't seem dull.
So let's get into it and find out if it's a real issue.
Be Honest – Is it Actually Boring?
Just because your topic sounds boring, doesn't mean it actually is. At least – not to the right people.
If you have identified your audience and you understand them well, then it might not be boring to them.
Let me give you an example using tax law.
Tax law is a pretty good example of a topic that many people think of as boring. But who are you writing for?
Because a lot of tax lawyers get their work from accountants or financial planners. Accountants and financial planners are professionals who have a sophisticated understanding of their area. So if you are producing content for them as your referrer you can probably adopt an approach to your content that you know is going to be useful for them. That means although client X might find it boring, accountant Y might find it very interesting.
So while your subject matter may appear to be a little dry to some, if you're genuinely providing value and answering their questions then it doesn't necessarily matter.
And if it's providing value to the right people then it's going to be building your business.
That being said, there are some ways of making your content less boring.
Why leave your Personality at Home?
Don't leave your personality behind when you're producing content.
A lot of lawyers are really struggling in this area.
Most lawyers, when you meet them face to face, have a variety of entirely human and approachable personalities. But when they sit down to write an article they go into “boring professional mode” and think they need to write an academic paper like what they used to write at law school.
That's not good content marketing. You shouldn't be writing academic papers unless your audience loves academic papers. If they do, then it's a win-win scenario.
Remember, you're not writing for yourself, you're writing for your audience. And if you want to use your content, whether it's video, audio, images or articles as an opportunity to build trust, then you need to write authentically as yourself.
If I hear you speak and then I read what you write, and the two things are totally different from each other then you're not writing authentically, are you? You've decided to put on a hat as a professional when you write your articles, and you're pretending to be something that you're not.
Now, I'm not saying you should just post verbatim transcripts of everything, because getting transcripts of everything doesn't necessarily work. But I can tell you that one of the best compliments I get about the books I write and the articles I write when people meet me is this: “they sound just like you”. That confirms I am being consistently myself.
That's also a good reason to get in front of a camera every now and again and record a video – it's a good way of ensuring that you are authentically yourself.
So be authentically you, rather than putting on professional, boring academic hat when you sit down to write.
But What about “Staying Professional”?
I understand that you want to remain professional. But we need to consider what professional actually means though.
If you go to a networking function, even if you're there as a professional, my guess is that as you relax and you chat to people you might make a joke every now and again. You probably have a laugh and engage with people because you're focused on building a relationship with someone.
Picture your content as a way of building relationship too.
If you're recording a video, pretend you're actually having a conversation with someone. Sure, it's a one-sided conversation but it's a conversation.
Pretend someone's there laughing at your jokes if they're funny. If they're not funny then they wouldn't be laughing (they'd be rolling their eyes) but it's an opportunity to be authentically you because it's you that people are going to respond to.
And if you're simultaneously being authentically you and providing valuable content, then that's really the best mix of both worlds, isn't it?
If your authentic self is going to be offensive to 99% of your desired audience, then for obvious reasons that's not going to be great.
Perhaps, frankly you need to find a new audience to work for because you're going to have a mental breakdown trying to be not yourself all the time.
Thankfully, most lawyers don't have that problem.
The problem they've got is that when they sit down to produce marketing content they leave their personalities at the doorstep. They become these bland and uninteresting creatures.
And then, for some reason, they still think that people should be engaging with their content even though they themselves don't really enjoy what they're producing.
Tilt your Content
The other thing you can do is what's called a content tilt.
Approach your content in a particular way that's not the usual presentation.
Maybe you've got a particular style you can use. There are some good examples of this out there.
A good one is from (it's a bit of a nerdy site, sorry) moz.com. They run a program called Whiteboard Friday. The folks on the team get up and they say “okay, today we're going to write down a bunch of nerdy stuff about search engine optimization on our whiteboard and we're going to explain it all to you in a meaningful way”.
And that has been a great content tilt for them.
It's just a new way of explaining their area of expertise in a way that's approachable and friendly.
How could you tilt your content? Could you explain law while cooking? Could you do musical law lessons? Could you produce interviews, Q&As or anything else that takes your expertise and lays it out in a way that's just a little bit different to everyone else.
Don't Assume your Content is Boring
The biggest tip I've got, bring your personality to the table, and that will inherently lift your game, even on a dry topic.
But in all it's fairly straightforward:
- Make sure you have identified your audience, and stay focused on them;
- Ensure your content is valuable to that audience;
- Cling on to your personality;
- Try tilt your content to present it in different ways.
Most of all, don't assume that your content is boring – you don't get to make that decision, only your clients do.
I think we can all take topics that might be inherently dry and we can express those topics in a way that actually might be more interesting.
What do you do? How do you try to present your practice area differently from your competition? Let me know!