Posted on May 28, 2019
We have all been tasked with writing about boring topics at some point in our working lives, those areas of our website that fail to excite no matter what we do. Perhaps it’s that dry Deliveries & Returns section? Or one of those paragraphs that must be included for legal reasons, but sends us to sleep?
If we find these pages dull, so will our customers, so as writers and website owners we must learn how to write interesting content – engaging, lively copy, even if we’re talking about fixing a broken tap. Otherwise, our bored customer drifts away, yawning, to click elsewhere.
Here’s how to keep the interest alive:
1) Get to the point
Long, drawn-out introductions are enough to send the most patient reader off to sleep. A sharp headline and a simple intro are all that’s needed, then head straight into the writing with a clear explanation of what you are presenting. Your words should inspire confidence: if you can’t get to the point with ease, you’ll lose crucial validity.
2 ) Speak as you talk
Writing about something dull is just the same as talking about it, so pretend that you ARE talking, and imagine how you’d liven things up. How would you engage the listener? Use of simple language is the go-to method for bringing any dry subject to life. Be clear, concise and direct, as if you were presenting the item in a meeting.
3) Tell stories
Who doesn’t love a good story? Get the reader on your side and instantly engaged by telling tales. What’s the subject of the boring content? How can you turn it into a story? What’s the background, what does it have to do with you and – most importantly – with your customer? Creating engaging copy with stories is a lovely way of bringing back some colour.
4) Use examples
Now’s the perfect time to drop in a few case studies. Who has experience of the situation? What happened to them, and how is it relevant to your story? Always get permission first from anyone you are considering using for a case study; and use your own experiences if you can’t think of anyone else.
5) Ask questions
When was the last time you read a question in a piece of writing and didn’t at least attempt to answer it, even if only in your head? Lead your reader into a subject by throwing out some engaging queries. Anyone instantly compelled to come up with the answers will find it hard to disengage, and that’s just how you want your reader to feel: connected.
6) Avoid repetition
Emphasis is one thing, repetition quite another. We can tell when a point has been overstated, because the text starts to sound stale. Print out those troublesome sections of writing and read them back. As soon as you see something repeated, whip out the highlighter and mark it up, then have a go at writing fresh, interesting content instead.
7) Find fresh words
The brain is inherently lazy and will rely on its well-worn library of stock sentences. We all do this: relax in our cosy chair of comfort words, but there’s no harm in breaking the mould once in a while. Use an online thesaurus to liven up your writing. As long as you are sticking to your original style, a few changes in phrasing will help keep your explanations fresh.
8) Illustrate and link
Liven up dry copy with images and links. There are plenty of free picture sites around, just search and subscribe. Drop in a few diagrams and illustrations too, making sure they are relevant, and remember to use lots of links, a key SEO technique. If a subject is hard to write about it’s often because it’s complicated, so ease up on the words and illustrate your point!
9) How does it sound?
When all else fails, read the dry text back to yourself and mark up exactly where in the copy you find yourself losing focus, struggling to read. If you’re too close to the subject then you could ask someone else to do this for you. Once you’ve located the trouble spots, you can work at giving them a little polish. It might just be a sentence or two that needs a makeover.
10) Round it all up
Avoid using your closing statements to go back over the whole thing all over again (see point 6), just add a few lines to confirm that what you’re saying is legitimate and has substance. If it helps, you can lead on neatly to the next section, or to a new idea, or back to an earlier bit of your website, or someone else’s (see point 8 about linking opportunities).
Good writing should never sound tired, or be a chore to get through. If what you’ve written sounds good to you, it will have the same effect on your customers, too.
About the Author:
Morwenna Lawson is a freelance writer @ wordfairy.co.uk, specialising in creating engaging and lively copy that hopefully reads and sounds anything but dull. You can find her at wordfairy.co.uk, or via Instagram and LinkedIn.