Hook ‘Em: The 4-Point Approach to Writing an Interesting Blog Post in a Boring Industry

Written by Neil Patel on March 10, 2016

hook em

Is your industry boring?

Truth be told, there are topics that challenge even the most creative content marketers.

On one hand, “boring topics” can be a relative thing. A topic I’m an expert in is much easier for me to write about than a topic I’m unfamiliar with.

For example, a CPA (certified public accountant) may find it fun writing about tax returns and filing, but wouldn’t enjoy writing about, say, conversion optimization, if they’ve even heard of it.

If your topic seems boring to you, take heart. One of the reasons why B2B content marketers struggle to produce a variety of engaging content is because they see the topic as boring.

Follow this 4 points approach to write an interesting blog post in a boring industry.

But there’s good news: Since most people in your industry aren’t creating useful content, often because they don’t know how to, boring topics can be a great opportunity for you to dominate your niche.

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Let’s discuss the 4-point approach to writing an interest blog post in a boring industry. Are you ready? 

1. Find out what questions your audience is asking.

Ask better questions, get better answers. Terry J. Fadem

There are lots of ways that you can find out what your audience wants and how to speak their language.

But, the easiest way is to find the questions that your audience is asking and answer them.

Those questions may be boring, but you (the content creator) have a responsibility to make them interesting. The moment you do that, readers will be glued to your post.

Creating interesting blog posts doesn’t depend on your connections, your writing style or your writing tool. Mastering one single skill can help you stand out: asking the right questions.

Al Gore was able to get over 350,000 people to watch his video on The Case for Optimism on Climate Change. He captivates the audience by asking a simple question: “Do we really have to change?”

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If you focus on the right questions, you’ll produce the types of content that’ll not only be read by your audience, but served up by Google to search users.

i). Find the questions that your audience is asking. Questions that begin with “what,” “which,” “who,” “when” and “how” can help you create useful and interesting content for your audience.

There’s no better place to find those questions than Quora.

Let’s assume that your boring topic is insurance. We want to find user questions related to insurance premiums. Here’s how:

First step: Go to Quora. In the search bar above the header, type your primary keyword (e.g., “insurance premium”). Then, hit enter.

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Second step: Analyze the questions. Scan the list and pick out the ones that piqued your interest.

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Third step: Research the questions. Plug one of the questions into Google AdWords Keyword Planner and look for variations. This will give you some ideas for your content.

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Fourth step: Craft your title. At this point, you can now craft your title because you’re ready to write the content.

Let’s use one of the search terms above:

Life insurance for over 50

On the surface, this search term is boring.  If you’re not careful, you might lose sight of what exactly the reader wants to know.

So, let’s make it better by adding some modifiers to the search term.

Here are fresh and interesting titles:

  • Life Insurance for Over 50: The Step-By-Step Guide
  • What Does it Take to Qualify for Life Insurance When You’re Over 50 Years Old?
  • Life Insurance for People Over 50: The 5 Simple Requirements You Need

How interesting are these titles now?

You can get more questions that your audience members care about from Yahoo! Answers.

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I’ve seen a lot of content that went viral despite “boring” topics. One example is an article on Cracked.com that answered the question: “is fair trade coffee really fair?”

The article generated 285,681 views and over 7,000 social shares.

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Topics related to insurance might be boring to most people. But, with a little creativity, you can make content on those topics go viral.

Here are a few more examples of insurance-related content that went viral and generated thousands of social shares and backlinks.

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2. Infuse your personality into the content and edit for brevity.

Your content strategy determines how far you’ll go. If you want to get results from your content, you must plan it out. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, creating high-value content can grow your business.

According to Content Marketing Institute, “44% of B2B marketers rate the use of content marketing to grow leads and revenue as an effective strategy.”

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In this age of intense competition, a lack of personality in your marketing will doom your efforts. People want to connect with you – and know you.

And, not just read your content. It’s high time you woo ardent readers and clients with your online personality.

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Whenever I visit a store to buy an item and the sales assistants are boring and disinterested, I’ll likely walk away.

But, that’s not all. If I visit a blog and I get zero information about the blogger, author or founder behind the brand, product or service, I’m ‘clicking away’ and taking my precious time elsewhere.

In the same way, if you don’t infuse personality into your content, no one is going to give you their time or take you seriously. This is especially important when you’re dealing with boring topics.

Joe Pulluzi says it best: 

You need to understand that marketing isn’t about what you sell, but what you stand for.

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A healthy dose of personality can improve engagement and sales. I know that most people are anonymous on their blogs and still achieved some level of success, but that doesn’t mean they were on the right path.

Personality builds trust with people, because they know that a real person who understands them is at the other end. Through personality, it’s no longer a virtual world, but real connections can be made.  People buy from people.

With your personality, you’re more prone to meet your audience’s need, respect their values and get them excited about your content.

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If you deem your topic boring, then don’t approach it with an anonymity or make it more boring. You’ll suck, and you’ll chase your readers away.

But, you can bring personality into it.

As an example, there is really nothing interesting about creating content to promote a pen. Or, is there?

Well, this brief story will show how a company infused personality into their pen copy and advertising.

See how powerful personality improves a copy?  Here’s Rodney Dangerfield endorsing pens. See how the crab held the pen. What does that tell you?

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The limbs of a crab are strong. It means the pen is high quality and long lasting. That’s what I think – what do you think?

There are other ways to bring your personality into a boring topic. According to Ryan Hanley, here are some of the ways to bring the human into the blog post:

  • Use sarcasm
  • Make pop culture references
  • Insert sports analogies
  • Point out cliches
  • Reference sports (I mention being a Buffalo Bills fan all the time)
  • Mention your pets
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously (think self deprecation if your ego can handle it)

Jon Morrow, who is now the founder of Boost Blog Traffic, wrote an interesting blog post titled “How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World.”

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He took a topic (blogging) that’s been beaten to death and created a masterpiece out of it. Blogging itself isn’t a boring topic, but it’s almost become a cliche, especially when you see posts like “7 ways to grow a blog.”

Jon’s post was a great example of storytelling in blogging. You could emotionally connect with what he said and with the vision he has for the future.

Jon told the story of how his life was interrupted by tragedy and the eventual success he achieved by working hard. In his words:

Two months later, I took a one-week trip to scout it out and look for places to live. When I got back, I started selling all of my stuff, packing the rest of it into storage, and saying goodbye to friends. Almost one year to the day after our phone call, I hopped in the car and drove just shy of 3,000 miles to my new beachfront condo in the finest resort in Mazatlan.

It doesn’t matter how boring your topic or industry seems. As a content creator, you can still create content your audience can connect with. Just make sure that you’re writing like a human, not like a robot.

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Storytelling is all about connecting the dots. It’s about moving your readers efficiently from Point A to Point B without boring them.

3. Use relatable analogies to explain complex concepts.

An analogy compares two things and how they’re related with each other. Relatable analogies can help you explain complex or boring topics.

Whenever possible, you should start out your piece of content with a bang. This means that your blog post introduction must captivate the audience and draw them into the post.

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Analogies make it easier to introduce your content and hook your readers.

At Boost Blog Traffic, the contributors often use analogies to drive their messages home. Some of the posts there that evoke emotion and grab the reader’s attention are built on analogies:

  • Tweaking your blog’s topic is like tuning an old-fashioned radio.
  • Finding time to write is like packing a suitcase.
  • Staying in a job you hate is like being a fish that’s suffocating out of water.
  • Publishing content over the holiday is like teaching a toddler to swim during a hurricane.
  • Reading a blog that’s useful but lacking personality is like shopping at Walmart.
  • Blogging before you have an audience is like teaching in an empty classroom.

You, too can use analogies to make your boring topic great.

Let’s assume that the topic you want to write about is bad breath. You could use a title such as “5 Reasons Why Getting Rid of Bad Breath is Like Taking a Hot Shower” to draw in readers.

Did you see how I compared two different and unrelated things to produce a benefit-driven and irresistible title?

On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting Your Ideas is a typical example of a blog post that uses analogy to draw the user in and engage them. This post, which was published on December 14, 2013 by Jon Morrow (he’s everywhere), has generated over 6000 social shares and almost 480 comments.

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Don’t be lost or confused about what you should write about or how to begin. You can use an analogy to compare two things and then write freely. Your content will come out stronger and more interesting.

Here’s another example of a post where analogy was used to explain a topic:

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A recent post that was published at LinkedIn Pulse:

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4. Give readers little mental breaks.

How much of your content do readers actually read all the way through?

The truth is that anyone can create a blog post, but getting people to read it is much more challenging.

In 2013, Chartbeat conducted a study that found that most readers are only getting about 60% of the way through a piece of content.

If you want your readers to read more of your content, avoid creating an overwhelming experience. Your content has to be easy to read. It doesn’t matter how useful or well-researched it is – if you failed to make it readable, it won’t get read.

It’s always good to give your readers some mental breaks.

So break up your large passages of text into smaller, more easily digestible chunks.  That way, readers don’t feel overwhelmed by it.

For example, I use big, bold headings on my posts to make it easy for readers to scan and get to the meat of the post.

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Heidi Cohen uses bullet points, numbered lists, images and other formatting tools to simplify dense paragraphs and make them look less overwhelming for readers.

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Last, but not least, you should also write short sentences. Long sentences overwhelm readers. But, shorter ones will keep them engaged and they can still recall the first sentences they read.

Jonah Berger has mastered the art of crafting short, readable sentences. Take a look:

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All of these will give your readers mental breaks when they go through your blog posts.

Conclusion

Creating interesting blog posts in a boring industry is easier when you do some serious research.  Infusing your personality into a topic that your research shows is wanted is the perfect content cocktail.

Ideally, use different forms of content. For example, if you find that your readers don’t engage with blog posts, you can switch to videos, infographics or podcasts.

Generally, visual content will appeal more to people than plain text, because the human mind processes visual content 60000X faster than plain text.

If your topic or industry is boring, don’t complain or give up. Research your market and audience extensively, then capitalize on the questions that they’re asking.

For instance, writing about fiberglass swimming pools isn’t generally considered exciting. But Marcus Sheridan changed his mindset, researched his audience’s biggest questions, and created a single blog post that generated $2 million in sales for his business.

Have you written an interesting and valuable blog post in a boring industry before? Share your experience in the comments below.

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