Sometimes, content writers get lucky. We get assignments about travel, culture, or food—topics that are easy to write about because most people find them interesting. But let’s face it: we can’t write about fascinating topics all the time.
From time to time, freelance copywriters must write content for industries that are, well, pretty boring. But there are ways to spice it up and make what would otherwise be a dry article or blog post more engaging for the reader.
Read on for eight tips to write killer copy—even for industries you’re not particularly enthused about.
8 Tips for Copywriting for “Boring” Industries
While the content you’re tasked with creating almost certainly isn’t boring to the company that commissioned it, you need to make sure you’re creating enough interest with your writing to capture the target audience’s attention.
Past studies have shown that most people reading online only get about 60% of the way through an article before moving on. You need to capture their attention and guide them through your article in a way that keeps them hooked.
That can be challenging if you’re writing about a topic people consider dull—but it isn’t impossible.
1. Be Genuinely Helpful
People looking for helpful information will seldom be bored by it. If you’re answering someone’s question—whether that’s how to change their own oil or use a banking app—they’re going to get value from your writing.
So at baseline, your reader isn’t going to find your content actively boring. And if you write it well, they’re even more likely to keep reading. If you aren’t the strongest writer, don’t worry! Informative content doesn’t require Shakespearean flourish. Just focus on communicating the relevant information in the clearest way possible.
2. Write Like a Human
Avoid using too much corporate jargon and industry-speak in your writing. Write the way you’d speak to a coworker instead—professional, conversational, and concise. People aren’t looking to see how many industry terms you know, they’re reading your piece to see if you can help them.
For example, instead of this:
We provide synergistic software solutions to enhance KPIs and ROI with the most return across segments and effective targeting of hot leads.
Our software boosts your business’ traffic by gathering customer data and helping you target the people most likely to be served by your product.
Those two sentences convey the same message, but the second is more straightforward, uses little jargon, and is easier to understand. If readers have to spend time deciphering your writing instead of reading it, they’re more likely to leave.
Establishing a relatable brand voice is crucial to getting your content read, so don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your writing. Coming across like a stuffy, pedantic robot won’t get you anywhere.
3. Relate to Your Audience by Being More Specific
Try and think of specific scenarios within your topic that can apply to your reader. If you’re writing about light bulbs, maybe mention how much energy they can save on their bill by using low-power lights like LEDs. Address pain points your specific readers are likely to have.
The best way to accomplish that is to do your research. Get to know the product or industry you’re writing about well enough to explain it to someone else in simple terms.
Research your target audience’s personas and get an idea of what they’re looking for. If you already work in that industry or have some experience with it, that’ll be easier. Once you know both those areas well, you can write informative content tailored to the needs of your target audience.
Take writing, for example. This blog could’ve been another generic “how to write good copy” post outlining best practices. But by addressing an issue that writers often struggle with—writing good copy for boring industries—it becomes specific.
4. Try Writing With a Lighter Tone
You’ve got a sense of humor, so use it when it’s appropriate. It can help make your content more interesting for the reader—and more fun for you to write!
It’s easy to go overboard with this one, though. We’ve all read industry blog posts with a joke every other line that just made the article harder to read. Save humor for when it works naturally, and it can help your work shine.
5. Break Down Complex Concepts
Sometimes “boring” is code for confusing. The subject matter of certain industries turns people off because it’s so complex they consider it impossible to understand.
There’s a reason so many more people are willing to listen to Neil Degrasse Tyson explain wormholes in “Cosmos” instead of reading an academic paper with the same information. Tyson explains things in a way someone who didn’t major in physics can understand.
You can use this tactic in areas that aren’t as complicated as quantum physics, but that people still seek information on. Take marketing, for example.
Lots of people want to know how to market better, especially people who own their own business. If you can demystify that topic with simple analogies, your readers will find that hugely helpful. For example:
Keyword marketing is like applying to colleges. You apply to safe, target, and reach schools. Your safety school is a sure thing, your reach school is a long shot, and everything in between is what you’re shooting for. If you work hard enough, you’ll likely get into those schools as well.
You want to choose your keywords in the same way. Mix up words you’d like to rank for with long-tail keywords that are much easier to rank for, and you’re more likely to get results.
Many more people can relate to the concept of college applications than keyword strategy, so it works as an analogy to introduce the concept.
6. Keep it Concise
Especially when it comes to boring topics, less is more. If you can convey the information your reader needs in 20 words instead of 100, do it.
If you drag things out and stuff your content with filler, your reader is much more likely to abandon the piece. It also pays to consider where your audience is doing their reading.
More and more, people are reading on their mobile devices instead of laptops or desktops. In 2020, we’ve seen a 13.9% increase in time spent on mobile devices over the previous year, according to Emarketer. 2019 numbers were up over 12% from 2018.
Content that can’t easily fit onto a smartphone screen, or that a reader has to endlessly scroll through, won’t get read. Get to the point quickly, and edit your piece for brevity as much as possible.
7. Give Reader’s Brains a Break
Writing content that’s easy to read is only one part of getting people to stick around. It also has to be easy to digest.
You can make your content digestible by building breaks into it. Shorten paragraphs. Take advantage of white space. This is especially important if you’ve still got a lengthy piece of writing even after you’ve edited for brevity.
You can also break up longer pieces by using headings as guideposts. People reading this article, for example, will know where to look for each main point because we’ve used bold, numbered headings for each one of these tips.
Bulleted or numbered lists are a good way to break up longer paragraphs as well. Don’t make your post one long bulleted list, but use bullet points to list items that would otherwise be tedious. For example, take a look at this sentence:
The recipe calls for milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and chocolate chips.
It could easily be rewritten in the following way:
The recipe calls for:
- chocolate chips
Formatting alone won’t make your piece easy to read, but it can guide the reader through an already well-constructed narrative or informational post.
8. Use Visuals
In the same way that formatting can give the reader’s brain a break, visual aids can make complex topics or data points easier to understand. An infographic or bar graph can summarize what you just said, or visually represent the disparity between two points to drive a fact home.
Other visual elements like images and videos can help capture the reader’s attention and convey the necessary information even if they don’t stick around to read the entire article. GIFs can help illustrate concepts in an explainer article, or provide humor if it’s appropriate for the piece.
Try it Yourself
In reality, there are no boring industries. If you dig in deep enough, you can find surprising facts about nearly anything. Take real estate law, for example. Not the most captivating subject for the average person—but with some research, you can find out tidbits like the fact realtors in New York are required to disclose paranormal activity in the buildings they sell. And that is far from boring.
The next time you’re faced with a less fascinating topic, look at it from a different angle. Invest time in research, which might turn up interesting facts and help you understand the subject material well enough to explain it in simple terms. If you don’t want to get flowery, sticking to the facts is just fine.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer John Bogna.