How-to Take a Boring Topic and Create Engaging Content

Engaging Content

How do we create engaging content from industries perceived as incredibly boring?

Great question.  This is actually a subset of the blogging excuse “I don’t know what to write about?”

Engaging ContentYou think that your industry or job or company or product is boring and use that as an excuse to NOT create content for your blog and social media.

What this really means is that deep down you think of yourself as boring…

YOU ARE NOT BORING! (see just be awesome)

And to your customers, the people that need and use your product… Well, they don’t find your product boring either.

Let’s take what I do for a full-time living.

I’m an insurance agent…

Does an industry exist more widely thought of as BORING?!

Probably not (personally I find insurance to be fascinating, but I’m also a Buffalo Bills fan sooo…).

So I work in what is perceived to be by the general public a boring industry…

…selling a boring product.

We can’t take pictures of it.  Our clients can’t really hold it.  Insurance is just this thing that you have but hopefully never use and pay way too much for.

Yet…

…our business blog absolutely kills it!

We write new business every week directly from our blog.

We’ve grown our Facebook following by 250 followers in last 5 weeks.

We have a 50% open rate on our email newsletter.

We’ve received over 60 reviews of our business on Facebook.

And these are just a few of our accomplishments… and Yes, I am bragging… because I’m damn proud of the work we’ve done.

Can insurance be boring?

Hell yes it can!

But here’s the rub my friend… Only if you let it.

You’re content is only boring if you make it boring…

…So make it fun

…Make it interesting

…Make it relateable

…Make it engaging

…Make it YOU!

3 Methods to Create Engaging Content

The following methods are concepts that I’ve implemented in my insurance business to help make boring insurance content fun and engaging.  The cool part about these methods is their applicable to any industry…

Do they work?

My traffic stats speak for themselves.

1) Put Yourself Into the Content

This is going to be your MOST POWERFUL method to create engaging content in a boring topic.  If you write your blog posts like some soulless corporate machine visitors are going to be bored to tears no matter what you’re writing about…

…add in the fact that your topic is boring (think insurance coverages) and you have solid recipe for that reader to NEVER return again.

Put yourself into the content…

You’re a human being, which means that a human being is writing the blog post.  Human beings do not naturally write or think or respond to corporate sounding blog posts.

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

These are just a few of the ways you can insert the human into blog posts and these simple references to the fact that you breathe air and have a soul can immediately spice up a boring topic and create engaging content.

2) Don’t Use Stock Photos

You know that web designer you overpaid by about $4,000 to redesign your website (when you should have spent about $300 on Hosting, WordPress and a Quality Theme) who recommended you use professional stock photos on all your web pages and blog posts?

Yeah… That person doesn’t know shit about how to create engaging content.

Stock photos are enemy #2 of boring content.

Why?

Because stock photos aren’t YOU.  Stock photos aren’t your business.  Stock photos aren’t real life.  Stock photos are all over the place.

Stock photos make you and your business a commodity!

So what’s the solution?

Simple… Take your own damn photos of the things you’re talking about.

Or… Create your own web graphics.

It’s that easy.

You want consumers to be inspired by your blog posts enough to buy from you… Original photos and web graphics give your blog posts a personal touch and drastically help you to create engaging content.

 3) Don’t Write About Your Boring Topic

OK… maybe that headline should be Don’t Always Write About Your Boring Topic.

Mix in blog posts about topics that are actually interesting and engaging.  Write about local events, employee achievements, clients accomplishments, local sports stories, local artists, local top ten lists, industry wide top ten lists…

If you topic is boring as hell… Well… You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig right?  So maybe your topic is boring and no matter how much you insert yourself the topic its still boring…

But that doesn’t mean your blog has to be boring.
SEO Copywriting Report
Mix in:

  • long,
  • short,
  • fun,
  • sad,
  • media heavy,
  • text heavy,
  • personal stories,
  • one liners…

Bring your blog to life with posts that make the blog as a whole fun.

When do this what you’ll find is people will enjoy the blog as a whole and will subsequently be more apt to read your boring posts because reading your blog as a whole has become a routine.

So you’re creating an engaging content mix… Not every post, but enough that readers are willing consume the boring stuff to get at the fun, interesting and engaging content.

Still need help?  Check out the Scribe Content Library (free).

The Rub

It all goes back to the concept of Just Be Awesome.  Engaging content, at least an engaging blog, can be created out of a boring topic…

I do it everyday with insurance and if I can make insurance fun than trust me you can make whatever it is you do fun.

Step outside what you think a corporate blog should be and just make it fun.  Show readers who you are and what your business is all about…

You do that… You breathe that life into your blog and boring topic or not readers will visit and enjoy!

Thank you and Good luck,

I am Ryan Hanley

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About Ryan Hanley

This blog was created to help brands grow their audience, to grow their business. When I'm not writing, podcasting or creating the videos you'll find on this site, you'll usually find me watching baseball with my son Duke and a cold beer in my hand.

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  • http://www.matthewlbrennan.com Matt Brennan

    Very true, Ryan. Basically it comes down to this: There is a glut of average content. Most industries are inundated with businesses writing about industry news. If you want to stand out, it has to be different.

    I come from the newspaper industry, but write marketing content now as well. Any reporter could take a heart felt feature story and make it interesting. The trick is what you do with your more mundane stories. The same is true with content. For the sake of your reader, make it cool!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      “For the sake of your reader, make it cool!” There’s the deal buddy… Great comment. What do you enjoy writing move newspaper-esque or Marketing?

      • http://www.matthewlbrennan.com Matt Brennan

        Love them both. Different challenges really. Newspapers are about pulling a reader into a story. Marketing of course, you need the conversion. There’s no question which industry is on more solid ground, however.

  • http://www.eciconstructionnc.com/ Doug Muhle

    I definitely agree that you have to put yourself in your customers shoes and give them emotion. What about your service brings out emotions? I work in home remodeling so to give them tips and tricks is definitely helpful, but there is definitely something impactful about every product you just have to find it.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Doug,

      Absolutely… And with contractors I think this is especially important and powerful because most times you’re right in someone’s home or business. That is tight relationship.

      Thanks!

      • http://www.eciconstructionnc.com/ Doug Muhle

        It definitely is. When it comes to content you want to be as transparent as possible and describe your services, for example I have a page on my website that describes me as a “licensed contractor” and this is because I’m tired of “non-contractors” showing up trying to do a job that they are not qualified for.
        Being honest and transparent of your business has led to more content and more happy customers.

  • http://www.verybestsoftware.net/ Raina

    No piece of writing ever has to be boring. Well, unless we’re talking about technical writing which is, by definition, boring. Try adding sarcasm – or any kind of personality – to a technical specification guide or legal statement. :) When creating content for a company site or social page, boring will not win you over any new customers. Overly stuffy-sounding writing just feels hollow and devoid of life. It inspires no good feelings nor does it give a reader/customer anything to relate to. I always imagine that such companies would handle their customer service interactions in the same way: by sticking to a script and not really engaging people with a desire to help solve their problem! Thanks for a great post.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Raina,

      Thank you for adding you thoughts… I 100% agree, could you imagine getting the manual to your new Vacuum and having the instructions filled with Sarcasm?

      But with blogging adding personality is of the utmost importance…

      Appreciate you stopping by!

      Hanley

  • http://www.digett.com Amy

    I definitely agree with most of these points: consistently coming up with compelling content (despite one’s “boring” industry) can be difficult, and requires constant practice. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    However, I do take a little umbrage at some of your phrasing under the “stock photos” section. I work for a marketing company, and we almost always recommend *against* stock photos; nothing screams “We have zero company culture” like obviously-staged stock imagery. :)

    Also, while spending a mere $300 for a website and/or blog may be a good option for some, it’s not always the best option. You get what you pay for, after all — as long as you know your goals and have a good relationship with an agency, spending more to get a professional, managed website (plus support if you need it) will be worth it.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Amy,

      I certainly was not talking about ALL marketing agencies… It sounds like you are guys are a true partner and giving great advice, unfortunately I’ve met far too many Marketing Agency people that don’t share your view point.

      Those are the individuals and companies I’m trying to steer people clear of…

      Additionally, I’m not against spending money. But again I’ve seen so many of my fellow insurance agency colleagues spend $4,000 – $5,000 on a website with no blog… Boxing 2002 HTML and 16 bit graphics…

      These are the websites I’m talking about. In today’s market $1,500 – $2,000 for a very strong conversion heavy WordPress design with logo and graphics seems very reasonable and then recurring payments for maintenance and support.

      I’m glad you guys are fighting the good fight!!

      Hanley

      • http://www.digett.com Amy

        It’s a case of a few bad apples making it harder for the rest of us. There are people like that in most industries — who are looking to make quick money without providing any value in return. Hence the necessity for posts like yours.

        Fight on! :)

        -Amy

        • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

          I appreciate all the feedback Amy.. It’s great to connect with you!

          • http://www.digett.com Amy

            You as well, Ryan. Have a great weekend!

  • http://acquiringman.com Jason Anthony

    I think sharing stories and personal experiences are a great way to engage your audience/readers. We relate with characters of a story/movie/television show. It makes it personal and allows us to buy in to the message, lesson, or theme. Excellent post, as always, Ry!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Jason…

      You do a great job of this with The Acquiring Man… Readers want to connect with the author, as an author we have to allow our readers to see who we are.

      Appreciate you stopping by!

      Hanley

  • http://www.infocelebrity.net erda

    Yeah, Boring Topics should always have attractive pictures. Infographics are something that always make a post interesting. :)
    Well explained points Ryan!
    Thumbs Up !!!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Erda! Appreciate you stopping by…

  • Jeevan Jacob John

    Hey Ryan,

    One thing I have always told my friends (Especially when it comes to work) is that if your job isn’t interesting, make it!

    Like you said, add our personality and our own flavor to it (who said that we can’t? No one!). Complaining about work and not taking any actions isn’t going to make it more interesting (That’s just going to make it more miserable!)

    Instead work towards making it interesting (it is this idea that I am trying to apply to my upcoming blog. My niche – blogging, personal development isn’t a boring one, but it can be, especially due to the number of bloggers who work on the same topic writing about the same thing).

    Anyways, I do appreciate the tips! Thank you ;)

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Jeevan,

      As always you’re right on point my man… You do excellent work and you always make things interesting.

      Thanks for stopping by buddy.

      Hanley

  • http://www.vitalchats.co.za/herbalife-cost-expensive/ Wade Balsdon

    Great post Ryan. I too have an insurance background, I used to be an underwriter for 3 different re-insurance companies. While I found my work fascinating, it was something that kept people enthralled at social gatherings. I don’t find your insurance work to be interesting, however based on what I read on this post I am sure that your insurance blog is incredibly engaging. Another top drawer post my friend.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Wade!

      I knew there was something I like about you! Definitely the insurance connection… and your great comments!

      All the best buddy

      Hanley

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  • http://highprofileenterprises.com/ Midge

    Nice post Ryan – simple things to remember when writing, keep it real, show your personality, talk with honesty show enthusiasm and passion for what you do and it will come through in your writing. No need to take ourselves too seriously… thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Right on Midge! Nothing works when we take ourselves too seriously.

      Thanks!

      Hanley

  • http://ryzeonline.com Jason “J-Ryze” Fonceca

    Don’t be boring? Oh man, I’m SCREWED!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Boring? J-Ryze? hahahahahaha

  • http://www.reneetaylorcpa.com Renee Taylor

    Hi Ryan,

    Agree 100% with what you’ve said. I also blog about a traditionally boring — and tricky! — topic, and I don’t write nearly as much as I should. But I received about half my new clients last year by people more or less Googling “non-boring accountant” or something similar. Over and over again I hear people tell me they love my site and the fact that I’m a real person. Engaging content works indeed!

    Best,
    Renee

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Renee,

      Your keyword is “non-boring accountant”? That is awesome! Love it

      Thanks for sharing,

      Ryan H.

  • http://www.blogplustweet.com/blog.html Matt Hayden

    Couldn’t agree more that you shouldn’t use stock photos. I keep seeing blogs with them and they all look the same.

    I’d much rather focus on just writing good stuff. I know I’m probably losing some traffic as a result of just having heaps of text but I’d rather draw people who value that more than pretty pictures anyway.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Matt,

      If your value is Text like minded consumers who value text as well are going to be drawn to your site… If those are the clients you want then just keep doing what you’re doing dude.

      And add a graphic or self-taken photo once in a while!!

      Hanley

  • http://jdcins.com Jason D Cass

    U rite…u rock..i.surance is boring and i love it…

    But..

    Tell ir story..people always want to compare where and who they r vs. Who u r…

    Just…just…be awesome!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Brother appreciate the love…

  • http://www.antonkoekemoer.com/social-media-marketing/ Anton Koekemoer

    Hi Ryan,

    Yes – I do agree. Blogging is great for driving traffic to a business site or targeted pages – And if done right is far from dead. Great images you’ve shared. Will be sure to pass it along to some of my immediate friends with blogs as well. Great post once again Ryan, thanks for sharing your views.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      No doubt dude… Appreciate the feedback.

  • http://www.lylesinsurance.com Dan Lyles

    Ryan,
    I enjoy reading your blog articles. But I’ve often wondered about how you use a lot of vertical spacing in your blog articles. Do you do that just as your own personal touch, or is there a reason for it regarding making content less boring?

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Dan,

      Part of it is my style as I was doing it naturally… But as I’ve researched the thought process is more space in between lines and vertical space as you said makes the content easier to read and less straining on the eyes…

      This makes readers more likely to come back because they know the content won’t be a struggle to read.

      Thanks

      hanley

  • http://www.rightmixmarketing.com Tom Treanor

    Ryan,

    Great post and I want to read everything you linked to because there’s a ton of value in those other articles! For point #2, I still use some stock photos (as well as original photos and things I put together). For the stock photos I try to find the more interesting ones and add some graphics or words to it to de-borify it. That’s one of my go-to strategies. The article linked to below is not a great example but that’s the approach used for the graphic…

    Keep fighting the Content Warfare fight!

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Thanks Tom appreciate you stopping by… You definitely do a great job of mixing media. The mix is really the key.

      All the best buddy!

      Hanley

  • http://brentmkelly.com Brent Kelly

    As a fellow insurance agent, this is great stuff. It seems like every agent and/or agency wants to just be like everyone else. Putting your own thoughts, photos, personality, etc. makes you real and likable. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      Brent,

      Great thoughts dude… Everyone is unique and people do business with you for those unique reasons…

      Thanks

      Hanley

  • http://www.sarkemedia.com Sarah Arrow

    Gosh, I’m gonna hate to have to pip you here… but I write about transport and there is nothing more deadly dull and boring than that. BUT if we are experts at what we do we’ll find the angle that makes casual readers go “oooh” and share the content so that our potential prospects find us, and they never find our content boring :)

    I’ve also found that a liberal dose of the personal stuff really livens up a post that’s normally filled with diesel fumes.

    • http://www.ryanhanley.com Ryan Hanley

      A battle of who’s industry is more boring? haha…

      Sarah, so much of it is taking ourselves out of the “Curse of Knowledge” from which we come as experts in our field and writing as the consumer cares to see the content.

      and Personality always helps!!

      Thanks,

      Ryan H.