Several months ago, a retired gentleman named Bob emailed me after stumbling on my blog. He said he lived near me and told me he’d love to meet up to talk about writing.
I had never received an email like that before, so I had no idea what to do.
I was intrigued. I told my wife that I wanted to meet Bob. She asked me the typical spouse questions: Who is this person? Are you sure it’s safe? What are you going to talk about?
Despite my shortage of reasonable answers to any of my wife’s reasonable questions, I responded to Bob and scheduled a time to meet him at a nearby mall (read: a safe, well-lit area with lots of people around).
Bob and I met at a Panda Express in a local mall food court.
As it turned out, Bob was a published author. He had written several business books and had taken the time to read quite a few of my articles online.
Five minutes after meeting me, Bob leveled me with some unsolicited feedback:
“You write well and you have good content, but your writing is too dry. It needs more pathos. A human story is always better than a series of events.”
After suppressing my initial shock (Damn, Bob. I just met you.), I realized that Bob’s feedback was exactly what I needed to hear.
That day, I decided to make my writing more personal. Bob had exposed the flaws of my writing in a few short sentences — five minutes after meeting me.
I had been writing about events when I should have been telling stories.
I had been sharing facts when I should have been describing humanity.
I had been wrapping good content in shitty packages.
I had been so focused on giving great advice about leadership, business, writing, and personal development that I had neglected the human element. I had forgotten that good content is nothing without humanity.
Since meeting Bob, I have made the following changes to my writing:
- I begin almost every article with a story.
- I pay as much attention to the vehicle of my content (the story, headline, and formatting) as I do to the content itself (the core message, tips, and actionable takeaways).
- I have begun asking myself, “If I was the reader, would I continue reading this story after the first one or two paragraphs?”
You can create the best “content” in the world, but if it’s not enjoyable to read, no one will find it, read it, or share it.
Are you relying on your content do to the heavy lifting or are you taking the time to draw your readers in with interesting stories?