Hi, I’m a content writer who has stopped writing my own content. Is there a group for that?
It came like a complete smack in the chops. That reason why I hadn’t blogged for a while, even though I love writing. It’s because 90% of what I consume content wise bores the absolute bluebells off me.
The online world for content writers is a place full of neatly crafted yet beige sweaters no one gets that attached to.
It’s marketing as memorable as a cup of hospital custard.
This isn’t coming from egotism or saying I am a better content writer. Half the time I am waiting for some grammar pedant to jump out from behind the blogosphere curtain and point at me until my face is red with shame.
My keyboard has never been something I loved because I was going to win the English prize. People bang on in business forums about how much typos put them off websites. In response, I oscillate between cringing and snorting as I think “you seriously do not live in the real world.”
There’s a reason why content marketing and I have been at odds this year. It’s because it feels like in a world that has millions of “how to blog with a dolphin lodged in your colon” and “the 5 things you need to do so Neil Patel will do rude things to your online pop up” stories.
It’s on repeat.
Like a slack radio station who promises a no repeat work day yet manages to bore the trousers off you all the same.
Or like Animal Farm- yet some animals aren’t more equal than others. On the contrary, they’re trying really hard to be exactly the same.
At the risk of sealing my fate as a complete snobbing bastard, I stopped writing because I was bored by what I was reading.
The problem set in when I moved from annoyed to acute awareness that I was part of the problem.
There are a couple of things that chase us content writer people away from calling out the usual Fisher Price marketing the other kids sell:
1) The knowledge that if you know a subject inside out, of course you are reaching for a higher plain of understanding. As a result, it’s bound to be repetitive and;
2) The acceptance that most people are nowhere near as exposed to it all and are happy to pick up those middle majority tips and;
3) The people chasing the middle majority tips are the guys who pay your bills
“Think of your audience” is a great way to remind yourself to keep writing, even if your brain isn’t exactly stretching or feeling nourished.
It’s not my clients fault or the fault of people trying to learn business from content. It’s not even the keywords we shoehorn in to continue to rank that dilutes the meaning.
It’s my own fault. And the fault of my fellow content writers and marketers. Of the SEO copywriters and the best selling marketing mavericks.
None of them can claim much in the way of originality. That in itself isn’t an issue. I mean, how different can the same lessons be?
It’s more that the depth, the investigation and the push has gone. That everyone is walking up the local grassy knoll and calling it a day. No one is brave enough to free climb or be strange or serve anything different.
Even the rebel content writer has another twenty shadows.
“Hey everyone, let’s be maverick. Let’s swear!”
Oh great. Now I am bored again.
Honestly, it’s nice to be home and hosed and tucked up in comfortable content marketing surroundings. Stick another bow on the post, wait for the praise and the clicks and the likes to roll in. Google gives you a tickle and that ranking business is happy for another month.
Job sorted. Ho hum.
But this awareness began to rankle.
Maybe it has something to do with seeing others make disgustingly profitable businesses. Not pure jealously, mind you. Of seeing them rise to prominence by being the equivalent of a cocaine jacked terrier with no shame. Of pretending to be nice and to care to line up the next sale. Of serving gruel and having people crow about it.
It’s a hell of a bitch being ethical when you work in marketing. Again, you know inside the beast so you can see what the beast is doing. You start feeling awkward about how much people are being used.
But beyond other people. Because to be frank, it’s not up to this content writer to be the expert in the life of another.
Moreover, I think it became a feeling of being wedged between content I needed to write and content I didn’t care about. My brain felt flat.
It was at this moment I entered my first ever content marketing crisis. Yay me!
The crisis creates the empathy and the action
I can see why clients hide under doonas, tables and whatever else they can find when a content writer or marketer (usually me) says “You’ve got to market yourself better!”
Content marketing has become a festival of pop up exhaustion. If you don’t take over the page in the front, hit ‘em from the side. Crack ‘em before they leave. Stick them to the page any way you can. Just get that damn email address!
The content writer has become the content creator. It’s become the inky stain of the banal leaking across blogs to podcasts to videos and beyond. And I get it, I really, really do.
Us marketers and freelancers are trying to reach audiences. We’re catering to their needs. We’re using different formats to reach them. Repurposing content to cut down the work load and help the world out.
The trouble is, we’re creating beige content in the process.
I lost a love of writing and ranting on the internet this year because I had no one to inspire me. When I say no one, I can’t live on a diet of the School of Life, the 99u or Ideas Hoist alone.
Please sir, I want some more. I don’t care that you’ve drowned the content in cool memes and extra giphy special magic.
It’s still boring.
But how arrogant is that? I’m annoyed because someone wasn’t giving me something to challenge my brain.
I started being lazy and entitled. I forgot I can make my own content fun! And I can stop sitting here with my bottom lip out and do something about it.
Put action to the words. It’s time to stop whining and get on with the job.
Moving on up in this here content driven world
There is a balance to satiating that need to stretch against the requirement to survive as a paid and functioning content writer.
Do you remember when I spoke about that wonderful thing of getting paid by clients?
Clients aren’t taking Content Marketing 301 with Honours. They’re usually studied up on other stuff.
They are kicking butt in stuff I couldn’t hope to do. Even after cannon-balling every podcast, blog and infograph I could find.
See, that’s the rub. Us marketing and freelance types, us content creators and content writer people, we get stuck doing what we do. We get better at writing your story but worse and worse at writing our own. We get busy creating the theatre around your business and we forget to seek out our own.
So I am getting a content creation crowbar out. I am looking to lever myself out of the complacency chair. I’m going to allow my feet not to touch the bottom for a while and try something new.
It’s not as easy as it sounds.
All I want for Christmas is a challenge. Or seven
In 2017, I am transforming what I do as a freelance business. Not because I don’t like my clients or marketing or being a content writer.
It’s just that I don’t see the need to add the same advice to the voices that are already out there. I am taking a few risks and opening up some awkward conversations. I want to challenge the status quo with events. And I want to be able to work out how to create the content that I am missing out on.
For surely, if I ache for something that is more in depth, so too do others.
It’s about recognising who I am.
I like being loud, mouthy and a tad rebellious. Sensitive and curious, I am not into the polish and the self promotion to the point of plastic. I want people to care about things. Not just about how cool their profile photo looks. I got into this business to be able to play and explore. To have kick arse side projects. Not to turn beige.
So I’m annoyed enough to face the consequences of rocking the boat.
Years ago, I wrote a poem that had the lines
“She is me and me is all I am.
But she is the best thing for me,
I have come to understand.”
That is by no means William Blake or Alfred Tennyson. But it is a reminder that instead of remaining fed up with what other people are doing, I need to do something.
Instead of worrying about SEO or what is cool or low hanging fruit, it’s time to take a few risks and be OK with failure.
But without the blatant cheesy self promotion, adoring lackeys or 6 point regurgitation plans.
Let’s see how far I get, shall we?