How to Use Real Life Experience to Create Engaging Content
There is a quote that goes, “If you don’t want anyone to know anything about you, don’t write anything.” This insight comes from the genius of Pete Townsend, one of the best singer/songwriters ever to grace a stage. Okay, so maybe your last article didn’t bare your soul like a rock-opera, but writing about topics with which you have experience allows you to develop a relationship with your audience. While I like writing about any subject, I love writing about topics where I can use my real-life experiences to create content that I think readers will enjoy and share.
As professional writers, sometimes we don’t always get the opportunity to write about what’s in our heart, or even what’s in our head. Many writing jobs come across my desk that require me to create content for topics that I may know or care little about. For me, I’m comfortable researching a subject and being able to produce great content for my clients. It’s part of the job, and I accept the challenge. However, getting an opportunity to use my personal experience to create content results in a more authoritative and engaging piece.
Most professional writers did not just sprout from college and into a writing career. Writing skills are developed over years of practice and real-life, “on-the-job” training. I started my professional writing career creating technical documents for the manufacturing industry. Besides helping me to hone my writing skills, tech writing taught me how to take what I know and present it to laymen in a comprehensible format. I think this experience also contributed to my ability to produce compelling creative content for almost any subject matter. As with tech writing, you take a process or topic, dissect it, research it, and create content that provides the essential information yet keeps the reader interested.
On their writing resources web page, Wheaton College offers the advice, “[A]nything you write should still have your voice: something that makes your writing sound uniquely like you.” Putting your personality into your work is not always easy when creating technical documents, but using this technique with creative pieces helps me to stay focused on making the point in an informative, yet conversational tone. This can be the difference between a reader moving on to something else, or clicking the share link.
Writing About What You Know
When writing as a hobby, we usually like to write about topics that interest us. Using the same approach, we can take past experience with a topic and create content that compels the reader to not only finish the piece, but like, comment, or share it with friends and colleagues. In my opinion, these types of articles subconsciously translate to the reader as being written by someone who “knows his stuff.” Not only is the reader interested, but they also absorb more of the content than they otherwise would if it was just an “informational” piece based on industry keywords.
Do Your Research
Whatever topic I write about, I do some research. For instance, I worked in the finance industry for over ten years. I would never create a financial article with only the knowledge in my head. Sure, my experience in the industry gives me insight that others may not have, but I still want to research the topic, gather alternative perspectives, and create content that assures the reader it originated from a trusted source. Trust your knowledge and industry experience to get you through the draft phase, but by putting extra effort into researching the intricacies of the topic, your result will be an article that readers will want to post and share.
Write With Confidence
I didn’t always have confidence in my writing style. I would re-think and re-work content so much that I would turn what should have been a simple writing task into a complex time-waster. When you write based on your experience, your confidence should fill the article from beginning to end. It should flow from paragraph to paragraph. Even when creating more formal content, such as legal or technical articles, I always try to persuade the reader with a confident and assured tone.
Writing for a living isn’t for everyone. I get that. Sometimes, my wife reads over the content of my articles (usually the more tedious topics) and comments in wonder on how I get it done. But when writing about topics of which I have experience, creating a 1000-word piece feels as if I’m writing a letter to a friend. It is far easier writing a personal article on a topic of interest rather than a paid piece, but by using your life’s experiences and challenges in creating your work, you can provide your client with content that not only exceeds their expectations, but keeps them coming back for more.
5-Star writer Dominic B is a freelance writer who has been writing and editing professionally for over 20 years. He currently provides creative work for marketing firms that specialize in SEO content creation and content management services, as well as creating B2B or consumer articles for corporate clients.
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