In a perfect world, content creators would always get to focus on the topics that they’re really interested in and knowledgeable about. But often, real-life content doesn’t work like that.
As a content professional, you’re bound to find yourself creating materials about less-than-exciting topics or topics you know next-to-nothing about some of the time. But this shouldn’t prevent you from produce engaging, valuable content. In fact, topics that aren’t your usual niche are an opportunity to expand your knowledge and grow your network.
Controversy, Consensus… Or Just Crickets?
Obviously, before you start, you need to get a good handle on your topic. The more authoritative sources and points-of-view you can incorporate, the better. What’s the general feeling on the topic – is there an overall consensus, or does it inspire heated controversy?
If you find nothing but crickets, that kind of silence isn’t necessarily a bad thing – in fact, gaps in coverage can actually present great opportunities to take a new angle on a topic. It’s also worthwhile to check social media (especially Twitter) to gain further insights and (sometimes offbeat) opinions. Go old-school and jot everything down by hand – it will help you recall what you’ve read so you can use it later.
Authoritative, unique sources make all the difference. If you have no personal expertise with a topic, you’ll need other sources of credibility. Research subject matter experts and ask them for an interview, good sources or even just a quote. Sometimes, you might even have subject-matter experts in your network already. But if you don’t, reach out with a cold email, call or a DM which might get a response or it might not.
To increase your chances of getting a response for your piece, only reach out to subject-matter experts after you’ve already done some solid initial research on your own. Nobody wants to waste their time answering questions that can easily be addressed with a bit of research.
In addition to getting insights from subject-matter experts, tracking down relevant data and statistics is a good way to add credibility. A regular online search may turn up the sources you need, but it’s also wise to keep an eye out for links to reports and studies in articles you read. Open up these links in a new tab so you can read them later – they often have additional data points you can incorporate.
But My Topic is Boring!
You’ve got your sources, your information and your facts. Now it’s time to lay it all out in a compelling way for your audience so that they actually want to read it. But what if your topic isn’t exactly the most exciting? Don’t get discouraged – you can create compelling, engaging content about just about anything if you ask the right questions.
For example, do you personally have any questions about the topic? If so, readers may be wondering the very same things. Search sites like Quora for keywords relating to your topic and you’ll find real questions that are being asked on the subject. These common queries can provide a great “hook” for an otherwise dry subject, especially if you can focus it on your audience. They can also help you find new ways to approach a topic that’s already been done repeatedly.
Adaptability Is in Demand
Writing about unfamiliar or dull topics is certainly more challenging than writing about subjects you already know and love. But a tough topic doesn’t have to keep you from turning out great content. The secret is great research and, from that, a unique angle that speaks to your target audience. It may take a little longer, but if you can do it well, you’ll always be in demand!