This guest post from B2B copywriter Steve Maurer turns the normal advice we hear about writing content on its head. We got a good chuckle out of this and we hope you do too.
You work in an interesting industry.
And you have an amazing product.
If other companies buy it, they’ll get a great ROI. Your new product might change people’s lives.
Maybe even yours.
If you do a good job promoting it, you might get named employee of the month. Pats on the back. Even a raise! If you are a freelancer, maybe you’ll win more clients!
Who needs that kind of pressure?
Here’s how to avoid that
You know what could be your problem?
Content that’s just too darn good.
Good content draws in people. It invites them to know, like, and trust your firm. It forces you into the unsavory roles of “likeable expert” or “trusted advisor.”
I’m going to coach you how to write truly boring and tedious content.
Sure, a lot of content is bad… but not really bad.
It’s not systematically engineered to inspire 100 percent of your prospects to press delete.
It’s not so bad that it guarantees you will never have to deal with the stress of a promotion or a raise.
If you want truly excruciating, mind-numbing results—no matter how interesting your industry or product—here are some instructions on how to write boring content.
Tip 1: Never, ever write conversationally
Some people promote conversational writing.
You know, “Give people the feeling that you’re talking directly to them.”
Then they might actually become a customer and buy what you’re selling. Happily. With a smile on their face!
The very thing we’re trying to avoid, right?
Here’s a tip. Think back to your college days. Remember that professor whose monotonous lectures put half the class into a fitful sleep?
That’s what you’re going for. Prose that oozes like oily sludge, gumming up everything in its path. Nothing should sound like a real conversation, ever.
Do that and you’re well on your way to boredom.
Tip 2: Jargon is your friend
The more obscure, the more technical, the better. Inscrutable acronyms are great too.
Without jargon, how are you supposed to show off your massive intellect and your N4YEIYF (Nearly Four Years Experience In Your Field)?
These terms can be particularly effective if you pile them all up in clumps.
Tip 3: Never use stories
Storytelling is the last thing you want to do.
Some people say our brains are “hard-wired” for stories from the time we’re toddlers. So please, don’t give readers something they crave.
After all, stories risk making your message enjoyable. That’s no good for boring content.
I remember this one company I wrote for that… uh, never mind.
Tip 4: Use as many clichés as possible!
This is a powerful tip so keep it under your hat.
Phrases become clichés because they make a hard concept easier to understand. They’ve weathered the storm and stood the test of time. Which is why they help you write up that content in a jiffy. Why think up fresh language when you can take such a potent shortcut?
Readers have read these same phrases so many times they often skip over them without considering what you are trying to say.
Why waste peoples’ time with actual reading?
Plus, the more images you use, the better. Never mind the hard work of coming up with a single metaphor and sustaining it through the piece. Mix them up! Your prospect will get so confused they may quit reading altogether.
Tip 5: Replace periods with “and’s”
Here’s another good one. Whenever you come to a period, delete it and insert “and.”
This way, you can string several prodigious sentences into a true monster that stretches far down the page.
Read the sentence aloud and if you can complete it without taking a breath, it’s not long enough and you should really combine it with the next sentence and keep it rolling along to help you create content that goes on and on and bores the living daylights out of your reader.
Tip 6: Don’t use subheads
These act as sign posts, showing where your article is headed. And they break up a hard slog of text into bite-sized chunks. Definitely a no-no when creating mind-numbing content.
I used subheads here so you can easily scan through this post. You, however, should not. Do as I say, not as I do.
Tip 7: Never use bulleted lists
Busy readers love it when you use this scoundrel: a bulleted list. That’s why you see so many of them.
But beware, these can be dangerously effective.
Bullets kill boring copy because:
- At the top of a piece, they provide an outline
- In the body, they emphasize important points
- At the end, they reinforce what you already said
So avoid bulleted lists… yeah, like the plague.
Tip 8: Remove all paragraph breaks
Your goal is to make your content look like one big mass of text that’s hard to read. Like a wall of grey. A tsunami of text. A deluge of data. A multitudinous mountain of material. A voluptuary of vocabulary. Most people will take one look and run for the hills. A thousand words with plenty of white space can look inviting to read. You don’t want that. To maximize the boredom, eliminate as much white space as possible. A good place to start is the little breaks between paragraphs that provide a brief rest for the reader’s eyes. Don’t give that to them! Make them work as hard as possible to plow through longer-than-long paragraphs.
Tip 9: Your last-ditch defence? Bad formatting
Even if you somehow manage to goof up and create some compelling content, all is not yet lost.
You can still use poor formatting to make your text fall flat as a pancake.
Some misguided souls will recommend that you aspire to this formula:
Great content + great design = excellent results
But I say, shoot for this time-tested formula:
Push that deadline so you have no time for a designer.
Then design it yourself using the following guidelines:
- If you can, squeeze together the lines. Always choose fonts that are wispy and squished-looking.
- Use a lot of italics.
- Don’t be shy to shrink that font size to fit the page. Who wants to cut words?
- Change all the text to grey. The lighter, the better. To really make them squint, try to get away with 20 percent grey!
- Run that text on top of a background that looks like a blizzard or a sandstorm.
- Never give them old-fashioned, high-contrast 100 percent black text on a white background. That’s easy to read, exactly the opposite of what you need.
Tip 10: One last strategy: bend the truth
Honestly, I know you’re shooting for boring. But sometimes you might need to lie a little in your copy. A little well-crafted fibbing never hurts.
Here’s a good one I see quite often:
“Our five-man team has over 10 years of experience!”
C’mon. No, you don’t.
You have four guys with two years of experience, and one with two-and-a-half. In other words, your team has two years of experience. That’s it. That’s all.
But fibbing has an extra benefit. When you can write content that’s both boring and untrue, you’ve hit the jackpot.
Because even if a reader wades through your content and then manages to catch the falsehood, what’s the worst that can happen?
They won’t like you or trust you, right? And that’s exactly what you’re shooting for with boring content.