Why “Interesting” is a Very Overrated Blogging Quality

by Marcus Sheridan

Think this room is interesting? Some would say "yes". Others would say "no". It's all relative, just like blogging.

I received a one-line email last week that read:

Marcus, I just can’t seem to start blogging because I’m worried I don’t have anything interesting to say.”

Ahh yes, such a simple statement, yet so very much a problem for many bloggers, marketers, and business owners around the world.

But I get it. We all want to be known as “interesting.” We don’t want to write boring stuff. And we certainly don’t want people to see our names next to a blog post and think, “Dang, this blog post stinks!”

The Myth of Interesting

There is a very unique problem with this quest for writing “interesting” blog posts—it’s relative.

In other words, what’s interesting to me might be the most boring thing on earth to you.

What’s interesting to you may make me want to bang my head against a concrete wall.

Unlike my college English professor who acted like there was a blanket law for all things “good and bad” in writing, the fact is you can write an article and ask 10 people how “interesting” it was and get 10 completely different responses.

For example, do you think reading about the difference between AWeber and MailChimp is interesting? For most people in this world, the answer would be no….unless, of course, you were trying to figure out which email provider you should be using for your blog and/or business, at which point the subject might all of the sudden seem very, very interesting.

Or do you think the subject of “fiberglass pool problems” is interesting?

Of course you don’t. In fact, it sounds epically boring. Notwithstanding, over the last 2 years 100,000 + people have now read that article on my pool company’s website—and with over 200 comments, it appears they feel it’s pretty interesting.

Again, “interesting” is relative. In the case of business, it all starts with whether or not the person is even in the market for your product or service. (Granted, sometimes we don’t realize we’re in the market for something and once we see it, we buy it, but you get my point here.)

Just Solve Problems

When businesses and marketers come to me and say, “I want to be interesting,” I always have one simple piece of advice:

Go solve someone’s problem, that’s pretty darn interesting.

Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel about this subject. When someone gets an answer to a question that no one else was willing to address, that’s VERY interesting.

When someone is on your website and learns something that will help them save money, have more time, have less stress, be more efficient, etc.—now you’ve become very, very interesting.

Do you know why we think our stuff isn’t interesting? Because we’re too close to it. We live it every day. We’ve lost the appreciation for what our product or service does, who it helps, and what problem(s) it addresses.

That’s why it’s a dumb idea to listen to our own opinions too much when it comes to blogging and content marketing. As I’ve said many, many times before—

  • If someone is asking it, you should be answering it.
  • If someone is thinking it, you should be mentioning it.
  • If someone is comparing it, you should be comparing it.
  • If someone is pricing it, you should be addressing pricing.
  • If someone has concerns about a product or service, you should be tackling those concerns head-on.

This, my friends, will make you one of the most interesting bloggers and marketers in your field. And not only that, but you’ll also become a voice of trust—which will in-turn generate more web visitors, traffic, and ultimately sales.

So please stop focusing on being “interesting” and start focusing on being a problem solver. If you’re just willing to try this and embrace such a paradigm I can promise you the results, in time, will be simply astounding.

Your Turn:

Has this issue of being “interesting” been a struggle for you with blogging and content marketing? How have you gotten over the fear that readers won’t be engaged in your content and what other suggestions would you offer to someone who has these same doubts and concerns?

Jump in everyone, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruth Zive March 12, 2012 at 9:38 am

Okay Marcus…I have to disagree just a wee bit.

While WHAT you say doesn’t have to be ‘interesting’, and you should DEFINITELY focus more on addressing your readers’ pain points and challenges rather than getting swept up in finding the most jaw-dropping, mind-blowing blog topic, I do think that HOW you say it needs to be engaging and…yes….interesting.

If you content doesn’t draw the reader in – if it isn’t compelling – then nobody will get past the first line to find out how you’ve solved their problem!

And while yes, ‘interesting’ may be relative (I could read designer handbag blogs all day long!), highly technical, jargony, long-winded and poorly written content is going to bore the pants off of every reader, no matter HOW fascinating the topic.

SO…I think that bloggers need to strive for interesting. Sorry.

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Marcus Sheridan March 12, 2012 at 9:47 am

But that’s the thing Ruth, I’m not saying interesting is a bad thing, but to me, it’s a matter of focus.

If my goal is to solve your problems and truly answer your questions, it will very likely end up quite “interesting”.

If my goal is to only write about interesting stuff, then I might end up like the gal who emailed me last week– no blog.

You said “draw the reader in” Ruth, but if I write a post and you clearly see that it addresses a question you’ve been searching the answer for, then you’re likely going to hang around until the end to get your answer.

When I was just starting to blog with my pool company, I was a pretty bad writer. In fact, I’d say it was very “not interesting” stylistically.

Notwithstanding, some of those early days are full of articles that still get read thousands of times a month today, and have a very high “sticky factor”.

My goal then was to answer questions and I’m glad I didn’t get caught up in the need to sound awesome and be interesting, otherwise I may never have experienced the success I did.

Does that make senseRuth?

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Ruth Zive March 12, 2012 at 10:08 am

It makes sense Marcus – and I don’t think we disagree on the point you’ve addressed.

But I’m focussing more on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’. The ‘what’ alone does not ensure interesting content. I’ve read some pretty hum-drum blog posts about really important, solution-driven subjects. But the writing is just flat and boring.

So while I’m pretty sure we are in complete agreement about topic selection (solve problems; address pain points; answer questions; provide actionable advice), I think that bloggers need to be mindful of content DEVELOPMENT.

How they write – telling stories, writing compelling headlines, using subheads, asking questions, engaging readers, using white space and bullets, checking for errors and proofreading carefully – these strategies all contribute to what makes a post interesting and engaging, in my opinion. And they shouldn’t be overlooked.

I suspect you agree…

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Rebecca Livermore March 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Ruth,

I think it depends on the topic and why I’m reading the blog post in the first place. As an example, I fairly frequently do a search to find out how to do something in Word or Excel, simply because I use them a lot and if I’m trying something new and can’t quite figure out how to do it, I head to Google.

I’m not worried about witty writing when it comes to something like that. I just want someone to tell me how to do what I need to do. I want the instructions to make sense, and I don’t want them to leave out any steps. I would probably be a little annoyed if they tried to be compelling or “clever” or funny or anything else that we might view as interesting in a lot of posts, because that would get in the way of what I need to learn and would waste at least a little of my time.

The bottom line is that in a case like that, I’d be interested because I have a problem I need to solve, but I would care less about how compelling the writing is.

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Ruth Zive March 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Okay, fair enough Rebecca. But even in your example, while ‘witty and clever’ might not be top priority, if the post was written in a rambling, confusing, boring and difficult-to-follow kind of way, even if the ‘solution’ was hidden in there somewhere, you might be tempted to click off and look for the answer elsewhere.

I’m just saying that while ‘interesting’ shouldn’t be immobilizing, it should still be a priority.

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Marcus Sheridan March 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm

I fully agree Ruth. You said the perfect phrase– “Interesting should not be immobilizing.” (In fact, I think I should go back and add that somewhere in the post, because it sounds much cooler the way you said it. Hmmm)

I know we all agree that bad writing isn’t good for anybody. And we also agree that a word artist can make even the most boring of subjects appear magical.

But I don’t think most marketers and certainly business owners are word artists. But I do think they have the ability to be solid teachers. And ultimately, that’s the theme of this post. Like you said Ruth, if we’re immobilized because of this fear, that’s when we’ve got to make a change.

Thanks for always being willing to talk it out Ruth :-)

Marcus

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Rebecca Livermore March 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm

I totally agree with you there, Ruth. In fact, as I was writing my comment, I was thinking that someone who was trying to be “interesting” might write things that just don’t need to be there, instead of the basic, “click on ‘x’” type of sentences that are needed to tell me how to do what I need to do. In other words, trying to be interesting (in a way that we generally view to be interesting) could make the blog post less helpful.

I would say that in the example I gave, screenshots help. I’m not sure they make the post more compelling (though a visual element is always nice), but they help me see what I’m supposed to be looking for, so again, they help me solve my problem.

Regarding your last sentence — I agree that interesting shouldn’t be immobilizing, but be a priority. I believe that goes back to the main point of this blog post, and that is that something is interesting if it accomplishes it’s purpose of providing information someone needs. That can be done in a way that uses humor, compelling headlines, or whatever, but it can also be done in a “just the facts” manner if that is what is most helpful to the reader.

Now having said that, when I read a blog post on how to format something in Word, I don’t go away thinking, “Wow, that was interesting!” But I sure am glad that my document is now formatted properly thanks to the instructions in the post. I’m also likely to bookmark that site so I can find it again easily if it looks like they have a lot of similarly “interesting” blog posts that I may need to read when I’m stuck with yet another Word or Excel problem.

Then again, Word and Excel are sort of interesting topics to me, but I would never read those blog posts until I hit a point where I need the information.

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John | Married (with Debt) March 12, 2012 at 9:46 am

Right now I seem to have an endless list of things to talk about, but I focus on what is interesting to ME.

Like you said, solving people’s problems interests me. Nothing makes me happier than to get an email from an actual reader – no, not an industry friend, an actual person in need of personal finance advice – and hear that I have helped them in some way.

That’s when this got real for me – when I realized that there are so many people out there in need of advice.

There’s no harm in putting your expertise out there and seeing if you can help even one person.

People underestimate the size of the Internet.

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Ryan Hanley March 12, 2012 at 9:58 am

Marcus… Love this thought.

I try to tell myself the following…

Not every post I write has to be interesting to everyone that reads my blog. Your Aweber v Mailchimp article is a perfect example, very powerful information to the people struggling with which newsletter provider to use.

Answer one problem at a time and over time you’ll have provided value to your entire audience…

Thanks Dude!

Ryan H.

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Josh Sarz March 12, 2012 at 11:14 am

‘Interesting’ is only for fads. If you want to stand out, get personal, stay human and be helpful to others.

Well, that’s what I think.

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Murray Lunn March 12, 2012 at 11:14 am

I think the trick to it all is to simply try to write about things that interest YOU and not to just pander to a general audience.

Sure, you want to deliver content to your readers but only focusing on them prevents you from digging into the topics that you’re passionate about.

It adds variety to the mix.

Not every post will go over well with your community but it gives a dynamic nature to your blog which can open up different directions in the future.

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Cheryl Pickett March 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Actually Murray, the whole goal if you are blogging as a small business owner is to engage, connect with and hopefully convert your readers. They are only reading to find things that are beneficial to them in some way. It might educate them, entertain them or inspire them, but if they don’t care about the topic, they likely will not come back for more.

You are right though that you aren’t trying to appeal to a general audience. You should be trying to appeal to your “tribe” your “people”, the people who you ultimately either want to become your customers or to refer others who could be your customer.

Writing about something that interests you, but that does not appeal to your prospects, clients or customer in some way, is better left to a personal blog or other social media space.

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Marcus Sheridan March 12, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I agree that appealing to prospects is critical, assuming the business/bloggers knows who his/her prospects actually are. ;-)

For example, on my swimming pool blog I only talk about swimming pool stuff. If a personal story is shared, it is always relevant to pools.

The Sales Lion is set up a little differently though because it’s more personal and the scope is quite broad, with business and personal development meshing together…which means pretty much anything goes as long as their is a lesson behind it. ;)

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Craig McBreen March 12, 2012 at 11:50 am

Hi Marcus,

I think you have to be interesting to stand out, but like you’ve written here, interesting is relative. In fact, just the other day I was reading about the virtues of one email service vs. another and at the time it was extremely interesting to me AND helped me make a decision.

Can I tout the wisdom of Brankica Underwood here? :)

But certain people do a wonderful job of creating highly technical content that is helpful and easy to digest.

In my opinion from my short stint here, the people who are really succeeding online are bringing value and solving problems. They also have a clear purpose, and deliver content using their unique flavor to make it, well interesting. Some flavors are highly addictive and those are often highly polarizing. Others are all about taking a fairly mundane topic and making it engaging and enjoyable to read.

I’ve been reading a few bloggers lately who might fit the polarizing description. They are not for everyone, but I find their content incredibly interesting and the main value I get from their writing is a bit of creative inspiration. I like that Bold Flavor.

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Cheryl Pickett March 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I’m going to agree with both you, Marcus, and Ruth. In pulling out the old Webster’s, one definition of interest is having curiosity or concern about a topic or creating such feeling.

So Marcus, you are right, solving problems/addressing concerns in blog posts will satisfy curiosity and concern about that problem/need.

However, where I agree with Ruth is that it can’t stop there. The style of writing still needs to keep people reading. Will people continue reading as you said Marcus just because you’re answering a question? I’d say not necessarily unless it truly is the only one they can find.

In your case, you were one of the first to write in the swimming pool space, so there were few options, if any, for people to go to. So if your writing wasn’t the best, did they likely keep reading because at least you were telling them something? Good potential that was the case.

However, many biz owners are not in that place. They are competing with dozens if not hundreds of others writing and blogging about the topic they want to write about.

So do they have to be interesting, to address their prospects curiosity? Yes, for sure. But their writing also needs to be of the quality that keeps them reading as Ruth notes. Interest kicks things off, good writing keeps things moving.

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Rebecca Livermore March 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Cheryl, you are a woman after my own heart in that I also thought of looking the word, “interesting” up in the dictionary because I think people sometimes get hung up on how they commonly define a word.

I also totally agree with the importance of quality writing, particularly if there are multiple blog posts on the same topic and some are filled with grammatical errors and some are well written. All other things being equal, I would probably be more inclined to take the one that is well written more seriously.

However, I think that it still depends somewhat on the topic as to what makes something interesting. In technical things, a post is interesting if it solves my problem — which would include not skipping any steps I need to take to accomplish the task at hand. So if I was reading a blog post on how to do something technical, and somehow they left out a step, that blog post would no longer be interesting to me because it would not solve my problem. So I would do a search for a more interesting blog post — the one that has all of the steps.

I would personally find the technical blog post with all the steps written in a concise and clear manner more interesting than a technical blog post on the same topic that had a funny story or creative imagery, but left out some of the steps.

Now as a writer, I prefer to write compelling and interesting articles. They are more fun to write, for sure! Interestingly enough, one of my clients does NOT want me to use experience, point of view, illustrations, stories, etc. They simply want the facts that will answer the question people are asking, and if I dare write something that most people consider to be compelling writing, it will be rejected. This is not a small company that doesn’t have a clue. They just understand that when someone wants to know how to change the oil on their car (as an example), they aren’t looking to be entertained, but they are interested in a straightforward article that helps them change the oil in their car, without any extra fluff. (They are “get to the point” articles.)

Another client (also a big company) wants me to be more creative and to actually use my personality when I write and to a small degree, sprinkle in enough personal experience that people know I’ve actually lived what I’m writing about. I will admit that those are a LOT more fun to write, but both types of writing are interesting, in totally different ways.

I always love interacting with other writers, so thank you to both Ruth and Cheryl for making me think a bit about what makes writing interesting. I appreciate both of your thoughts.

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Adarsh Thampy March 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Marcus,

Agree with you 100% on this one.

It’s just common sense that whether it be business or relationship, we simply shouldn’t try to please jut about everyone with everything we do. Wonder why it’s so hard for people to apply it to blogging.

My rule of thumb is that whatever I am writing on my blog should be interesting to me (sometime I share personal stories on my blog), or it must answer a question someone has asked me or a guide to solving a problem which I personally experienced when I was building my business.

You have made your point well Marcus.

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Judy Dunn March 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Hey Marcus,

Great question. I have to agree with Ruth here. I don’t think that “interesting” and “helpful” are the same thing. Lots of bloggers out there help people solve their problems, yet their posts are not necessarily interesting to me. I define interesting as engaging and thought-provoking. But for me it goes they go one more step, and I’ll go out on a limb here. They are also entertaining in some way. These bloggers know how to use language, pacing, storytelling, imagery, etc. to keep me on the page with them. I’m not saying that the best bloggers are also extraordinary writers, but they seem to know, as Ruth said, not just WHAT to say, but HOW to say it. My tagline previously to the one I have now talked about helping bloggers educate, engage and entertain. It’s that last one that, in my opinion, is hardest but keeps readers coming back. Just my opinion. Loving the discussion here.

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Marcus Sheridan March 12, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I 100% with everything you’ve said here Judy, I really do. Is it better that a blog be helpful and awesome in terms of writing style? Yeah, sure it is. Notwithstanding, too many businesses are only hearing those words– “awesome”, “interesting”, “powerful”, “gripping”, and on and on.

So they hear these things and then we have paralysis as a result. To me, it’s a crying shame.

But also, great blog writing is a funny, funny thing. For example, I once got an email that went like this:

“Marcus, I hated your eBook, you talked about your and your life and your family too much.”

Although many folks would be bothered with this comment, it gave me quite a laugh. What so many find “interesting” was the apparent bane of this guy’s existence.

Kinda funny, but I’m sure you get my point.

Anyway, I always love it when your wisdom pays us a visit Judy. Thanks so much. :)

Marcus

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John Verba March 12, 2012 at 2:15 pm

This reminds me of an old direct mail adage: It’s not how you say it, it’s what you say. People will read what is interesting to them. They won’t actually read what they’re not interested in just because we find an “interesting” way to say it.

That’s why I’ve learned to look at some copywriter’s “clever” writing and say, “OK, let’s parse this down to what you’re actually saying…or let’s highlight what we didn’t know before we started…or let’s consider how we can act on what’s here…or let’s look for sources so we know if we’re reading unvalidated opinion.” Is something of worth to the reader actually being said?

Leanness helps…

I got into a big agency right out of college because I could write in a way that big-agency creative directors liked. More than people might think, a lot of that process looks like this: Write the best presentation of the story you can, the way you love it. Now edit it to one-third the length, sacrificing style in favor of substance.

You’ll like it more, and all the points that will keep the reader reading will still be there.

Writing that calls attention to itself works against us.

Now I’ve gotten to the point where, if someone reads something I wrote and says, “I loved your writing”…that I think I’ve somehow managed to call attention to the window, not the view the window is showing. In creative and academic writing, we often run into stained glass windows. Now, I think a great compliment about any written piece has to do with the desired outcome…not the writing, which should be transparent.

The conversation between Ruth, Rebecca and Marcus, above, reads exactly like I’d expect them to make the points out loud. It’s friendly, clear and engaging writing, but if we had to cover the same content on a postcard, we probably make it all a lot leaner and have all the key points hit us like zingers.

And that applies to this post, as well. Some pros say writing is 80% revision. : ) On the internet, we might only usually get the 20% effort of the first draft…versus what we’d do if we were getting $100 an hour to make every word as interesting as possible, and delete any unnecessary ones that drag the best ones down. ; )

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Marcus Sheridan March 12, 2012 at 5:30 pm

This was a really interesting comment John and I always smile at your analytical approach.

And do you know what’s funny? Being that we’re talking about writing in “zingers”, you’ve got some of the longest comments on TSL….which makes me laugh. :-) (Just an observation, doesn’t really mean anything ;-) )

Most of what I write is longer. Heck, many articles here are 1000-1500 words. I’m sure they could be a lot shorter but I think I enjoy the art of story too much. I like to “swim in it” a bit before just letting it go…if that makes sense. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by John,

Marcus

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John Verba March 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Marcus,

I totally agree with your observation. : ) My posts are great examples of what I said above. I bet I could take what I covered above and stick it in Word, check the word count, and edit it to be half the length and still make every point…but…

That would take far more time than the extemporaneous writing.

John

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Marcus Sheridan March 14, 2012 at 12:42 am

Hahahaha, well said Verba ;-)

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John Verba March 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Hey Marcus. This just occurred to me, if it’s at all helpful.

I expect to be really interesting (or, let’s say, “helpful”) to only a small group of people. But they’re people who are helpful to me, in that they inspire, relate a bit and, mostly, challenge. In fact, they challenge like crazy, in that, “I know you can take a punch” kind of way.

And any of us could be interesting and helpful to a lot more people (who thrive on very different diets of input/feedback), but then we wouldn’t be as helpful to each other. Mass popularity comes at a high price, after all. Mostly compromise.

(OK…now I’m going to turn right around and note that I’ve always had a natural advantage in consumer marketing because I LOVE pop music, buying direct, news shows, brand names, and striking up conversations with inner city guys in the midtown DC target. Real people and real experiences are great.

[But, conversely, if you turn to a professional at a Christmas Party for the Direct Marketing Association and muse that it'd be nice if someone had brought a football because then there'd be something to DO, they're going to look at you funny.])

So…in this (somewhat) professional setting, I’m writing to the current or future potential rockstars…and not to the folks who’d never end up (at another party) with the like-minded guys throwing a football over a banquet-hall awning at 9 pm. : ) I’m writing to the folks who see rules as sacred cows, but also know how much those sacred cows can mean to people.

And at the same time, I hope the folks who started blogs to say, “This is how I feel about something near and dear to my heart and please chime in if my thoughts spur something you feel the need to say” find my posts super tedious. : ) But I also hope they have the time of their lives connecting and feeling connected to people who were attracted to gather under the same tree, and have time to do that.

Those just might be the folks who choose the better portion, you know…the Mary’s to our Martha’s. : ) It’s not a great approach to business. But being caring, interested in and hospitable to others is not a bad calling…and blogging seems like a great way to be/do that.

And see, in that case, I’d probably say: Ah…don’t analyze it, just go for it!

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Jeffrey March 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm

This post just changed my thinking a little bit. I think that if everyone did this, we’d have a lot more successful blogs with a lot more useful information.

I think all the different things that commenters are talking about in here can intersect and co-exist. Maybe blogs don’t have to always be interesting, but they can certainly both answer questions and be interesting. Perhaps people write blog posts to solve their own problems. But there are many great bloggers that write about their own problems that help other solve problems, too.

Solving others’ problems is a huge factor when blogging. Most people are reading because they think you’re interesting and just want to study your life. They want their own lives to be improved somehow, too.

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Ameena Falchetto March 12, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Such an interesting stance.

I have never sought to be interesting. With my clients I always tell them “write, no one is going to read it anyway” – sounds mean eh? NO, it’s not. When you write your blog aim for one thing as you said, to GIVE VALUE.

For me I aim to take it a step further – to also give actionable advice anyone can apply to their business immediately.

For those clients who get stuck with my initial candid feedback I tell them to write in the same way that they’d dance to their favourite song as though no one was watching.

Striving to be interesting is like waiting for the hand of inspiration to come slap you on the butt…. it’s not gonna happen, and if it does, you’ll be off topic :)

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Marcus Sheridan March 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Hahaha, the metaphors and imagery in this comment were as good as it gets Ameena. Seriously, I think your approach and advice to others is awesome and if everyone had that attitude we’d be hearing of wayyy more blogging success stories.

Thanks bunches lady!

Marcus

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Rebecca Livermore March 12, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Yeah, this one had a few images flying through my mind, for sure. ;)

Now that’s some interesting writing, Ameena!

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Ameena Falchetto March 13, 2012 at 5:32 am

:) Thanks Rebecca … If I could draw a picture for blog comments i would, next best thing is to paint it with words!

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Judy Dunn March 12, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Ameena,

I think in some cases, a writer who blogs (such as me) is a little different from a traditional business blogger (which I used to be when I started). If we can’t be interesting, we are going to attract very few fans (readers of our books).

I think it’s very hard to come up with rules that fit every kind of blog.

My mantra is two-fold: provide value and be interesting. However, that was my philosophy even when I was a B2B business blogger.

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Ameena Falchetto March 13, 2012 at 5:28 am

See – I think striving to be interesting is a problem. As Marcus said, if you provide value someone will be interested.

From a writers perspective, being interesting is a given, or should be, when it comes to communicating something – if you can’t spin the most boring subject to make it more interesting who can?

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John Verba March 12, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Ameena,

Argh. : ) I wonder how long it’ll take for Marcus to get a handle on the “Diffusion” process which wiki describes as “the process by which a new idea or new product is accepted by the market.” Or the “rate of diffusion,” which it describes as “the speed that the new idea spreads from one consumer to the next? : )

I just wonder because you presented a really good example of the kind of breakthrough, envelope-pushing, edgy approach that will give a crucial edge to the edgy folks who are actually willing to get more by putting more into the effort, and risking/competing…

And what you heard back was that, “this is awesome and if everyone had that attitude then…”

But…it’s not just awesome (as in “fantastic” or “it so rocks!”) It’s in-your-face, demanding and differentiating. It’s what you compel your clients to do to move them OUT IN FRONT OF the crowd. It’s not just one more unobjectionable thing someone said that we can pat them on the back for.

And…if “EVERYONE” had your attitude? That would mean all the late arrivers will have caught up, and your edgy approach, then, would have been diffused enough to have spread to reach the big hump of people in the middle of the bell curve. And once the Early and Late Majority — the “this is what everyone is doing so I should be doing it” folks — are doing the same thing, then it’s become the convention. The way to blend in. And that’s when Ameena will have come up with something ELSE that differentiates…and be leading that period’s innovators to act, fast, and enjoy that leading/dominant position for as long as they can.

This dynamic reminds me of being the last high school student into the classrooms
in high school, and having a teacher say, “What if everyone wanted to come in five minutes late?” And me saying, “But…they really DON’T.”

Because…you have so many people who just want to know they are sitting where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there, and as long as everyone is, everything is working for everyone. : ) And I was definitely going to be the last person to suggest to those folks that they should ever do anything BUT that. Because…they were happy. I was getting in trouble and testing the limits (and finding few real repercussions)…and, really, everyone who was going to get out of that town was hammering the walls in SOME way…seeing if they’d hold or fall into dust if you really went at them.

You don’t sound mean at all. You sound like you care, and like you can look in a client’s eye and say, “I know you can get more than most people from this effort, because I know you can do more. If you want to leave the crowd behind, then let’s start by having you leave the crowd behind.”

; ) Really nice coaching/motivating to be the best and work the hardest. (Or, you know…top 5% to 10%, at least.) ; )

John

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Ameena Falchetto March 13, 2012 at 5:32 am

Thanks John – really appreciate your words :)

I don’t believe in rules – I also refuse to adhere to the early adopter vs late-comer debate – new people arrive on the scene every day in every industry, and yes, they make it :)

Shaking things up and keeping people excited and driven is why people work with me … thank you again!

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Marcus Sheridan March 14, 2012 at 12:25 am

I work with you because your smart and your accent is awesome…but that’s just me. ;)

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Harriet March 12, 2012 at 5:25 pm

As you know I am yet to start my own blog but I do worry about being interesting in my own work at university. I picked a very difficult topic for my dissertation in order to try and be ‘interesting’ and now have a lot of work cut out for myself and its VERY frustrating! So I’d say, be interesting but don’t try and overdo it!

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Brankica March 12, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Hey Lion :) I agree, I never went for interesting but helpful. If I can show you how to do something or help you solve a problem that is interesting for those who are searching for that piece of info. So I agree with you completely.

Now what about that room? It is interesting but way too blue :)

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Marcus Sheridan March 14, 2012 at 12:48 am

Bran!!! You know, I’m so glad you chimed in on this one because I think “helpful” and “useful” is exemplified with every article you write. I don’t know how many times I’ve read a post of yours and thought— Hmmm, I didn’t know that!

Thanks for being awesome lady. :-)

Marcus

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barbara March 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm

When I started blogging two years ago I had no clue what I was doing or where it might lead. I’m not a business blogger with a product or service, I’m a writer and artist. It turns out I’ve had a rather interesting life and as I began to share those life stories it seemed to interest quite a few people. Once you realize your words can help others deal with their own demons there’s no turning back. I’m sure the same is true for business blogs who find grateful customers through their blogs.

As most bloggers do I read a wide variety of blogs. Good writing does matter, but the more you write and read the better you get. Variety is good and you truly can’t predict what anyone will find interesting. If you’re waiting because you’re afraid you’re not interesting you are truly wasting time. You won’t know if you don’t start.

Interesting post Marcus ;)
b

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Marcus Sheridan March 14, 2012 at 12:44 am

If you’re waiting because you’re afraid you’re not interesting you are truly wasting time.

Very sage advice Barbara…now if we could get everyone to listen to those words. ;-)

Really appreciate your comments and support,

Marcus

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Ian Altman March 12, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Marcus – Brilliant advice. I wish I had this guidance when I first started my blog. I would spend time trying to craft witty, “interesting” posts. There were often accompanied by a loud “THUD” when they failed to garner attention.

From time to time, I would see something happen in life that drew a parallel to my vision for business. When I shared those stories, they were a huge success. It turns out that when I create a personal connection with the audience and leave them with actionable steps to put the lesson to work, they respond favorably. I remember foolishly worrying that I’d be giving away too much information. Today, I can’t give enough of it away.

There were so many great comments (which is a tribute to the quality of your followers). I agree that you have to deliver value. I agree that each of us sees different topics as valuable. But, if you deliver enough good stuff, the right audience will tend to find you.

I’m going to stay tuned to be certain I don’t miss any other gems. Thanks for turning a complex topic into something that was easy to understand.

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Marcus Sheridan March 14, 2012 at 12:41 am

Ian, loving your comment additions bud, you really do add so much to the conversation.

So many folks go through exactly what you went through in terms of this over zealous effort to be awesome and witty– something that typically has the opposite effect.

But I really love how you talk about the “right audience” finding you. This is the biggie that most bloggers and businesses never get. In an effort to appeal to everyone, they appeal to no one…and it stinks to live in that world.

The moment I stopped caring so much what others thought about me on this blog is the moment this baby really started to take off along with my business.

Again, thanks for your thoughts bud.

Marcus

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Matthew Stock March 13, 2012 at 12:47 am

Right on point with this one Marcus. There really aren’t many exciting industries outside of movies, sports and entertainment (and of course basement waterproofing!). Heck blogging wasn’t interesting to me, until I stumbled across The Sales Lion. One way to make a mundane topic a little more interesting is to stir the pot. Controversy sells. Thanks to you I’m now pickin’ fights with guys I never met!

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Marcus Sheridan March 14, 2012 at 12:38 am

Hahahaha, a little controversy isn’t bad, you’re right Matt.

Speaking of controversy though, I really think it’s important for leaders in any field, if they see something is wrong (in their opinion), that they discuss it.

You’re just starting that process and although it will garner you a few negative responses here and there, folks in your field will certainly take notice….and so will consumers.

Thanks bud,

Marcus

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Mitch Mitchell March 13, 2012 at 2:11 am

Marcus, we’re finally totally connected on one; yay!

The word “interesting” is one of my favorite words. Small things can interest me as much as big things. I got a lot of joy out of seeing a garbage can where the lid came down slowly; the people in the store laughed as much as I did.

The thing about blogging to me is that initially it doesn’t matter whether anyone is interesting or not. The thing to learn is whether you can write, and then write more than once. Interesting is overrated because, as you said, what’s interesting to one person won’t be to another. To me this means that the act of writing is indeed interesting to someone, and the person who likes it is obviously your audience; you’re interesting to them.

Folks just gotta write; the rest takes care of itself.

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Marcus Sheridan March 14, 2012 at 12:35 am

Hahahaha, I guess it’s going to snow in July then this year,ehhh Mitch?? ;-)

Seriously man, love your take on this and nice to hear that it’s possible for us to agree!

And as a wise man once said, “Folks just gotta write, the rest takes care of itself!” :-)

Marcus

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Jay Pinkert March 13, 2012 at 3:31 am

I think the same could be said for “thought leadership” as a blogging objective. It’s not about developing and becoming known for really big or breakthrough ideas — because in reality there are so few of them. Thought leadership derives from the ability to communicate in such a way as to make even commonsense ideas useful and actionable.

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Marcus Sheridan March 14, 2012 at 12:33 am

Thought leadership derives from the ability to communicate in such a way as to make even commonsense ideas useful and actionable.—-Jay, I gotta tell ya man, I love this quote. Really, it’s awesome and spot-on.

Speaking of thought leadership, I think we could spend quite a few blog posts on that subject alone, ehh? ;-)

Thanks a bunch for dropping by man,

Marcus

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Jens P. Berget March 13, 2012 at 4:43 am

I believe that what you’re describing is the difference between business blogging and amateur blogging (or personal blogging or what it’s called). I started out blogging for fun (and as a way to learn marketing, and teach others what I’ve learned). At the time, I was thinking a lot about being interesting enough so people would read and comment. It was a struggle.

But now that I’ve started to shift focus, and I’ve got a client as well, I have realized that blogging is more or less all about solving problems (and adding value to your business, by making it personal, creating strong bonds and building trust).

And that’s the beauty of blogging, even though most people don’t care about your blog, there’s always enough people in the world that cares… and if you’re doing things right, they’ll find you.

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Marcus Sheridan March 14, 2012 at 12:30 am

Jens, having read your blog for some time now, I enjoy watching you go through this developmental process and the maturation of your focus to being a problem solver. Honestly, I’d like to think I’m on that same path.

Like you said, when you’re really blogging as a “business”, things change. The way you see your content changes. The way you see your readers changes. It all changes…and that’s a good thing.

BTW, I’m thinking hard about getting that Long Tail Pro you mentioned on your site, it really impressed me, so you may be earning $50 from The Sales Lion here soon. ;-)

Marcus

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Jens P. Berget March 14, 2012 at 3:07 am

That’s awesome. I can’t say that Long Tail Pro is better than Market Samurai, but I’m really satisfied with it and the details comes from within Google (AdWords) so it’s very accurate. And since it has everything I need when it comes to SEO, and it’s very easy to use, I decided to buy it and not Market Samurai (especially since I heard so many things about their issues with Google).

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Glen Kohlenberg March 13, 2012 at 9:23 am

Marcus I always say when you speak from the heart you will always have alot to say. To me blogging is about life and business experience. The things that happen to us in everyday life is what I talk about mostly.

Love your blog!

Glen

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Marcus Sheridan March 14, 2012 at 12:24 am

Really appreciate the kindness Glen,thank you!

Marcus

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Andrea Hypno March 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm

That’s interesting. :D

I guess this post will be useful for a lot of bloggers, at least it is for me. Sometimes it’s needed to have someone to repeat the basics of great blogs that is solving problems. That’s what everyone searches most of the time right? A solution or an answer. Well written Marcus.

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Marcus Sheridan March 14, 2012 at 12:23 am

Hey Andrea, appreciate it man. You’re right. People look for solutions and answers online….which is why we’ve got to give it to them. :)

Always appreciate your support,

Marcus

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Anne Richardson March 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm

My experience with small business owners certainly bears out what Marcus is saying. And I do agree with all the others that writing well is important. But the fear of having to be ‘interesting’ has too many people feeling paralyzed. Writing well is usually not an in-house capability for most small businesses.

While ‘interesting’ is something to aspire to, ‘providing value/solving problems’ can get you off the bench and into the game. I usually tell people they should think about being ‘of interest’ – it’s a lower psychological bar to hurdle than being ‘interesting.’ If you’ve been in business for any period of time, it means that your products/services are ‘of interest’ to enough people.

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Marcus Sheridan March 14, 2012 at 12:21 am

While ‘interesting’ is something to aspire to, ‘providing value/solving problems’ can get you off the bench and into the game

Now that, Anne, was the best darn line of this whole post and comment section. Seriously, you encapsulated everything I was trying to say with that. :-)

Marcus

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Anne Richardson March 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

Wow thanks. When it comes to helping SMBs, being realistic about what they can/should do with their limited resources is essential. Which is why I think the advice you offer on this blog is so spot-on.

It’s also why I’m so excited that you’re going to come speak to my Digital Branding students at VCU. You’ve got a real-world message that they need to understand as they enter the real world of business.

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rob March 13, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Real intelligence knows itself with no compulsion to be interesting or clever. What beautiful freedom real intelligence has – it need not strain to prove how intelligent it is (which is what ‘trying to be interesting’ is all about). Real intelligence helps others sense the existence of higher ways, which in itself supplies incentive for attainment. Now, isn’t that interesting?

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Marcus Sheridan March 14, 2012 at 12:19 am

I tell you what’s interesting Rob– that comment, because I had to read it about 5 times in the hopes I was getting where you were coming from. ;-)

But I think I get you– great communication is never about trying to “prove” anything, be it interesting, intelligent, what have you. And I think if a blogger, or a business, is “trying” to be interesting, there is a good chance it may end up having the opposite effect.

Or am I way off?

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Judy Dunn March 13, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Wow. Now we are equating “interesting” with a lack of intelligence. Who would have thought?

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Jon Loomer March 14, 2012 at 12:40 am

Yep. Before I even scrolled down far enough to read the heading, my first reaction to your title was “Just solve problems.”

Sometimes I read what I write and think it’s freaking boring. But I always make sure there’s a purpose, value or utility. It should answer a question and ultimately SOLVE A PROBLEM!

Thanks, Marcus.

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Naveen Kulkarni March 14, 2012 at 1:59 am

I could have started this comment as ‘thanks for giving me opportunity to share my views’.

But I would rather start as ‘You tickled my brain Marcus, let me contribute with my own feelings about what you said’.

Which line would have sounded more interesting? Obviosusly the second one.

I agree with you Marcus. Being ‘interesting’, is relative term. But again it is greately affected by the factors such,

1. Are we passionate about what we are writing?
2. Are we knowledgabele about what we are sharing with others?
3. Do we have enough imagination that translates into a piece of writing that is interesting to read.
4. Last, but not least. Interesting people write interesting things :-)

I agree on your point on problem solving. But , that works because you (the sales lion) put the solutions in interesting ways. You resonate with need of audience.

Blogging is not two dimensional media, where we can actually show our emotions while we write. It’s a one dimensional platform where writing speaks everything.

So, being interesting matters, whether in real life or on blog. And becoming interesting person is science in itself :-)

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Anita Thorn March 14, 2012 at 2:10 am

Late to the party as usual, but here’s my two cents: You most definitely should have a reason for blogging, otherwise you won’t be as committed to your blog as you should be. If you believe in what you’re doing then you will write stuff with a purpose in mind. I think business bloggers are held to a higher standard – they should solve problems, explain complicated things, provide a product comparison, list steps for overcoming something, etc. They should provide good, true and factual information. Everyday, there’s a blog post on Yahoo that just gets ripped to shreds in the comments – the readers think it was a complete waste of their time, was misleading and definitely not interesting. Business bloggers have got to provide VALUE. Provide value, and the reader walks away saying, “That was interesting.”

But not all of us are business bloggers. I most decidedly am NOT. I am writing for fun because I like to write and I have a small group of friends who enjoy reading about the silly exploits in my life. I’ll be the first to admit that I have not been as consistent as I’d like… hoping to fix that very soon. But my only goal when I post is to give people a break FROM all that business sludge clogging up their lives – to make them chuckle or smile. Oh, I will probably get on my soap box from time to time and write major call-to-action articles on No More Homeless Pets, but for the most part I don’t see myself doing that.

I also agree wholeheartedly with the person who said presentation is important. I can make the most boring drivel sound good with bullets, bolding, clever fonts and other tricks. Conversely, amazingly good content becomes dang near impossible to get thru if it’s presented in one loooooong block of unbroken text.

Bottom line: “interesting” means “provide value” and you definitely need that if you’re a business blogger. Oh, and about that room… as a designer it is definitely interesting to me! It’s NOT what I would recommend to a client but it’s interesting that someone was actually comfortable with that much blue.

Anita

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Jk Allen March 14, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Yo Marcus,

What’s up man! Interesting topic. I personally believe that people should just write from a space that they’re inspired to write from. If you try to fake it, like many bloggers do (just keeping it real), then in time the lies will catch up.

I believe the quest to be interesting is one of the facets that lead some bloggers to promoting a false life online. They want acceptance and accolades and feel like they need to be “more” than who they really are.

We’re all innately interesting…it’s all a matter of relativity-like you said. Grabbing a hold of the right audience is the key to the relativity becoming realized.

Hope you and the family are well man. Please pass my regard to Jason…heck, I’m going to email him. It’s been a while!

PEACE

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Joe March 14, 2012 at 8:06 pm

I’ve done videos on portable air conditioner air flows, how a huge unit is able to get through standard door, the joys of water cooled units…

You know the most popular one (over 3000 views)..it’s “how a portable air conditioner works”..why did I do it..had a client ask me about “joe, what are all these vent thingys, how do they work, where does the cold air come from..”

Simple, inform and maybe solve a few problems.

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Marcus Sheridan March 16, 2012 at 11:39 am

AWESOME example Joe! Seriously, love it man. :)

Keep up the great work,

Marcus

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Ozio Media March 26, 2012 at 9:14 am

Writing interesting blog posts is less important than being informative in the content. As you point out in your post, interest is about relevance to the reader. If your blog is targeted at a particular audience, even the most mundane details can have relevance and so they can generate interest. Bloggers should aim at producing good content because well written blogs that express personal and informed opinions will always create their own interest.

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