How to Write Interesting Content for a “Boring” Topic

How to Write Interesting Content for a “Boring” Topic

Reader Comments (109)

  1. I love this article. I never intentionally thought that that was what I was doing. I just thought “I don’t want to be bored.” Thank you for codifying this into a process for me.

  2. I really like the idea of going to Quora to find out what people are asking about the topic. I have done surveys before running a class to find out what beginners want to know but this is a great idea to dore make research and find out common questions. Format a purpose for using Quora! Haha.

  3. Brilliant. As someone who’s constantly looking for interesting things to say about a boring topic, this article is gold. One thing I have found is that, contrary to previous expectations, the “boring” articles generally receive more traffic than ones that I thought would be intrinsically interesting.
    The lesson I learned was that the relevance of the subject matter was far more important than my perception of what was boring or interesting.

    • That’s right Anthony, apart from the interesting subject, relevancy about the subject-matter is also important to compare with. As you said, I have also noticed going certain posts viral with very boring topics, but the relevant subject was the main thing that made it happen.

  4. Great article Pratik!

    You have provided a lot of inspiration for content creators in both ‘boring’ niches and ‘fun’ niches.

    Using Quora and Yahoo to find questions to answer is a great resource but you can also find some great content from within your own organization – Ask your sales team and customer service teams what they are often asked and answer them – A good start for any blog!

  5. Fabulous article. I love this and the example you provided. Note to self, try and make anything interesting. I’ll definitely be trying to adopt these tips in my future blog posts.

  6. What a great wake up call! We all need to be reminded of the basics about writing great content now and again. I like the idea that if you think a topic is boring and are thinking of dismissing it, start asking basic questions to help you to uncover the needs, wants, and desires of your audience. It all circles back to audience, doesn’t it?

    • That’s perfect Kristine. Perhaps we can think more about the audience rather than thinking about how boring the topic is. It’ll start generating ideas.

  7. Content, content, content. Sometimes I spend so much time trying to come up with interesting content ideas, the time just zips by and I end up with a so-so idea and it has taken waaay too long.

    I like the idea of checking the sources you mentioned, like Quora. I never heard of it before. But you can bet I’ll be searching using all of the ideas in your post. This has been really helpful in getting me un-stuck.


  8. I absolutely love the contradictions and paradoxes part. It’s a way to create unique twists to compelling content. And absurdity is definitely good. So is crazy. Content with the right amounts of absurdity and crazy is what I like best. It makes the content appealing to a lot of people.

    Thanks for this!

  9. Thanks Pratik, This post came at the perfect time. I have a few sites that need more content but I was stuck on writing anything until I read your post. This has given me me a ton of ideas for writing interesting and quality content that will attract more visitors. CopyBlogger is just a GOLDMINE and there are plenty of gold nuggets right here! Thanks again!

  10. Great article, what was going to be a boring afternoon spent doing some mundane copy is now an exciting prospect and ive got a lot of ideas buzzing around for some content, good to reinvigorate my enthusiasm

  11. “There are no boring topics, only boring content creators”
    Couldn’t agree more! And if you think your business is that boring it’s probably a good sign that you are in the wrong business. As long as people need/want your products/services you’re interesting to them in some way, shape or form.

    • Perhaps you’ve gotten the point of view wrong. The perspective was to open some more ways for the content creators. I know if a business man will write the content, he will have all the knowledge about what he’s doing.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  12. I’ve heard the tip to find out what questions your audience is asking, but thank you for going into depth and showing me how easy it is to do that.

  13. This article is an eye opener. I would add, look through a microscope, not a telescope. We tend to generalize things for a safer perspective, failing to see that the treatment gets better with a personal perspective. If you say that you have a better cup of coffee, I would be interested enough to drink from the same cup. Candidness and sincerity never fail to hit the mark with audiences, then and now.

  14. To paraphrase (or steal from) somebody: nothing is boring to an interesting person. I put together a big shiny report for a law firm featuring its clients, and they agreed we should tell stories, which was an exciting challenge to find human interest in whatever topic we were given. For a waste management company, I traced the history of trash disposal, leading with: “When invaders attacking ancient Athens started scaling piles of trash to get over the cityโ€™s defenses, thatโ€™s when authorities realized they had a waste management problem.” And so on, for 25 stories.

    My inspiration was Malcolm Gladwell, who always finds a fascinating, human-scaled, angle to introduce a larger story. You can see the report here if you’d like:

  15. No doubt that trying to keep things fresh is daunting at times. I’ll have to try that “who, what, when, where, why” idea for my other blogs some day. Thanks!

  16. Brilliant! I love your approach: “ask the right question”. Indeed, sometimes I am face to subjects I am not excited at all about. But the show must go on. It’s a hard word to be creative and original for every single article. I’ll try the tools you mentioned and will let you know. Thanks for the tips.

  17. “There are no boring topics, only boring content creators” That’s a really cool quote, which I’m going to print and stick it somewhere over my desk. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Actually, it’s going to replace another one, which is also related to the topic. It says: The highest paid freelance writers are those who can write about anything under the sun and come off as an authority in the subject-matter.

  18. I wrote about this exact topic two months ago, even referenced Quora for data mining too. Google “How to blog like you mean it” not quite as in depth as this, and not as many catchy quotes either.

  19. Hi,

    Thanks for reminding me about Quora and Yahoo! Answers. I haven’t been on “Q” in a while. Brilliant! If you want to step up your content writing, you may as well hang out where people are asking questions.

    I’ve shied away from writing opinionated posts, but maybe I’ll give it a try. Writing the same old type of posts month after month can get old after a while. And hey, we all know that controversy sells. Thanks for the tip!

  20. What a timely article! Just yesterday, a client said “what a boring subject.” And I said “there are no boring subjects. I always find something to fall in love with, and then anything is fascinating to write about.”

  21. Great article with meaningful insights. I liked the concept of applying who, which, how, what, where to the niche. This I what normally do when I am out with the ideas. Great post.

  22. Pratik, this was so good!

    I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of using yahoo answers and quora for market research. That’s a great idea.

    About creativity, in Michael Michalko’s excellent book Thinkertoys, one of the creative tools he recommends is called “opposites.” It’s exactly like it sounds. You consider opposite or contradictory ideas to the solutions you’re focused on to solve your problem. I applied this concept to a day when I was having trouble getting motivated to work out. It resulted in “The One Push-Up Challenge” – a great solution and my most popular to date with a couple hundred shares (Though I changed my URL slug structure, which wiped out shares attached to the old URL).

    Well done. It must have taken a lot research to write this.

  23. I love these suggestions. I think creating opinionated posts can really differentiate one company’s content from a competitor’s. Companies prefer to play it safe and create vanilla-kinda-stuff, but formulating a real opinion about something stirs conversation. I always think of 37signals blogs- they ask their own employees to write blog posts and encourage them to express their true opinions!

  24. Well done Pratik! I’ve been a professional copywriter for 19 years and the. PR/Marketing/DIgital Marketing and Journalism industries have changed a great deal but the who?, what?…etc. questions continue to be intrisic to creating effective and speedy content in all cases.

  25. The random word generator is very cool. I can see how it would be useful for brainstorming.

    Kinda like Ubersuggest…your can get some great little golden nuggets if you are stumped.

  26. Great post! Thank you! I used that technique with the yahoo Q & A to create a kindle ebook and it worked ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’ll use it more from now on for my blog posts too ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. I write a lot of financial articles for small businesses so I found your blog useful. I have so many great ideas now…”Why Your Accountant Isn’t Married,” “How to Build Your Relationship with Your Quickbooks,” “How Fast Can You Accelerate While Doing Your Taxes?” “Increasing Your Sexual Stamina through Payroll.”

    And thanks for the random keyword generator….there will be hours of fun had with that one!

  28. Excellent advice all around, but what I really liked was this:

    “The best time to brainstorm is when youโ€™re having trouble focusing.”

    Usually when I’m having trouble focusing, I try harder to focus, and it doesn’t usually work. Next time, I’ll try this.

  29. I agree with you! There are no boring topics, just boring content writers. I have been kicking it up a notch by using a lot of analogies to famous people, groups, or shows as a way of making the boring topic more entertaining. I’m trying to help readers connect the dots in a new way. Thanks for more great ideas in this post.

  30. I almost didn’t read this article as the headline didn’t really interest me. My niche is pretty interesting and not boring (weight loss), but I decided to read your article anyway. Wow! I got hit by a two by four! This is totally what I needed. I want to put the twist on my niche that takes it above the average questions that most weight loss niches answer. Thanks for the great wake up call for me and for the resource of quora too.

  31. Good article! There is always an interesting angle to approach certain subjects. A lot of people (including myself) try to write from the most obvious or comfortable place but that is not necessarily what is going to interest your audience. It is surprising to see how enganging a post can be written from a more inventintive or unusual perspective (the sucess of it may even surprise you).

  32. I often poll my readers when I’m stumped for a topic. They are often happy to provide me with data if I ask them a question that I know will pique their interest.

  33. I teach speech at a community college. I always tell my students that they can make nearly any topic interesting. I’ve seen a few great examples over the years. I’ve had some great speeches on topics such as buttons, stamp collecting, and mullets. Who’d have thunk it.

  34. A really great article – one of the few I’m going to print out & stick on the wall! I’ve been struggling with writing articles & feeling sorry for myself when I struggle with a mundane topic. Now I realise I am just making excuses – it really is possible to find an interesting slant, whatever the topic. So no more excuses, & next time I’m having trouble focusing, I’ll do a brainstorming session instead. (I’ve already discovered the power of mindmaps for this purpose, & now I will play with combining this with the “wh..” modifiers.)

  35. This article is VERY timely. I’m actually in the midst of writing and publishing one this week.

    I had a feeling my draft isn’t that “interesting” towards my intended audience. The asking-the-right-questions thing, I’d say, is very true.

    The maybe tricky part is how to apply what I’ve learned here. I’ll give it a shot anyway, and see how it goes.

    Thanks, Pratik.

  36. It’s a real skill, Pratik, to get a dull topic to be interesting. Thanks for the tips; everyone should read the news every day to keep on track of potential topics you can pick up on and turn into a big article. Like Truman Capote did; one tiny story he saw became the brilliant In Cold Blood.

    But I think using BuzzFeed and Cracked aren’t the best examples as they have huge followings already. Frankly they could write a one word article and they’d still get dozens of social media results. When you’re writing for a blog with a low PR rating you can write brilliantly witty content and it’ll go unnoticed.

  37. Thank you so very much! I’m going to use these tips *today* as I’m struggling with an unfamiliar niche.

  38. I’m in the midst of reorienting my own blog, away from a focus on memoir and travel, to be more relevant to my novels and mystery series . This article landed on my alltop page at the perfect time–I can use it as a blueprint to help shape the blog’s new direction and find a niche that will stand out from other mystery writers. Many thanks for the good ideas.

  39. That’s the nail struck squarely on the head. It’s always the news headlines with opposing words that get my attention.
    For example in today’s
    – New developments are ‘quite likely to be ugly’ – I can’t be bothered to read further.
    – Man ‘feigned heart attacks to get free lunches’ – I’m intrigued.
    Thank you Pratik.

  40. Please please please have your links open in another window. I can’t tell you how many times I have to re-open the wonderful copyblogger article I was in the middle of because I close out of a link I had clicked on from the article. Pleeeeasseeee have them open in another window!

  41. I see someone mentioned it in passing above…but is a cool little tool for coming up with topics/questions your audience may have – or just keyword research in general.

    I liked this post a lot – but I’d hardly call coffee mugs a boring topic. Try making personal checks exciting :). I know you can – just sayin’.

  42. Brillant, who knew a coffee mug could be so interesting…I don’t even drink coffee and now I am intrigued. The suggestions were great, I will print this our and hang by my desk.

  43. Great post! Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favourite writers. I’ve always been amazed at how he’s able to make any topic interesting. I imagine he goes through a similar process to this.

  44. I’ll echo the enthusiasm for this post. I really think this is about creating empathy for the ready. The content doesn’t have to be interesting to you, it has to be interesting to the reader. I might add that personas can be really helpful for this. They provide a quick and easy way to stay focused on what’s important to the reader when analytics and other tools aren’t available.

  45. Interesting I’m reading this while drinking my morning coffee from my favorite Disney mug with a picture of Gooffee on it. Does this count as research?

  46. I totally agree when you say that any topic can be given an interesting spin. Its all in the perspective of the writer. Any boring topic CAN be made interesting – not just that any blogger is doing it so often – given the existence of content creation rat race. Loved the examples and also the interesting fact: brainstorming works great when you have trouble focusing. Gotta try that next time ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. Thanks so much for sharing your perspectives, not easy to practice but possible. I immediately signed up for Quora after I read this article. I definitely need to work on my writing skills. ๐Ÿ˜€

  48. very helpful structure, Pratik. Thank you. I’d add to your list: invent an absurd application for your product, or consequence for the problem that will arise if your product isn’t around to solve it.” Humor usually leads to more views. In the coffee case, it could be a video of the focus group that is testing mug phrases like “world’s greatest dad.” We took that approach when pitching a $250,000 carrier-class router by positing it as the perfect valentine day gift.

    Thanks again for the post.

  49. Great Post Pratik,
    Asking the right questions is really a smart way to com up with great post ideas. I often do this by looking through various facebook groups in my niche to see what questions people are asking and i will probably come up with a post that solves that problem ๐Ÿ˜‰

  50. When you’ve been blogging in the same field for a long time it can get hard to think of something new to say, so thanks for these excellent ideas for topic generation.

  51. That was quite a cup-full, I must say!
    Well, yes. The bottom line is to pep up the content, and spice it using a few unique but relevant facts and figures. Failure to do so makes the readers lose interest for sure.

  52. A terrific article for helping to inject life into any subject matter. One of the keys is belief (even if playing devil’s advocate) that the subject has innate relevance. The author of this article lends a methodology to help the writer resuscitate any article previously thought lacking life! Well done, Kurt

  53. This is so handy! I have been wanting some guidance on how to write stuff about crappy topics! I just got a new job and need to start ranking for products like Tarpaulins and Ratchet Straps, this will hopefully get me started. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  54. Pratik,
    I’m not surprised to find this article resonating with the Copyblogger readers. In my research for my book A More Beautiful Question, I’m finding that an appetite for asking interesting questions is key not only for something like figuring out better content angles, but also to solving all kinds of problems–from innovating in business to dealing with personal issues. Framing good questions is a creative tool we all can use to face our issues, and definitely a crucial component of any useful brainstorming.

  55. Wow. That was awesome. When I saw “How โ€œrelationship adviceโ€ killed Osama Bin Laden” I couldn’t wait to see what you wrote. I love the way you look at making boring things like coffee cups interesting. Nice work!

  56. Pratik, I’ll never look at coffee cups in the same regard again. You’ve given me so many great ideas to really unleash my inner creative. So many ideas flowing through my head right now. I just need to start putting them to good use!

  57. I have often told people there are many many post ideas for every topic, but I like the suggestion of asking who/what/where/when as a starting point.

    The obvious questions I get people to think about are ‘what would your customers want to know? what questions do you regularly answer? what got you interested in this in the first place?’

    Interesting that killing Bin Laden got so many fewer htis than the marrying article!

  58. Really helpful for someone like me who always struggles to find an appropriate topic.. Thanks for making me realize my mistakeโ€ฆ I would take it positively.

  59. Amazing post. I’ve been struggling to find topics to start my blog and you’ve given me a way to get going. You’re kind of a rock start to me now.

  60. Great tips here for finding good content, especially when the creative “flame” and excitement seems to have died down, when writing for any given niche. I’d like to add to the poster’s suggestion of using Yahoo answers for brainstorming content ideas; there are several free apps that will harvest (gather) a list of questions/phrases based on your chosen keywords.

    So…instead of manually searching Yahoo answers for relevant questions, you could use one of these programs to run an automated search, allowing you to accumulate pretty hefty lists of user questions in your niche, in just a matter of seconds. “Ultimate comment scraper” is one of such apps that I stumbled upon a few months ago, and it’s my favorite price–FREE! ๐Ÿ™‚

  61. Very interesting article. I agree that anything can be made more interesting than it at first appears to be. However, I remember back in my days as a business analyst I was responsible for writing training material to use a computer application. Even focusing on the benefits of the application to its users, I still found people yawning through the material (and my presentations).

    On the whole, this is good material if you’re forced to write about something. Can you think of any circumstances where you would voluntarily write about something of no interest to you or your readers in an effort to make it interesting, or should the avid fiction writer (and reader) stick to the things that they like?


  62. Thanks for the fine article.

    A couple of things, however:

    1. the random word generator link does not work: [any alternates around?]

    2. re: Quora. Yes, lots of useful questions. But also a lot of useless questions — questions that, it would appear, someone (at Quora) came up with just to come up with some questions… ANY questions. Questions that are so vague as to be nearly meaningless (or, could mean anything). Questions that it is hard to imagine an intelligent person actually asking. Like: “What do vitamins do in the body?”. OK, that’s a valid question… for a kid in fifth grade, perhaps. All I’m saying is that Quora questions need to be screened, leaving aside the ones for idiots or (understandably ignorant) young children.

  63. Some great tips, thanks for these, Pratik. The Quora one in particular I hadn’t previously thought of… Time to get brainstorming!

  64. This is a GREAT article. I write copy for many clients in ‘boring’ industries, and am always on the lookout for ways to bring a fresh approach to their content marketing. Using Quora to find out what questions people are asking is genius.

  65. I just love, love, love this articles and here is why. I have a client I know nothing about his business and industry.

    At the same time he knows a ton of stuff but won’t write a single word.

    Now armed with the knowledge from your article i know how to create content that will get backlinks (and that’s what I am after at the moment).

  66. “an opinionated post built to answer a question” There is nothing that attracts more interest than a controversy. An opinionated post on a boring topic that goes the opposite way of the public opinion will sure to bring a lot of attention to your post.

  67. Thanks for content development tips. I agree that content for boring industries will become more interesting to the reader if it is written for the reader. Also, the tip on writing to our customer pain points, a meager 40 % in the B2B industry, is the awesome sauce.

  68. Kipling said it …

    I keep six honest serving-men
    (They taught me all I knew);
    Their names are What and Why and When
    And How and Where and Who.
    I send them over land and sea,
    I send them east and west;
    But after they have worked for me,
    I give them all a rest.

    I let them rest from nine till five,
    For I am busy then,
    As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
    For they are hungry men.
    But different folk have different views;
    I know a person small
    She keeps ten million serving-men,
    Who get no rest at all!
    She sends em abroad on her own affairs,
    From the second she opens her eyes
    One million Hows, Two million Wheres,
    And seven million Whys!

  69. Stellar article, Pratik. Great tips about finding public questions through Q&A sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers! As a marketer/blogger/public relations content marketer, we’re always looking to solve the customer problem. When someone’s asking something, they’re generally looking for that solution! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    You have certainly crafted an emotionally resonating, yet informative post! Thanks.

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