(815) 503-0286 matt@matthewlbrennan.com

In my late teens and early twenties I thrived on rock and roll concerts. I snapped up tickets and went to any and every show that I could. I saw some of the greatest acts to grace a stage, some multiple times.

Why? Because I made it one of my first missions in adult life.

For me, music is one of the greatest arts that you can completely lose yourself in. As I’m writing this post, Paul Simon is singing in the background about the afterlife on his relatively recent album So Beautiful Or So What. 

Never saw Simon. But I did see the Rolling Stones, the Who, Tom Petty, U2, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Jimmy Page. For those who thrived in the 90s I’ve also seen Radiohead, Pearl Jam, the Dave Matthews Band, the Black Crowes and Wilco.

Why am I bringing any of this up?

Because those bands were the best of the best. They put passion in their work, and they created an experience for those who soaked up their art.

As writers looking to attract attention from an audience, there’s a lesson to be learned there.

Put Some Passion In Your Work

When you work hard and create something people care about, there’s payback. When you hook people right away, they’re more likely to stick with you.

Take a look at one of the most compelling first sentences to a novel.

“Mother died today. Or maybe it was yesterday; I can’t be sure.”

That’s from The Stranger by Albert Camus. 

I remember buying that book as a teenager at a library book sale for a quarter without even knowing what it was; then picking it up and reading that sentence twice to be sure I read it right.

After that, I was sucked in to the rest of the story.

You can take some of these lessons and create something compelling with your blog:

  • Spend some time on your headlines. They may be the shortest piece, but they’re also what readers will base their decision whether or not to continue on. 
  • Shock us. Give us an opinion that runs contrary to the industry norm, or common sense. But when you do this, the pressure’s on to argue your point well. Do this, and you could have a winning post.
  • Give us what we need, before we know we need it. Steve Jobs was a master at this. It takes a bit of forethought. It might mean sharing some non-conventional uses for your product, or some industry tips or tricks that aren’t published anywhere else.
  • Insert your voice into your work. Unless you work in a vacuum, chances are your industry is probably a bit crowded. There’s no shortage of content online. What makes you stand out is you.
  • Spend time on your word choice. Stronger verbs charge up your readers. If you can use a different word than “was, got or had” do it. Avoid ordinary words like “very, nice, or good.” These words do nothing to convey your message.

Content marketers talk all the time about the necessity of quality over quantity. When you take a little time to learn about your craft, and keep practicing, the quality will come. With the congested pile of search results, Tweets and Facebook posts flooding the Internet, now is the time to create something worthwhile, and stand out.

What do you do to differentiate yourself?

Matt Brennan is a Chicago-based marketing writer and copy editor.