This week I published an article on the Big Fish Games blog about how to break bad habits using game mechanics.
I don’t know what inspired it: my childhood spent playing video games, my smart mentor who happens to be an expert on the topic, or that every day I’m surrounded by a community of hacker-minded marketers breaking down problems and looking for solutions in unlikely places.
It seemed like a compelling mash-up of personal interests. And if I can help people solve their most challenging problems while getting paid to write?
Passion: Write about what moves you
Your job will be easier if you write on a topic you’re passionate about. Conversely, if you write on something that bores you to tears, it will be both hard to write AND to read. That’s a lose-lose-lose.
Make a list of what you know, what you’re good at, and what keeps you up at night. All three factor into the insightfulness of your post.
If you don’t know enough about the topic you love, do the research. One way is to find an expert to help you. (My mentor Chris Bennett, persuasive design consultant, gave me a crash course in game mechanics.)
If you’re getting pressured to write on something you know well but you’re less than mildly interested, find a writer and let them interview you.
If you have the opportunity to write on something you know nothing about and you’re not interested in, help find the right topic expert and writer to do the job.
Purpose: Write about what people want to read
Professional blogging is more than writing for yourself – you need an audience for your work to thrive. Time to get out of your head and into your readers’ heads.
What motivates you to write for an audience? Is it to brighten someone’s day? To help solve a problem? To educate by sharing your unique perspective?
Always plan your piece with the audience in mind: what topics do they enjoy reading, what type of content grabs them, and how do they speak – you don’t want to lose them in translation.
Do your research.
Profit: Write about something that will pay the bills
(This is about what gets you paid as the writer. If you’re looking for what gets you revenue as the organization with a blog, that’s a whole ‘nother post.)
You can write all day long about what you love and in a way that draws in an audience. I love hugs and warm fuzzies, but last I checked my bank doesn’t accept hugs and warm fuzzies as a mortgage payment.
There are a number of ways to earn money by writing. Not all of them will be appropriate for your interests or style. Do you find yourself reading startup news blogs? Or how about professional journals? Perhaps social opinion pieces grab you.
For me, I love partnering with organizations that value investigative content. You know, the stuff that takes some ingenuity and elbow grease to come up with something a little different.
The bottom line is this: if you’ve proven that you write intelligently (or at least entertainingly) about something you love and you’ve generated an audience, there’s someone out there willing to pay you for more.
Organizations want content that boosts brand recognition, establishes trust, and builds a loyal audience. If you can help them get there while giving readers what they’re looking for, you’re on your way to huge success.