It wasn’t long after I started my MFA program that I was reminded that, in one way or another, every story has already been told. What makes one story different from another is how an author tells it. The characters I’ve chosen, the voice I’ve developed, the scenes I’ve created…those are the elements that make my story unique. But not the story structure itself. The story’s structure, along with all the other techniques of effective storytelling, has already been demonstrated (and perhaps perfected) by other authors, long before the idea for my novel even entered my head.
Similarly, as I entered the world of content marketing, I learned that the common trends and techniques for building a business brand and creating engaging, informative content have already been discussed and written about and spoken time and time again. What, then, could I, someone who is relatively new to the scene, have to offer?
In a recent Hubspot post, Maggie Butler explains how to be successful in the content writing game. In addition to staying informed (i.e., reading constantly), understanding an industry’s audience, and writing consistently, Butler says we should establish our own writing voice. “Readers click on your content for the information, but they come back for the personality,” she notes.
Butler also describes how to respond to what is already out there. From engaging with curated content to questioning current trends, we can create new content that offers something different. For instance, when I was writing my master’s thesis, I realized that my work was adding to the academic conversation. I was offering new insights and alternative perspectives, some which were in direct contrast to what others in my field were arguing. In the same way, with content writing, we can respond to what other experts in our industry are saying by noting where we agree or disagree and how our own experiences offer something new for readers to consider.
When everything has already been written or said, personal experiences are still unique. Fresh perspectives still stand out. New opinions still matter. So rather than become discouraged by the fact that everything has already been written or said, we content writers can continue to create meaningful content that is still distinctively ours.