How to Engage a Reader When you are Writing About a Boring Topic

As freelance writers, we don’t necessarily have the freedom to pick and choose the topics we are going to write about all the time. There may be times when you end up writing about a boring topic. The good news is there are some strategies you can use to engage your reader and make your content interesting even when the subject is not one that happens to be one of your personal favorites.


Why a Freelancer Ends up with Boring Topics to Write About

In an ideal situation, we would have a set niche of topics that we would write about all the time. These topics would be in our chosen area f expertise and would be ones we feel confident about and know well. We would be able to focus solely on them and there would be plenty of work in said areas of expertise/interest.

[Cue End of Reverie] In reality, we don’t always have a lot of control over the types of topics that we work on. If we are working with an agency, we might get a fairly steady stream of work, but the topics could vary from batch to batch.

This type of mixed bag of assignments is not necessarily a bad thing, but some of the topics may not be ones that we would necessarily pick for ourselves. You do, however, need to figure out how to deal with writing about a boring topic from time to time – and give it life.

Tips for Writing About a Boring Topic

1. Change your own attitude first.

When faced with a boring topic in your freelance writing work, deciding that it is going to be difficult and torturous is not going to make the work any easier. You may as well take a few deep breaths, go for a walk, and do whatever you need do to improve your own attitude about the project before you sit down to tackle it. You don’t need to go all Pollyanna about it, but striving for neutrality is appropriate in the situation.

2. Make sure you understand the topic and how it relates to your assignment.

Have you ever read an assignment, thought it was going to be terribly boring or difficult and then realized once you started that it really was not as bad as you anticipated? Maybe not, but I have. Reading through the instructions a second or even a third time can help to get some creative juices flowing about how to approach a topic.

3. If you aren’t familiar with your topic, do some basic research.

Now is the time to harness the power of the Internet and use it to your advantage. If you have been asked to write about a piece of equipment, for example, you can find out exactly what it is for, where it is used, its benefits for consumers, whether it helps them to save money, etc. This type of background information can help to make the topic more interesting for you, and you can pass on this interest to your readers.

4. Look for interesting tidbits you can share in your writing.

As you conduct your research, be on the lookout for statistics, facts and figures, bits of trivia, or historical facts that can help you “flesh out” your writing. If you read the bit of information and it made you pause and think, “That was interesting,” and it is appropriate for your piece, consider including it.

Make sure that your pieces of information are from reliable sources, such as government or educational websites, and include a citation and/or a link back to the site where you found the information.


5. Find an expert to interview.

Experts on your topic will no doubt be enthusiastic about it. Spending some time speaking to them by phone, communicating with them by IM or asking some questions over e-mail will be well spent if it means getting a deeper understanding and better insight into your topic. Be sure to ask permission to quote the person directly in your piece, with a link back to their site or blog, of course.

How do you find someone to interview? Depending on your topic, you could reach out to a company or a government agency through Twitter or contact a well-known person by his or her Twitter handle with a question.

You also have the option of putting a query up onto one of these platforms to request help from experts willing to be interviewed:

HARO (Help a Reporter Out):  Simply submit your query, your e-mail address, and a password. You will receive sources that match your stated needs exactly delivered to your inbox.

Profnet  Sign up for free and either submit your query or search the experts database on this site. Get in touch with experts who match your needs or have them contact you by e-mail.

BuzzSumo is a content search engine that you can use to search for subject matter experts willing to be interviewed. Limit your search to “interviews” and choose a timeframe that fits your topic (within the last month, last week, etc.) and use the keywords you want to find your experts. Then contact them directly to request an interview.

6. Check News Sites for Stories Related to your Topic

If you are looking for timely, relevant content related to a particular topic, check out Google News, Yahoo! News and related sites using keywords related to it. You may not necessarily use the information you find for the piece you are writing, but it can give you some good background and insight into your topic, and help you make it more interesting for your reader. The better perspective you have, the richer your writing will be, and both you and your reader will benefit from it.

How will you handle a less-than-interesting topic the next time one comes up? If you can do your best to find something interesting about it, your work will be more pleasant, and your reader will benefit as well.

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