Content writing is about storytelling in a way that is relevant and interesting to your audience. It needs to speak to the culture in which you are operating in, and it needs to represent your company and the values that you have. Content is how your audience connects with your company on a personal level. By providing content for your customers, or potential customers, you are allowing them to get to know your company and what it is you value.
Storytelling is an ancient art. So this idea of content writing is not something that is totally new or uncharted territory. So why reinvent the wheel? Instead, let us learn from someone who knew exactly how to engage her audience, and not only that, but she still engages audiences today, over 200 years later. Now I highly doubt much content that is created today will survive 200 years, but hopefully learning from Jane Austen will allow the content your company is creating to be useful and interesting to your readers.
At this point, you may be asking: who in the world is Jane Austen and why should I care?
She was an author from the late 18th to early 19th Centuries, known for her novels which have been adapted into film, television, video, and even new, updated forms of literature, such as Zombie versions and graphic novels. She was a master at her art, and can teach any writer a few things about how to create writing that speaks to readers.
1. Know your audience.
Austen wrote about the things her audience wanted to read about: love, relationships, etc. Know your audience and talk to them. You have an advantage here that Austen did not have, because they can respond to you in real time. Your audience is a vocal one, and has the ability to have a conversation with you and let you know exactly what they want to read about.
2. Have a personality.
Jane Austen is best known for her outrageous characters with huge personalities. Her novels are meant to be read aloud and her characters are meant to be humorous. She knew that her works were going to be read aloud to a group of family members and close friends for entertainment, just as we watch TV and movies today. Even though you’re probably not creating characters with huge personalities in your company’s blog, you should allow your own personality and values to be visible through your work. Your audience wants to be entertained and they want to get to know you and your company on a more personal level.
3. Have a purpose.
For Austen she was first and foremost aiming to entertain, but her work has many more layers than that. She is commenting on social issues, whether it is gender roles, social class, a literature genre, and so on. She was writing about what was relevant at the time, and she was being purposeful in her writing. In the same way, have a purpose for your content. Talk about what is going on right now in the world your company operates in. Be relevant, and have an opinion about what is going on in your company’s area of expertise.
4. Write what you know.
Even though Austen lived during the French, American, and Industrial Revolutions as well as the Napoleonic Wars, she chooses to hardly ever mention them but to focus on the things she actually experienced and knew about (home life, social gatherings, relationships and so on). She never tried to fake her knowledge, instead choosing to be real with her readers. So write about what you and your company knows, and what you have expertise and interest in. This is what your audience wants to read, this is how you are going to create quality content for for your readers that focuses on your company’s expertise. And unlike Austen, we live in an internet based world where there is a ton of ideas and research accessible in a matter of minutes.
While Jane Austen may not have ever dreamed of an age where there would be such a thing as internet that allows free publishing and instantaneous access, she was still an excellent writer who knew how to connect with her audience and write in such a way that transcends time and various forms of storytelling. As the art of writing continues to evolve in a fast paced and ever changing world, it is important to know how to create and maintain that relationship with your readers that will keep them coming back for more.