First of all, that title is blasphemous, because you can never have too much cheesecake. At least that’s what I thought back in college. Let me take you back to the 2000s, back when I was just getting into my English major and taking writing classes. This is where I learned the sad truth: there is such a thing as too much cheesecake. At least, in a writing sense. I had a professor that explained that “cheesecake” was just a decadent way of saying “too many details.” While it’s important to tell a good story, you don’t want to overload it with too many details.
It was a hard truth to swallow, but it’s a truth that can be applied to content writing today.
It’s All about the Cake
As I go deeper and deeper into content writing, I’m learning that a big lesson seems to be this: tell a story. It’s interesting, because, with words like “content marketing,” I always envisioned men and women in stuffy suits and crisp ties as they looked at charts and graphs and numbers (disclaimer: no offense to people in suits; suits are sharp and look awesome in pinstripes). But, as Jeff Bullas demonstrates in his “10 Commandments of Content,” the truth is that audiences now don’t want boring, dull language. “Corporate speak was invented by copy writers but a while back people started switching off. Being ‘Authentic’ is the new black and being real is the ‘new marketing’ that is a message that cuts through.” The general consensus, to my English major surprise and delight, is to “talk like a human,” as Bullas puts it, and to remember to have fun. “The original 10 commandments didn’t mention having fun but it helps enormously to present you and your company as having a sense of humour. This doesn’t mean making every piece of content a comedy act but lighten up and show your other side.”
But Too Much Cream Cheese and Toppings Can Make You Lose the Cake
There is, however, a trick to storytelling. There is a such thing as “too much cheesecake.” For example, in my clever story about college and cheesecake, I could’ve gone on and on about content that would, in the end, overload the story with unnecessary add-ons. I could’ve gone into catching the bus to class, stopping at the vending machine for a Snickers, holding my paper nervously in my hand as my professor walked over to look at it — too much, right? Yeah, my college professor thought so, too.
The website ProseWorks goes into 10 useful tips on writing great blogs, but in the case of this particular post, their fourth tip is vital: get to the point. While your audience does appreciate you being more human, they don’t want to be drenched in it. “The blogosphere is full of rambling scribes who take ages to spit out what they are trying to say. Always think about that mouse next to readers’ screens. Don’t give them the chance to click away before you’ve got your point over.” If you spend too much time on the “once upon a time” of your tale, your audience is going to walk away without getting to the “happily ever after.”
The Perfect Recipe
So how does all of this work out? I find it best to start out with some sort of story that can make my audience feel like they’re right at home. It’s good to try and tell a story they can relate to, or at least a story that can make them smile and relax before I go into the “marketing” of “content marketing.” However, so you don’t lose the point of your story, it’s good to pepper it in from time to time in your writing.
Let’s look at an example. The Skilled Scribe shared a post entitled, “5 Things I Learned about Writing from My Kids.” The first paragraph talks about the author’s two twin boys and the journey she’s gone through with them. This paragraph is kept relatively short, and then it ends with the kicker: “Surprisingly enough, they have taught me a lot about writing.” This makes the connection that the title teases at. After that, each lesson is broken down into 5 different sections. Each section tells a small story about the author and her two boys and the lesson she tries to teach them, then the next paragraph takes that lesson and applies it to writing.
This way, the story of her children and the story of writing work off one another.
This is, indeed, the perfect recipe. There aren’t too many details, and, more importantly, the details we do get are incorporated in the main focus of the blog post: writing. So in this case, it’s not too much cheesecake. It’s just the right amount. Now, if you’ll excuse me, writing this has made me crave cheesecake for some reason.