You are the expert on your content

When people write about their work or what they know, it is invariably interesting and informative to an outsider like me, even if the content might seem like very basic information to them.

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Content is supreme, be it text or image. An image can be riveting, but a contextualized image can capture more than passing interest. It can entice someone into seeking a deeper understanding of your work. And you are the expert on your content.

Content is cool

Written content is everything from contact information, current activities, details about your staff, special event announcements and so on. Some content like contact information and important announcements obviously need to be concise. But almost everything else can use more description. When words paint a picture, when they engage emotions, when they tell a story is when they are at their most powerful.

What I notice about what I like

As I work for clients whose work I have merely a superficial understanding of, I am drawn in by almost any text with details. I like it best when a sentence seems to go from the professional’s shorthand speak to one that is expansive and descriptive. These descriptions might seem basic to the expert. But to an outsider, everything is new and informative. Fully reporting on an activity, or giving more of a backstory or facts about anything involved in your work will make it more fascinating and more accessible.

Don’t assume I know what you are talking about

I sometimes see images with no text or very little text. When text that accompanies images does not contextualise the picture or expand on the moment captured, there is a lost opportunity to capture interest. 

It is nice to know that you were excited to see that bird flying over the ocean, but when I am told that it was a juvenile bald eagle rarely sighted over that specific patch of coastline, I am excited as well. An even better reading experience for me would be to find out how to identify that bird, or an interesting fact or two about it. Most likely these details will seem mundane to the professional, perhaps the wildlife researcher, in this case. 

I honestly think that content creators are hard-working and have the best intentions. They truly don’t realise that what they know about the work they do can be eye-opening to those not in their field.

Why this matters

Something brings the reader to your site. But what makes them stay has to do with how you engage their curiosity, perhaps even beyond what they came searching for. 

Every additional word you put out there is advertisement and publicity for your work and the things that matter to you

Original content is priceless. It might seem like a huge mountain to climb, a myth. You might think to yourself, “Other people write. I am not a writer”. But original content simply means putting into words the hidden pieces, the history, the everyday actions of the work you do, and what you experience doing them. 

Practice. Experiment. 

If you are stuck on how to get going, remember that an image is a great starting point. 

Relate the sensory experience of being in that moment of image capture, either from memory or your imagination. What would you see? What would you touch? What would you smell? What would you hear? Is there ambient noise? 

Tell us about what is happening in the image. If you find that you have used a verb or a noun that may be specialised to your work, throw in an explanation. The more descriptors you add, the better the story is built.

You could point to how your topic relates to your larger mission or work. This is one way to zoom out. Are there other directions or dimensions you can zoom out to? What information or detail can you convey if you zoom out in time? For example, perhaps the image is one of an athlete completing a triathlon. You have already talked about that moment in time in your accompanying text. Does it remind you of another triathlon completion moment? Could you convey something about moments such as these, in general? You can zoom in too, through sensory experience, through details about who and what and where. Explore thoughts and feelings. Indulge in ponderings and flights of fancy. Bring the reader in. 

Even a challenge like a set of repetitive images, for instance, of multiple athletes in a triathlon each captured in action can generate intriguing text.

Write what you know

There is a reason why this is often repeated advice when it comes to writing. Authenticity, specificity of detail, a way to convey emotional impact when the content holds meaning for you are all excellent reasons to explore adding more of the written word to your content. Add more story, more adjectives, more factoids, even biographical (Who was there? Who were they?) and geographical information (Where was it? What was unique about it?). Perhaps engaging with your work in this way can even help you discover the wealth in your minutiae. 

Write about what you know, and write more of it. The readers will come and stay to engage with your work.