April is National Poetry Month, and while your brand is likely uninterested in doing your next campaign in verse, there are plenty of lessons that content marketing can learn from poetry. From fluid use of keywords (iambic pentameter, anyone?) to telling a story (lest we forget the epics), content marketing actually shares a number of similarities with this wordy craft.
Use Structure to Spur Creativity
Awkward key terms are the bane of many web writers’ existence, but writing for the web with SEO in mind is actually a perfect opportunity to get creative. Poetic masters have been using highly specific meters and structures to show off their linguistic skills for millennia. From Homer’s dactylic hexameter and Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter, which set strict requirements for the stress and syllables that can make up a single line, to the incredibly precise verse forms of the villanelle, sestina, and ghazal, structures that result in awkward works for less practiced writers turn into flowing masterpieces with a honing of poetic talent. Web writers should approach SEO from much the same perspective.
Read More (and Integrate It)
Ask just about any poet how to improve your work, and they’ll tell you to write more. Then, they’ll tell you to read more. Why? By reading other poets’ works, writers have an opportunity to see new perspectives, get a feel for new forms, and distinguish their own style. The same goes for expanding content writing creativity. Spend some time each day reading blogs, checking out social media feeds, and clicking through websites, and see if you can mimic a voice or style that you haven’t tried before. Of course, you might also find some aspects of writing you want to avoid!
Less is Sometimes More
Much of the beauty of a haiku comes from the form’s ability to communicate a broad concept or image in just three lines. While your blog posts, white papers, or web copy should likely be composed of more than seventeen syllables, it’s always good practice to keep conciseness in mind. This is especially key when writing for social media, as that’s an area where too much content can come across as pushy and salesy.
Be a Storyteller
Many of the poems that have stuck around the longest are the ones that tell stories – the Odyssey, the Epic of Gilgamesh, Beowulf, and their ilk are still widely read after centuries of existence due to the power of their tales. Unfortunately, neither your web content nor mine is likely to stand the test of millennia like the great epics, but storytelling remains a key part of web writing. Every piece of writing should fit into a larger plan, or story arc, of a brand. And every piece itself should have a purpose and a scope, even if it’s not quite an epic.
Find (At Least One) Voice
Over time, the best poets develop a unique voice, whether it’s the tragic dreariness of Edgar Allen Poe or the political intensity of Adrienne Rich. At its core, good web content distinguishes one business or website or writer from another, and makes each idea stand out on its own. If you’re writing for one business, finding a voice might echo the process of a poet doing the same very closely: shaping a distinctive tone that is quintessentially you. For writers who compose content for multiple clients, the challenge becomes creating that distinctive voice for each of them.
Can you think of any other lessons that content writers can learn from the great poets? Share them in the comments section!
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