Inspiration Corner, Writing

Not Feeling It? How to Deliver Fun, Engaging Content Anyway

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If you’re a blogger, or if you’re a business owner who reaches out to your audience through a newsletter or podcast, consistently coming up with new topics can be challenging. Or rather (at least for me), coming up with the energy to deliver fun, engaging content week after week is challenging. I also write a newsletter geared toward speculative fiction readers, and I quickly learned that reviewing a new book/movie every week just wasn’t happening.

Here are some ideas for how to engage your audience on those days when you’re not feelin’ it. Interestingly, not only have these pieces taken the least amount of time and energy for me to create, but they’ve gotten the strongest response from my readers! This supports my theory that if something is fun to write, it’s going to be fun to read, too.

All of these ideas involve drawing from the raw material of your life experiences. You have them, so why not use them?

Deliver Fun, Engaging Content Your Audience Will Love With These Three Ideas

Do you struggle to come up with the energy to deliver fun, engaging content week after week? Here are three ideas for posts your audience will love. Discover how to save time and energy while also engaging your readers in a dialogue! | creating content for your blog | fun content | blog post ideas | engaging readers | connecting with audience | writing inspiration | personalized content |

 

Childhood Memories

In one newsletter, I wrote about movies I saw as a child that had a huge impact on me. For instance, I saw Silence of the Lambs when I was 11. To be fair, my friend’s dad, who typically let us rent whatever we wanted, told me “no” when I pointed to that one. We quickly learned, though, that her parents owned the movie, and they were conveniently out for the evening.

At the end of my email, I asked a simple question: “What movies had a potent effect on you as a child?” I got the most responses I’ve ever had. In my second most popular newsletter, I discussed my scariest dreams and invited readers to talk about theirs, too.

In her article Non-Cookie Cutter Ideas for Book Bloggers, Mommy Jhy suggests writing about such evocative topics as the most shocking or controversial book you’ve ever read. For many of us, this is likely to be in childhood when we were still relatively innocent. We all have that memory of leafing through a book in the library or bookstore, nervously glancing over our shoulder.

Lesson: people love reminiscing about their childhood (myself included!).

Universal Experiences

Families. Major life changes (i.e. moving, leaving home). Relationships.

Good or bad, everyone has an opinion about these things. Why not get the conversation started? In her article that dissects how her LinkedIn video got 40,000 views in just a few days, Anna Sabino states that asking her viewers a simple question (“how would you describe in one word what makes a relationship successful?”) ignited their enthusiasm.

A “Getting to Know Me” Post

Offering your readers a peek behind the curtain is fun for both you and them alike! In her article Blogging For Fun, Christine (i.e. The Uncorked Librarian) shares five little known facts about herself. Currently on Medium, a trend has been floating around for members to share ten things about themselves. Check out these pieces by my friends and fellow Medium members Kris Loomis, Nicole Valentin, Frank McKinley, and Erika Sauter.

On that note, here’s my own list.

Ten Things You Don’t Know About Me

1. My hometown was featured in King of the Hill

Port Aransas, Texas, the town I grew up in, only has a population of 4,000, but it’s also a beach town, making it a popular tourist destination. Its wild Spring Break scene is the subject of this King of the Hill episode.

delivering fun, engaging content

I also witnessed a historic White Christmas in Port A, one of the only times I’ve ever experienced snow. After the event, people were selling snowballs for $50 on Ebay!

2. I’m terrified of roaches

In South Texas, encounters with roaches were a regular occurrence. But three events cemented my fear.

  1. I opened a bag of cat food when I was 7, only to have multiple roaches leap out of the bag and onto me.
  2. Standing in the downstairs bathroom, I saw, reflected in the mirror, a roach on the shower wall. I kid you not, it was as big as something out of a freaking sci-fi movie. I slammed the door, raced upstairs, and never told anyone about that roach…until now.
  3. A roach crawled into my dad’s ear. Ok, it was a beetle, but still! I actually wrote a story inspired by this about alien roaches who invade a boy’s brain.

3. I have an assortment of part-time jobs

These include copywriter, high-school English teacher at an all girls’ Jewish Orthodox school, middle-school English teacher at an after-school program in a heavily Korean community (read all about my meltdown), and private test-prep tutor, among other things.

Sometimes it’s tough keeping track of everything, but I love the diversity and variety. I tried the whole 9-5 (or 8-4, to be precise) thing once, and I only lasted about a month.

4. As a kid, I told stories to myself, out loud, in the school playground

Understandably, this didn’t win me many friends.

5. The Shining is my favorite movie

Typically I don’t rewatch movies, as I’m usually disappointed on the second viewing, but I’ve seen The Shining at least ten times. Each time, my appreciation for it grows.

delivering fun, engaging content

My second favorite is Boogie Nights. This scene with Philip Seymour Hoffman (one of the greatest actors ever) is gold.

6. I met my soulmate in a grocery store 

He was in front of me in the checkout line. The strangest part, though, is that we met in Los Angeles, but we found out that we both have family who live in the same tiny town in Texas — yes, Port A.

7. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 10

I remember asking my mom why people become vegetarians, and she gave me the various reasons.

The next day, she asked me if I wanted ham-and-cream-cheese rolls for lunch. I told her, “No, Mom, I’m a vegetarian now.”

I wish I could be that decisive now.

8. I love magical realism in fiction

Some of my favorite writers in this genre are Aimee Bender, Kelly Link, Miranda July, and Haruki Murakami. I love how their stories take twists and turns into unfamiliar territory at every corner, defying the tropes you’ve come to expect with more conventional genre fiction.

Robert Coover’s dark fairy tales and the way he often takes a choose-your-own adventure approach, playing out the same scene through different scenarios and points-of-view as he does with The Babysitter, have greatly influenced my own fiction.

9. I’m very gullible 

This amused my dad to no end. He’d tell me something, and I’d ask my mom, “Really?”

Her response was always the same: “If you have to ask…”

When it comes to the government, though, I’m the opposite. My skepticism is not limited to party lines or our current administration, either.

10. I’m a creature of habit

I eat the exact same things (including ingredients) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When it comes to outfits, rather than shuffle through my closet or drawers (or suitcases) looking for something I haven’t worn in a while, or ever, I rely on the tried and true.

Many successful people, from Mark Zuckerberg to Barack Obama, purposely choose a minimal wardrobe in order to free up their mental space. So when it comes to being predictable, I figure I’m in good company.

Still, as this article on retraining your brain points out, changing up routines can be beneficial for creating new neural pathways. Plus, I do get tired of eating the same stir fries every single night. So the other day, I bought a new type of squash (kabocha), pulled out some random spices (we have a LOT of odds and ends in the cabinets from my boyfriend’s former chef days), and made a whole new (i.e. slightly different tasting) dish!

I know, so bold of me. But hey, it’s all about the baby steps, right?

Your Turn

What engagement strategies have worked best for your audience? If you’ve written a “getting to know me” post, I’d love to read it! Or if you haven’t, but you have a secret you’re dying to tell the world, just drop it in the comments below! We’re all friends here, right?

22 thoughts on “Not Feeling It? How to Deliver Fun, Engaging Content Anyway”

    1. Absolutely! And that’s awesome that your kids like The Shining. I think I was 12 when the terrible made-for-TV version came out, but then I saw the Kubrick version, and even then I was captivated 🙂

  1. I’m more of a spider hater myself. They completely freak me out. I think it is also due to childhood trauma. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to find a spider in the corner of my room. Ever since then, they scare the crap out of me. I’m also not a fan of the rodent. If I can’t kill it with a shoe, it shouldn’t be in my vicinity.

    1. I don’t like spiders, either! We don’t get too many of them in South Texas or where I live now in Southern California, thankfully. Once, though, I was staying in my parents’ downstairs room (the same place where I saw the giant roach) and I wanted to get a workout in. So I enrolled an old yoga mat I found in the closet, only to find what I swear was a black window! Normally I don’t like killing spiders, but in this case, I wasn’t taking any chances!

  2. Hey, you’re from Port Aransas! I’m in Corpus Christi. Super close. It’s super easy to create engaging content if you let your personality shine through your words, make it a fun read. Make it easier on the eyes with bright, clear photos. Don’t forget to offer something to your audience, even if it’s simply a funny story. Even in a funk, you can totally create content that rocks.

    1. No way! That’s super cool. Yeah, now that I live in Los Angeles, I always get excited when I meet people who have roots in Corpus. When I met my BF and he said he had multiple family members living in Port Aransas, I thought surely he must be getting it confused with some other place like Port Arthur, until I saw them with my own eyes! I really liked your latest post too, Sam. Your personality definitely shines through!

  3. I love al the fun facts about you! The Shinning is one of my favs too. Being open and transparent is such an amazing quality! <3 These are really some awesome tips for all blogs to follow!

    1. Thank you, Lacy! Yes, I used to be super guarded about my life, but I noticed that for all of the blog posts where I was super engaged, there was one common element: I felt like I knew the author. Without that personal element, I’ve realized, my posts will just be a random list of facts and sound like every other post out there on the topic. This revelation really changed how I approach writing.

  4. This was great. Thank you for the ideas and for sharing more about yourself. I will definitely try some of these type of posts on my blog as well!
    As for the whole roaches thing…I can understand why. I live in London, UK and I’m glad we don’t get them over here! They’re ghastly! x

    1. Hi Tasha, thanks for reading and for your comment! Yes, you’re lucky you don’t get them. Thankfully, I live in Southern California now and we don’t see them too often over here. Although a friend of mine recently told me that she’d been having problems with them in her place (cue scary music)…

    1. Same! I’ve had a blast reading the “10 Things” lists on Medium because they reveal so many things I never would have known. And they’re fun to write because you’re often kind of limited by your niche.

  5. I don’t watch TV or movies and I avoid going to the theatre whenever I can get out of it. I think I’m what they call an empath these days (in my day it was called being a bit of a sissy) and I cry all the way through. not just from the emotions of the performance but because of those being radiated by the people around me. It’s very exhausting and not particularly pleasant. I used to be embarrassed about coming out of the cinema with tears streaming down my face – but these days I’m too old to care what people think. My Grandmother took me to see The Wizard of Oz when I was 7 or 8 – and they had to stop the movie so the ushers could get me out from under the chairs where I was curled up screaming.

    I mis-spent my youth playing in a Rock and Roll band – I loved making the music – but I am a really bad performer. When two of the band members wanted to turn professional I said ‘No’ – I’m not sure if they ever forgave me!

    I met my (second) wife, Jackie, in the supermarket too. It took me six years to get over my first wife walking out on me but one day I just decided I was over it – and went out to do the shopping (I had two teenagers to feed) and there she was picking tomatoes from the display (I needed some too). She had been a member of my first wife’s adult dancing class (my first wife was a dancer turned dancing teacher,) so I knew her slightly – ! said ‘Hi, how about a coffee?’ and the rest is history. I’ve even got a song I wrote about it somewhere.

    A lot has happened in my 77 years so I won’t bore you with another seven items. – You are quite right people love to be asked to talk about themselves!

    1. Wow, these are great, thanks for sharing! And I loved hearing that you met your significant other in a supermarket as well. My mom almost always cries at the movies–once I looked over and saw tears streaming down her face during Toy Story, in the scene where Buzz Lightyear finds out he isn’t real (which come to think of it, is pretty tragic). I used to tease her about it, but now I’m the same way. I can’t even make it through the previews without bawling! I think for me, it’s the music. A potent soundtrack will always stir up my emotions. The soundtrack in Jurassic Park always gets me weeping, too, which again is not what you’d ordinarily think of as a sad movie!

      1. Also, in regards to my grocery store story, he introduced himself because he thought he had seen me somewhere. This sounds like a typical pickup line, except he genuinely did think he had seen me at the food stamps office. He didn’t want to embarrass me, though, so instead he said, “McArthur Park,” which is near the location of the office.

  6. Maybe my biggest tip for engaging an audience is getting to know people. It makes me less anxious about what I write and say because I’m writing to people I’ve met, chatted with in the Facebook Group or at a book chat online. Also, forgiving myself for ‘silent periods’ and just forging on. But I love your 10 things you didn’t know about me. I have a special place in my heart for The Shining too 🙂 And Magic Realism…

    1. Thank you, Trisha! Yes, I feel you about the “silent periods,” especially with my newsletter. I love writing it, but I’m a perfectionist and on top of that I’m just slow, which means even if I’m just writing something simple about something I read in the news, it’s probably going to take me at least two hours. A review will probably take multiple hours. So some weekends I just don’t have the time or energy. Sometimes, like you said, you just have to forget it and move on.

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