Forbes Magazine reports we produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. Not knowing how to represent a quintillion, let alone 2.5 of them, let’s look at some statistics about the internet according to the Forbes article:
- Over 3.7 billion people use the internet.
- Every second, Google processes over 40,000 searches.
- Combining all search engines, we make over 5 billion searches each day.
This does not include other data produced on social media (it’s another fantastical amount). And consider the data created by texting and email, trillions of digital phones, Internet of Things smart devices like Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa, and platforms or apps that generate data like Venmo, Uber, Spotify, and more.
That’s a lot of data. Certainly, we can all agree.
So how do you make your writing stand out amidst 2.5 quintillion bytes of data produced every day? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Everyone loves a good story
We’re hard-wired to love stories. It’s how we pass down wisdom and life lessons and learn our history. Good stories grab our interest and compel readers to keep turning pages until the end.
You can use stories in your articles, blog posts, and business writing as well. In fact, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business reports that people remember stories up to 22 times more than they do statistics. Consider how you can use stories of your customers’ success with your product or service in your writing. You can integrate stories about individuals who have overcome a challenge they’re facing or pulled themselves up from rock bottom to achieve their dreams.
2. Find the uncommon angle
If you Google "personal productivity," you get 301,000,000 results in 0.53 seconds. Everyone wants to know how to be more productive. And if you’ve read everything out there on productivity, you know all the experts offer the same tired recommendations. You should be a morning person. You should take advantage of your personal peak energy periods each day. And so on.
It’s the articles and posts that talk about an uncommon way to achieve personal productivity that will stand out from the same-old same-old information. For example, while everyone touts an early morning routine to skyrocket your personal productivity, what if you focused on an evening routine that set your mornings up for success? Or maybe you could find a different angle that doesn’t start at the crack of stupid each morning, but uses 25-minute sprints to focus on your best work.
These are rather lame suggestions, so try to come up with something that hasn’t been done before. If everyone else is talking about the positives of getting up early, you need to present a "purple cow" per Seth Godin. He says cows are so commonplace, we don’t even notice them anymore. But if you find a purple cow, people would stop and take notice.
3. Don’t avoid the elephant in the room
Don’t play it safe and ignore the elephant in the room. Attack the subject. Tell a story, lay out your arguments, and invite your readers to join the conversation. When you interact with your readers, you bring them beyond the written word and open a dialogue where you can get to know them better.
Use that elephant to provoke comments so you can interact with your audience. Don’t play it safe and only tackle subjects that won’t stir anyone’s ire. Go out on a limb and be provocative. Ruffle feathers and prepare for the comments. And when you can be flexible enough to entertain someone else’s opinion, you can develop a deeper understanding of who your readers are and what they’re passionate about. That helps you tell better stories, find the Purple Cow, and shine a spotlight on the elephant in the room.
4. Find your unique voice
Maybe you’re a bit snarky. Or maybe you’re a closet nerd and love to pass on interesting, yet obscure, information. There’s even a place for those who wear cat earrings and mom jeans. Seriously. Find your unique voice and unleash it.
When you don’t sound like the other 2.5 quintillion bytes of data on the internet, someone will take notice. Whether that’s editors, publishers, or marketing directors who want you to write for them, or readers who crave more of your content, you’ve hit the jackpot.
For the most part, a casual, conversational tone attracts more attention. But if you’re writing for business, you want a more professional, yet casual tone. Experiment with different tones and voices until you find one that resonates with your audience. Then exploit it for all it’s worth.
How will you put these suggestions into action this year? Readers crave quality content because we’ve been inundated with "content for the sake of content" for so long. Set yourself apart by producing quality content that grabs readers’ attention and compels them to act. Whether you get a share on social media, a clap on Medium, or a note from your boss that says, "Great article!", you're already ahead of the game.