The Sarky Type – content with more bite

It’s a metaphor. There is a connection between how you learn to write business content and psychopathy, I promise.

Do you ever read something and think, I’m sorry, what? I don’t just mean this post title but other stuff, on the socials and the like?

Sure you do.

Before I go into one, it’s right to acknowledge that different methods exist when it comes to writing business content. We’re entitled to voice our opinions on how to get from A to B with our copy (even if some of those opinions are bullshit).

We sure as hell won’t always agree.

Marketing shmarketing

You’ll watch marketing people play certain phrases on repeat, often without much thought as to what they really mean.

So, when I read a post that suggests the word ‘arduous’ is difficult to understand and that we should only use simple language to reach a broader audience, I’m like, what the actual fuck?

Who’s deciding this simple language?

Do we contact a local authority? Are we talking pre-schoolers or people who have learned English as a foreign language? I have many questions.

It was further suggested that people who use fancy words were snooty, only doing so to impress. Some might be I guess but I’m still reeling over the fact that ‘arduous’ is considered a fancy word.

Reeling is probably also out.

Jesus, I’m going to have to go through my entire blog – again.

Another stand-out example of fancy words was ‘irregardless’ and I must confess, I agree. Why use, ‘irregardless’ when ‘regardless’ will do.

Didn’t that become a word because so many people used it wrongly? Ah, the evolution of language.

The gist (is gist ok?) of said social media post was that you shouldn’t use words in your copy that you wouldn’t use in conversation.

The implication, (I looked for synonyms for ‘implication’ and they were all just as fancy. I also looked at synonyms for ‘synonym’ and they didn’t have one) that no one uses ‘arduous’ in a convo was hysterical (funny) to me. And only a person like Stephen Fry would dare to drop that doozy in casual chat.

I’ve been known to use ‘arduous’ out with friends and they didn’t once look at me blank or call me a fucking show off.

“Sales copy should be easy to understand”

Yes, excellent, why add obstacles in the way of people buying your shit.

Sales copy should certainly be clear in terms of what you’re asking of your audience. But that has nothing to do with using child-like language, remember, we’re also encouraged to ‘know our audience’.

You might agree that business content should be simple (by whose standards – I dunno) personally, I think that advice is whack.

A broader audience is you trying to sell to everyone.

Avoid broad appeal like a child would Rolf Harris

For example, competitive (broad) keywords attract more traffic but they convert to fewer sales. People get specific when they decide to buy. Having more eyes on your stuff is pointless if they don’t want it. Increased traffic is only great when it’s the right kind.

More on that here.

Learn to write business content like a psycho

Write without care or conscience to those who hate your copy.

Learn to write business content like a psychopath

They are dead to you.

And psychopath killers have a specific group of people they like to murder. They really know their target market.

I don’t want to attract people who think ‘arduous’ is a fancy word.

The words I use in my business content come naturally to me, that’s my writing (and speaking) style. It attracts my kind of people – educated, smart, immature, business owners who love sarky humour and swearing. My website is geared to those personality traits.

That doesn’t mean the organisations I work with always want those things for their business, it simply means they want to work with a like-minded individual, and one they’re going to enjoy the process with.

Use the right language for your audience

This also applies to jargon.

Unless you’re trying to reach a market outside your field, go ahead and use industry-based terms. Your content is for people who understand, not the great unwashed.

Your sales copy shouldn’t be universal

If I start to dumb down my content there might be other aspects of it that I feel I should change.

Some folks don’t get (or like) my jokes.

And most people would prefer I avoid naughty words. My cultural references alienate certain generations (for example, not everyone knows who Rolf Harris is).

If you start to strip your content down, trying to please more people, in fear of losing a lead, you’ll remove the things that make it unique. You’ll end up sounding like everyone else, not just in your industry but in business. And why would you want that? Stand out, irregardless of what the majority think.

Too lazy to learn to write your own business content? Want someone else to do it? Hit the button.

I know what you’re thinking, this is total bullshit. 

Content creation is about giving your clients what they want, right?

It’s always about the client. There isn’t a day that goes by when the client doesn’t come before everything: your own child (in my case, dog), your personal safety – in essence, your actual life.

“Bitch, don’t you dare deviate from your client-centric purpose”

I read a lot of posts that talk about this (I don’t ever finish the posts because I’m usually so fucked off by them). One post, in particular, got me a little bent out of shape. The author was repeating the standard marketing party line:

“Create content that your clients want to consume”

How can you possibly know what ALL your clients want to consume?

But marketers say that, and as a content writer, I’ve said it – up to a point. And that point is my own fulfilment. I often wonder if some digital marketing types actually believe the stuff they peddle but that’s for another post. 

You come first

I have a keen sense of self. I revel in my own autonomy and I have no problem creating boundaries, or saying no. I have established all of those good habits despite enmeshment family relationships.

I don’t accept that the client always comes first, in the same way, I don’t think the customer is always right. It’s only after you build a decent relationship with your client that you value them and they, you but before that happens, it’s all about me – sorry, you. No one wants fake empathy. The obsession with putting potential clients (strangers) before your own desires is weird.

But…

I do talk about writing from their perspective. I babble on about solving problems and talking to them like a human. However, the way I create content starts with what I enjoy.

Content creation

In the context of the content I put out for my business, my first thought is always, is it worth me getting out of bed for? If I only think about what my audience wants, and not what I like to create, what incentive do I have to carry on doing it? We all know that marketing needs a consistent approach, that’s another thing we hear on repeat. I’m not some selfless, altruistic person when it comes to how I make my living. Who am I kidding – I’m not like that in life! 

If I’m just doing what my prospects want, what’s in it for me?

Content creation for me first doesn’t mean my audience disappears, they don’t sod off because they’re upset that I’m enjoying myself. They’re not sending me angry DMs stating that I didn’t put them first. Some of them are enjoying it too.

  • For the record, the DMs I get are:
  • “Hi”
  • And:
  • “Do you have a softer, less scary side that’s more appealing to heterosexual men?”
  • Also:
  • “Would you be up for a synergistic business opportunity?”
  • Finally:
  • “So, why The Sarky Type?”

Different strokes

If your ideal client works in cybersecurity, you’re probably banging out tailored content on that subject.

Let’s suppose the medium you use, is the one you like. Sadly some of that audience won’t engage with it. That’s because everyone is different, including people in your niche. If your media is primarily video, there will be a few Katrinas and Ahmeds in cybersecurity that hates video content.

So what do you do, stop creating video content because some of your target audience hate it?

You could vary your media to try and grab more of that audience. Ultimately it’s up to you but you could carry on doing what brings you joy and accept that you can’t please everyone. You’re lucky if you please a fraction of your audience, but pleasing yourself is always a good place to start.

Find your thing

You don’t have to pick one thing, experiment, the point is to find something you like to do. I write, so it’s no surprise that I like text posts but I also like to make videos, and they’re often not business-related. And the reason I make those videos is because it’s fun. They make some people laugh believe it or not and I get a kick out of that.

I’m actually giving some of my audience what they want but I’d stop pretty soon if it was a chore to do it. Once you create content you like, you will then be in the best place to bring your message to your audience. We all want to give our clients something useful, and of value, it’s up to you to decide how you do that.

What is value?

I am really opening up a can of worms with this one. 

Value is another overused word that has been stripped of its meaning

Again, value is perceived differently by different people.

Free tips and resources are valuable, making someone laugh is valuable. Your audience isn’t going to agree. Not only does it change per person, each one of those individuals will see value differently within the context of each product or service they buy.

You’ll never provide blanket value for your entire demographic.

The content you like to consume is a great guide when you’re creating your own material because if you like it, chances are others will too.

We are all someone’s audience. You’re more than qualified to know how to create engaging, valuable content. 

Let’s wrap this up

If you’ve been following me for any length of time you know that I promote the freedom to just be. Yes, there is best practice, especially when it comes to things like SEO. You can’t just do what you fancy with organic traffic but your content should have fluidity. If you’re rigid about marketing practices you’ll end up sounding like everyone else, you’ll be using words like ‘authentic’, ‘mindset’, ‘entrepreneurship’, and ending your posts with ‘agree?’.

If you don’t break out from the marketing crowd you’ll forego your individuality, and we need that now more than ever. So, do what you want first, your audience will follow. 

Agree?

     

Swearing in business. Not this old chestnut again. Yes, I know, but I don’t feel I’ve fully exorcised this demon. As Father Merrin stands by my bedside shouting “the blood of christ compels you!” I vomit this – I too, am getting tired of talking about it.

Swearing follows me wherever I go, like a spirit possession I just can’t shake off.

Censorship in business content

I was booted off LinkedIn because of it, “it goes against our policy agreement Sarah.”

As does nuance and irony. White, upper-middle-class rapists get treated better (and why should a “promising future” be ruined by non-consensual sex with an unconscious student? Brock Turner, you piece of shit).

While incels spout their lady hate, racists become emboldened by our political climate, It’s odd that I’m gaining a reputation as a controversial figure. All because of swearing. But not just swearing, swearing in business.

Naughty words are part of my vernacular, sure, but I do use other words. And no Karen, I don’t think about how it might offend people because I honestly don’t give swearing that much thought.

Swearing doesn’t define me.

It has no bearing on how good I am at my job either.

Sure, I throw a few swears in my blog, that’s me but when my integrity is questioned by a condescending Karen who hates bad language, I start to question what fucking decade we’re living in.

Just stop swearing in business

No, I bloody won’t.

And please don’t tell me it displays a limited vocabulary, a phrase much used by people with a limited vocabulary. Sadly social platforms like Linkedin are cracking down on profanity. Our so-called progressive society is becoming increasingly prudish and puritanical – our very civil liberties are at stake! Yeah, I dunno if they are. I have a thing for the dramatic.

LinkedIn is confusing hate speech and online abuse with being British

These huge corporations that rule our online world – actually, our lives all seem to be headed by a group of Sunday school teachers. They are also American, who even now, still don’t allow swearing on late-night TV. The Brits show love for one another by trading insults. But often the way we are is lost on everyone else and these social media giants haven’t built that into their algorithm.

It’s unprofessional

This archaic view of what is expected in business is bollocks. Social media knows so much about us, how we interact in all settings, business trends, marketing parlance, it’s down with all the personal brand stuff (and other shit I hate but have to know about). They are manipulating our brains so they make more money, swearing is hardly pushing the fucking envelope of acceptable behaviour.

You decide

I think, as adults, we’re capable of choosing what content we like to engage with.

It’s the same when we choose what food to eat or who we decide who to work with. If you don’t like swearing, especially from a woman, then I’d rather you know now before we hop on a Zoom call. I like to filter out the conservative misogynists before I embark on any kind of relationship.

Let’s move on

Swearing in business

Can we? Because I’d really like that. How nice would it be to banish this notion of not being professional because some of us get a little sweary from time to time? Can we also stop asking “are tattoos acceptable in the office?”. We are not living in the 1900s. Gone are the days when only convicts and sailors were inked up.

When you choose to part with your cash, and work with me, or some other person, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they any good at their job?
  • Do I like them?
  • Will we have, a bit of a laugh?

You might be thinking about other things too, like integrity and trust, but for me, that’s all part of the “are they any good at their job” bit. And if you really can’t handle any swearing I suggest you see someone about that.

If it’s good enough for Stephen Fry and Brian Blessed, it’s certainly good enough for me.

Want some content with, or without swearing? Hit the button.