A few weeks ago, I (re)published a blog article called The Eight Writers’ Archetypes and the kinds of things they write. This breaks down the writing field beyond just fiction and non-fiction. It looks at the different areas where writers can work in education, news, politics, PR, marketing, and fiction.
Here’s a truncated version of the eight writers’ archetypes.
- Informer: These are the journalists and the news writers. They tell us the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the world.
- Analyst: What does the news mean? What can we infer from the latest political polls? What will the U.S. pandemic relief package do to the economic recovery? The political pundits, the economists, the financial gurus are all Analysts.
- Educator: Writers who convey knowledge to help others learn. It’s more than just being an Informer because their readers presumably already know how something works. The writer who writes to intentionally teach is an Educator.
- Chronicler: The Chronicler is the observer of the human condition. You find a lot of newspaper columnists here. They’re not quite news-tellers (Informers), but they don’t fit anywhere else. Historians are usually found among the Chroniclers.
- Advocate: The rabble-rouser with a pen. They observe the human condition, but they speak for those who have no voice to effect change. The Advocate brings awareness to a cause to get people to care about it and be informed.
- Persuader: One step beyond the Advocate, the Persuader gets people to take action on something, but not necessarily a social cause. Political speechwriters, people in ministry, and public relations people work here, but marketers do not.
- Merchant: The Merchant is a Persuader who gets people to spend money (i.e. Marketing). You could call this a subset of Persuader, but this is the only writing archetype where the primary focus is to get people to spend money.
- Entertainer: Writers of fiction, poetry, stage plays, screenplays. Anything you would read, watch, or hear for entertainment or escapism lives here.
I also said that it’s not uncommon for writers to bounce around between the different archetypes. For example, a typical writing week will see me bounce from Educator to Merchant to Entertainer to Chronicler, sometimes all in a day.
Others can mash a couple archetypes together. For example, an entertainer-merchant is someone who regularly writes short pulp novels strictly with an eye toward making money, not art. The Chronicler-Advocate observes the human condition in the hopes of changing it, like a columnist with a partisan publication. Even an Educator-Merchant is possible, with people teaching webinars and seminars on some topic, but in exchange for money. (We all need to make a living, yes?)
Can content marketing fit within the Writers’ Archetypes??
Short answer, yes.
Longer answer, it depends on what your goal is. Any of these eight archetypes’ “hats” can be worn when you’re trying to create regular content for your company’s website. Let me show you.
- Informer: How does your product work? What problems does it solve? Did you know you can do this with it? If nothing else, this content only serves to boost your SEO efforts, provided it’s interesting and well-written. (Don’t just put up flat bullshit content to bulk up your website.) Company history fits here, as does your About Us page. These are also important for your website, so don’t neglect them.
- Analyst: What’s going on in your industry? What does it mean for your customers? What’s happening in your company and what does that mean? We all ask “how does this affect me?” This is where you answer those questions. Show people your expertise by answering that question about your industry’s news.
- Educator: How do I do this better? How can I get better at my job? A lot of the content I write for this blog is educational because I’m actually teaching new content marketers about how to do their jobs better. Can you do that for your customers?
- Chronicler: This one is a little tougher. You could put case studies in here because they’re little mini-histories. “Company A had a problem that was costing them $X. Company B brought Company A a solution. It worked so well, it saved them $Y.” If you can answer the question “What happened and what does it mean?” it fits here.
- Advocate: This person is almost a non-profit Marketer. We want you to change your beliefs, at least long enough to give us money. Your stories are just like a Chronicler’s, but there’s a deeper lesson you want us to learn from it. Think of the nonprofit asking for money by introducing us to one particular person that they’ve helped in the past.
- Persuader: Content that gets us to take action, but maybe not spend money. Sign up for our newsletter, follow us on Twitter, write to your elected officials. These are all persuasive actions that don’t require us to spend money.
- Merchant: This is the “BUY THIS NOW” content. The advertising copy, the catalog copy, the sales messages. The Merchant content is written strictly to separate customers from their money.
- Entertainer: This is a tough one. Content marketing that is written strictly for entertainment purposes is few and far between. However, it can be done. This is where you find the unusual content pieces, like a comic book, radio play, podcast, or even a magazine. As Neil Gaiman said in 2012, “Make good art.” That’s what you should do, but no one said the art couldn’t make money too.
If you’re a writer or content creator of any type, you can branch over into another type and get your feet wet. Don’t pigeonhole yourself and think “I’m only a copywriter” or “I only make podcasts.” You can play in other areas because you already have the basic tools you need. Copywriters can write poetry and short stories. Podcasters can make audio theater or collaborate with a novelist and make audiobooks.
Expand beyond what you think you can create and find something new. Figure out ways to offer that kind of content on your website. Go beyond the dry old blogs about products and start offering a little more, even if it’s telling stories about past victories and customers you’ve helped. Make them entertaining and fun to read. Use those great writing skills to get more people to like what you have to say about your company.