When it comes to blogging for business, trivia is hardly a trivial matter. There are four basic ways in which trivia can be used as blog content writing tools:
- defining basic terminology
- sparking curiosity about the subject
- putting modern-day practices and beliefs into perspective
- explaining why the business owner or practitioner chooses to operate in a certain way
Albert Jack’s book, Red Herrings & White Elephants, traces the origins of phrases we use every day. (In this post, I’m going to suggest ways in which different types of businesses or practices might use pieces of trivia, but I challenge content writers to come up with their own ideas as well.) Needless to say, finding ideas for blog posts isn’t all about trivia – the trivia are just jumping-off points for the message.
If something “goes by the board”, it means it is cast aside and lost. On the old wooden ships, author Jack explains, the “board” was the side of the boat, and anything falling off the ship and lost forever had “gone by the board”.
This idiom is perfect for the blog content of any practice or business that wants to emphasize its attention to detail, showing how they make sure to clean up after the job and tie up all the “loose ends”.
To “have someone over a barrel” means that person is at the mercy of third parties and cannot change the circumstances surrounding them. The saying originated in medieval Britain, where it was standard practice to drape a drowning person face down over a barrel to try to clear their lungs of water. Since the victim was totally reliant on other people to determine their fate, when you are “over a barrel” you feel helpless to improve your situation.
This saying would be perfect for a personal injury attorney fighting for people who have been wronged by others, or perhaps for a financial advisor who helps people gain control over their debts.
A “dark horse” is something of unknown quantity or somebody whose abilities are not yet fully known but soon will be. The expression comes from the novel The Young Duke, published in 1831, in which the two favorites in a horse race are beaten by a a relatively unknown third horse.
One obvious application for this expression would be an investment company blog, but the concept could apply to the employee training and hiring field as well.
To “keep something at bay”, such as danger or illness, means to fend it off. In ancient times, Jack explains, the bay tree was thought to posses protective powers.
As a content writer, I can see this expression being used for a blog on healthy lifestyles (Vitamins? Cooking? Exercise?).
Fact is, when I’m offering business blogging assistance, I talk about the need to create as much fresh material as possible. In blogs, content needs to inform, educate, and entertain. While trivia may be just one of many tools content writers can use to introduce interest and variety, I’ve found that trivia are hardly “trivial” when it comes to blog marketing!.