When I first started out working in the online world, I read every book I could get my hands on and went and listened to as many seminars or expert talks as I could go to. It's very easy to get overwhelmed with what you're 'supposed' to do as far as good practice goes and in my experience, you very rarely find an expert who actually follows the advice they regularly dish out to everyone else. I've heard countless reasons for why that is, but essentially it comes down to them doing what works for them. We have to learn to do exactly the same, taking advice with a pinch of salt and ultimately do our own thing.
When it comes to content, there is far too much advice out there for the vast majority of us to wade through in our lifetime, and there's more being written and shared every day. It's physically impossible to keep up with it in depth, so we glean what we can, take what we can use, add our own and ditch what doesn't help us. With that in mind, I thought about distilling all of that information into a book or something else that I could share with you. But the truth is that at a very basic level, the principles of good content are actually very simple. There are three little words that I use to determine whether whatever I'm sharing is the right kind of content to put out there.
The content should provide valuable and useful information to the reader. It should teach them at least one or two things or answer at least one question they have. This can be adjusted depending on where the content will be published (such as a blog, website, add or social media) and what the main purpose of the content is. The information can range from general information like you might find in a blog post, to strategic information like you might find on a website or in an ad. For example: If the main purpose of the content is to showcase the products and services a company offers, the information provided should teach the reader what these products and services do and why they’re beneficial. If the purpose of a piece of content is to drive traffic to a certain website, the information provided should tell the reader why they need to go this website and what visiting the website will do for them.
While information is a key factor in great content, information alone won’t do the trick. You have to keep in mind that real people are reading this content, so it has to be interesting; the content needs to catch and keep their attention from the title to the last period. Things like facts, statistics, metaphors, analogies and funny anecdotes are all great ways to keep people interested in what they’re reading. Another good rule of thumb is to not be too technical, keeping a conversational tone and using words and phrases that are easily understood is your best bet when it comes to keeping your readers reading. Nobody wants to read blog posts full of technical jargon or boring drawl. Ask yourself this question: If I stumbled across this piece of content online, would I be interested enough to read it in it’s entirety? If the answer is no, try and figure out why that is and how you can change that.
The final rule for creating great content is also one of the most important. Relevance applies to a few different things: The content must be relevant to the niche, business, or company that it’s being written about. In addition to this, it must also be relevant to the audience it’s being written for. Knowing your target audience is important, but ensuring the content you’re writing is relevant to that audience is even more important. Writing properly relevant content comes from doing research: Knowing enough about the subject of your content and who it is being written for to make it relevant to both. This is another thing that is going to keep your readers interested and wanting to read more.
It just takes those three little words to let your audience know that you love them. Love them enough to give them value that they're not going to get from anyone or anywhere else.