If I read one more tweet, blog, article, or smoke signal that advises marketers to produce great content to get found online I may throw something big and ouchy.
“Doh! Hold on, I was planning on creating utter crap!” Of course bloggers/vloggers need to create content that’s great, extraordinary, or remarkable. However, possessing that factoid is unlikely to change the outcome. If there is nothing memorable about what you say or how you say it, lots o’ crap can be the end result, regardless.
Why does anyone blog, tweet, create videos or whatnot? We have something to say (or think we do). Or we have something to sell; often it’s both. Let’s assume that, regardless of the motivation, bloggers want to provide value. Faced with an overwhelming volume of content for readers to wade through, we must work harder than ever to earn our readership. Whatever the motivation, we must differentiate to effectively reach the right audience.
Read 100 blogs on How to write more effective emails, for example, and 97 of them provide the same “insights”. It’s the same with nearly any trending or mainstream topic – the same ideas get recycled. I don’t exclude myself from this critique; it’s hard to write completely original content. After all, good advice is good advice, whether or not it’s already been shared by someone else. But all too few articles about the topic du jour offer something different, something more, something “other than”.
So, how do you get there? Before you can create great content, you have to understand what it is. One way to “get it” is to sample a broad spectrum of blogs and vlogs; the good stuff pops right out at you. It’s your “how I want to do it when I grow up” inspiration.
There are some common denominators among great content creators. Here is a narrowly-focused sample with examples of each:
- They imbue articles with personality and a unique voice. (Seth Godin, Avinash Kaushik, Gary Vaynerchuk)
- They contribute original ideas that are well researched. (Copyblogger)
- They have a unique voice and take no prisoners. (Paul Castain, Seth Godin)
- They are knowledgeable and passionate about a topic (Dan Loves Guitars, Groklaw)
- They freely share great ideas and discoveries. (Yoast, HubSpot)
- The offer simple, actionable ideas and practical advice. (Pushing Social)
- They don’t just tell, they teach (Grammar Girl, HubSpot)
- They support your personal and professional growth. (John Jantsch, Chris Brogan)
Don’t settle for being a “me too” messenger. Find your voice and then emulate (not copy!) the writers and articles that stand out for you.
Key Takeaway #1: Google “top 10 (whatever your interest is) blogs”; get a sense of who, how, and why some authors are so successful.
Key Takeaway #2: Learn from the best (see above). If you need help, get it. (Stanford Smith of Pushing Social has a great e-book. He also evaluates blogs and offers coaching. And, there are many other resources).
After all, it is all about the content.