We hear it time and time again – create good content.
But what is good content?
The biggest misconception around content is that it has to be great.
This is wrong because it forces you to believe everything you create needs to be an opus, which prevents many of us from saying anything.
While I hate to say it, you just need to be a little better than the average business in your niche. If you’re focused on learning, it’s easy to rise to the top and provide real value to your customers.
Here are 9 rules to creating good content that will help you rise above the noise.
1. Have A Clear Goal
The goal of your content marketing campaign is to create value to attract potential customers, so you can nurture those leads over time.
But what’s the goal of each post, ebook or video?
- Are you trying to share who you are to build trust?
- Educate your readers so they learn about your industry, and you’re positioned as an authority?
- Inspire them to take action?
Every post is different.
While we usually blog about online marketing for small business owners, we also include posts about how we’re doing and occasionally press we’ve received – by sharing our story and allowing our readers to celebrate with us, it invites them to be part of the journey and helps us build a strong community.
The more you can share and be honest, especially as a small business owner, the easier it will be for you to develop relationships online.
2. Make It Accessible
Make it easy for people to find what you create.
This includes everything from good SEO practises to sharing with your network to building relationships with other bloggers and growing your online reach.
I believe content should be free – unless you’re selling online courses as a profession – so make it easy for people to read, engage and share.
This may sound obvious, but online newspapers are trending in the wrong direction. The average price of a monthly digital subscription has risen 39% in the last 18 months to $9.26/month. Publishers are offering fewer articles for free because they make money by selling content.
But this is good news, because the more value you can provide for free, the better chance you’ll have of winning your readers.
p.s. Not sure you agree with me? Check out Copy Blogger’s guide on How to Build a Business Using Paid and Free Content – they go into the benefits and downsides of building a marketing strategy on free vs paid content.
Write in simple language so people can understand – the general consensus is to write for a 5th grader. Only 16% of us read a post word per word, so if you’re confusing or hard to follow, chances are we’ll skip to the bottom or leave without gaining any value.
But being simple doesn’t mean being short.
Google actually favours longer posts. However, don’t write a long post for the sake of it – keep it meaty.
For example, The Complete Guide Of How Often To Post, Tweet + Facebook For Your Small Business is the same length as a post we wrote that describes why you should have a phone number on every page of your website. While both provide value, the first is significantly better because it covers more – I got a little research happy for the phone post and could have written what I said in 2,000 words in 500 words – and not surprisingly, the first post has been read more, shared more and more people joined our community as a result.
4. Be Educational
There are over 100 billion searches on Google every month because people are curious.
We love to learn.
In fact, “how to” posts are among the most popular type of post because they teach us something that we can take action on.
While all your posts won’t be step-by-step tutorials, make sure they share something new. My goal for everything we write is to transfer one piece of knowledge to our readers, so they leave knowing more than when they came because if we provide real value, people will come back and contribute to our growing community.
p.s. While we recommend occasionally sharing stories about yourself – if it’s “me me me” all the time you’ll find it hard to build a following.
5. Be Remarkable
When I hear the question “what is good content?” I also hear “what is remarkable content?”
Seth Godin describes being remarkable as “something worth making a remark about.”
If you’re driving along the highway and see a purple cow, chances are you’ll stop and comment on the purple cow because you’ve never seen one before. Purple cows are remarkable. But if you continue to see purple cows, they become common and you’ll stop remarking on them.
When you write, try to find the purple cow.
If your post doesn’t evoke learning, a reaction, an action, discussion or even entertainment, then what’s the purpose?
You want people to remember you.
p.s. Want a quick tip to be remarkable? Use facts – it’s one of the easiest ways to set your blog apart because most people don’t take the time to back up what they say.
6. Be Honest
The goal of inbound marketing is to build relationships at scale, so you can convert interested readers into customers over time.
Trust is the foundation of these relationships.
I also believe trust is the biggest asset small business owners and bloggers have because it’s something that you can’t buy and you don’t need to be big to achieve – in fact, Harvard Business Review shows more people trust small businesses than larger corporations.
It’s not easy to be honest, especially for small business owners when it comes to things that aren’t going well, but if you can share the highs and the lows it will go a long way to set you above the rest.
Sharing truthful moments show you’re real – people relate to not being perfect. It’s the difference between fake relationships online and meaningful ones that actually turn into customers.
7. Always Use Visuals
Posts with visuals perform better.
- Posts with photos on Facebook generate 53% more likes and 104% more comments than posts without photos.
- Photos on Pinterest refer more traffic to websites than Twitter, Google +, LindedIn and StumbleUpon.
- Posts with videos get 3x more inbound links that posts with text.
- 3M and Zabisco showed that we process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
- We recall pictures 6 times more easily than text.
So always include a photo in your post – graphs and charts are great too. And you don’t need to be literal. Choose images that represent the heart of your post, like how a movie trailer represents the heart of the film.
HubSpot shares more on why visuals are key in their article on 19 Fascinating Statistics That Make the Case for Using Visual Content in Your Marketing. Check it out and leave a comment below to let me know what you think.
8. Let People Engage
Bain & Company showed that people who have a meaningfully engagement with a company using social media spend 30% more than those who don’t.
Blogging is the start of a conversation.
If people don’t participate, what’s the point?
But most of us need to be invited before we take action. So, actively invite people to join you.
Encourage comments, use social sharing buttons and join conversations online. When you finish chatting with someone in person, invite them to continue your discussion on Twitter or Facebook (or wherever you chat online). If you’ve written a post that was relevant to your discussion, feel free to send it to them.
It’s a surprisingly obvious way to grow your readership, and not enough people do it.
I really don’t care how many people follow your brand on Twitter, or Like your brand on Facebook. Numbers like these are essentially meaningless; building the right kind of relationships with 500 targeted people will always be more beneficial to you then meaningless, un-targeted relationships with 500,000. – Matt Rhodes, Fresh Networks
Read Mashable’s 21 Rules for Social Media Engagement for a quick refresher on how to engage with your customers online. You might also want to check out this post by Matt Rhodes, which further discusses why engagement is important.
9. Do You Like It?
If you don’t like what you create, why will someone else?
If it’s not engaging, stop.
I’ve done this before. I thought I had a great idea for a post, got halfway through and realized I wasn’t adding value. It was boring and no one would read it.
Sure, you can try to save what you’ve written. But sometimes it’s better to start from scratch than build on poor foundation.
If you want to learn more, check out this post from Social Media Today. It’s an overview of 28 attributes of content marketing – it’s easy to understand and covers what not to do as well.
Conclusion: So, what is good content?
Creating great content doesn’t need to be a full time job.
Leverage what the experts are saying – you don’t need to reinvent the conversation, simply join it. See what’s popular or being shared in your industry, and build on that.
Because we know the results pay off.
So, what is good content? How do you content worth sharing? Leave us a comment below so we can continue our conversation.