- Finding enough time to create content.
- Planning that content.
- Creating really good content.
How To #Write Better Content In A Competitive #Blog Niche via @JulieNeidlingerClick To Tweet
Do You Want To Be Liked, Or Do You Want To Learn?Sometimes good content stems from rather bad content. When I studied art in college, I found that, at the end of college, I had come to view a piece of art as a success based on two things:
- Its likability. These are pieces that I liked, and/or viewers liked. They were visually pleasing in whatever niche they belonged in. For example, I used to do pet portraits for people. I didn’t always love the result in that after a while it felt like yet another dog painting. But, for the client, the likability was clearly there.
- Its teachability. There are pieces that I hated when I finished (if I finished them), or that took me a long time—sometimes years—to start to like. Yet I considered them a success because I learned something from doing them. Maybe I found a new way to handle a particular medium, or I discovered something about color and shadow. Whatever it was, the image itself didn’t tell the viewer what I learned, necessarily, so the teachability of a piece of art was generally something only I, the artist, could know was in play. I am often proud of pieces that others don’t care for, simply because I know what it taught me.
By failing to learn, one day you are suddenly eons behind everyone else. #bloggingClick To Tweet
Sometimes, the best #ContentMarketing comes from your failures. Learn from them to improve.Click To Tweet
Do You Remember To Look Up To Others?Our own Content Marketing Lead, Nathan, prefers a particular technique that requires a bit of online research to find the top performing content in your niche. “There are a few ways to write better content, but I only really use the skyscraper technique,” he’s told me, and it makes pretty good sense. As Garrett outlined on an earlier blog post, the skyscraper technique is, at its most basic, a three-step process:
- Find top performing content.
- Write better content than the current top performers.
- Try to get a bunch of people to link to your new content.
- Average content length.
- Average number of images.
- Overall quality of content (rank from 1–10).
- Specific keywords/key-phrases used.
- Hierarchy: Expert or beginner?
- Proximity: Did the content succeed because it was so dead-on accurate for a specific audience? Would that approach work as well for yours?
- Impact: How did the content directly impact the reader’s life topically or anecdotally?
- Trendiness: Is the content evergreen, or was it successful for a certain time frame only?
- Strangeness: Is the content so unexpected that people are thrilled to see something new and unusual?
- Conflict: Are there “warring factions” in the content, opposing ideas, and anything that stirs up passion and engagement?
- Humanity: Is the content appealing because of its human interest component, stirring up empathy?
Research what content already exists, then plan to #write something even better. Here's how.Click To Tweet
Are You Always Scanning The Horizon?My first car was a Chrysler Plymouth Horizon, and if I wanted to get good radio reception, I had to roll down the front passenger window. Fine in the summer, excruciating in the winter. In order to bear the cold air, I had to turn up the heat. The heater fan was so loud, that I had to turn up the radio. It was a vicious cycle that meant, by the time I pulled into the yard on the drive home from school, I was one of those ridiculous people whose radio is so loud that all the plastic parts of the car are rattling. Take a look at this beauty. That is not the Horizon you should be on the lookout for. In the previous step, you were to look up to individual examples of top performing content, figure out why it was up there so high, and do your own version but better. Most bloggers have peaks and valleys of content success; you might have found a few one hit wonders in your skyscraper analysis. And then there are bloggers who are consistently creating good content. They might have had a few skyscraper pieces, but maybe not. What they generally have is authority, and authority is less susceptible to peaks and valleys, and more even-keeled. How do you become an authority on something?
GEORGE: Wow, Keith Hernandez. He's such a great player. JERRY: Yeah, he's a real smart guy too. He's a Civil War buff. GEORGE: I'd love to be a Civil War buff. ... What do you have to do to be a buff? JERRY: So Biff wants to be a buff? ... Well sleeping less than 18 hours a day would be a start.—From Seinfeld “The Boyfriend (1)” There are people who are an authority, and there are people who call themselves an authority. There are some who might say that being an authority is more than just being an expert. An expert merely knows a lot, while an authority has the power to wield that expertise. Let’s take that approach, then, with the idea being that you first have to be an expert before you can be an authority.
Becoming an expert.What does an expert look like to you? For me, it’s someone who:
- Has “paid their dues” and worked a long time at something.
- Has a broad variety of experiences in their niche, with lots of useful anecdotes to tell about them.
- Talks about what they’ve learned in a transparent way.
- Can show actual success and that they practice what they preach.
- Backs up their claims.
- Shares ideas, interpretations, facts, and knowledge that aren’t commonly found elsewhere.
Becoming an authority.Being an authority is almost a state of being where people have given you permission to direct how they think. That sounds a bit creepy, but it’s not far off. You can holler and scream that you are an authority all you want, but if no one is listening to you, it’s clear you are not. How do you get people to give you permission to be an authority over them in your niche?
- Don’t be a jerk, but don’t be a doormat. Have an opinion based in your expertise, and be willing to voice it. And then, if things go poorly...
- Take the high road. Be willing to leave an ugly argument with respectful words and grace.
- Be an encourager, and be respectful. Engage with people in an individual, helpful, and honest way. Don’t get a reputation for being a brash loudmouth who insults people. You might get fame, and you might get known, but you won’t really be an authority.
- Don’t chase after fame. Using sketchy tactics to get momentary shares, attention, and fame is not the behavior of someone who is authority material, someone who is confident enough in their skills, patience, and ability.
- Be consistent. We are always preaching consistency and planning here at CoSchedule (hence the editorial calendar!), and consistency is part of being an authority. People trust the authority, and they build trust based on the sense that they know what to expect from you. Consistent content, social media presence, and engagement are crucial.
- Step out of the limelight. Curation is a powerful aspect of authority. It’s you, sharing and promoting the good work of others. It shows you’re not a glory hog, and that you’re not in it for yourself.
- Ask for help. Reach out to other people and ask for their genuine help or their opinion. It humanizes you.
- Be helpful first, self-promotional last. How many times do you use the word “I” in your copy? Are you about you, or are you about others?
How Will You Write Better Content To Stand Out From Your Competition?In summary, there are a million ways to approach the question, “How do I write better content?”, but for this post, I wanted to give you a three-step personal assessment:
- Do you want to be liked, or do you want to learn?
- Do you know, and can you define, what successful content looks like?
- Have you put in the time to be an expert, and the personality to be an authority?
How To Write Better Content In An Oversaturated Blog NicheClick To Tweet