Of course we’re going to think our own content is good. Always write for your readers. They’ll write a rant, or some other post, just to make themselves sound smart. If the topic is good but you were more focused on writing what you think should be in a good article, go through it and edit it. A key word in the question here is “credible.” If a reader clicks through to your source and doesn’t trust it, you’re back where you started. Before you publish, and even before you write, you need to know what you’re up against. You should write down at least 20 different possible titles for each piece of content you create. Past the title, many will read the opening and then decide if they want to read the rest of the content. Aspect #1 – Subheadlines matter more than you think: Open a new blog post, and skim it quickly. Many readers will.
My guess? It’s not great.
It’s easy to judge others but tough to evaluate ourselves.
I guarantee that all your competitors think the same thing—that most content in your niche is junk.
And yet…they believe that theirs is the exception.
No doubt you think your content is pretty good too. Otherwise, why would you publish it?
I’m not saying you’re wrong; I’m just pointing out that we all have biases. Of course we’re going to think our own content is good.
The ideal solution would be to hire a professional marketer or editor to evaluate your content and compare it with that of competitors.
However, that’s rarely possible.
The next best solution is to have a checklist of all the essentials of good content.
While you can make your own, I thought I’d start you off.
I’m going to tell you 6 questions that you should ask yourself before publishing any piece of content.
This is a list of essentials, so feel free to add to it.
1. Does it have a real purpose for the right people?
You can write in two ways.
You can write for yourself, creating something that you think is superb.
Or you can write for your readers, creating something that is specifically crafted to help them.
Can you guess which one I prefer? It’s option number 2. Always write for your readers.
One mistake that many content creators make, especially newer ones, is writing something that they think is good.
They’ll write a rant, or some other post, just to make themselves sound smart. But this doesn’t accomplish anything other than making them feel smart.
Here’s an example of such a post on Medium:
As you can see, the author wrote a public post that was essentially a rant directed towards her CEO.
You can read it if you want, but essentially it’s a whole lot of complaining. All about “me, me, me.”
As an interesting note, an edit on the post explains that she was let go shortly after publishing the post (not necessarily related).
The point is that even if this content gets read by a lot of people, it’s not going to impact their lives.
From a content marketing perspective, all good content needs to leave a favorable impression of your brand in the minds of readers.
It should do one of the following:
- Solve a problem – For example, a detailed step-by-step guide to patching up a wall.
- Inspire action – When content is focused on the reader, it can inspire them to take action to improve their lives. At the end of most of my posts, I ask readers to take action on what I wrote because they’ll remember me when they do.
- Teach – Everyone loves to learn about the things they truly care about. Good content can focus on teaching an important concept, e.g., a post written for beginner SEOs about how Google’s basic algorithm works.
Go back to the question, and answer it now.
Is your content written for your audience, and does it provide value to them?
If the topic is good but you were more focused on writing what you think should be in a good article, go through it and edit it. Constantly ask yourself, “how can I make this clearer for my reader?”
You should be able to articulate the exact value that your content provides to your readers. If you can’t, it probably doesn’t have any (or much).
2. Are your claims backed up with credible sources?
The days are over when you could write whatever you wanted and be believed.
Many readers these days are skeptical. After reading so many lies and hearing false promises, they need to be convinced to take you at your word and take action.
And if you can’t get them to take action, you’ll never claim that place in their email boxes or memory.
This is why I recommend backing up all your claims with data when possible.
What’s more convincing? Saying:
- Diabetes causes your hair to fall out or
They both sound possible, but they also both sound like they could be speculations. The difference is that the second one links to a study in a respected journal.
As a reader, I am convinced by the second one; the first one leaves me with questions.
What’s a credible source? A key word in the question here is “credible.” If a reader clicks through to your source and doesn’t trust it, you’re back where you started.
Here’s what I would say a good rule of thumb for credible sources is:
- Studies (journal articles) are the best
- Data analysis posts
- Government sites
- Highly respected sites (like webMD)
- Posts written by extremely well-known authors (or interviews with them)
3. Do the images add more than just breaking up text?
I’m a big fan of visual content, which you know if you read my stuff regularly.
One benefit of including a lot of pictures is that they break up text, making it easier to read.
But if that’s the only thing the…