Not all content is created equal. You've got your “unicorns” and your “donkeys.”
Most blog posts are donkeys.
A “unicorn post” is one that really takes off. It gets an unusually high quantity of traffic, shares, links, and attention.
It ultimately leads to conversions, too.
Not every post can be a unicorn, of course.
Plus, it can be hard to predict which blog posts are going to take off and which aren't.
Along with quality and timeliness, there's definitely an element of luck involved.
But with that said, there are still a handful of key qualities that high-performing content tends to have.
The right topic, the right angle, and the right style can all make your posts more likely to take off.
In a recent blog post, marketing guru Neil Patel discusses how to craft content that's genuinely valuable for your audience.
Timeliness, relevance, a friendly writing style, and other attributes are essential for success.
1. Choose a timely, relevant, and interesting topic
The most important aspect of writing a solid article is the topic. You can do everything else right and still not sell anything if there’s no market and if no one cares about your topic.
No matter how well the article is written and researched, there’s likely no one who wants to read about 18th-century book binding. (OK, maybe there’s some people, as Google has 404,000 results.)
If you don’t immediately catch their attention, you’ve already lost them. The majority of people, 8 out of 10 to be precise, read only the headline. If they lose interest, they’re gone.
[image source: Neil Patel]
Any topic that you choose to write about should be timely, relevant, and interesting. And those aren’t the same things.
- Timely: When an article is timely, it has a newsworthiness. This means that it’s applicable to the current conversation.
- Relevant: When a topic is relevant, it means that it will add value to your audience. If your audience includes people who are interested in 18th-century book binding, don’t write about plumbing. They won’t read it and they won’t share it.
- Interesting: Your article should be interesting. Need I say more? To make a topic interesting, you want to add new information or take a unique stance. Don’t just repeat the same old information.
2. Have a hook
In addition to a great title, you need a hook. If the title is what gets your readers to click on the article, the hook is what gets them to actually read the article.
Think of your hook as your first impression. Write a bad first sentence and your readers are gone.
This doesn’t mean you won’t get shares, but you took the time to create the content, so you want your visitors to read and enjoy it.
[image source: Neil Patel]
Honestly, a really great title and hook might garner you more shares because many visitors who click on your article will share without actually reading it.
For those visitors who don’t read your content, all they will ever know of it is the title and the hook. Make it good and you’re guaranteed to encourage shares.
3. Be personable and relatable
Writing has often been considered a formal style of communication. There are books and books of rules on how to write and what’s the proper way to do it.
Even though English is (likely) your native language, you probably spent many years in school learning spelling and grammar.
Over time, language changes. With the advent of the Internet and online blogs, writing has quickly become informal.
When writing for your blog, it’s OK to be personable. You want your audience to relate to you, not be bored by your pedantic, academic writing.
Good online content uses contractions, has an informal tone, speaks directly to the reader, and uses words such as “I,” “me,” or “we.”
[image source: Neil Patel]
Posts that used more self-referential words rea more likely to be shared. Using words such as “I” and “we” reminds readers that there’s a human behind the content. Good writing is relatable.
If you want your audience to read and share your content, make sure they can relate to it. Don’t be afraid to show a little of your personality.
4. Offer a solution to a problem
Why do you use Google? It’s likely to solve a problem or find an answer to a question you’re asking.
We use Google to learn how to change our windshield wiper blades, make a perfect cherry pie, and pretty much everything else.
Other than cat videos, the Internet is the place to find solutions and answers. When you create content, think about the problems that your readers are facing.
How can you help them?
If your content solves a problem for your readers, they’re more likely to share it, buy your product, and become a loyal customer.
If you’re thinking that I’m stretching this, just think how many articles you’ve read on life hacks.
You can find more helpful content strategy and content writing tips over at Neil Patel's blog.
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