Brian Clark wrote the words in that quote a few years ago, in a reply to a comment on this blog.
It’s not always very comfortable to face, but there’s no way around it.
To succeed with content in 2019, you have to go beyond the ordinary. You have to rise well above the sea of thin, mediocre content that floods our inboxes and Facebook feeds.
It’s our mission on Copyblogger — week in and week out — to help you accomplish that.
Here are five ways I’ve found to create content that escapes invisibility — five ways to create content that’s worth seeing.
#1. Cultivate an obsession with your audience
Content and copy are written to serve audiences.
And that means we have to get a little obsessed about who those audiences are — what they want, how they think, and the words they choose.
This is an easy step to overlook, because it can feel like “not really writing.” But until you really understand who you’re writing for, your work will always feel a little flat.
You can tune in to social media conversations, run surveys, interview potential customers, or any of a dozen other ways.
However you get there, you need that “voice of customer” in your head in order to craft the content and persuasive copy that helps them get what they want.
Remember Kathy Sierra’s timeless advice:
And you can’t make your audience a little more awesome until you deeply understand who they are and what they care about.
#2. Think like a novelist
Dull content has its place. There’s a role for dry lists of facts and features.
That place is Wikipedia. Not your blog, video channel, or podcast.
If you want your content to get read, viewed, and heard, study techniques from fiction writers to bring more life to your work.
- Study popular movies for ideas about how to immediately hook an audience with a fascinating situation.
- Look to novelists for skillful character development that allows your audience to really see themselves in your content.
- Read poetry or listen to great songwriters to see how a well-chosen phrase can paint a vivid emotional picture.
And of course, fiction writers are masters at one of the most effective communication techniques we’ll ever use:
#3. Tell a compelling story
The human brain has a tough time resisting a great story.
From jokes to quick vignettes to in-depth case studies, a story can bring your work to life and help your audience truly understand what you’re trying to convey.
Just like the great stories we read or watch, terrific marketing stories weave together characters, conflict, and plot. They’re one of the best ways to teach without pontificating and sell without pushing.
#4. Lead them on a journey
Some content exists just to keep people amused or give them a way to kill five minutes at work.
But content marketing takes the audience on a journey.
How will your reader be a different person after reading your blog post?
What will your listener finally understand after hearing your podcast episode?
Content marketing should take our audiences on a journey of discovery, understanding, and growth.
We’re not just here to inform or to entertain. We’re here to transform.
#5. Offer a solution
The best businesses solve real problems.
And your content is part of the path to solving that problem.
If your audience is hurting (and we’re all hurting over something), lend a hand to make it better.
Some days it will be free advice. Other days, a paid product or service is what will give them the greatest benefit.
If your content isn’t here to help people solve their problems and get what they want and need, why should we spend our time creating it? And why would our audiences spend the time to read it?
How about you?
What’s your favorite way to make your content worth seeing?
Let us know in the comments. 🙂
Reader Comments (5)
A very useful article for a beginner in content writing like me. Thank you so much for sharing
Icy Sedgwick says
It’s always interesting reading these kinds of posts because it assumes that the sole reason a person will ever read content is because they have a problem that needs to be solved. But less attention seems to be paid to content written simply to inform or entertain. Case in point – I blog about interesting legends, myths and folklore. No one is searching Google looking for solutions when they find these things – they just want to find out more about a topic. But because of that, the posts have to be MORE compelling because if the reader doesn’t walk away feeling they’ve learned something they didn’t know before, then your content was largely useless.
Jaclyn dryden says
Amazing article and something that I need to implement more on my own blog. Sometimes I let life take hold and just don’t give it the time it needs.
Taking them on a journey is definitely the most difficult thing to do (as each persons experience/past/background is different). But you all want them to get to the solution and sell them your product. So you may want to have multiple journeys/websites for different groups. Individuals vs small businesses vs large business.
Tim Stodz says
I enjoyed this blog. I’m in a bit of a transition stage with my content. I spent the last year trying the more “Seth Godin” approach. I would write something every day. I would write because I am a writer, and it is my job.
I enjoyed the process, but over time, I felt as though I was hurting myself because it is hard to have the time to write timeless content that really serves an audience. At least it was for me.
Truthfully, I don’t know how he writes such solid content every day. For me, I need some time to marinade on what I write.
But the thing I appreciated most about this blog post was being ruthless about the fact that you really need to go above and beyond in today’s content climate. There is just so much out there. I’m finally getting comfortable with the idea that it’s worth being patient to publish what I feel is remarkable. Even if the short term results don’t show it, I can already see over the past two months that the long term results will be worth it.
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