For the last month or so, I’ve found it incredibly difficult to come up with ideas for Medium stories. Like, outrageously hard. I’ve been wracking my brain, spending an hour at a time sitting on the couch with my trusty notebook in hand, waiting for ideas to start pouring into my brain from the figurative basin of inspiration. And nothing came. Well, I guess I should admit that there were ideas but, well, none of them felt good enough.
Today, I had a session with my therapist in which I told her about my success in finally cranking out a new blog post after weeks of being unable to rise to the occasion. We discussed how just forcing myself to sit down, pick an idea, and run with it ultimately led to my success in producing new content. I was so proud. Whether or not the story would do as well as the content I’d produced in the past didn’t matter- I was simply happy that I’d produced something after such a drought.
Now, as I’ve found myself sitting for yet another hour at my laptop trying to come up with “the perfect idea for content”, the idea for this very story came to me. In an effort to get all of my thoughts down on paper before they evaporated into the air (something I’m notorious for letting happen), I grabbed my notebook from my bedside table and started jotting down the outline of my next Medium story.
The result? What you’re reading now, 5 Things You Can’t Ignore When Creating the “Perfect” Content.
If you have found yourself dealing with a similar case of writer’s block lately, pursuing the “perfect” idea as it seems to hang just out of reach, this story is for you. Please know that I’m right where you are and I know how damn difficult it can be to pull yourself out of such a rut. But here we are. I hope the following 5 things that I have to tell you can provide some sense of hope and get you back to writing!
#1- “Writing Great Content is a Choice”
During one of my especially bad cases of writer’s block since joining the Medium Partner Program back in July of this year, I found myself scouring the Internet for articles about, well, how to create the perfect content. I had had a taste of that Medium success and was looking to maximize my profits, build my following, and experience sweet success.
Unfortunately, I was treating reaching Medium “celebrity status” as a short-term goal that could be achieved overnight. As I looked to some of the biggest names on Medium, I saw something that I wanted and I wanted it now. So, in my desperation, I looked for any tips the Internet could give me in my quest for “the perfect content”.
In my search, I came across digital marketing guru and blogger Neil Patel’s article, The Nine Ingredients That Make Great Content. The first sentence struck me: “Writing great content is a choice.”
As I continued reading, I kept turning that sentence over and over again in my mind, digesting it piece by piece. By the time I made my way to the end of Patel’s article, I had realized just how true that first sentence was. Writing great content is absolutely a choice.
Because great content is built through hard work, determination, and perseverance. All of these elements are things you have to wake up and choose to bring to the table when crafting the perfect content. Otherwise, as Patel puts it, you can “choose to take the easy path and write poor content — a path that ultimately will get you nowhere. It will only result in a waste of time, energy, and resources.”
In my case, despite how badly I wanted to produce the perfect content for Medium, for my freelancing clients, and for the business that I market for full-time, I found myself repeatedly neglecting to make the choice to produce great content. Why? Because I was telling myself I was incapable and letting myself remain in the slump I found myself in by telling myself that, “I just had to wait for that perfect idea”.
If you currently find yourself waiting for the perfect idea for the perfect content to simply fall into your lap, you’re going about everything wrong. Don’t make the same mistakes I’ve been making for the past two months. Make the decision to show up each and every day and put your very soul into producing the best content possible for your audience, regardless of who that audience is.
Writing great content is a choice. Choose to put quality into everything you do and your audience will take notice. This is the best way to not only build a loyal following but also to build your brand from the ground up. This is the number one rule to remember when setting out to create the perfect content for your blog, business, or brand.
#2- Originality Breeds Success
If you really want to create content that keeps your audience coming back time and time again, you have to be original. Not only does original content go a long way with your audience (they can sense a poser), but it also goes a very long way with Google. What do I mean?
Well, copying other people’s content in an effort to populate your website or blog will get you nowhere quick in the eyes of the almighty Google. Google keeps an eye out for duplicate content and if you’re found amongst the evil-doers in question, your rankings will spiral. That’s a hard thing to come back from.
Further, originality breeds success. Although I’ll be the first to admit that there’s rarely such thing as a truly original idea anymore, you should make every effort to be as original as possible when it comes to your content. Rather than simply rehashing the same ideas over and over again simply because you’ve seen them perform well in the past, sit down and let your mind run wild.
All too often, I see bloggers and writers resort to click-baiting headlines in an effort to drum up as much interest in their content as possible. Where do they fail? Well, the content that follows just doesn’t offer anything of substantial value. While they may have hit the ball out of the park with their headline, the value stops there. Sure, they attracted an audience but that same audience bounced off the page never to return as soon as they caught a whiff of the obvious click-baiting they fell victim to. Your audience doesn’t like to feel duped.
If you want to create the perfect content, you can’t ignore the need to be as original as possible. Again, this doesn’t mean that everything you write has to be a completely original idea. That’s a great way to experience burnout- believe me, I’ve been there. Instead, make sure that any idea you have for content is produced in a way that is purely, 100 percent your thoughts, feelings, and observations. Your audience wants to get to know you and hear what you have to say but you have to offer them something of value in return.
#3- Readability is Key
Many bloggers set out to create the perfect content and make a huge mistake that costs them: they don’t strive to make their content highly readable. This part of creating the perfect content is simple, yet so many bloggers and marketers get it completely wrong. Now, readability doesn’t simply mean that you utilize good spelling and grammar. Instead, readability refers to a series of important factors including:
- Writing to the understanding level of your audience
- Writing for the particular medium where your content will appear (mobile devices, desktops, etc.)
- Prioritizing clarity and meaning
- Making sure the text is clearly formatted and easy to read
Your text needs to be readable on a basic level, easy to understand and follow, and written for your audience (more on that in a minute). If you can’t meet these very basic requirements when working to create the perfect content, you’re going to miss the mark entirely.
#4- Write With Your Audience in Mind
Stop and ask yourself why you’re creating content in the first place. It’s likely that a few of these reasons include your pursuit of a hobby, an effort to advertise your business, and as a means to make money. All of those reasons for creating content are all fine and good. If you’re not creating content to benefit your specific audience, however, you’re going about everything entirely the wrong way.
Not only does writing with your audience in mind help you make better decisions about precisely the type of information that you include, but it also means that you’ll be writing in the pursuit of value for that audience. Why do people love to read blogs? Well, the most successful blogs around (and the top writers on Medium, for example) all have something valuable to offer their audience. They know who their audience is and they write every single day with the needs of that particular audience at the front of their minds. The audience of these blogs and writers appreciates them (and therefore supports them by coming back to their content repeatedly) because they know that the content they’ll receive is catered to them.
Here are a few examples of questions you should be asking yourself before you ever sit down to write a single piece of content:
- Who is my audience?
- What do I want my audience to know after reading this?
- What might my audience already know about this particular subject?
- What does my audience care about?
- Why will my audience read this?
- How does my audience expect me to speak to them?
By asking yourself these important questions, you can clearly organize your content for your audience. This is the best way to write content that succeeds in the short and long-term.
#5- You Can’t Ignore the Content Marketing Trends
Finally, the last thing that you can’t ignore when it comes to creating the perfect content involves the latest content marketing trends. With the speed of technological advancements and changes in marketing tactics with each passing year, it can be hard to keep up. But you have to. That’s because being aware and well-versed in the latest content marketing trends is vital to staying on top of the game and creating content that can compete. At the end of the day, that’s what the perfect content does- it competes. It demands attention. It works to maximize your readership and build your brand.
Another reason that you should always stay on top of content marketing trends is that it will push you to innovate consistently. Many businesses and blogs have failed in the past because they were simply unable to keep up with the ever-changing business landscape. Having trend awareness keeps you from growing stale in the eyes of your customers and readers. When you stay up to date with the latest content marketing trends, you can stay one step ahead by always knowing what your audience wants. Then, you can deliver.
Looking for some examples of what’s hot in content marketing right now? Check out this article entitled, 5 Content Marketing Trends For 2020 You Just Can’t Ignore.
The Perfect Content is Possible, But…
In closing, I just want to say that crafting the perfect content, although sometimes a seemingly overwhelming task, is perfectly possible. That being said, writing great content is never easy.
But you know what?
The battle becomes much easier when you write about things you are truly passionate about for an audience that you are connected with. It’s also much easier when you operate with the 5 things that I’ve outlined here in mind.
Is it worth the work?
The great thing about good content is that it persists. If you write something great for your audience today, there’s a high possibility that it will live on and generate views and shares even 5 years down the line. Not only is this great in a business sense but it’s great because that’s the entire purpose of the perfect content: connecting with people, solving problems, and sharing ideas.
The perfect content is completely possible. Create your version of perfect today.