The Ultimate Guide To Creating Content That Doesn’t End Up In The Trash Can
Several years back, bestselling author Seth Godin was quoted as calling content marketing the “only marketing left.” So far, this sentiment has proven to be correct, as over the last ten years, marketers have shifted more an more to content creation over virtually all other forms of marketing.
Two years ago, 76% of BRB marketers were predicted to produce more content year over year, with only 2% planning to produce less – another prediction that has held true year upon year since. As content creators by trade, here at Iris Content, we love this trend – but we recognize that as a business owner, marketer, or entrepreneur who wants to create content to be seen, the explosion of content marketing presents unique challenges.
What we have found here at Iris Content in regards to creating excellent content that gets results is that content marketing isn’t just long-form advertising. In order for content marketing to be successful, first and foremost, you have to find a topic worth talking about. Blindly creating more content may keep your blog feeds full, but ultimately, unless that content is engaging, it will be quickly lost in the noise of the internet. Here at Iris Content, we pride ourselves on creating content with topics which are relevant and engaging, with high quality writing that is intended not only to gain the attention of search engines, but to hold the attention of readers.
We use a four-step plan to ensure that our content is a cut above the rest, and you can use these criteria when polishing your own content marketing plan. Always strive to create content that is:
Creating Content That Is Clear
In terms of content, there are two kinds of clarity which will enhance the quality of your content and make it easier to read. The first kind of clarity is structural. As you write your piece, ensure that it follows a clear roadmap, and that each paragraph leads naturally into the next. A great way to do this is to begin with an outline before you put proverbial pen to paper (or fingers to keys, as the case may be, but the sentiment lacks a certain alliteration). Ensure that your content has a structure that is easy to follow.
The second kind of clarity is in the words that you use. Here at Iris Content, we love language, and sometimes as writers we’re tempted to use flowery language (like the word alliteration above) and soaring prose intended to strike the reader with beauty. If you’re more marketing and less poetic, it can be tempting to stuff your piece with buzzwords to attempt to position yourself as a thought leader in your subject area. However, generally speaking, your audience isn’t looking to be impressed. It just wants simple and direct language that is easy to read and simple to process. Let the ideas be the stars of your content, not the words.
Creating Content That Is Concise
Do you know what the editors at Iris Content find really, very, absolutely annoying? When writers use a variety of adjectives when one would suffice – or any instance of using a long string of words when just a few would convey the same ideas and carry the same weight. Here are a few common culprits to be on the lookout for:
- Passive voice: Avoid using phrases like “the ball was caught by me” rather than “I caught the ball.”
- Adjective ladders: Saying “The cake is really very delicious,” isn’t better than simply “The cake is delicious.”
- Marketing by intimidation: This is what we call phrases that seem to call out the reader if they don’t agree. Things like “any marketer worth their salt knows that…” or “most people would agree…” are to be avoided.
- Clichés: Instead of saying “Are you ready to bury the hatchet once and for all?” try simply, “Are you ready to finish this?”
Creating Content That Is Coherent
If you’ve kept up with the steps thus far, your content should be starting to take form and make sense. You’ve got a clear road map and you’re taking the most concise route to get there. Considering coherence is about optimizing content for the way readers digest information. Here are some suggestions to help make your content coherent:
- Break up long sentences. Keep an eye out for long comma-separated lists, dashes, and semicolons. A few long sentences in a piece can keep it from feeling too choppy, but try to keep most sentences brief.
- Break up long paragraphs. Back when most of us were in school, we learned to write paragraphs that were five sentences long. Even two or three is plenty for online content.
- Use subheadings to make your content “skimmable.” This gives your readers an idea of what they’re about to read, so they can more easily follow your content.
Creating Content That Is Correct
This one seems like it should go without saying, but unfortunately, sometimes it does not. As you give your content a final polish, make sure that your grammar, spelling, style, and usage are all correct. If grammar isn’t your forte, there are tools like Grammarly which can help with this.
Unfortunately, often your brain will often fight you on this step. You wrote this content, so you know it inside and out – once your brain understands the content of a sentence, it will likely not even see mistakes, which can lead to embarrassing “oopsies” once you publish.
If you want to proofread your own work effectively, read it backwards. Read the piece from bottom to top, sentence by sentence, and this will help force your brain to pay closer attention. By doing this, you’ll be able to spot otherwise you would otherwise miss.
Go On And Create Some Great Content!
Great content begins with a solid strategy, so identify that your audience wants to know about, and create content that speaks to them. Then, to make good content great, use the “four C’s” method outlined above to polish as you go. By creating content that is clear, concise, coherent, and correct, you will not only find readers who are eager to read your content, but will want to share it.
Chief Content Officer
Annie has 20 years of experience as an editor, content marketer and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.
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