Much of the time writers look to increasing word count before seeking to expand their readership. I don’t want to berate that approach, label it is criminal, because it is a very simple trap to fall into. It could be better said that often less words make better content, that brevity is your friend, or the best quote ever from Blaise Pascal “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” Here are five tips for any writer looking to produce better great content to increase readership and attract links.
Before you start, don’t kid yourself. If you are not going to be honest with yourself and produce something that is really great, the I suggest that you find another topic, or find a co-writer for the piece. Not even an editor can help you here.
Great content answers my questions and ends my search for information. Great content is to the point. We are looking for answers to our questions, so give them to us. Imagine that your readership has ADHD and if you are not sure how that feels, it is like a kid on a sugar rush on a road trip with no outlet for the building energy and impatience. We crave the answers to our questions, and we want to know that if we invest time reading, that we are certain to get those answers.
Great content is information that people desire and seek out. Don’t focus on the details that don’t help us. It may sound obvious, but if you are going to write about online marketing, don’t start your writing by introducing the concept of the Internet as a business platform. It is in violation of point 1, and there is no way on God’s-green-earth that you will be cited for words of wisdom.
Great content knows the topic and includes valuable information that only specialists would be able to provide. If you are going to write a piece about how to build a deck on your house, it should give us the instructions and the details that we can act on. The types of wood (yes, we want names), the size of the screws (yes, we want numbers) and photographs so we can align our expectations.
Great content is a collection of different forms of content – don’t just stop at text. This does not mean that you need to submit original photographs, or start hiring freelancers to create infographics for you. All new knowledge is dependent on the knowledge that has come from people before you – I mean that you can refer to other author’s work and build upon those thoughts to create something great.
Specialists are never anonymous. Put your name on your work, and it should be obvious why you are an authority on what you are speaking about. I don’t think that you need to establish some academic authority, because not all knowledge is based in academia, but there should be a feeling that you are trusted. It is safe to say that if you accept point 1-4 above and use them in your writing, then your authority and trust in the topic area will be demonstrated.
A note on editing and editorial review:
Behind every great writer is a good editor. All of the best writers in the word have one. Stephen King had Michael Garrett and J.K. Rowling had Arthur A. Levine. Every writer should share their content before it gets published.
If you don’t have an editor great writing will be something that your friends will enjoy reading. Show it to your colleagues and friends before you publish it and see if it is as great as you think it is. But don’t kid yourself, be honest with yourself, because your first draft is never your final copy or your best work.