How to Take Your Content From Good to Great
Use these tips to make any post more interesting, useful and unique.
There’s an insane amount of content published on the web, on just about any topic that you can think of.
You’ll never see most of it, because most of it is horrible. And horrible content doesn’t get shared.
Some of it is pretty good. Pretty good content can help you bubble up in search rankings over the long haul, and might help you appeal to a decent pool of readers who probably won’t love your content, but they’ll read it.
And a very small portion of that content is extraordinary.
It’s interest, useful and unique, and it’s probably most of what you actually see, because it’s the content that gets loved, interacted with and shared by thousands of passionate readers.
You can write “pretty good” content just by putting in some effort to solve your audience’s challenges. If you do that, your content will already be above average.
But taking your content from pretty good to great requires a bit more than effort.
It takes doing the right things from a strategic and tactical perspective to optimize your content to be interesting, useful and unique; the three pillars of extraordinary content.
Just by looking at your Twitter feed to see just how popular the best content is, t’s easy to see how extraordinary content delivers extraordinary results.
The good news is that it doesn’t actually take that much longer to produce extraordinary content. It just takes doing a few things differently.
Today, I’ll share five ways to make any post better in less than an hour of work.
1) Incorporate Storytelling
Your valuable content is medicine. You know that if you could just get people to take it, they’d be healthier, more successful, and their deepest burning problem would be solved.
But no matter how hard you try, many people can’t be convinced to swallow medicine. It doesn’t taste good, and it’s not fun to take.
Medicine may be what we all need, but candy is what we want. So what can we do?
Think of your awesome, valuable posts as sugar-coated medicine. They deliver what your audience wants, as well as what they need.
The medicine part is your value. That’s the problem that your post solves, or the benefit that it delivers. And the sugar part is the story. That’s what makes your content easy — and fun — to swallow.
Great content needs both parts to hit its’ mark.
We actually tested this.
A couple of years ago, we ran a simple A/B test on one of our blog posts.
We sent some of our visitors to a version of the post that started with a simple story that led into the “meat” of the content, while others found a post with a no-nonsense intro that jumped right to the point.
The post with the story intro had nearly 300% more people scroll all the way to the bottom, and average time on page was more than five times higher.
A few weeks ago, I shared five tips to incorporate storytelling into your content (with real-life examples); check out the post here.
2) Back It Up With Research
Another fun experiment that we ran:
We tested two different headlines for one of our blog posts. The first used a headline that teased the post’s content:
The second used a similar headline, but we made it clear that the post was backed by data:
The results were more than a bit surprising:
Now, I admit, we expected the variant that mentioned research to win.
But we didn’t expect the delta to be more than 40%!
See four ways to add research to your blog post in our guest piece on the Buffer blog.
3) Improve Your Visuals
Your brain (and your reader’s brain) is better at processing visuals than text. In fact, 90 percent of the information that our brain gets is visual, and it processes that information 60,000 times faster than text.
And visuals, when they complement your text, help your message connect: 40 percent of people will respond better to visual information than to text.
That means that the right visuals make your content a whole lot more interesting.
Great visuals go way beyond stock photos. Read about 8 types of image that can increase the value of your blog post here.
4) Get Feedback From Experts
This one is both a content development hack, and a distribution hack that will help you get more visibility for your blog posts.
The most successful script that we’ve tested for influencer outreach is this one:
Because unlike 99% of the emails that influencers get asking for “a quick share”, this one is personal and easy to say yes to, because it thoughtfully asks for feedback.
When you send your content to experts in your field in this way, one of three things will happen:
- They’ll ignore you (this is true with any email campaign; accept it and move on)
- They’ll simply share your content because you didn’t come off as a greedy spammer
- They’ll actually give you feedback.
(C) is by far the best outcome, because now you’ve gotten incredible feedback from an expert on how to make your content great, and they’ve contributed to the creation of your post, which makes them a lot more likely to share it once you’ve improved it.
5) Add Actionable Takeaways
It’s not enough for your content just to be interesting or unique.
That will get people to read your content, sure.
But it won’t actually help them.
And helping your readers, time and time again, is how you build long-term relationships that develop trust and turn those readers into customers.
Being useful and actionable can take a number of different forms. Some of the ways that we’ve found to work have been:
Worksheets and checklists
Sharing ready-to-use spreadsheets that readers can grab
Diving deep into our own processes at a granular level, showing things like specific email scripts that have worked for us (and inviting readers to copy them word-for-word)
How to Apply This to Your Business
Don’t be discouraged by the vast ocean of already-published content out there.
There will always be room for content that is interesting, unique, useful and actionable.
For content that is truly great.
And the difference between producing good content and producing great content isn’t that huge; but the difference in the results you’ll see is.
I hope that this post helps you make every piece of content you create extraordinary.