The 3 Things That Make Great Content Stand Out In A Crowded Space
There’s more and more content being published in every industry. But you can still stand out. Here’s how.
I’ve said this many times: our blogs are the biggest drivers of growth that have helped our business grow from zero to nearly $300,000 in monthly revenue.
As for second place, nothing even comes close.
On the one hand, it’s simple math: drive millions of visitors who become hundreds of thousands of readers who become tens of thousands of subscribers who become thousands of customers.
But on the other, the missing piece is how.
How do you make your content good enough that millions of people come to your site?
We haven’t “growth hacked” our way here. It has very little to do with A/B testing or optimizing our email signup forms.
We’ve gotten to this point by committing to making our content interesting, unique, useful and actionable to our readers.
One of the most common questions we get about content is “how do I make my content stand out from the pack? It seems like every topic has already been written about”
The truth is, there are lots of ways. Here’s how we did it.
Don’t Be Afraid of Crowded Content Spaces
First things first: “there are already a lot of people writing about this topic” is not a valid excuse.
There are a lot of people writing about nearly every topic that’s important.
We weren’t the first startup growth blog. We might not have been in the first 1,000.
The problems we’re tackling aren’t new. But that’s precisely what makes them interesting to people.
- How can I grow a business?
- How do I increase website traffic?
- How do I lose weight?
- How do I stop smoking?
- How do I save money?
There are hundreds of books and thousands of blog posts about each of these topics on the internet, and yet the problems persist for many people.
And that’s the key to crowded content spaces: they signal that there are real needs to be met. That there are lots of people who crave great content to solve deep burning problems.
Just like choosing crowded markets for starting a business, don’t be afraid to choose a crowded content space to launch a blog; especially one whose goal is to drive as much traffic as possible to your business. For most of us, that’s where the largest opportunities are.
But Solving Common Problems Is Only Part of the Battle
The fact that there are thousands of pieces of content addressing the same problems over and over again means that clearly, everyone hasn’t had the problem solved for them yet.
That’s for three primary reasons, and it’s really important to understand these, as it can help you completely change your mindset around content marketing.
The 3 Reasons Existing Content Hasn’t Helped Everyone
They haven’t come across the content yet.
Just because you’ve seen a piece of content, doesn’t mean that everyone else has. You live and breathe the space that you work in. Many of your customers and prospects probably don’t.
Everyone responds best to different types of content.
Maybe your audience has seen the content that already exists, but it hasn’t “worked” on them. Some people are visual learners and respond best to things like infographics. Others prefer video. Others digest list posts more easily, while yet others prefer story-driven content.
No matter how many times a particular topic has been covered, all of the possible options likely haven’t been exhausted.
Knowledge isn’t enough to change results.
Knowing the best way to do something doesn’t guarantee anyone’s success. That’s why there are doctors who smoke and financial advisors in credit card debt. They know that those are bad, and yet they still do them.
Likewise, simply sharing solutions to problems isn’t enough to get your readers to act and achieve the results for themselves.
There will always be readers who simply won’t act. But for the rest, you have to create content that doesn’t just address a problem (like so much content does), but to stand out, yours has to be the content that actually inspires them to act.
So how do you do that? With the 3 pillars of standout content.
The 3 Pillars of Content That Stands Out in Any Space
From the beginning, there have been three elements to our content that we’ve worked hard to judge every piece that we publish by. They’re the reason that we’ve been fortunate enough to build such a lively community, even in a crowded space.
I mentioned them earlier in the article. Here they are again:
1) Your content MUST be interesting
Specifically, it has to be interesting to your reader. That means that it must be about things that your readers care about.
Nobody wants to read about “X reasons why you should buy our product” (except for those who are already considering buying your product, which is an entirely different part of the content funnel than what we’re talking about here).
Your content has to address things that the reader cares about. Even if the content is about you, it has to be for the reader. Otherwise, why would they read it?
That post is one of our most popular of all-time, and, like many of the posts on this blog, was about us, but it was also about—and this is the most important part—a challenge that many of our readers struggled desperately with.
2) Your content MUST be unique
While this might sound contradictory to the argument that you should jump into a crowded space, it’s not.
You should be in a crowded space. But you must be unique.
That doesn’t mean that you have to solve different problems from everyone else. This is a mistake some bloggers make, focusing on problems they think haven’t been addressed because everyone is missing them, when in reality, the audience just doesn’t care.
It just means that you have to address those problems with a unique angle.
For us, that meant sharing our journey from zero to $100,000 (and now $500,000) in monthly revenue, and being transparent about our wins, fails and lessons learned along the way.
For you, that might mean a particular content style, format or voice that isn’t being used yet.
Most importantly, it means that you shouldn’t try and copy other publishers completely.
You’ll never be a better HubSpot than HubSpot is, and we’ll never be a better Unbounce than Unbounce is.
We try and be the best Groove that we can be, and you should embrace your own voice and be the best “you” you can be.
3) Your content MUST be useful and actionable
Finally, it’s not enough to be interesting and 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)
The Successful Content Rubric
Every time you consider hitting “publish” on a post, ask yourself three simple questions:
Not to get too meta, but notice how this section makes this blog post actionable. Before this section, this post was just information. Now, you can do something with it.
There’s ALWAYS Room For Great Content
Don’t be discouraged if you see dozens or hundreds of blogs tackling challenges in your space.
That’s actually a good thing.
There will always be room for content that is interesting, unique, useful and actionable. That’s the type of content that actually helps readers solve their problems, and that’s the type of content that builds trust and creates long-term relationships.
My hope is that by showing you how we think about content, you’re now better able to think about how to win with yours.