Great content leaves an impact. There are a few signs that tell you that you're getting value for time...
Lack of attention is not due to a short or defective attention span – it is due to the quality of the content that you consume.
Great content is more than writing a stellar headline because – after the headline – you need to deliver on your audience’s expectations.
Imagine your headline being the name and description of a dish on the menu of a restaurant.
With the name and the description, you create desire and expectations. With the body of your content, you deliver the meal.
You can either deliver something average created with no real passion for the process, the ingredients or the sensual experience that follows – OR – you care about the ingredients, processes, and skills that create a meal that delivers on much more than taste.
A great meal creates a lasting memory – just like great content creates lasting change and memory.
So, what is it exactly that makes content great?
Here are five signs that alert you to content that’s worth investing your time in:
There’s the German proverb “das Auge isst mit“ – which has no direct translation but “a feast for the eyes” comes pretty close.
A more direct translation would be “the eye partakes in your meal” – in other words – you need to care about the visual delivery of your content as well.
You need to use techniques that make your content consumption easier.
For written content that means choosing a font that allows easy reading. No twirly cursive font that is hard to decipher but a font that is clear and large enough to read without squinting and deciphering.
Big blocks of writing can also be tiring and feel overwhelming. Text is easier to read and understand when it’s broken into digestible chunks.
Especially when people are reading online and want to scan your content before they dig into reading the whole lot.
By breaking up large blocks of text, you make it easier to process ideas, concepts, or trains of thought that might otherwise look like a big blob of writing.
Imagine a mountain of mousse au chocolate being slapped onto your table, leaving you thinking about how sick you feel after eating it all – or how much harder you have to work out to burn off the calories.
Food and content is best served in bite-sized portions that are arranged with a bit of space. I don’t mean sparse but just visual breathing space.
Short paragraphs and short sentences that allow you to rest between sentences without losing track of where you are in the document.
Subheaders aid that process. Especially when reading online, many people “scan” the content first to decide whether it's worth their time and effort to read the whole thing.
Your subheaders need to make sense and allow your reader to get a top-level understanding of what your writing is about.
And lastly – humans are visual thinkers. Breaking up your content with images or other graphics that are aligned with the message that you want to bring across aids the understanding of your writing.
Just as a side note – images are processed 20k times faster than text!
When you journal, you don’t need to pay attention to the structure of your writing. You just follow your thoughts. Stream-of-consciousness writing has the purpose of getting into creative flow and extracting what’s on your mind.
Content and copywriting have different purposes and they need certain structures to achieve those purposes.
Copy is supposed to persuade the audience to take a specific action.
Content is supposed to nurture and build trust.
Every piece of content and copy has a specific goal that is supported by the structure and the focus of each paragraph.
You have probably heard of copywriting formulas – or structures – like AIDA, PASO, or PASTOR.
These structures are aligned with how the human brain works and they have been created with persuasion in mind.
Structures are nothing else than patterns that make it easier for us to understand, remember, and act on the information that we consume.
Stories, for example, use certain patterns and tools that allow us to understand and memorise messages better.
Kindra Hall writes in her book “Stories that stick” that storytelling is one of the most powerful business-building tools in existence.
All stories follow a 3-part structure known as the “story arch” and they contain certain elements that make a story “good”:
When content, copy or stories don’t follow a structure that makes sense – then the writing doesn’t make sense to us and we feel confused and that something is not right.
By planning your writing and following a structure, you can make your writing more fascinating, and easier to understand and act upon.
Developing your personal style takes time, practice, and reflection. It also requires understanding what and why you enjoy reading.
But it also requires you to understand who you are and what your purpose is so that you can show up authentically.
When I left my corporate job my style was corporate – I used far too many nouns, many of them ending in -isation. Corporate language makes your writing less personable and harder to connect with.
The same goes for jargon – and as one of my favourite copywriters, Andy Maslen states: You should call a spade a spade and not a “soil excavation facilitator”.
Using Latin, Greek or other foreign words can make your writing harder to understand – the same applies to endless sentences that stretch across multiple lines.
And by the way – the ideal sentence length (tested and proven) is 12 words. That doesn’t mean that you have to try and write only 12-word sentences. But with time and practice, you can discover a natural flow that varies around the 12-word mark.
But it is equally important, that your writing style resonates with your audience. Your audience’s level of sophistication and their reading habits play a role as they influence the choice of content that they consume.
Your words must mean something to your reader. You must talk to them directly, keeping their needs and desires in mind.
Keeping all this in mind, there is still a lot of room to let your personality shine through and develop your own style.
Relevance is something that I often miss on less professional platforms. You can find a variety of “engagement posts” that have the sole function of playing the algorithm.
It’s for you to decide whether you want to play that game or create content that is meaningful and relevant for your audience.
Relevance and a deeper discussion of a topic in your area of expertise help you to build your reputation and achieve expert status.
Your audience will read your content and stay attuned to it over a longer period of time because your content matters to them.
Relevant content often reflects a scenario or experience that they are living through right now, it addresses problems they’ve been struggling with, explains hard-to-understand contexts to them and empowers them through knowledge that makes their lives easier.
Or it picks up on a prevalent topic, often taking the audience through a mind-shift process that opens up a new perspective.
When content talks to your audience’s dreams and ambitions, then you instigate reflection, growth, and development.
And you will easily keep them engaged because they know that they have moved a step closer to their goals.
In short – relevant content makes a difference in your readers’ minds.
This last sign is very closely related to the previous one. Relevance implies that there’s an outcome or a change from consuming your content.
High-quality content is written with an outcome or goal in mind. There is an intention behind your content – other than playing to the algorithm.
Common outcomes are:
High-quality content, and storytelling specifically, leave your audience changed. They have gained something through consuming your content. And that leaves a lasting impact on them.
That also means that you need to brainstorm and plan your content before you write it so that you are clear on your intention and know exactly which change you want to achieve and how you can develop a flow that keeps your readers engaged with your content beyond the last written word.
You want your audience to walk away with your content on their minds!
Great content takes a little more work than simple engagement content because it takes more work upfront.
However, the work pays off in the long run when you want to repurpose your content. Thoughtful content has a life of its own and it gets better every time you’re repurposing it.
More thoughtful content also allows you to process information and create content that you can easily repurpose in online courses or any other form of teaching or coaching that you might do.
But most of all – people are hungry for good content. They are short of time and appreciate it when you share content that is worth reading. It makes them feel like they’ve spent the time consuming your content well because they get an immediate positive outcome.
Writing great content is not rocket science. It needs some practice and skills that can be learned. If you would like to skill up on your writing, then message me – I have a thing or two that can help you!