Your clients ask, “What is good content on a blog?” What do you say? Their inquiry may be a sign they’re ready to start a blog.
Perhaps your employees are helping the client plan a content strategy. In conversations, the client shares he doesn’t know the definition of the term good content.
A blog webpage is already set up on the company’s website. No blog posts have been created. All the marketing director needs to do is begin. If blogging was easy, the first post would have already been published. He wonders what the blog should be about.
Clients might be stalling, but they want to know:
What is good blog content?
It’s not “I’ll know it when I see it.” Vagueness is evil in marketing. Clarity is heavenly.
With over 409 million people viewing more than 22.4 billion pages each month, and that’s only blogs hosted by WordPress, your client needs guidance.
Everyone has an opinion on what makes a book worthwhile to read or a meal delicious to eat. Preferences are personal. In judging content, readers decide. They determine if it’s high quality or super awful.
Does that mean we just write 500 words and hope someone will read it? No. There’s more to a successful blog than word count and luck.
What do you advise your clients?
In my opinion, all good blog content has 4 universal truths.
Truth 1. Sticks to Only One Purpose
Truth 2. Recognized as a Valuable Product
Truth 3. Crafted as an Un-Template Original
Truth 4. Leads the Reader Honestly
Let me share these concepts so you can foster an informative discussion about good blog content with your clients.
Sticks to Only One Purpose
A good blog post fulfills its purpose, whether it’s entertainment, educational, persuasive, or informational. The goal could be as simple as teaching viewers how to prepare fresh artichokes to convincing a reader to donate $1,000 to the nonprofit organization.
What is the purpose of the content? In the final proofing stage, has the content served its purpose?
Defining the goal is the first step. What’s the outcome you want?
Do you want the reader to:
- Sign up on your email list?
- Complete a contact form?
- Get to know your company a little better?
- Compare three products you offer?
You may find yourself writing down several goals, but the best blog posts narrow down to a specific goal. For example, this post’s goal was to offer readers my opinion on the four concepts that define good blog post content. You can share in the comments if I reached my goal!
Recognized as a Valuable Product
Your clients are invested in their products and services. They can tell you about all the features. Why not impress upon them to think of good content as an important product of their company?
Their most successful products were not created overnight, right? Several departments were involved, many people participated, research was done, and testing embarked to prove what worked, and what didn’t. They invested time and money.
“… For a blog to be successful your content needs to be useful and unique to your readers.” Darren Rowse, Problogger
People buy products for a reason or reasons. True? Products solve problems, make life better, cause someone to be more productive, or improve their attractiveness. People are emotionally engaged in products. They recommend products to friends. They also warn friends to avoid the products.
People engage in good content for similar reasons.
Your client needs to understand the unique attributes content possesses versus the company’s products:
- It’s a package to share knowledge. Their customers may have been living with a problem for years – sure, in some cases, they may even have more experience in dealing with a problem — but the solution? Their customers don’t need a Ph.D. on the subject. They are looking to your client for answers via content.
- It’s a friendly “Question and Answer Forum” to address the questions ruminating in their customers’ minds.
- It’s a book filled with success stories to share about what has worked for other customers.
- It’s an “overcome the challenge” brochure of sharing what hasn’t worked for customers, even if the mistake originated with your client. People are drawn to these inside stories. They want to know what your client did to fix the problem and how they improved so the mistake is unlikely to be repeated.
Crafted as an Un-Template Original
“Great content comes from craft, care, and attention, not talent.” Sonia Simone, Copyblogger
Remember what life was like at high school? Your mind was tied up with feelings and misgivings of, “Do I fit in? Am I wearing what the cool people are wearing?” Peer pressure reinforced this belief to not do or say anything to attract attention.
Your clients need to know that they’ve graduated. High school was yesterday.
They don’t need to try to fit in. If they look like everyone else and sound like everyone else, their blog appears to be a teenager stuck in the 1980s. I call this the “template mindset.” It consists of copying what a competitor is doing or strictly re-posting someone else’s content.
Content on blogs can be more effective than social media updates being retweeted or shared. In fact, Contently found creating high-quality original content was about 70 times more impactful than crafting pithy tweets and Facebook updates.
Good content is distinctive. It escapes the pattern of cloning. When one owns the original content, he has the freedom to share, post, and use in multiple media sites.
It doesn’t mean every word or idea has to originate with the creator. Facts backed up with research save the readers’ time. Your clients’ insights may add a unique point of view that they need to contribute to the online conversation.
How does one combine being original while also maintaining a consistent message?
In her presentation at Inbound 2015, Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, cited examples of the companies producing good content. She also shared tips from the marketing executives themselves.
Handley recommends you come up with three words that describe your company and use it as the foundation for all the content tied with the company. Maintaining a true tone of voice is key to good blog content, Handley said.
Leads the Reader Honestly
We need to remind our clients how crucial content needs to possess integrity. Building trust online is a fragile thing. The tendency is to use outrageous claims to attract “likes” and “clicks.” The aim isn’t to go viral with everyone. It just clogs up their lead generation when they attract “tire kickers” and not true potential customers. Your customers say they want “traffic,” but what they truly need are screened, viable prospects.
Remind your customers:
- Don’t disappoint readers by posting copy in a PDF or ebook that once it’s downloaded, the content does not live up to the hype.
- Don’t be click bait. The paragraphs must fulfill what the headline says and not tease the reader. Otherwise, trust erodes.
- Don’t plagiarize. Always attribute others’ content.
How Two Blogs Deliver Excellent Content
I can think of many blogs that I admire for doing an excellent job in producing good blog content consistently. Some I read regularly because they have demonstrated over time excellent content. Here are two examples:
Graphic D-Signs, Inc. is a New Jersey-based advertising agency focused on cost-effective branding and marketing solutions for small businesses. First, they’ve narrowed down to a specific audience. The tagline defines their niche, The Small Business Advertising Agency.®
The blog caters to providing expertise on marketing small businesses. They perform all 4 universal truths exceptionally well, but they shine in delivering universal truth Number 3: Crafted as an Un-Template Original. The voice of the posts speaks to the problems, concerns, and needs of a particular audience. The message consistently says, “We serve small businesses” and content focuses on information useful for the target audience. Within a few minutes viewing the blog, the reader has a sense of what the company is about and know exactly what they offer.
Will a large corporation seek them out? Maybe, but they’ve created content for the person who can identify as a small business owner with a vehicle fleet in a saturated market. Will all small businesses become their customers? No. Some may not like their bent for retro design. That’s okay. Not everyone will value the high skill in design and marketing they deliver.
The next blog addresses the needs of job-hunters.
When I was in transition, another job-hunter recommended I check out the Ask The Headhunter® blog. The website’s host, Nick Corcodilos, is a headhunter and management consultant.
Corcodilos is an authority on job hunting and hiring. He’s earned the distinction by writing a blog since 1995.
When I was thinking of a prime example of a blog following the 4 universal truths, Ask The Headhunter® blog instantly came to mind. He excels at universal truth Number 2: Recognized as a Valuable Product. He shares his large depth of knowledge in a subject he loves passionately. He speaks to his audience at their level of understanding, neither condescending, nor elementary. He also makes his readers deeply smarter, a phrase attributed to Handley.
Most posts are Corcodilos answering readers’ questions, thereby ensuring the content is relevant to the state of employment today. He offers solutions to problems that keep his readers up at night.
He’s so knowledgeable that you can overlook the cookie-cutter design of the website and a lack of pizazz in his book covers. He also has what Ann Handley calls a “bold voice.” Not every human resource manager or online job applications system industry expert will agree with him. He targets the audience of upper management and job seekers; and does not worry about the rest.
Corcodilos is also generous in sharing a vast variety of information for free. It’s interesting too. I’m never bored by his content.
What do you think makes good content on a blog? What is your favorite blog and what do you like about it?