Content Generation: What Makes A Piece Truly Informative?

In recent weeks, we’ve been surveying Content Equals Money site visitors, asking, “What’s the toughest type of content to get for your site?”  The overwhelming response is truly informative pieces.  Clients aren’t concerned about fresh news, product descriptions or static service pages; apparently even “engaging industry advice” isn’t as tough to come by as “truly informative pieces.”

At the time of writing, nearly every single survey respondent has agreed on the significance of valuable information.  Responders in the United States have unanimously expressed their need for informative and valuable content.  However, the response isn’t all that shocking.  Valuable content is the bread and butter of any blog, but as the internet ages and matures, more noise and clutter begins to fill it up.  Clearly, you want your blog to be all “bread and butter,” and clutter-free.

Let’s take a look at what you need to do to make sure your blog is offering valuable content that matters!

5 Value Factors

#1 Showcase Knowledge of Industry: You Are an Insider

No matter what your status is within your industry, your blog is the place where you can be an expert.  Whether you’ve been in your industry for five months or five years, the fact that you’re there means you have something worth sharing.  Even if you only feel competent to blog about what it’s like being a newcomer in your industry, do it!

If you want tips on how the Fortune 500 players in your industry are sharing, make sure to check out our guide, The Fortune 500 & Small Business Content Marketing.  This guide takes a look at all ten of the industries CEM serves and provides suggestions on content generation strategies and conversion tactics that produce results.

Many small businesses get discouraged a few months in because they don’t feel “qualified” to bring valuable content to the table.  It simply isn’t true! If you’re absolutely lost on how you can showcase your industry, one of my favorite tips comes from the Sales Lion, Marcus Sheridan.  He recommends that you think of 50 FAQ’s someone might ask about your business or website and turn those questions into your first 50 blog posts (tip #1 in his blog post).

#2 No More Noise! (Regurgitation)

Secondly, as I mentioned earlier, get rid of the clutter.  You know when you’re slapping a blog post up just because you feel like you have to.  We’ve all been there before.  You haven’t updated in three days, a week, a month (whatever it is that feels like “too long”), and so you write something in twenty minutes, telling yourself, “It will do.”

Don’t go down this route.  What you publish on the internet under your name is at least semi-permanent.  Only publish quality material—no noise!  Plus, when you post garbage, your reputation begins to sink, and your readership will drop off.
If you’re struggling to create quality content on a regular basis, you’re probably not failing because of a lack of ideas.  Your failure can most likely be attributed to the lack of an editorial calendar.  I love this post at Copyblogger about why you need an editorial calendar.  Here are the highlights from the post:

·     It lets you plan ahead.

·     Your creative ideas on content generation get structure.

·     You can take your ideas further (e.g. new landing pages, columns, interviews, guest posts, etc.)

·     You can capitalize on search behavior.

Check out the rest of the article to see these ideas unpacked.

#3 Valid & Varied Resources

I hope I’ve inspired your self-confidence and provided you with some tips on staying regular with your blog.  In order to keep your content generation efforts working at maximum capacity, it’s important that you hold high standards when it comes to sources.

You definitely don’t want to skimp on the resources that you use.  And, assuming you have even the most elementary understanding of Google, there’s no reason to skimp.  Linking to a variety of resources demonstrates your knowledge and understanding of your industry, customers, readership, and more.

Every one of your blog posts should link to at least two outside sources, but really, the more links the better (within reason).  Linking demonstrates that you actually care about sharing information, the mantra of content marketing/inbound marketing.  (And, you should know that quality links boost your search engine rankings!)

So, what kind of resources could you incorporate into your posts?

·     Industry pages

·     Other bloggers

·     News relating to your industry

·     How-to sites that can help your audience

·     Your own pages (inbound links are crucial)

·     Your competitors

No, that last suggestion wasn’t a mistake!  Linking to your competitors goes a long way in making you an authority.  Ellie Mirman at HubSpot explains how linking to your competitors can be a powerful tool!  Her article is a must-read.

#4 Common Sense

The fourth value factor is common sense.  If you don’t have some common sense behind your content generation efforts, then things just aren’t going to work out for you.  You run into this problem a lot on social media sites (especially Twitter).  In a single day, users will tweet and share content that really ought to be targeted to five or six distinct audiences.  However, the blogger/tweeter lacks the common sense to create different profiles and sites where he/she can disseminate the content.

Before you post a blog (or any form of content for that matter), use some common sense and ask yourself if this piece of content is going to be truly informative for your audience.  It could be a great post, but if it’s not appropriate for your readership, then it’s going to be a totally ineffective conversion tactic.

If you need help figuring out what kind of “common sense” questions you need to ask yourself, I highly recommend this blog post from CEM founder Amie Marse.  The post has plenty of suggestions on how you can evaluate your audience, implement conversion tactics, and tailor your content.

#5 Practical Steps

The last piece of advice I have for you on creating truly informative content is this: give your readers practical steps that lead to action.  “Great” content isn’t great if it doesn’t go somewhere.  Make sure your audience understands what you want them to do at the end of a blog post. That doesn’t mean every single blog post has to be a sales pitch.

Rather, make sure that you’re being clear about each piece’s objective.  It helps to write out a brief objective and outline each time before you begin writing a dense instructional post.

Valuable Content Generation for YOU

If your blog is floundering (or not yet up off the ground), I hope you will find these five steps for creating informative content valuable.  I’ve made sure to keep everything in this post easy and accessible for anyone.  While there are all sorts of advanced SEO and backlink strategies that can help boost your blog’s performance and influence, it all starts with quality content.  You’ve got to get the basics down first.

Though I believe you are completely capable of following these five steps, you may not have the time or will power.  If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or shoot us an email.  We’ll start creating content for you immediately, using these five steps and many more in order to generate conversions for your business!

What other criteria do you think are necessary for creating content that is truly informative?
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Ben Richardson is a writer based in Nashville, TN. While he loves writing on a variety of subjects, he's our go-to on all things related to branding and the creative aspects of content marketing. Follow him on Twitter!

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