6 Steps to Creating Effective High-Quality Content
You've probably heard this advice over and over again: Consistency is key. And this is totally accurate. You don't want to be fickle with your online presence and only show up whenever you feel like it.
However, blogging consistently is not only about how often you post. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the other side of consistency. Meet Quality aka your new bestie. Get nice and cozy, you two. *wink wink*
Consistency = Quality + Timing
I've never been a fan of math, but this is one equation I go nuts over.
Your #1 goal should be to provide your audience with the most high-quality content you are capable of.
Why is this, you may ask? Why is it that a quick "Top 5 List" doesn't cut it? Why can't you put up a few random photos from you weekend and call it a day? Because these things do nothing for your readers.
High-quality content is effective content.
Your audience keeps your blog alive. Keep their needs in mind at all times and cater to those needs with utmost care. This is what will build trust and encourage them to keep coming back for more. This is how you build a community. These are YOUR people. Treat them like the gold they are and give them your absolute best!
But what does high-quality even mean? Is it simply writing a long, 2,000+ word post? Not quite. While longer posts tend to rank higher with search engines and are great to strive for, this doesn't mean you should ramble aimlessly as you reach the 2,000 word threshold. Ain't nobody got time for that.
So if lengthy posts are not necessarily high-quality, then what is?
I asked this question a few days ago during last week's #ElleChat hosted by Lauren over at Elle & Company.
I'll be listing some of the answers throughout this post, but here's the gist of what high-quality content really is:
- Provides value
- Is engaging
- Is authentic
- Is clear and concise
- Is accurate/well-researched
- Gives credit where credit is due
Awesome! Now let's go over what your content itself is:
- Blog posts
- Pages on your website (Home, About, Contact, etc.)
- Landing pages
- Logos, graphics
- Social media posts
- Products (ebooks, courses, physical items, etc.)
- Downloadable resources and opt-ins
- Visuals (photos, post images, etc.)
- Videos, webinars
- Business cards
Phew! As you can tell, there are a lot of things that can be considered your content. For this post, I will mainly concentrate on how to create high-quality blog posts, but these steps will still apply to many of the things listed above.
Step 1: Provide value.
If your post doesn't provide any kind of value to your audience, then you may want to reconsider hitting publish. Remember that your readers aren't numbers. They're not just your subscribers, followers, or analytics. These are real people, and it's your job to give them valuable content that they can benefit from. Be a resource for them.
Have goals in mind for what you want to accomplish with each piece of content. For this post, my main goal was to create a detailed guide on how to provide your readers with high-quality, shareable content that will make a huge impact on the growth and consistency of your blog.
- What transformation do you want your audience to go through when they experience your content?
- What's the end result?
- How will they be different afterwards?
When you create with the transformation in mind, you can make sure your content accomplishes this main goal.
Step 2: Engage your audience.
Your content isn't going to do much good if your audience ends up snoring like a baby. This isn't Mrs. Smith's 9th grade English class anymore. This is the world wide web, baby. Skip the research paper mentality (YAWN) and add some spice into your writing (YAY).
- Hook 'em in.
Grab your reader's attention right from the start with a catchy headline and intro. Tell them exactly what they'll be reading while giving it power to draw in their interest. Use strong words like "Stunning" or "Impact" to add a nice, sexy kick to your headline. Hubba hubba.
- Write like you're talking to a good friend.
Have your ideal reader in mind and write specifically for them instead of trying to appeal to everyone. As I always say, when you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.
By writing like you're talking to a friend, you'll be able to use your natural voice. This creates a conversational tone in your writing that will instantly make you much more relatable. Practice doing this often.
- Break up big chunks of text into bite-sized portions.
Use subheadings, lists, bolded words, quote blocks, etc. to make your content easier on the eyes.
- Include images.
Images are what will catch your reader's eye. At the very least, your posts should have a main image that includes a) The post title b) Your website URL. You can also include taglines to further illustrate what the post is about. For the post itself, visuals like photos, videos, infographics, and screenshots are other good options.
- Use real numbers and examples.
You can do this by adding graphs, case studies, or other stories to back up your content. Tie in your own experiences and results, or use testimonials from other readers.
- Add related internal and external links.
Sprinkle in some links to other valuable resources for extra flavor (Please forgive all the food analogies. I'm hungry). Throughout your content, link to related posts of yours to expand on concepts and keep your audience on your site longer.
On the other hand, don't shy away from linking to outside sources when appropriate. Linking to others' content allows you to:
- benefit your audience even further
- give specific examples
- give shout-outs to those you admire
- do a nice thing for someone (share the love, people)
- Ask questions.
Asking questions throughout or at the end of your blog posts is a great way to build a community on your blog and encourage participation.
Step 3: Be authentic.
Every single thing you create, whether it's a blog post, social media update, email, etc. needs to be 100% true to who you are. I cannot stress this enough. Don't shy away from your unique experiences, traits, and quirks. Embrace them! These are what will set you apart from the crowd and make you memorable.
Kenzie from Hello Neverland does an amazing job of covering what it means to be authentic on your blog and why it's such an important thing to do. I especially love how she talks about sharing your journey.
- Lessons learned
Be sure to check out Kenzie's post for even more examples!
Step 4: Be clear and concise.
Like I mentioned earlier, the last thing you want to do is ramble like a squirrel on caffeine with no clear direction. You should structure every piece of content in a way that properly explains what you wish to communicate. Take care to also present it in an order that makes sense. You don't want your audience to be lost...and then figure out halfway through your post what the heck you were talking about.
Here are some ways to prevent needless confusion:
- Write down your goals for the piece of content as well as the desired audience transformation (from Step 2).
- Create an outline of what you'll be covering and when.
- After you're done writing, give yourself plenty of time for editing. Don't rush this stage.
- Read it through (out loud is even better) to find any missing words or awkward sentences.
Useful Tool: HemingwayApp.com. While you shouldn't solely depend on this (it won't catch missing words), it's a great starting place to get an idea of what you could improve on.
Step 5: Research your information.
I'm sure the last thing you want to do is give false information...right?? Check your facts. Thoroughly research things like statistics, results, sources, and any other important key elements.
Make sure you're only linking to sites that are legit (this also applies to your tweets and pins). People aren't going to be happy if they click on one of your links and end up getting malware or a nasty virus.
Step 6: Give credit.
This might be kind of a "no duh" thing to mention, but it's such an important part that I'd like to cover nonetheless. If you followed Step 4, then you've already confirmed that all your information is accurate and that your sources are legit. Cool. Now give credit!
For example, if your post is an image round-up, have the source listed after each photo, or all together in order at the end.
If someone inspired you to write your post, let your audience know. At the same time, this doesn't mean you should copy them directly (even though I know you'd never consider this in the first place ;). There's a difference between drawing inspiration from someone and copying/re-wording their work.
Don't tarnish your reputation with a rookie mistake like this.
Use your best judgment here. If you're not comfortable with crediting someone, then warning bells should be going off in your head. It's a surefire sign you need to come up with something else.
Creating high-quality content means creating with your audience's needs in mind at all times.
When it all comes down to it, no matter what type of content you're creating, always seek to serve your audience.
Now that you have the know-how, go create some rockin' quality content! Have questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments below or get in touch.