In a recent Twitter conversation, the subject of Content and what it means came up and brought up a few questions for me to ponder related to Content Writing and my understanding of the subject. I am indeed, a Content Writer, and I know what that means to me, but how do I explain it? So I took the questions a step further in my head and narrowed them down to the one main question that answers all of the rest:
What is “Good” Content??
My definition of “Good” Content is: “Information being provided that is valuable to the reader, that they can use”. Ultimately, with this being the case, whether or not a particular piece of content is “good” or “bad” is really left up to the reader or audience.
Below are some guidelines that I consider when curating or creating content:
- Relevant: Is the content that you’re providing relevant to your target audience or industry?
- Useful : How can your audience use the information that is being provided?
- Measurable: Is there evidence to support the information that you’re providing?
In this case it becomes very apparent how important it is to know your audience in the Content Writing and Content Marketing World.
In order to know their audience and to be able to provide the best content for them, a Content Writer actually has to put themselves in the shoes of the audience that they are trying to reach.
Content Writing is definitely an unselfish business. Writing “Good” Content requires that the writer to be able to make a commitment to themselves and to their audience to stretch themselves. This “stretch” includes: overcoming any preconceived notions, ideas, and previous understanding of the topic at hand, in order to be able to look at each content piece as brand new. The Content Writer also has to develop a personal commitment to Research, research and more research. The amount of research that is involved in the content writing process is critical to make sure that before a Content Writer suggests to their audience that x equals y that they have verified, that x actually does equal y under the current circumstances. Some components of research and preparing to deliver a stellar content piece involves: Formatting, Spell Checking, Sourcing Content, Graphics, Empathy, and having access to Plenty of Coffee.
This isn’t a comprehensive list.
The Content Writer lays the groundwork for the reader. In turn this translates into the writer being able to provide a fresh, unbiased perspective on their topic of interest from an informed point of view. (This is where the value comes in for the reader.)
We live in a world of 140 character interactions and constantly divided attention. Many of us don’t have the time to do formal research every time we want to know about a product, service; or to stay on top of the current events that are happening in our world. This is where the Content Writer comes in. The role of the Content Writer is to act as an expert or liaison between the audience and the content that is going to provide the most value to them.
A Content Writer does most of the heavy lifting for their audience. The writer knows that regardless of whatever other variables that may be in play, the common threads between “all” audiences is time and value. Companies like “Yelp” have gotten this concept down to a science. (If I see any less than 3 stars consistently..I keep it moving.)
My Content Guidelines:
I can’t tell you how many times that Yelp reviews have determined the fate of my evening or how I spend my free time (which is in very short supply). Yelp understands the value of the content formula.
As Content Writers we owe it to our audience to provide them with the best information that they can use, apply, learn from, or resolve an issue, in the least amount of time as possible.
When Good Content is provided, Everybody Wins. The audience that is looking for a solution to their issue, or answer to their question wins; by achieving their desired goal. The writer wins by being able to provide a solution that meets the needs of their audience, in a way that is meaningful and valuable.
Content Writers and Content Marketers can continue to win by taking the time to hone their crafts. By consistently producing good, or engaging content, the Content Writer is letting their audience know that they appreciate their time, and the fact that we all have a shared interest in relevant content that makes all of our lives just a little bit easier.
For the Content Writer or Content Manager this is a tall order Indeed. However, I believe that we are up for the challenge.
Content Writers are like our own little Army…of Wordsmiths.
“We write more by 6am, than most people do..all day.”
Fellow Content Writers and Marketers, Are you up for the challenge??
If so, when you’re working on your next piece or article remember these words:
“I will provide valuable and engaging content to my readers at all times.”
Online Content Developer & Social Media Manager