What is good content?


I have started to look seriously into something many people simply call “marketing”. There is a lot of buzz about “personal brands” for developers, or how to market your app. And I admit, I am very bad in marketing. To fix that, I started to read blogs. Then I build up some toolchain. A mix of Feedly.com and Bufferapp.com seems to work.

Meanwhile, I would say I have read A LOT of marketing. There are some recommendations that come all the time:

  • open a blog
  • use social media
  • create “good content.” (also often named “quality content”)

I always had a blog and had social media. I tried to write “good blog posts”. I tried to use social media well. Still, I was unsure what “quality content” actually means.

After exploring tons of blogs in various niches, wasting hours of hours in Podcasts and reading even quite a bunch of books I found out that most people don’t know what “good content” is.

Even the so-called “marketing experts” and “social media experts” don’t know. The problem is that the lot of people mix up “good content” with “well-written content”.

Thinking like that, I can easily write good content. I assume, many people do that like this:

  • research what’s hot and read everything about it
  • think a little, write about the topic in your words
  • let somebody else do the editing
  • find good images and try to make it readable on each device

From my experience, articles in the areas of business, psychology, self-help and entrepreneurship often repeat themselves. I would dare to say 90% of the articles I read the past weeks are “just good content”. Maybe well crafted, but it doesn’t add any value except for those, who just read this single source.

I guess this is, what makes up the confusion. I have invested a lot of time to investigate what “good content” is and found out there are too many articles saying the same. If you don’t invest that amount of time as I did, you have only a few sources. The content is good for you, as you never saw it before. But, in fact, it’s just an old hat, served freshly.

What if we would scratch all the content from the internet that is just a small variant of the original ones? I guess we could delete 90% of all websites.

The problem: if you are starting a new blog, how can you draw people to your website with only “good content”, which they already read on their favorite platforms?

With this is in mind I realized that creating “good content” is not the same as creating “valuable content”. “Good content” is good when you are already your readers number one blog. Your reader trusts you bring him the news he expects so he doesn’t need to find another source. But what brings him initially? It’s valuable content. What makes him come often? Valuable content. What makes him stick around for ever? Valuable content plus all the good content.

With only “good content” and some social media, you’ll not be able to grow a followership, as some expert marketers say on the internet.

You need to aim real “valuable content” as often as you can. It is content that no reader has seen before. New perspectives, dreams, ideas, insights, whatever. Unique content, so to say. “Valuable content” can be often found on the front pages of Hacker News or TechCrunch. They are often first, and that’s what counts. They add something, and readers appreciate that.

I assume this is why rants to a usually popular topic can work out. Or blogs like “what Apple might announce tomorrow” (not saying you should write about that). In the field of technology where everything moves each second, it is easier to find a topic that might add something new to the content-brew.

In others, like meditation, it is a challenge. Google for “mindfulness” and find the same content on thousands of pages. Somebody started to disconnect the term from it’s original context of Buddhism. Now everybody writes about it. There are not many differences in the articles, and that not even surprising: Buddhist mindset doesn’t change that often and that much. Terms like “mindfulness” don’t do that either. So what can be written about that? I don’t know myself.

Looks like for building a followership one needs creativity.

No tool will help with that. It is not enough to retweet cool links or write about what everybody else writes.

Here are my rules for creating valuable content - list is work in progress:

  • Focus on your ideas, don’t run for current trends if you are not interested in.
  • If you want to write about things you don’t know, research. Be aware research doesn’t necessary make you an expert. But amateurs can still write interesting things.
  • Be honest, no matter what the flock says.
  • Look from a different angle. With a beginners mind (see rule 3).
  • If somebody else wrote it, think twice if you need to write about it too. If you are tight on time, maybe create some real value instead.
  • If you are bored when writing, it’s boring. Write something else.
  • Accept you will write something awkward at some time.
  • Think about the people who might read it. If you wouldn’t read it yourself why should anybody else read it?

Now as I have achieved this little wisdom, I sincerely hope this post was of value to you too. If you have something to add to my list, please let me know in the comments. I welcome suggestions!

Tags: #Content #Marketing #Writing