Three Words to Creating Great Content -- By Russell Hamel
What Makes Good Content Good?
We all have different tastes; that's undeniably true. Even people with many common interests can still be worlds apart on what they define as 'good'. I love my wife Maggie dearly and I have more than enough evidence that she feels pretty much the same way. However, my idea of a 'good' night of television is nowhere near my wife's concept of a 'good' evening in front of the tube!
Having said that, there are still common elements to both of our viewing preferences; the things that make our favorite shows 'good' for us.
They INTEREST us
They ENTERTAIN us
They INFORM us
The reason we have favorites - preferences - is that we know we will get our interest/entertain/inform fix whenever we tune in.
It's the same thing with your web content, whether it's on your blog or articles. Your content is only as good as it interests, entertains and/or informs. If you remember to include all three elements, you'll always be very popular!
Make It Interesting
I love sports, particularly the North American big four: baseball, football, basketball and hockey. My wife on the other hand likes movies, particularly romantic comedies and fantasies ala Harry Potter. While she won't sit through a regular season game of any kind and I can't endure an entire Harry Potter flick, we will occasionally watch our favorite genres together as long as we find a common interest. Maggie will sit through an All-Star 'skills' competition. And I will watch a comedy or inspirational story.
The point I want to make here is that you have to cater to your audience. If you know they are into sports for example, center your topics on themes they already know and understand. Speak their language. If you aren't sure about your audience, or you know they are not as passionate as you are, you can still draw them in with a lighter, more entertaining version of your subject.
Make It Entertaining
So how do you make your topic at least entertaining to an otherwise non-interested person. Well, that's the subject for an entire book so let me offer you just one suggestion: use relevant illustrations. Allow me to illustrate!
Maggie is currently studying to be a career counselor. One of her text books is apparently written by some Ivory Tower professor; you know the kind of theory-filled tome where the units of language are capacious and voluminous while the typeface is minuscule; reads like a doctorate thesis; two sentences is all that is required to alleviate incurable insomnia. Get the picture?
Another one of her text books is a joy and a breeze to read. It's full of wonderful, situational stories that anyone can relate to; stories that make you laugh; stories that make you cry; stories that make you feel just a little bit better about yourself and your world when you put the book down... IF you can put the book down!
Now I could have given you a bunch of bullet points of what to do and what not to do. Instead, I gave you an illustration; an entertaining illustration that you can relate to because we've ALL read both kinds of books.
And that's the thing about entertainment. We might not all like sports or Harry Potter movies, but we ALL like to laugh! When I show my wife how she might laugh at sports and she shows me how I might be inspired by a movie... THAT'S entertainment!
Make It Informative
Remember our Ivory Tower professor? He tried to show us how smart HE was by using big words and little font. And what did WE gain in the way of information, other than a quicker method to fall asleep? You simply can't use what you don't understand. If you need someone to translate and/or interpret the meaning of your writing, then what is the purpose of writing?
Delivering information in a way that people can understand and use is one of the greatest things humans can share. One of the bridges to understanding is relevance. You have to be able to write in the language your audience understands. And we're not talking language like English, Spanish, Chinese, etc. It's the language or lingo within the interest circle of your audience.
As Maggie and I discovered in our own lives, it's a lot easier to inform others about your passion when you first find a way to relate. Make others laugh; they will be entertained. Move them to tears with stories of courage and inspiration; they will be interested. When people are interested and entertained, then - and only then, will they want to know more. Then... you can tell them.
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