30 Little Things to Make Your Content Better

Great content is about the big idea, sure. But it's also about the little things. Portent's CEO, Ian Lurie, will walk you through 30 can't-skip best practices to improve your content, no matter the audience.

About our presenter:

Ian Lurie is CEO and Founder of Portent, a full-service digital agency he started in 1995. Ian’s professional specialties and favorite topics are marketing strategy, history, search marketing, and all things nerdy.

His random educational background includes a B.A. in History from UC San Diego and a degree in Law from UCLA. Along the way, he’s been a very amateur competitive cyclist, a bike messenger, a roof consultant, a technical writer and an Adobe FrameMaker consultant. You may find him teaching his kids to play Dungeons and Dragons on the weekends, or dragging his tongue on the ground as he pedals his way up Seattle’s ridiculously steep hills.

You can read some of Ian’s other recent work at www.portent.com/onetrick and www.portent.com/data/content-inventory.

Webinar Transcript: 30 Little Things to Make Your Content Better

Now I’ll tell you one thing right away. This presentation is very much tactical. This is almost pure tactics. I’m not going to talk much strategy. Some of you will have heard me talk about some of this before, but I still see these things happening all the time. I’ll stop saying these things when we all start doing them. I am also as guilty as everybody else at lapsing on a lot of this stuff, so here goes.

Part of why I hit tactics so much and so often is because you can have the best strategy in the world and you’re still fighting against hundreds or thousands of other sites and writers and content producers who are really good at this, who’re all producing good stuff, and somehow you have to stand out. This is all about those little things, the little things that can boost your content and make it work better. It’s really, really important that you execute on this stuff, because execution is half the battle here.

This is what we’ve lived at Portent for years: produce lots of good stuff, but also do the best job we can of execution. We are far from perfect, very far from perfect. But we do the best we can. If you do that, if you’re very consistent about it, as the years pass you build more and more traffic to your site, which hopefully turns into greater and greater engagement and helps you grow your business. But it is more than just a strategy. Believe me, strategy is crucial and I’m not downplaying strategy. We help clients build strategy, but at the same time, you’ve got to be doing those little things.

Part of this is it’s easy for folks to look at this and say, “Oh, you know what? Never mind, I’m an executive, I’m a manager, I’m a team lead, I’m not the one who’s producing this content anymore. And because I’m not the one producing this content anymore, I don’t actually need to worry about the detail stuff. I need to have my team take care of that. I can’t take care of it myself.” Well, even in that case, this is about team expectations. This is about everybody on the team knowing what to expect of everybody else.

For example, if you’re a producer, a writer, or something else, you need to be able to communicate with the designer in their language. If you’re a designer, you need to know what to expect to be handed to you when you get a piece of content. If you’re in charge, if you’re the CEO, CMO, VP of marketing, manager of marketing team, head of content, whatever, you need to know what you need to expect from your team, and you need to set a lot of very clear expectations around that. It has to be something that’s really clear, that you can put down on paper. This is how it’ll look. That’s what a lot of this is about. It’s about polishing up your content and ensuring that what you present has a certain consistent level of quality and adheres to a certain fixed set of rules so that no matter what cool stuff you create, it’s always at a certain minimum level of quality.

The first rule here is it’s all content. The first thing I hear from potential clients all the time, and from my own team by the way and my own brain is that “content” means blog posts. We all fall into this trap where we’re talking about content, and when we’re talking about content we’re implying blog posts. We say, “We will produce more content for you,” and what we really mean is we will produce more blog posts. Blog posts are always where folks start. They shouldn’t be, because content is any form of communication, it’s anything that you say or someone else says about you, your product, your service, your brand, whatever, anywhere on the internet at any point in time, and by the way off the internet.

A product page is content.

Maybe when you hear all these tactics that I’m going over today, you should take them and apply them to your product pages before you take the time to write new blog posts.

A tweet is definitely content. A picture of 2 lizards lounging on a lounge chair, this is a hilarious video by the way because they’re just kicking it, and they are alive, they’re not stuffed or something, that’s content.

A news article with my comments about capybaras, if you know me and how obsessed I am about capybaras, they’re loose in Toronto! But in all seriousness, comments are content as well. Your homepage is content. A search listing, a search ranking is content. So is a video about brushing your cat.

These are all communications about you, your brand, your services, or something, they’re all content.

The second tip is that content is a product. It’s a product that people are buying and they’re buying it with time.

You need to deliver a really good return on that first investment. When users spend their time you’ve got to deliver something really good and that’s what content is all about.

My time is the first thing I “spend” when I come to you. If you want to provide a really good customer experience, what do you always say? You need to provide the customer with a good return on investment. This is the first investment that they make, so just keep that in mind all the time.

One last strategic thing, remember the ripple effect.

Content affects everything above it. If you think of marketing as a sort of a stack, content influences every channel. It also ripples across many, many different venues.

As an example here maybe you produce a blog post or a page on your site or a product or a video or something. Then someone tweets about it, and then someone else retweets that tweet and the next thing you know you send out an email, promoting it or somebody else does. Then that generates another tweet, which generally leads to a Facebook post. Then all of a sudden you’ve got all these little bits of content all over the map.

If you think of every one of these pieces of content as places and you’re generating more and more places, you want to give people great places to go. You have to always think about the fact that content generates these ripples, it creates all these new places. When you create one thing, you’re creating something that’s going to spawn many other things.

A lot of the tips in here deal with how you respond to and how you work with all those additional places, and how you capitalize on the ripple effect.

The simple stuff: Grammar & Writing

I’m starting with some of the standard stuff, just grammar and writing. Because to be honest, this is where I see a lot of things falling apart.

A big part of this for me is that this is not an existential experience. You’re not James Joyce. I will admit, I have a certain hatred for James Joyce having read “Ulysses” and a few other things like “The Dubliners” and I’m still post traumatic from it. But anyway, you’re not James Joyce. This is not some kind of existential artistic experience. It should be brilliant stuff, but as David Ogilvy once said, “If it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative.”

Remember the business that we’re in. We’re in the business of marketing. The first thing is just edit your work.

The way I edit if I have the time is I take the piece of writing that I’ve done and I read it forwards and then I read it backwards a paragraph at a time. Then I read it backwards a sentence at a time. Then I read it backwards a word at a time. What that does for me is it lets me break things down. First, I read the whole thing as a unit, and then I read each paragraph, then each sentence, then each word. So that normal syndrome that happens where you’ve looked at it so many times you don’t catch the mistakes, that goes away, you’re able to actually keep track of what’s going on and read it as a new reader each time. Then I’ll try to get someone else to read it as well.

By the way, this is for, again, standard blog posts and product descriptions and everything, but it’s also for transcripts, anything that I’m writing that’s going to lead to other types of content.

Of course, we all know, you’ll never be given time to do this. You never have enough time to do it. So there are some tools.

Tools

Grammarly

Grammarly is a computerized editor for your content. I will never say that a computer is better than a person at editing and at proofreading. But, Grammarly is pretty awesome. You can take your content and paste it into Grammarly and then it finds things like “brains” versus “brains”. It finds things like where you use helmets but it should be possessive instead of plural. It’s a little bit better than just a spellchecker and it’s a lot better than the grammar checker in Microsoft Word or anything like that. You definitely want to use Grammarly.

By the way, Grammarly has a plugin that runs in your email as well, so if you use Gmail or something it can proof your emails, which of course are also content, even if you’re just sending it to 2 or 3 people.

Wordy.com

You can use a site called wordy.com. I don’t want to dis Wordy, but the thing I’ll tell you is that you really have to know who it is that’s doing the editing for you. It’s not crowdsourced exactly, but it’s a contract portal for editors. I’ve had some very good editors and I’ve had ones that have let some really bad stuff pass by.

Brevitimate and Hemingway

The other thing is to brevitimate, aka be concise. I just created a new word which I think is just awesome. You want to make sure that your writing is as concise as humanly possible. You can embellish. There’s always times when you want to embellish. There’s always time when you want to make your content a little bit … There’s times when 3 words is better than 1, but as much as possible you want to make sure that you’re not using more words that you need to.

My favorite way to edit for brevity is with a tool called Hemingway. Of course Hemingway was sort of opposite James Joyce on the writing continuum. What Hemingway allows you to do is to cut and paste your content right into it and it will immediately give you an evaluation of hard to read sentences. It’ll check grade level, it will look and see whether you’re using adverbs, passive voice. These are a couple things that I’ll be talking about in a minute as well. It’s a great tool for doing this.

Easy on the adverbs

Reduce the number of adverbs. This is a teenage thing now too. My kids are always saying, “I literally fell off the swing set.” I’m like, “Well, as opposed to figuratively falling off the swing set?” Anyway, small side rant there.

Bottom line: you don’t want to use too many adverbs. Again, this is a silly detail thing, but set the expectation with your team, set it with yourself. If you’re a designer, make sure if you’re having trouble wedging a piece of text into a particular part of a layout, this is a good place to look first. Take out some of those adverbs.

Careful with the commas

Learn to use commas. Again, seems like a silly thing, but I see this all the time. I saw it on a movie poster a couple of years ago. This and the wrong use of lightning. Here, our planes have great restrooms flight attendants. I think this is supposed to mean, our planes have great restrooms, flight attendants, and seats. Yes, I’m using an Oxford comma. I like them. If you don’t like them, that’s fine.

Always in the active voice

Use the active voice. This is probably the thing I see go wrong most often in online writing. The reason for it is we’re often trying to be polite, we don’t necessarily feel like we should point at the reader. I’m going to talk about that in a minute too. You end up with things like “The house was pained by me,” or, “I don’t think my writing is liked by all.” You could just say, “I painted the house.” If you did something or if someone acted on someone else or something acted on someone else, just say so. You don’t need to get fancy about it. Again, avoid passive voice. It disconnects the action from the thing, which in the kind of writing most of us are doing is not a good idea.

Learn how to use colons and semicolons

This one just drives me nuts because I read so much writing and I edit writing from all over the place. I read so much writing where it’s misused. Semicolons are for joining together sentences where you might otherwise use a conjunction, if it makes sense. It’s also for joining together, it’s kind of wishy-washy, but joining together stuff that’s kind of related. It can also be used in lieu of a comma. That’s what you use a semicolon for.

You use a colon for lists or for a definition. You have the word, or this means, colon, and then the definition. I’m sure I’m going to get a storm of tweets about how I’m saying this wrong, but the main thing to understand is semicolon is for linking things together, a colon is for linking a topic to a definition or a statement to a list.

Know how to make content look good in HTML

This one’s a little more controversial. I personally think that anyone who produces any content at this point has to have HTML as part of their skillset. If you are not able to at least minimally, I don’t mean you have to be able to build a webpage from scratch, I just mean you have to be able to produce, you need to be able to control things like headings and properly create lists, and do stuff like that. Otherwise you’re kind of back in the 1960s, where the copywriting team wrote the copy and threw it over the wall to whoever was going to make it look nice. The problem with that now is we have these designers who are awesome, and because they’re awesome they have a million people coming to them, all at once, all asking for stuff. They can’t necessarily help us split paragraphs up correctly. And they don’t need to help us create a level 1 heading. We should be able to do that.

For example, when you’re doing a headline, and this is a lot like Microsoft Word, don’t just bold something. Use an actual heading element. Here I created a heading on the page, “Why don’t digital marketers own the world”, and I just made it bold, which does make it stand out but it’s not structurally a heading.

And here I actually created it as level 1 heading. That’s what that h1 is. You can see format is a little differently. Now, again, your designers can control how large, how small, the color, everything of a heading. But you want to use the h1, h2, h3 because it’s just how this is supposed to work. HTML is a structured markup language. This creates the structure. By the way, there are some SEO, we think some SEO implications for this. I’m not going to dive too deep into that, because that’s not what this is about. This is about just producing really, really good polished stuff, but it is worth thinking about.

Now if you’re using WordPress or a similar content management system, you can just set the style using a style drop down. All that stuff is in there for you. You just have to remember to use it instead of bolding the text and making it 3 points bigger, which I do still see a lot of people do because it’s become habit.

By the way, these rules, using headings versus paragraphs versus everything else, they work in Microsoft Word and other word processors too.

Never have more than 13 to 15 words on a line

People have pushed back against this on me and said, “Really? Have you tested that,” et cetera, et cetera. I haven’t. This is just a standard that people have had for many, many, many years. When I show something to people like this and then I compare it to something like this, invariably they find this easier to read. It’s not just the white space on either side. If I trim off the white space, they still find it easier to read. Fewer words per line, especially when you’re reading on a screen. Screens have come a long way, but they’re still harder to read, they’re harder to use. The more you can do to give your readers a break, the better.

This might require a little bit of your designers’ time one, because they may have to tweak the template to make sure that this happens, make fonts larger, make them smaller, whatever, but at least you know what to ask for. You can now go and say, “Hey, you know what? I’d like to make sure there’s 13 to 15 words on the line. Can you make that change for me?” As opposed to just saying, “This doesn’t look right. Can you please fix it?”

The other thing you want to do if you can is break up your series of paragraphs. Have 3 to 5 paragraphs and then a heading. Generally, in any written content what you’re going to see is you’ll have breaks in your topics, your content will structure that way. Here I’ve got all my content in one big mishmash. Here I’ve added some headings in between. You can see the difference. It’s much easier to progress through this, whether you’re scanning or not, it’s just easier to figure out exactly what it is that you’re going to read as you move through this piece of writing.

Use a real list markup

This is the toughest one probably because it requires a fair amount of HTML expertise, but I still see people creating lists by just typing in the number 1, typing some text and then putting in a line break. That ends up looking like this. So when you type in your numbers there’s no spacing between each item and it wraps right around. It doesn’t have that hanging indent that you want.

If you learn to use HTML list formatting, and again, if we’re in WordPress or something similar you can select the list type and it’ll do this for you. Just make sure you do it. Don’t just type 1, because it’s not like Word where it’ll automatically start numbering for you. If you learn to use OL which is ordered list and then LI which is list item and you just wrap each of these in an LI, you’ll get what you want. It’ll look the way you want it to look. See how there’s the hanging indent and everything else.

Use smart quotes

Again, this is across every kind of content you can create. If you do an infographic, if you do a slide deck, if you do anything, you want to use smart quotes so that … These are the entities you can use. If you want to do a single right hand quote, you use that set of letters and characters. I know that looks like a pain, but if you use a shortcut tool like text expander, it’s very easy because I just do .rd and hit Tab and it shows up.

Here’s what it looks like if you don’t use smart quotes. It almost looks, I don’t know how to put it, it looks kind of tacky. It looks like it’s text on a screen. If you use a smart quote, do you see the difference? You’ve got that curly q on the quote. It just, it looks better. There’s something about it. I don’t know. It just looks more sophisticated. In fact, if you go through the entire piece of writing and do that, if you read this, it has a different feel to it. It’s one of those little things that when you do it, no one’s going to look at it and say, “Oh hey, this is … They used entities. They used smart quotes.” They’re not going to say that. But it’s one of those little things that improves the return on time invested.

Use the right punctuation entity for online writing

Then you should use all the other entities that are out there too, so ellipses, ampersand, em dash, en dash, these are all things that if you use the entities, they also, they wrap correctly when your text wraps, if you’re doing a graphic, it just looks better because if you just do 3 dots for ellipsis, the spacing is different than if you do an ellipsis. Again, lots of little things that polish stuff up.

By the way, a lot of this does come down to at some point some sense of typography and design. I’m not actually going to go into the details of typography here, because I’m trying to stick to things that you as a content producer can do in your content with no intervention by someone else. I could do an entire other session on typography, and I’m not a typographer. I’m going to steer clear of that here though.

Don’t be afraid to point

In any content you do, do not be afraid to point. In written content that means not using “one” and instead just saying ”you”. This is perfectly fine. There are very few moments of writing in marketing where I see it necessary to use “one”.

There are other styles of writing where you want to do this, but using you has a lot of plusses to it. For one thing, it’s gender neutral. For another, it immediately tells the reader, “Oh, okay, this is for me.”

Also, it lets you write much more concisely, which is an adverb … Sorry my bad. Was it an adverb? I think it was an adverb.

Again, if you’re doing video, this means looking at the camera, looking at the screen. If you look at Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays for example, they do a good job of making sure that a person is looking at the screen, not at the whiteboard the entire time. That’s really aiming the content at the reader or the viewer.

A brief rant on visual content

Which brings me to visuals.

This opens up a whole set of pet peeves for me. I’m kind of actually just a big container of pet peeves. This just opens a different cubbyhole of pet peeves. Visuals are obviously desirable. This is in video, it’s in photographs, it’s whatever.

Don’t use stock imagery, if you possibly can, because it’s usually really obvious.

I believe it was the Rubio campaign here in the United States, about America and running for president but he used stock video from Canada.

Things can go very wrong when you use stock. Also, there’s some things that start to kind of throw people off. For example, you know it’s a stock photo if everybody’s glass of water is filled at the exact same point. Either you’re in the nicest restaurant ever and there’s a really aggressive water refill person, or there’s something really odd. Also, I don’t know if you noticed, but the first 2 water glasses are in almost the same location, and this starts to feel like the Stepford marketing team.

The other thing is, this is five happy people in a meeting. This just ticked me off. They all appear to have perfect skin, where I’m 47 and the zits are competing with the receding hairline and the wrinkles. So, I don’t know how they got 5 people with perfect skin who are all happy to be in a meeting, and all happen to drink water at exactly the same speed. This is a stock photograph, and by the way, in case you’re wondering, you can always just do a search on Google and see all the places that this image has been used. That is not good.

Stock photos can be very painful. Why are these 2 people smiling and laughing when this maniac is up on the desk yelling at them through a megaphone? I don’t understand what’s going on here. Don’t use stock photos. I’m exaggerating of course. There are better stock photos than this and I use them a lot, truthfully.

If you’re going to use stock photos do something with them. For example, you can add speech bubbles. Again, I’m being silly here obviously. But you can add some personality to a stock photo. You can make it yours. Just like pointing at the reader in your writing, you can do that with your stock photos. Instead of having a stock photo that says, I went and downloaded something real quick and I pasted it into my writing so there’d be an image there, you can actually make it something that speaks directly to them.

Comic life as the cure for boring stock photos in visual content

The tool I use to do this is a tool called Comic Life. It runs on PC and Mac, Windows and Mac OS and it lets you just create these cool speech bubbles. Now you can also do this just in PowerPoint or whatever, but if you’re just working with images randomly in other software, then this is the easiest way to create those speech bubbles. I’m all about finding tools by the way that let me create graphically clean stuff without me being a designer, because I’m not a designer. Everything you’re going to hear about in here, everything I’m talking about, they’re content polish tip for people who aren’t designers and aren’t programmers and aren’t super sophisticated HTML experts.

Don’t use images to create white space, literal or figurative

Now the other thing I see is people tend to use images as white space. They’ll go in and they’ll say, “You know, this doesn’t look good, so let’s add one image. You know what? If we add one image, maybe we should add 2. And, oh hold on, we should just put tons of images into this.” The images may have nothing whatsoever to do with the content, or they may be very loosely related to the content, and they just start throwing them in there. I in the past have said you should have images to break up the flow of a piece of content. It’s not to just break up the flow. The images should have a purpose. They should reinforce whatever is being said in the text or the video or whatever else. In this case these images provide additional information. They support the content. Images should have a purpose like that. Excuse me. They should have some kind of real purpose.

Now there are exceptions. Sometimes you just want to have a bizarre image for a feature image, just to get attention or a really colorful image or something like that. Here it’s a bunch of phone numbers because we’re talking about quality score. I get that. That makes sense. But it’s when you start dropping those into in between paragraphs in a piece of content or you start showing them in a video just so it’s not always a talking head or you slap them up all over, you put random iconography into an infographic. You want to make sure that images and iconography and everything, that they have a purpose, a real purpose.

Of course sometimes there are images that are just too good to pass up. I’m going to use this image in as many presentations as I possibly can in the next few years, before other people start grabbing it, because I just, I’m stunned, I’m just stunned that someone came up with this. But again, it made me stop.

For all that is holy, compress your images

You also want to compress your images. Again, I talk about this one all the time. I will stop talking about it when we all start doing it. When I look at a website I would say 9 times out of 10 it has images that are far larger, far larger in file size than they need to be. So when I say compress I mean reduce the file size. One example of how to do that, this is a naked mole rat by the way. It’s a real living creature. It’s alive in that picture. They always look like that. It didn’t fall into a land mower or something.

The first way to do that is use the right file format. The file on the left is a portable network graphic or PNG image. For photographs that’s not the right image format. You want to use JPEG. On the right hand size, it’s the same image saved as a JPEG with almost zero compression. It’s 1/10th the size, which means it will load far faster.
As more and more people are using mobile devices, that gets more and more important. Not that you should have a site with bloated images on it, if people aren’t accessing it with mobile devices. I’m just saying it’s even more important.

Again, if you think about expectations, when you get a site that’s about to launch, when you get a photo and you add it to a piece of content, or you’re reading a piece of content that your team is producing, you should expect that this has been done. If it has not been done it should get done. There are tools to check this like Google page speed, but usually it’s pretty easy to tell. Because if you look at an image, if you download an image from a blog post or somewhere else, and it’s 800 pixel wide image and it’s almost a megabyte in size, something is wrong.

There should never be an image on your site that’s more than 3 or 400 kilobytes, unless you’re doing something really fancy. Our site does a lot of responsive design, so we’ll have some really large images on it. But we’ve also built a site that delivers smaller, images that are smaller in dimension and in file size at the same time. Here’s an example. This is a JPEG image, really nice, really detailed, just reduced it by a factor of 5, and I can’t see a difference. Maybe you can.

There are easy tools for this.

Imageoptim

You do not have to learn to use Photoshop to do this kind of compression work. On the Mac there’s a tool called Imageoptim. It’s free. It’s just brilliant. You literally just click and drag images in there and it compresses them for you. It can set dimensions and everything else.

If you don’t have access to re-upload, that’s something you can hand over to whoever it is that maintains the site and say, enter in a help ticket or just say, “Hey, when you have some time, can you please upload this.” As soon as they do it’s an instant upgrade. You don’t have to do anything else.

Caesium

On the PC you can look at Caesium. It’s another free tool. Again, I’ll stop talking about this when we all start doing it. When I can look at 10 sites and 5 of them are properly compressed, I promise I will stop belaboring this point. Well, okay, maybe I don’t promise, but I will try very hard to stop belaboring this point.

Consider the ripple effect in social content

If someone comments on something you post, in a tool like Facebook, in a site like Facebook, answer those comments. Remember the ripple effect.

Here’s Cadillac talking about their new ATS V, which is their super-duper fast sort of ultimate behemoth car. Someone posts a question. “Is this going to have blind spot technology?” Now someone’s asking that question, there’s a reasonable chance they’re either going to write about or they’re thinking about buying it. You might want to answer that comment. No one from Cadillac showed up and answered the comment. That’s kind of sad. This was an opportunity to create a great ripple. This is an opportunity to do all sorts of cool stuff and engage this audience.

Then on your own blog answer comments, even if you don’t like them. I did a post on my blog a long time ago. It was one of the first ones that hit it big. This is what somebody posted saying I had no understanding of technical issues, which I found kind of funny. I responded and that started a whole pseudo-public “thing”, which drove fantastic visibility. I don’t usually feed the trolls, but this one was just too much.

You should respond to most comments. If you get a negative comment say I’m really sorry, “can I help you with this”, or “I understand but”, or whatever else, and then if they’re trolling just stop. If someone just says something really nice say thanks.

Again, it’s that ripple effect. You want to capitalize on it. If someone sends that tweet, you want to be there to respond. If someone responds, you want to respond to that. If you see a piece of content performing well, you want to email it out to people that you know. It’s always perpetuating those ripples.

More general tips before we wrap up here.

Link when it makes sense

This example is too much. That’s too many links, even if you’re selling umbrellas. I don’t care. This makes more sense. Because these are links people are going to want to click. Someone may want to go and see the report on Bicycling Magazine. They may want to go see about this other bicycle. Instead of asking how many links should I have on the page, please don’t ask that. There’s no good answer to that. Instead of asking that, ask will someone click this link? Think about it carefully. If someone clicked that link, would they genuinely be pleased by the result they got?

Skip the “duh” sentence

This one sounds a little mean, but avoid the duh sentence. I can say it because I do it probably more than anybody else. Just don’t say the obvious stuff.

I actually wrote this in a blog post once. “Content is really important.” Really? Who knew? You can just delete that sentence. You don’t have to do anything else. You delete that sentence and I guarantee your writing will be better because you’ll just dive right in.

Same thing with a video. If this is a video script, don’t waste precious seconds saying something obvious like that. Same thing in an infographic. You’ve got limited real estate. Don’t do that.

Again, think about return on time invested. Am I going to get a good return on time invested if I’m reading that?

Extend your content, find the channels that make sense

It’s not just blog posts

Everybody went berserk about blog posts and frankly they still are. I get calls people, asking “how many blog posts will you write for me?”

Okay, sure, yes, I understand and we do need to write them, and that’s because a blog is an easy content management system. But don’t go too wild with it. If everybody else is doing it, chances are the results are going to be a little bit diluted by the sheer number of people.

It’s not just infographics

Infographics, everybody went nuts on infographics. Infographics are still good if they are done well. If it’s a useful infographic where using that format enhances the quality of the information.

That’s really the key here. Is use the right format.

Snapchat video as a content channel

Everybody right now is going nuts over Snapchat video. Well ignoring the audience, forget about who looks at Snapchat: is what you’re about to talk about something that is improved by the fact that it’s going to be delivered in a short video? Is it going to be improved by the fact that it goes away after a while? And there are cases like that. But it’s far from the rule.

Slideshare

Slideshare has been amazing for me. I’ve stuck to it for years and years and years and they made me a keynote author. That’s not because of some fantastic talent or connection. It was just sheer persistence on my part.

Vine, Instagram, and Scribd

Doing a Kindle e-book, doing audio, doing a webinar by the way and then recording it. Those are all great ways to deliver content. And repurpose, like I’m doing this, this webinar. Well, the slide deck will be up on Slideshare, the video will be up on our site, and then I’m going to get the video transcribed, and that will be on the same page as the video itself.

Repurpose liberally. When and where it makes sense.

Just remember to evaluate these places and ask: can you push the content to all these places without even doing additional work? If not, always think about all the other formats the other places where this content would work. Some of them are trendy like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse, but there’s also Quora and Reddit, and all these other sites where you can publish long or short form content.

Don’t just use content to add keywords

I know people say, “Well, I’m using this to get more keywords on my site,” which makes me want to stab myself in the liver with a spoon, but I understand the thinking behind that. First of all, that doesn’t work, and second of all, think about the audiences. If you really want to use content just for SEO, then you want it to do 2 things. You want it to get links and improve relevance.

Well, you’re not going to get any links when your audience is teeny, so put your content where you can have a true content dealer, someone who’s going to push it out to many, many, many people.

Do that a few times, build your audience, and then put stuff on your own site. That’s why you publish elsewhere.

Summary

Remember that one piece of content impacts everything. Again, think about the ripple effect. Really, really important, always think about that when you’re producing your content.

Remember that “10x content” does not mean 10x effort. “10x content” which is an industry term saying just really high quality content, that doesn’t mean you have to do 10 times as much work.

If you do all these little things … Or just pick the ones you can do. Do the thing you can and move closer and closer to producing that “10x” amazing content that’s actually working to put your business on the map.

Ship it

I just gave you a long list of things to execute on. It can induce a certain amount of paralysis. It does it to me sometimes, where I want everything to be perfect. At some point it’s got to get out there. The beauty of digital is if you get something out there that’s less than flawless, you can fix it up and tune it up later. Make sure you ship it, because getting that content out there is as important as producing it and polishing it up.

Like I said, ship it. And that’s a wrap.

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