When you look around the web, there are billions upon billions of pieces of content, with millions more being added each day. That production rate is fascinating, really. And yet, despite the theory about the monkeys with typewriters that eventually produce Shakespeare, we can still put content into three categories:
- Horrible (96%)
- Good (3%)
- Great with a call to action (less than 1%)
While the amount of content might be fascinating, the quality of much of it isn’t amazing. We spend so much time writing, hiring writers, hiring producers, shooting video, recording audio, editing, re-editing and finally posting, yet the majority of our content is no different than the failed attempts by those monkeys. Even worse, the small amount of posted content that’s actually decent has very little impact outside of it being posted. It doesn’t draw interaction or invite engagement.
But then, there’s that tiny amount of content that does everything right and then some. It asks you to do something, and you quickly agree. It says “Hey, why don’t you give me your credit card?” and you’re falling over yourself to be the first person to get swiped. What’s so amazing about that content? Why is it so different than the majority of the garbage out there?
Here are three key characteristics you’ll find in any piece of great content, each of which can bring in revenue.
1. Great Content Inspires Action
Great content transports me to a place where I can be awesome. I can read something and get specific ideas for how to improve my business, my life or even my golf swing. I can actually see myself in the story in front of me, and I like what I’m feeling.
As such, when I come to the bottom of the content, and it asks for my email so I can receive more content just like this, I’m more than happy to provide it. I’m more than happy to jump into the top of that sales funnel because I’m hopeful that the next few things I read will cause me to feel the same way. Build a track record of inspiring content. Then, when you ask me to buy what you’re selling, I won’t be able to order it fast enough.
2. Great Content Is Impossible Not to Share
Think of the last few things you copied and pasted on your Facebook timeline, or shared to your Twitter feed. What did they all have in common? In addition to inspiring you, teaching you or possibly making you laugh, they probably spoke to you in a personal way. The act of knowledge is key.
Ask any psychiatrist and they’ll tell you that, as humans, we covet what we know. We want to have something that somehow already relates to us. It’s the reason we constantly upgrade our iPhones, despite there being nothing wrong with the one we currently have. We pursue perfection from that which we know.
Let’s say you’re a competitive swimmer in your spare time, and you read a new article about someone who won a race wearing a new type of wetsuit. The swimmer looks like you, has the same body type as you and used to have similar swim times before he or she bought that wetsuit. Wouldn’t you rip out your AmEx in five seconds? Of course you would.
Not only that, but you’d tell all your friends about it, because in the end, we like being finders. We like being the people who discover amazing things, and we want the world to think of us as all-knowing. Who doesn’t want to feel that way?
3. Great Content Leaves the Reader Wanting More
There’s a line on many of the popular bulletin board sites called “commenting to return.” It means someone’s leaving a comment so they’ll be notified the next time a comment—or hopefully, more content from the original poster—is put up online. You need to create great content that’s worth returning for. You want your audience to keep asking for more and more of it, and you want them to make new content from you the first thing they open when it hits their inbox.
When I ran Help a Reporter Out, we had somewhere around a 70% email open rate, and we’d be sending out three emails a day. That’s an amazing stat! Why were our open rates so sky-high? Because we gave content that could immediately improve your business: you answered a reporter’s query, you wound up in the media. It was that simple.
Our readers couldn’t wait to get the next installment of our content. What can you write that can do the same thing? What can you offer your readers that will improve their businesses and make their lives better?
Great content is totally achievable, and it can generate massive revenue. But it won’t happen overnight. You need to start by building your sales funnel, and prime your audience with high-quality pieces of information that will make them want to keep reading. It’s doable, so start today.
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