Top 10 lists. I have a love-hate relationship with them. I cringe every time I see one. Surely there are more than 10 ways to workout or 5 ways to make a cold-killing smoothie in winter.
But, then I find myself getting attracted to these lists, especially when I want something quick. Hello, I am a millennial after all. Rarely though, do I find everything I need from that one list. It’s usually three to five top 10 lists that, when combined, give me the goods. So, why are we so worried about headlines? If the content’s good, can’t we lead with a golden nugget from it, instead of trying to give a subjective view of the ‘best of’?
You can tell when a piece of content is written merely for traffic or clicks. It just won’t engage you, move you, change you or, at the very least, make you want to stop whatever you’re doing for a few minutes. This is where the real connection happens. The respect seed is planted and in subsequent content, if it’s just as good, that seed will grow.
Enlightened writers & content creators
I like to call these content change makers enlightened. They know how to humanise their content by publishing thought leadership pieces. It’s about always writing for the people, not the search engines. Sorry Google, we still love you, of course.
Mark Manson, whether you love him or hate it for his not-to-eloquent use of the F-word, there’s one thing you can’t deny about his content. It’s original and it makes you think. Case in point: https://markmanson.net/not-giving-a-fuck. Well, after I finished this article, some of his statements kept popping up in my mind. This led me to buy his book and to some big breakthroughs about how I was living my life. See, what I mean? Game-changing.
Enlightened writers are more important than ever, now. As AI, robots and technology-we-can’t-yet-fathom start to become reality, storytelling and playing with emotions through words is how writing will stand out. Soon, robots will be able to churn out SEO-type pieces that draw on keywords, stats, numbers and already-there information in round-up type, top 10 pieces. But does that content agitate pain points, address them or talk about an experience John Smith had trying to launch his app? Probably not.
Okay, this is all well and good, you’re thinking, but how do I make my content more humanised? Or, in Mark Manson’s words, not sh**. Start by following this.
Develop a Content Workflow
Create a content calendar to make sure you’re tapping into the right information, talking to the right people, and delivering it where they ‘spend time.’ This workflow helps to keep you organised.
Ask yourself questions like:
- How does this audience like to engage? Blog, social media, email etc.
- Who are we writing for? What are their personalities like? List out the different people.
- Is this piece part of a large content initiative? What’s the wider umbrella of topics?
- How are we going to promote this?
When you’re thinking of topics to explore, go beyond a basic keyword search. You know your business best. What’s the dialogue at networking events and conferences? What problems are your clients having? Do they tell you on the phone – both subtly and intentionally? It’s in these strategies that you’ll find ways to humanise your content.
Write for people & drop the ego
Forget keywords, at least for a second (or forever, I dare you). Write for people, without being egotistical. Dropping the ego simply means you’re writing in a more ‘what’s in it for me’ way, with ‘me’ being your audience. This is what they want to know: how you can help them. While it’s nice to know that you’ve won an award, launched a new service or had a great coffee, are you really changing their day…or their life?
This question should help you work out whether your content is going to make waves. Good waves.