Content should be believable but also capture the reader’s attention in the form of a story.
In the publishing world we see this as fiction and nonfiction; you have die-hard fans of each type but the masses will generally jump between the two because each provides a fun and valuable set of insights (or entertainment).
What I’d like to discuss with this post is the inherent need to go as deep as possible with your content creation to form it into a unique piece that’s impossible to replicate; at the same time I want to explain why theory content can have its benefits even though it’s generally perceived as “fluff” content.
Here’s my take on the two … see how it may apply to your content creation:
My definition of “real-world content” would be any piece that takes in real data.
For instance, differentiate between the two:
- How I landed my first freelance client
- 10 random tips for finding clients
The first should immediately jump out at you by saying that you can expect real data behind the process of finding a client. Also, it is going to have some kind of personal insight because it will be created in the first person.
Not only will you receive a great deal of insight through the authors perspective and experience but reading along with the text will portal you into the story and reaffirm your belief that it’s possible for you to replicate the results because the author is giving you the cold, hard facts about what needs to be done.
The other is a mish-mash of information that can be pulled from any location (generally distilled from a great deal of reading blogs/websites within the industry).
The content, in this situation, is a bit of “fluff” because it takes a “blanket” approach to covering the subject. You may still find value out of the information but there’s no real connection because there’s no personality attached to the work outside of the tone and writing style of the author.
Do this: Next time you sit down to write a new piece for your website – take an extra month to truly understand the topic besides what’s available on the surface. Imagine you’re not just giving tips for doing a hobby but giving the inside scoop that only the most dedicated hobbyist would know. For your readers they gain a great deal of value because it allows them to peer into the deeper workings of the topic, allows them to make a judgment if they want to continue along their path, and will allow you to mine the long-tail keywords and topics that few content creators dare to go (because of the investment into the topic).
My definition of “theory-based content” content would be that which is created around the distillation of your knowledge but with a few wild cards of “what ifs” thrown into the mix.
Again, let’s go with the two examples:
- What if there were no Google?
- If I started over … this is what I’d do.
Both of these topics could spark a great deal of ideas and conversation. The Google story could go in any which direction and makes the author and reader think of the impact Google has on our society and business. The author (and readers) could use this prompt as a stepping stone toward growing their business without the aid of Google which they may have been totally reliant on from the beginning.
The other example allows you to mix in a bit of real-world content based on your experiences and expertise but pits it into a situation that is theoretical. You may have seen this type of post here and there on many marketing blogs and they do well (in views and comments) because it puts the veteran of the field back into the shoes of the beginner (which may be the one reading it at that time). However, the information, in some ways, is still moot because it’s not possible to start over since they know have their 20/20 insight into what they should have done.
The content can be “fluffy” in theoretical posts but this can be great from time-to-time because it breaks the monotony of hard data. Your readers will come to expect personality from your website otherwise it will feel very robotic and cold – they definitely want great information but they also want to feel attached to what you’re offering as if they’re sitting across from you at a table, buddy-to-buddy.
Do this: Let your imagination wander and really go off the walls with one of your next posts; think as if you’re writing a Sci-fi novel where there are no boundaries. Use your insight about a topic but turn it upside down so that you (and the reader) are forced to take a new perspective on the topic which may not be very prevalent among other blogs/websites within your niche; doing so will create a very unique piece of content regardless of whether it’s just theory – it still sparks the imagination which is always a very important factor for entrepreneurs and business-types.
The Perfect Blend
From my personal opinion, as someone who has created thousands of articles, you can blend the two together in a way that you create a rich story for your readers.
For example: If I wanted to convey the concept of starting an online store I may first introduce the topic in a theoretical sense as if I were a fresh entrepreneur seeking a market and big dreams; I could create a scenario (for myself and the readers) that would put me into the role of an individual that is far outside of my comfort zone. From there, I could use real-world data and strategies to approach the topic and overcome the hurdles. The content, in this situation, would allow people to “jump into” the story but they will receive real data from the events that take place.
In essence, what I would create is some kind of hook that brings the reader in (this would be based on keyword and community research so that it piques their natural interest) but the commitment to proceed and reach real goals will provide valuable information regardless of whether they’re in the field of topic or niche.
In conclusion – unique content will generally take on two roles (real-world and theory) but it’s up to you on how to use them in your business. You don’t want to just throw theory post after theory post because you’d lose the trust from your readers since you have nothing real to show, but you also want to occasionally spark their interest in something new with this type of content otherwise you’ll just hammer them with too much real data which can be very overwhelming to individuals getting their start.