How about blogs and web content that are just trying to sell you something?
Readers like me are demanding better content — and rightly so. You are busy and do not want to waste precious time reading lousy blogs. If someone is reading your blog, you should feel honored.
If you want to build credibility for your business, everything published should be top quality. Put it another way, it should pass the news editor’s smell test. Editors have to be very picky about what they publish. Editors know publishing garbage is bad for business. This is applies to any organization.
I was also thinking about quality content when I recently worked tirelessly on a magazine feature article. I am paid by the article so I could have made more money by not putting in so many hours. However, I need to be proud of it, so I dig deeper to give my readers the value-added. My byline is my brand, so publishing good stuff is important for my professional reputation. (If you want to see some of my magazine articles, please visit the “Work Samples” page.)
Given this, my simple rule for quality content is: Don’t write anything you would not want to read.
Here are, in my opinion, the attributes of quality content:
1) Value. If you cannot answer the reader’s “what is in it for me?” question, stop writing until you can.
2) Uniqueness. I wrote a blog on tweeting quality content for live events because other blogs focused more on the technical aspects of tweeting than on the content. What good are technical skills with lousy content?
3) Newness. Provide new information or offer a new perspective.
4) Show, don’t just tell. Give readers a picture of what you are communicating. Explain how a concept or product works. Give examples.
5) Cleanliness. Meaningful content obeys the rules of grammar. It is not wordy or redundant. Use a fog index to find sentences that are too long.
6) Easy-to-understand. The old journalism rule of writing on an 8th grade level is still a good one. Microsoft Word offers a readability index. Use it.
7) Use graphics to reinforce your point.
8) Accuracy. Your readers should feel they can take what you said to the bank. If not, you are not building credibility and trust.
9) Be real. Don’t blog like you are writing a term paper. Your genuine voice makes for much better reading.
10) Conversation starter. Don’t just write into a vortex. We all benefit from the conversation social media offers and nobody knows everything.
Here’s the truth: quality blogs take time. Do not start blogging until you can make time to dedicate to it. I’ve been blogging for about 18 months. I’ve learned that writing quality blogs once a week and keeping up with comments takes about four hours a week. Blogging is a discipline and consistent posting is necessary to attract Google’s attention.
Editors know publishing garbage is bad for business.
This applies to any organization.
Here are the hallmarks of bad blogging:
1) Poor writing.
2) Blatant marketing pitches. Social media is about contributing to the Internet community. People are not stupid. They will see through your intentions pretty quickly.
3) Sensationalism. Some bloggers in the insurance industry would be better fodder for “News of the Weird.” I’ve seen too many blogs relating to sex or bizarre circumstances. It’s unprofessional and insulting, so don’t do it.
4) Blogs that do not deliver what headlines promise.
5) Plagiarism. When I got behind on my blogging, a writer friend of mine suggested I lift the works of others and run that. That is called plagiarism and it is one of the deadly sins of writers. If others have covered the topic, do it better. If you can’t, refer your readers to the better blog.
Why is there so much crappy content out there? I blame it on communications and marketing professionals who emphasize blogging as a marketing tool. Consistent blogging with great content should attract customers by building credibility, but bad blogging does the opposite. For the sake of your credibility, do it right or don’t do it at all.
What do you think?