What is Great Content?

On any given day, I wake up to an inbox overflowing with emails that come my way as a result of having subscriptions to 100+ blogs.

Am I crazy? Have I lost my marbles?

No!

The reason is simple. I am a content creator, and a blogger – and I am forever looking for quality writing on the internet.

Writing that inspires me, or makes me laugh. Something that makes me stop reading for a minute, something that actually gets me up and walking around so that I can savour my Aha moment.

This, to me, makes great content.

Something that makes me wanna read every single word – although I prefer scanning. Remember the 89 remaining emails that need attending to?

Most people know instantly if something is indeed worthy of being called great content, yet they are hard pressed to define it.

Ask them if they are producing quality writing and they’d start scratching their heads.

Ask them to define quality content and you’d lose them so fast you’d never know if they were even there in the first place.

Ask me and I will launch into a lengthy explanation…

You Had Me at Hello

‘You can’t ignore me’, shouts the first line of a well written piece. It’s something that will drag you in, even if you had about 30 seconds on you, before you log off and feed your kids.

It starts with something that entices you, it makes you curious. It pulls you in.

Sometimes a post could be slow to start and builds up, but on the ever changing world of the internet where everything has a shelf life of 12 hours or less, it’s never okay to take this chance.

Sure you can get a little lazy in the middle, or your ending might not put Harry Potters’ to shame but still you have managed to have the reader hang on enough to find out more. That is a job well done.

Don’t make it too long or risk losing your readers. Their attention spans can be worse than that of your two year old.

Once Upon a Time, in a Land Far Far Away ….

You will notice talented bloggers always start their pieces with a personal story, a question or anecdote of some sort. This serves two purposes.

  • It gets the readers’ attention.
  • It makes them relate and stay long to find out more.

Creating a sense of connection with your readers is crucial to writing a brilliant post.

It might be that your readers have been there, or they know of somebody who has. It could be that they are sitting there nodding their head or that their faces are scrunched up in thought, wondering if the scenario could indeed come true.

Either way, your readers connect with you. They want to know more. They want to find out what happened and how your story will end. They want to keep reading.

You need to open up and share the back story to your post. You need to show everybody shades of your personality. If your reader catches glimpses of you – the writer – they are more likely to remember your post.

Make your posts lively, interesting and memorable and your reader won’t ever have enough of you.

Did It Take You All of 10 Minutes to Write That Post?

The great post is not all about the colour and the charm. Most of all, it must offer highly useful, well researched, well organized content.

But refrain from writing list posts that look like they have been churned out and spit out by a machine.

  • 7 tricks to writing fantastic posts
  • 6 ways you can get readers to open every single email
  • Are you working in these 8 steps to write killer content?

Sure these titles are good enough to pique anyone’s curiosity. Heck, I have been guilty of looking myself – couldn’t resist. However, I never seem to remember a single word after 20 minutes of scrolling them, especially IF the post was written by putting together some information that is easily available everywhere, and has been shared for a gazillion times already.

Do a fresh take on the information please.  Make it your own.

I am bound to read and remember if you have shared a story, explained why the list is important, and given me information with a unique perspective.

Otherwise, I can see that it has probably taken you less than twenty minutes to finish the job.

And That Brings Us to The End

Don’t leave your readers in a lurch.

Ask them their thoughts on your piece, invite questions, tell them to praise or belittle … in short, you need a call to action.

But most of all go back to your story and finish it.

Like, is this one of the posts in your inbox that is gonna be read today?

Would this make you think … heyy, what do you know, this girl might be right?

Or do you think ..what a piece of rubbish.. I can’t believe I spent 4 minutes reading all of that.

Either way, if you are up to here, then I have accomplished what I set out to do – have my readers finish from A to Z.

Maybe you could add to this question? What does, indeed, make content great?

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28 Responses to What is Great Content?
  1. I got from A to Z!

    It can be challenging to write something great, something that will make you memorable. One thing I’ve learned is that stories work just like you said. I may forget it sometimes, but stories, especially those of your own.

    I’m also into fiction writing so incorporating dialogue in blogs I write is fun. :)

    Bookmarked this for future reference. I need to be reminded of this on a daily basis. :)
    Glori Surban recently posted..Free Tools and Tips to Help You Write Faster

    • marya

      Thanks Glori. I shoot for having my post read through to the end first, and then getting the reader inspired enough to take some action. Thanks for your kind words, I seem to be on the right track! :)

      Cheers,
      Marya

  2. Great content satisfies a need.

    First, great content must have a headline that intrigues, promises or piques our curiosity.

    Second, a compelling story or as you’ve indicated, a first line that we can’t ignore.

    Third, subheadings that break up the key points so it’s easy to keep the eyes moving down the page.

    Fourth, great content fills in the color, depth and dimension that we need. Sometimes with those lists you mention; other times it’s an analogy and other times a story with a beginning, middle and end.

    Fifth, great content moves us to participate in the conversation by leaving a comment.
    Flora Morris Brown recently posted..Not Quite All In: Ghostwriter of Petraeus Biography Breaks Silence

    • marya

      Great comment, Flora! You are spot on. The only thing I would add to your list is that a great post really resonates with the reader. It makes you go .. OMG, that’s exactly how I feel, or that’s what I was just thinking about. Nothing beats that.

      Many thanks for dropping by. (Btw, you ask great questions on the Q/A call with the great JM. Always fun listening you guys talk.)

  3. Richard J Lester

    As a sample of one, content must not only be relevant to the media in which it appears, but also bring that special experience to the reader that adds the correct amount of value to that experience.
    Then again, I am a novice at this story telling game and as such, never quite sure whether my intended audience has got up and left the room?

    • marya

      I am still here! :)

      Thanks for your comment. Glad to know we are in agreement.

  4. Great content is an illusion. Nothig like it is real. The only content worth writing about is the content that shares something valuable with the reader. It can be everything e.g. boring, short, apt, interesting, captivating, full of lists and all that. If it has value, it is the right content.
    The value I get from this article is a hunch to think about content and my target readers. Keep up the good work. Thank you for sharing.
    Christiano Kwena recently posted..Africa now has a virtual credit card that works for writers, it’s M-shuari

    • marya

      Great comment Christiano. You are right, one piece could be truly useful for one person and utterly boring for the next. Makes sense to pick and choose who you are writing for. Thanks.

  5. Good post! Like you, I’m getting really tired of all the dreck that seems to have been written by content-spewing machines. I don’t ALWAYS manage it, but I try to start most of my posts with a story, as I did with this one on my new SAD light: http://www.publicationcoach.com/let-there-be-light/

    • marya

      It doesn’t always have to be a story either, you can use any hook. A question, a statement or a quote, as long as it connects with your audience. Thanks for dropping by Daphne. Cheers.

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  7. I think great content is what’s known by all, but expressed by a uniquely individual view. As you said, find that connectedness, share “yourself”, your individual expression of that age old world of writing.

    • marya

      Well said! Thank you.

  8. Marya, sometimes it’s uncanny how an inbox works, how a blog post resonates, and how the Internet truly does connect us all. Among those who have commented following your “What is Great ontent?” is Flora Morris Brown. In your reply to her, you mentioned “that’s what I was just thinking about” as an example of how a post can bring in a reader. That happened to me just now.

    I was thinking, as I walked to my kitchen, I wonder if there really are people out there who would enjoy reading my blog posts – I am transcribing the nightly entries I wrote in the pages of one year diaries when I was an Iowa farm girl and high school student who then went to Park College (now Park University) in Missouri. On November 27, 1962 I wrote about interviewing Dr. Carl Sagan for the campus newspaper.

    • marya

      The only way you’d know is if you give your stuff a chance. Publish and find out. Good luck!

  9. “Making it your own” – so very much yes. Personality/voice is so important in the race to stand out from the crowd. It always startles me when I see people I know in real life throttling back on their personalities when they start to tap on their keyboards. If you can successfully convey your real-world character, you’re well on the road to writing great content, which I’d define as “saying useful things in a totally new way”.

    I also think that this…

    >>”It’s something that will drag you in, even if you had about 30 seconds on you, before you log off and feed your kids.”

    …is greatly assisted if you know how to tease your reader. ;) One of Kurt Vonnegut’s rules of short story writing was “start as close to the end as possible”. If you can present your reader with the part of your post where all the tension is and all the questions are, and then leave them in a state of agonised unresolvedness until the end of your post, then they *have* to read on. It’s like the opening chapter of a really amazing mystery novel. There’s no way you’re putting the book down until you get the answers to the questions raised in chapter 1. It just ain’t happening.

    Fun post. Thanks for letting me rant. :)
    Mikeachim recently posted..It’s The Words, Stupid

    • marya

      Hey Mike.
      I really enjoyed reading your comment. And you are absolutely right: show your true self and tease your audience a lil bit. Couldn’t have said it better.
      And you are most welcome to come and ‘rant’ any time. :)
      Cheers,
      Marya

  10. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog, I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Ulster Bank
    Ulster Bank recently posted..Chase is Now Paying up to $30,000 to Sellers who Agree to Short Sale their Homes

  11. If you have a loyal following, then your content is probably good. I love reading well thought out, and concise blog posts, and I think that’s the best way to get more traffic to your blog.

  12. Knowing great content, but being unable to explain why? That hit a note. I catch myself in such moments all the time. I’ll just take it as instinct.
    Opal Vincent recently posted..Just another blog post here.

  13. While it’s true that there is no universal type of great content, you can always make great content within the limits of what you’re targeting.
    Shane Harvey recently posted..10 billion dollar camera

  14. I kind of feel that “great content” is something very subjective. It not only depends on the preferences of an individual, but also on their emotional state in a particular moment.
    Elmer Perry recently posted..Hello world!

  15. Danyelle Franciosa

    Great content is really important and I really believe that this will help you to brand your name, to get more traffic and lets you to rank high in Google.
    Danyelle Franciosa recently posted..Allkind Joinery Brisbane – Upholding a Proud Tradition

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  17. Hi Marya,
    I loved this post, especially “you had me at hello”. There is so much to read these days that you need to engage the reader right from the start. I included a link to my latest post at bloghappy.com.au about ways to craft, or structure, your blog.

  18. For me determining a great content is when it get lot of comment, and people talks about the blog they read the article from at social networking sites. I have seen such success for many in many cases.
    Irfan Siddiqui recently posted..Space Settlers: The First Online Multi-player Sci-fi Game for iOS

  19. Marya, just great!!

  20. [...] blog, Reader favourites, Read these first or whatever. Just let the reader know that this is your best content. And then only add your [...]