Publishing great content can lead to profound results for entrepreneurs, startups, and companies of all sizes.
Take for example Freshdesk.com, a helpdesk software started in 2011. That same year, Girish, their founder, wrote and shared an article about how he was motived to start his company.
Sharing it on Ycombinator’s Hackernews site resulted in over 30,000 new people visiting their website and 175 people signing up over just 2 days!
In March of this year, our company decided to do an experiment. We would write about our story and the results we were having with a small ecommerce site that we purchased earlier that year, and see what type of results the post would produce for our business.
Here’s what happened:
- Reddit visitors: 3,257, IndieHackers visitors: 951
- SEO results on Google: main keyword shot up from not in the top 50 on to position 12. According to ahrefs.com, we got top 50 rankings for 222 keywords we didn’t have previously!
- 2 direct sales from the referral traffic, 11 sales from the increased SEO rankings!
- PR: Here’s a message we received from a Kim Sims: “I saw a great article featuring you. I want a pair PLUS I submit items for Oprah’s Favorite Things in her magazine. I will be in touch shortly.” She hasn’t reached out again yet, but it’s exciting to see it got to someone who works with Oprah!
One thing is certain in this ever changing business and online marketing world: great content will always produce results. Here is how your company can replicate these results on any community you want to publish to.
#1 Research The Community
The secret to writing content that gets the types of results shown above is simple and shouldn’t be complicated: “Write content that the community wants to read.”
Any content published online, whether it’s on Reddit, news sites like Huffington Post, or your own personal blog involves and in fact is centered around community. Those that participate in the community and write what the community can learn from or be inspired by will win.
So you need to learn about the community of where you want to be published.
The best way to do this is to see what has been well received in the past. What got a lot of interaction, votes, buzz, etc. Don’t reinvent the wheel. If it was popular before, it will be popular again. This will give you a sense of what works for the community.
#2 Map Out And Choose An Idea
Now that we have a sense of what the community wants, we need to map out and decide on an idea for the content.
What I like to do is mind map. I grab a piece of paper and in the center will write “blog post topics.” Now review some of the popular posts you found earlier that the community LOVED.
Again, loved, not liked. What can you write about that is similar? Or maybe how can you expand on what they wrote by putting in your experience and lessons? Maybe topical current events? A problem your readers need to have solved?
Write down as many as you can. Now look them over. Is there anything that jumps out at you? Anything that you think provides extreme value to the readers?
#3 Make Your Content Impressive
There’s some advice I got from a successful entrepreneur some time back that has stuck with me: “Unless your startup idea provides 5x more value than what’s already out there, don’t start it.”
We can apply this to content as well, less your content is 5x more valuable than what the general post in the community offers, don’t write it.
There needs to be an impressive attribute to your content. It needs to resonant with them, make them rethink how they’ve been doing things (my goal with you reading this if you’ve been publishing ineffective content by the way), or inspire them to do more.
The closer you get to them thinking “this is a ______ changing post” the better. It could be business changing, lifestyle changing, dramatically improving their skill for a certain hobby, etc. Whatever you’re writing should change things for them.
I won’t spend too much time on this as there is already a great number of blog posts out there on how to write catchy, effective headlines.
With your headline you want to:
- Be specific, not broad or generic
- Arouse curiosity, but don’t be too hypey!
- Spell out the benefit to them reading what you have to offer
- Bonus: include stats. Something from your own experience or others.
Getting your headline right is critical for your content to be read. Think about it, there is a price your readers pay to read your content: their time. You need to convince them immediately that it’s worth their time to see what you have to say.
Let’s evaluate a quick headline:
How I lost $2,000 last month in product sales and how you can fix the issue on your own shop in 10 minutes
Specific? Yes, it’s about losing product sales on an online shop.
Arouses curiosity? You better believe if you have an ecommerce shop your curiosity would be aroused.
Spells out the benefit? Yes, they can potentially stop losing out on sales themselves.
Uses stats? Yup very clearly: $2000 lost on their own site.
This is the power of writing a great headline.
#5 Be Active
When you have all that together, you’re ready to publish. But publishing doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done.
Depending on the community, there could be an expectation of continued discussion and involvement.
Let’s take Reddit and IndieHackers as examples. Reddit is HUGE on involvement. If you publish an AMA, expect to be logging in every few hours and responding to questions/feedback.
The cost of not doing so could mean friendly commenters turning into major trolls and bashing what you wrote.
IndieHackers is a different story. My business exposes generated about 5 comments. Compare that with the Reddit post which had over 300!
Be there for the community and they’ll love you.