March 04, 2021

Content Marketing Tips

I am condensing two resources I’ve come across that explain the explanatory variables of powerful content marketing.

Priceonomics Content Marketing Handbook

What to Write

Write about information. Make it good. Have a plan for how it will spread.

The data and information that is a byproduct of your business is valuable.

…if you make a good piece of content, it increasingly doesn’t matter if you publish it on The New York Times website or your company’s blog

Why do people share [content in general]? Mostly to confirm their existing biases

  1. Bring new information to the world
  2. Be interesting
  3. Be right

In the vain of being right: “keep the scope of your argument narrow”

On Editing

The introduction is by far the most important part of the article. Without a great one, no one will read your article. The second most important part of the article is the conclusion.

…conclusion not only repackages the essay so the reader can remember what it was about, but it primes the reader on what he should share

When editing our work, sometimes we just read the introduction, the conclusion, and every topic sentence. The essay should stand alone on these segments.

Focus on the introduction, conclusion, and topic sentences [in that order]

sharing is a form of self-expression, and titles are the most visible part of the article when it’s shared. Your title should make people feel good about sharing it. When someone shares your article, the title should express the feeling they want to share

Our goal with a title is twofold: it should honestly convey what the article is about, and it should emphasis the point that we think the reader will share

On writing tooling

We do most of our writing in Google Docs and only paste it into the CMS at the very end.

On Writing Hacks:

When you first start, don’t write every day. Spend 40 hours on your first post, and then make it succeed. Do whatever it takes to find the story that’s in the data to make it genuinely interesting. The returns on writing something great are enormous; the returns on writing something average are zero.

Some “hacks” or tricks for coming up with and implementing good ideas…there are three nodes of information we like to focus on: data, industries, and people.

On “data” content:

A Ranked order list - Come up with an interesting metric and rank the results in a list

People share them because lists include information that’s important to them (where they live, their school, their favorite music)

Do not abuse the power of the list by writing about things that have nothing to do with your company, product, or industry

How much does something cost?

Data that proves someone’s strongly held intuition, or that disproves a weakly held one

People love to have their own biases confirmed by data

A surprising trend

Unless something is accelerating or decelerating so fast that it is shocking, writing about a trend is hard to pull off

The relationship between two things

Do you ever wonder why so many charts are confined to 2x2 matrices? That’s because people love thinking about the relationship between two items. These kind of charts also take a little bit of thinking to understand, so it’s satisfying when you figure out what the data actually means.

On “industry” content

You possess a unique understanding of your industry and are in a good position to competently research a topic that other people are curious about.

On “people” content

The Hero’s Journey: The hero is just a regular person. One day, an incident causes the hero to start a journey. There is a huge problem the hero tries to solve. It looks like the hero is going to solve it, but he fails. After failing time after time, the hero perseveres and triumphs.

This pattern is a framework to tell the story of every single entrepreneur, inventor, or everyday person. Each of us is on our little Hero’s Journey.

You should go to every single one of your customers and ask if you can profile how they were founded. They will all be flattered; you’ll have incredible content for your site; and you can showcase that you have actual customers

In summation

Write about great information in a way that is shareable, and make your content so great that everyone has to read it, including your target market.

How to write stuff that gets on the front page of Hacker News

Two strategies:

…tap into a controversial point that your audience already holds and then back it up with data that you have to confirm their suspicions.

share something uniquely helpful with your audience that makes them better at some meaningful aspect of their lives.

the [2nd,] “controversial with data” technique is way more effective than being “helpful”.

Data provides you with the credibility that nothing else can

If you can’t be controversial, then be helpful….“helpful” means giving specific, actionable advice about things that have a big impact on [your readers’] lives (love, work, sex, health)

On Writing Hacks

Drink wine… it stills the inexorable pull of self-editing and silences the voices that tell you you’re a piece of shit who can’t write worth a damn

Do it again and again, until the ritual itself is what gives you comfort and lets you produce 😉