Break the Surface | How to Create Engaging Content in a Saturated World
June 3, 2014
One fairly common concern we receive from writers is, “The editor said that my article contained too much surface-level information that isn’t helpful to the reader. My article is well-written and contains useful information that a reader would have found helpful.”
As an internet writer, you do not have the luxury of being the only or the easiest source of information. Wikipedia, eHow, WebMD, etc., will always outrank you in an online search. And then you have to compete with 100,000 other bloggers who wrote about your topic before you (not to mention everyone who will write about your topic after you). This is why coming up with a topic, clearly defining your audience, proofreading, and otherwise producing a “well-written” and helpful article does not always earn you five—or even three—stars at WritersDomain. If people can find your information elsewhere, they probably already have—and that’s not helpful to anyone.
But anything can be found online.
Definitely. Most information can be found somewhere online. This is why ideation is so important. If you come up with a killer topic that is fun and engaging, or come up with a unique angle that someone hasn’t thought of, you now have a much better chance of producing a helpful article. The idea is to gain readership in a very competitive market, not just write something that may help if it were the only article online.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to spend the bulk of your time coming up with an awesome idea. As outlined in the second ideation training, your first idea often is not your best. Take the time to come up with five or even ten ideas. The more time you spend upfront coming up with a fun way to spin the keyword “pest control,” the less time you will spend on surface-level revisions later.
The Game Plan
Here are two strategies that may help when coming up with an idea for an overly-used keyword:
Come up with a new way to put information together. Depending on the niche, the information may be difficult to find. The way you put together your article may pull information from various places in a way that creates a new idea that isn’t overdone online. This involves modifying the angle of your article, often making the focus more specific.
For example, rather than “5 Tips for Getting Stains out of Your Carpet,” try to come up with something more specific that narrows your idea: “5 Tips under $5” or “5 Tricks from 5 Different Cultures.” The information may be online but scattered across multiple websites and not commonly pitched from the particular angle you created. Voilà! New article.
Come up with a fun or exciting way to talk about your keyword. This sounds similar to the first strategy but deals more specifically with easy-to-find information that may be commonly presented in a very standard and boring manner.
For example, I recently read an article about how to take care of your teeth. The author illustrated healthy principles by writing ironically about how to ruin your teeth. Many online articles talk about strengthening and taking care of teeth, but this author covered her topic in a clever and backward manner. This made the article fun, engaging, and unique, rather than simply informational, potentially boring, and similar to every other article on the subject.
There are many other strategies to writing fun and engaging articles. And the best strategy is to come up with your own idea—that way you don’t have to worry about surface-level information. But when you feel a topic is over-saturated, a unique twist on a common topic is a great way to go.
Online readers have better things to do than search hundreds or thousands of very similar articles—they have Facebook to fill their time. Online readers, especially those searching for dentists, roofers, and lobe pumps, are actively looking for information now. They don’t waste time clicking on generic titles or reading information that they got from the previous fourteen articles they scanned.
Real, pertinent, and even helpful information is not enough to get noticed online. You have to stand out. You have to offer the reader something that no one else does. So be creative and think outside the box!
What strategies do you use to turn a keyword into an engaging topic?