I read a lot of blogs – some good, some bad. A few weeks ago, I read something by Bill Sebald that stuck with me. He said:
“I urge you to start writing content that actually is either
1) actionable, 2) a strong opinion, or 3) proven to some degree.”
These are great blog criteria. Basically, if it’s not useful, if it’s a weak opinion, or if it makes unsupported claims, it’s probably not good. This makes sense.
Then I came across something in a book called Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane. Erin explains how good content works by relating to the context of the reader. There are three elements: physical (doing), emotional (feeling), and cognitive (learning).
Sound familiar? The three blogging criteria recommended by Sebald align perfectly with the user contexts described by Kissane.
Unless the post connects on one of these levels, it probably isn’t worth the reader’s time (and they’re certainly not going to share it). We all need to make sure that our content meets one or more of these three criteria:
If your content doesn’t meet at least one of these criteria for writing, try one of these tips:
“Make the customer the hero of your story.”
– Ann Handley
“The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.”
– David Ogilvy
…if you do it right and a group of sentences like this:
“In many cases, blog posts are vague and may not be useful to readers. This is often because they do not provide enough actionable advice.”
…becomes a sentence like this:
“Vague blog posts aren’t useful, since they just aren’t actionable for readers.”
…or even this:
“If a blog post isn’t actionable, it’s useless.”
Honor your readers’ time by aligning content with at least one of these blog criteria, especially if you’re creating an email newsletter. They may reward you with a return visit.
Got an example of a post that meets these blogging criteria? Share the link in a comment below.