8 ways to create content that makes your readers' lives better
by Brittany Taylor
published June 14, 2018
¶ It’s hard to be a good blogger.
It is. That’s the truth. There are very few easy things when it comes to running a blogging business. (I’m writing this at 11 p.m. on a Monday, and I can’t come up with a single example.)
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Another truth: It’s hard to be a good adult. I’m 30, and I’m telling you right now, at 11 o’clock on a Monday night, that this shit is hard.
That’s why one of the core tenets of a valuable blog post is that it makes life a little bit easier for the reader. A good blog post becomes a valuable resource when you make it user-friendly. Why? Because readers don’t need another hurdle to heave themselves over.
After all, they’re reading your blog during their free time. If you make it hard for them to do that—or to get the most they can from the 3 minutes they spend on your website—they will move on faster than it takes to exhale one of those long, loud, put-upon sighs.
As an RSS fiend myself, one of my biggest long-loud-sigh moments comes when I’m reading a post that that makes me complete a task the writer didn’t take the time to do themselves.
Are these tasks difficult for a reader to do themselves? No. In most cases, they require a Google search. But if they aren’t difficult for the reader, that means they aren’t difficult for you, the blogger. If it’s not great burden for you, why not DIY and save the reader the trouble?
From blog reader to blog writer, listen to me when I say that we will love you for making our lives easier (and your content more enjoyable to binge-read, interact with, and take action on).
Your new mission, should you choose to accept it: Make your blog posts as valuable and user-friendly as possible without adding scads more stress and to-dos onto your over-burdened shoulders.
Speaking of your new mission, when was the last time you took a peek at your mission statement?
OK, blogging buddy. I know it’s hard, but it’s time to muscle through it. Think of this as paying it forward, blog post-style.
And, in addition to earning a little internet good will, you’ll also stand out as a reliable resource for quality content among your readership. Go on! Boost that rep!
If the Royal Wedding guest list is notable enough to mention, you can pause to find a good source for it. This goes double if you’re responding to a news story, an op-ed, or a blog post, whether it was written by you or not or whether you’ve addressed the topic before or not.
I've turned to the Purdue OWL for research and citation advise since I was a college student. Now, I'm 8 years out, and it's still bookmarked. Do yourself a favor and keep this resource handy.
Don’t make readers dig through Amazon themselves when you know exactly what that mascara you recommended is! If it’s sold out or unavailable, note that in your post and link to a comparable item.
Affiliate links are A-OK here. Be sure to disclose them properly as required by law. (Here is a great overview from Justine Grey, an affiliate program manager)
Trends move so quickly these days that readers don’t need to be living under a rock to miss a pop culture touchstone. Do them a solid and embed the visuals you mention. You can link out to them, but if you do, find an original source for the content whenever possible.
This user-friendly rec has the added benefit of earning you major kudos from the online boss community. To cash in, make sure the folks you mention in your post know that you mentioned them. A quick tag in a social media post or a brief email works well.
Haven’t ever emailed them before? It’s easy. Use the email they include on their contact page. If there isn’t one, go ahead and use the contact form.
Sample Email Script
Hi (first name),
I just wanted to let you know that I am a huge fan of your work (little detail here). I told my readers about it in my latest blog post, (linked blog post title here), and I wanted to let you know that it’s live.
Thanks for being such a rock star!
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Say you mention you found a killer muffin recipe, and then you don’t link to it. Well, I’m hungry. It’s 11 o’clock and I want muffins! So I go to Google.
There’s no such thing as searching for a muffin recipe and forging ahead with the first hit on the search page. No, if there’s no linked recommendation in the blog post, I’m pulling up the first five recipes with decent images, comparing notes, checking ingredients, reading comments and reviews, seeing how long it’ll take for me to put a muffin in my mouth.... I’m worn out, and I haven’t even cracked an egg!
Do your hungry (or whatever) readers a favor and dig through the 'net for them. If you have a how-to in mind, pull it up and plug that link right in. Or, better yet, link to your own go-to resource. Hurray for cross-links!
(P.S. These bakery-style chocolate chip muffins are amazing.)
Here’s a long-loud-sigh pet peeve of my own: playlist blog posts that consist of nothing more than a 50-word introduction and 10 song titles.
Listen. If you’ve already come up with the song titles, the hard work is over! Open up Spotify, drag-and-drop your way to a usable playlist a reader could actually listen to, and embed that sucker into your blog post. Done.
I’m not a vlogger and I don’t intend to become on. I do, however, have a SeeBrittWrite YouTube account so that I can create and share video playlists in my blog posts.
Why? It’s an easy thing to do if, for example, you mention how much you love watching Luvvie Ajayi speak. All you have to do is pull together a playlist of her best speaking videos and embed that video playlist into your post.
If readers watch those videos on your blog post page, the time they spend glued to the screen counts toward the time they spend on your site. It’s one way video can be great for your analytics.
Have you ever walked into a store, asked for help finding something, and been pointed vaguely in the right direction by someone who insists they’re too busy to show you exactly where it is? It’s frustrating. In the service industry, there’s no excuse for that. None.
Remember, your blog exists to provide a service. You are serving your readers, so aim to serve them well by leaving no question unanswered, no example undefined, and no number unspecified.
Give your readers details. Let them know what you mean by that rhetorical question. Supply examples for every how-to. Instruct them on exactly how long to warm that muffin in the oven so it comes out gooey and delicious (15 minutes at 350°F, wrapped in tin foil).
Got that? Go be a good blogger. I know it’s hard. I know. But go curl up on your couch with your laptop and do it anyway.
My name is Brittany, but my friends and clients call me "Britt." Online small business owners hire me to create content strategies and write their blog posts, email newsletters, and social media updates. I work with bosses around the world from the marshes of Charleston, S.C.