Cutting the Crap: Real Advice for Creating Epic Content

Cutting the Crap: Real Advice for Creating Epic Content

You know what I’m tired of? Taking the time to read advice articles on how to create this “epic” content everyone is talking about, only to walk away without even ONE real idea on how it can be done.

All these how-to articles go on endlessly about that “homerun” piece, that “innovative” angle, that “epic” writing style needed for your content to not only stand out, but have a chance of getting anywhere near that coveted viral status.

But… this advice, as admittedly solid as it is, isn’t going to help you at all if you don’t know how to create this type of content.

That’s why you’ll find five ideas below, as well as some sites you can visit today, to help you write more unique, interesting, and yes, epic, content that’ll allow you to break through the clutter and get noticed.

Coming Up With an Epic Topic

There are thousands of articles and blog posts already created on just about every topic out there, which means you’re going to have to do one of two things: come up with a fresh idea that hasn’t been written about before OR put a new spin on an old topic.

But how do you do this? Try choosing one of the ideas below:

Challenge popular opinion. Is everyone in your industry writing blog posts about a certain app, product, trend, etc., singing its praises and recommending it to others? If it’s possible to challenge it – and you actually have good, solid reasoning to back up why you are – you’ve got yourself a great way to grab a lot of attention.

Incorporate themes. A themed blog post can be a lot of fun to read – but you need to make sure it also serves a purpose. For example, I combined my love of zombies with ways business owners can become more effective to create this post: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Zombies. You can do the same by pairing one of your interests with a topic your target audience would want to read about.

Be edgy. Being edgy, or even controversial, can help get your content noticed. If this tactic would align with the voice of your brand, incorporating a bit of spice into your headlines and writing style can be just the thing that gets your content more views, retweets, and comments. For example, addressing a controversial topic, using cuss words, trying your hand at sexual innuendo, or writing a “rant” piece can work quite well, if done correctly.

Capitalize on seasonal and reoccurring events: What happens every year that your target audience would be interested in? For my company, it is events like Small Business Saturday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. that our target market will always want to read about. The key is providing them with fresh information. Don’t have any yourself? How about interviewing an expert – before everyone else does.

Don’t be afraid of a little newsjacking. Is there a hot, trending news story happening right now that relates in any way to your industry? Don’t hesitate to use it to your advantage so your content can get in on some of the heavy traffic this topic is drawing. I did this with Amy’s Baking Company and my blog post went viral, making it our most-viewed post to date. (It currently has over 25K views.)

A Little More Epic Help

If you still need a little more help figuring out what to write about for your first epic post, check out the sites below!

Google Hot Search: Check this list at least a couple times a week to see what topics are trending right now. If anything strikes you as something you could write about – and relate back to your industry – you’ll want to get it done as quickly as possible to capitalize on its current popularity.

Google Hot Searches

Alltop.com: Alltop is an aggregated site that lists the hottest stories on a variety of popular blogs and sites. Often just reading others’ blog posts can spur an idea for a related topic of your own, so check out this site if you need a little inspiration.

AllTop

Google +/Linkedin groups: Groups can be a great place to find out what people in your industry are talking about, while keeping you up to date on current trends/breaking news. If you find the right groups, you can also learn more about your target audience. This information can be used to create timely blog posts and e-books that your customers and those in your industry will want to read.

Google Alerts: Wish you had more time to learn about breaking news in your industry? If you set up a few Google Alerts, you can be alerted to news as it happens, once a day, or even once a week without doing any extra work. Choose a few topics, create your alert, and you’ll get applicable headlines delivered right to your inbox that you can use for content inspiration.

Little Bird: Little Bird alerts you to the hottest emerging news in your industry, allowing you to write a blog post on those topics before anyone else. You have to “request access” before trying it out, but once approved, you can get a free trial to see if it will work for you.

Little Bird

Getting Started on Your Epic Post

Can I say yet that I really hate the word “epic”? It ranks right up there with “slender” and “moist” in my book. But whether I like it or not still doesn’t change the fact that the standard for blog posts, articles, e-books, and yes, even Facebook posts and tweets, is only getting higher and higher.

The demand for better, stronger, and more innovative content is only going to continue to grow, which means the word “epic,” is probably going to be sticking around for quite some time.

But whether you prefer the term fantastic, outstanding, blockbuster, or even epic (shudder), the tips above will help you create that break-through type of content your target audience simply can’t ignore — while setting you apart from all the other content creators in your industry.

Remember, if you can’t come up with an original topic, what you can do is come up with an original angle. The most epic thing about your content is you – and your unique writing style – so make that topic your own and a whole lot of greatness should follow.

Share: What’s your best tip for creating epic content?

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  • http://successmeasured.com/ Galen

    Great post Shannon! I agree that I’m not a huge fan of the word “epic” and while I think outstanding content is important, what’s more important to me is that a particular piece of content is extremely useful.

    Thanks for the content brainstorming ideas too! I always forget about alltop.com but that’s a really good resource for finding the latest industry trends.

  • Shannon

    Yes, Alltop can be very helpful at times. I’ve also just started using Ubersuggest.org. It can help you find the keywords your target audience is actively searching for which will give you great ideas for content as well. Thanks for your comment, Galen!

  • http://corp.wishpond.com/ James @ Wishpond

    Shannon, great article across-the-board. In many of the ‘how to’ articles you allude to, I see bloggers recommending a weekly themed article like ‘ThinkaboutitThursday’ or something similar. Have you, or anyone you know, tried this strategy out? Thanks!

  • http://getlittlebird.com/ Marshall Kirkpatrick

    Shannon, thanks for including the mention of Little Bird as a tool for hot-topic discovery. We’re hard at work on a new feature I’m really excited about that will also prove useful in this type of content marketing: an archive search that lets you ask (in the example above) what have leading influencers and experts in beer (or baking or bees or baseball, whatever topic) written on their blogs and websites in the past about Search Term X? That way you can quickly and easily leverage the best research in the world to make your content even more epic – and make another point of contact with thought leaders in your target market! Coming super super soon! Thanks again!

  • Shannon

    That sounds fantastic, Marshall! Seems like it will be an easy and effective way to get inspiration for some great content ideas. Thanks for the comment!

  • Shannon

    Thanks so much, James! I haven’t yet tried a reoccurring themed post, but I like the idea of it. I think this is where groups on LinkedIn and Google+ could really come in handy. If you were consistently finding topics your target audience wanted to discuss or wanted answers to (by participating in groups and forums) you would be able to address these topics each week with your content. Let me know if you try it and how it works for you!

  • Lisa Zatulovsky

    Hi Shannon, thank you for this post! Very refreshing to finally see applicable tips in order to create that great content everyone hears about. We certainly need more posts like these in the marketing world.

  • Tanya Horynová

    I’ve tried posting every week on a certain day a tip for FB fans. They loved it and got used to the idea that on this day, they can expect an advice.

  • Shannon

    Thank you, Lisa! Glad you liked it.

  • Shannon

    That is great, Tanya! Are there any specific ways you’d recommend for anticipating the tips your target audience would most like to read about?

  • Camille Mola

    Awesome post, Shannon! As a college student who’s involved in different organizations, I sometimes struggle to find new and refreshing topics to tweet/Instagram/blog/etc. about. I’m going to share this post with some of my fellow organization members, and perhaps we can create some new content ideas. Although there’s really no specific ‘industry’ when it comes to student organizations, I like to think of us as different companies who are interested in seeing very specific content. For example, as a member of a Greek organization, I like to know what other Greek orgs are up to, and any upcoming events. it’s just a matter of keeping that information exciting that we struggle with the most when it comes to social media postings. Thank you for the helpful tips!

  • Samara

    This post is great. As a Social Media intern for the past two summers I have found myself stumped for what to write about on the hundreds of posts I was responsible for. I absolutely hate the “Happy *enter random, boring, dumb holiday here* Post”, frankly I do not care its national left handers day, I want content I can really take interest in and really engage in. I never heard of Little Bird before, but I am eager to take a look at it and start improving the content I write!

  • Ann Smarty

    This article is a good example! Great graphics to illustrate the point.

  • Shannon

    I know how you feel, Samara! It can be really hard to continually come up with new topics. Let me know what you think of Little Bird.

  • http://GraphicNeed.com/ M.Aswad Mehtab

    Wait A second i just got many many awesome , epic ideas to write about today , This was really a better post on how to write . thanks !

  • Mary

    As a new blogger this post has really helped me think about my audience before I start writing and make sure I have an engaging topic for my readers. I feel like these helpful hints you’ve posted can really enhance someones writing skills and make their blog even better!