Crafting Your Content 66

In the month or so since I started writing on this topic I must have seen upwards of fifty articles on how to achieve social media success. A number of elaborate strategies have been devised across the blogosphere: the inexplicable magnetism of list posts, the fine art of constructing Diggbait, and so on.

I’ve yet to see a single article, however, give due time to the single most important element of creating content with the potential to define your site: hard work. With time and effort any blogger or webmaster, regardless of talent, can create content with the potential to become rip-roaringly popular.

The key ingredient to success on social media services, as I’ve observed it, is time — time to create carefully crafted and assembled content. Your instinctive reaction to that might be: sure, but I don’t have that time.

I’d argue that you do. In fact, anyone who blogs or runs a website has that time. You just need to change the way you use it.

The most popular post on Skelliewag is unquestionably 50 Tips to Unclutter Your Blog. At the moment it sits at over 64 comments and trackbacks. I mention this example because I think it encapsulates the point I’m trying to make. Anyone could have written it, it was simply a matter of taking the time to do so.

It did indeed take quite a bit of time — a number of hours all up, spent browsing dozens of blogs and noting down clutter when I saw it. What it didn’t take was a stroke of genius, or any amount of brilliant writing. It was nothing more than a time investment which paid off.

Readers can differentiate between content that has been crafted and content which has not. Crafted content is packed with value, carefully considered, and lovingly refined. Sometimes more effort goes into research and assembling links than into the writing itself. It’s not necessarily the result of a brilliant idea, or unprecedented inspiration. If you spend three hours crafting a blog post, I would argue that it’s likely to be great, regardless of the idea behind it.

Spreading your time more thinly in order to write frequent articles will not provide rewards on par with pooling your time into one, carefully crafted article. Next time you’re visiting a blog you like, take the time to browse through its popular posts and consider the time investment that would have been required to write each of them. When you stumble across an article that has achieved social media success, ask yourself the same question.

Pretty soon, a direct correlation between effort and reward will become apparent.

Next time you create something for your blog or website, make the decision to spend three (or four, or more) hours on it. If you don’t have the time, skip out on writing a shorter post or two and pool your time into the longer one.

Making a set time investment will encourage you to keep pouring value into your article until the time limit is up. Encourage readers who liked your article to Stumble or Digg it at the end.

This approach doesn’t promise to guarantee social media success (and I don’t think any approach can), but the result of your time investment is likely to be a defining feature of your blog or website; the much vaunted ‘pillar article’ which attracts links and new readers to your content.

Take the time and effort to craft your content. The results will be worth it.