Creating Signature Content 28

I have dim memories of the time I spent creating my signature, and looking back on it, I didn’t give the task the attention it deserved. Now the signature I’m stuck with is somewhat jagged and messy, and I’d go back and change it if I could.

Despite its short-comings, it does get one thing right: it’s unique, and like any good signature, can’t be copied.

This week, I want to discuss how signature content is created — content your readers won’t be able to get from anyone else.

Why create signature content?

When researching this article I stumbled across a quote by Leo Babauta which, I think, gets to the core of why creating signature content is important. Though he was speaking about including biases in blog posts at the time, the quote rings true in this context and can apply to any form of web content:

With millions of blog posts out there, yours is not likely to be very unique — unless you put in your post the one thing that you know is unique — yourself. There is no other like you out there.

In other words, the internet is so vast that chances are at least one other person is writing on the topics you cover. By signing content with your own signature — your thought process, your experiences, your stories — you’re ensuring readers can only come to you and you alone for the content you provide.

Some other benefits

  • Readers connect to you as the author, not just to your content.
  • What you write can’t be mimicked, copied or replicated.
  • Increases reader trust because you are putting yourself in what you write.
  • With advice writing, shows that you are “walking the talk.”
  • Will help set you apart from others.

Adding your signature to different types of content

Everyone can have an opinion, and plenty of people have the same opinion. Your biases alone are not enough to make your news content unique.

Consider asking yourself the following questions as you write and working in the answers where (and if) appropriate.

  • Where were you when you heard the news? Doing what?
  • What were your first thoughts?
  • What was your gut reaction?
  • How will it affect you or people you know?

If you’re recommending something you should have personal experience (or at least have personally observed) that it works. The more you put yourself in your advice writing the more you’re showing yourself to be “walking the talk.” You can also use your own experiences as proof that the advice works.

Lastly, advice writing is one of the most commonly duplicated forms of writing. How many advice articles have you seen listing ways to increase website traffic, for example? How many points had you seen elsewhere? Putting yourself in your advice writing can ensure that it seems fresh. A great example of an author putting themselves into their advice writing is Darren Rowse’s 18 Lessons I’ve Learnt About Blogging.

When working on your own advice writing, think about including the answers to the questions below.

  • What happened when you implemented the advice you’re giving?
  • Have you noticed it implemented successfully by someone else?
  • What was your behavior before you discovered a new way of doing things?
  • What challenges did you face when implementing the advice?
  • Where did you get your inspiration to try it?

What you do when you create content for the purpose of pointing to content elsewhere. That might involve linking to a great article you’ve read, a new service you discovered, a funny webcomic, and so on. If the content is new and popular then it’s most likely that a lot of other people are creating referral content about it too. You can make your content unique by considering the following questions.

  • How did you find the content?
  • What was your reaction?
  • How do you think others are going to react?
  • What’s good about it?
  • What’s not so good?

Other forms of content
Above I’ve listed three common types of content. The web is home to still many other types of content, but I hope the examples above illustrate how you can add your signature to every type of content you create. You could put yourself in one sentence or you could dot your thoughts and reactions throughout the whole piece.

You might be doing a bit of it already!

Most of us don’t write completely in the abstract, and some of your content is probably already marked with your signature. What I want to suggest is that we can be more conscious of how and when we do this, and we can do it more — especially when we know the benefits.

Walking the talk

I should end this article by saying that this is something I myself don’t do enough of. My effort was the introductory anecdote about working on my own, real-life signature, but I could definitely do it more.

Is this something you already feel you’re doing well, or do you think it’s something you could work on?