Ready to create the type of content that wows your audience? Then it’s time to start creating epic content. In this post, I’m going to share you the thirteen steps to making each piece of content you create epic.
1. Know the ingredients of epic content.
Last year, BuzzSumo examined 100 million articles to find out the common ingredients of viral content. The summary of what they found is as follows.
* Viral content contained 2,000+ words.
* Viral content had at least one image for social sharing.
* Viral content evoked awe, laughter, and amusement or appeal to people’s narcissistic side, like those popular “Which Character Are You on a TV Show” quizzes.
* Viral content, in order of most popular type, included infographics, list posts (with 10 as the magic number of items), “why” posts, “what” posts, how-to articles, and videos.
* Viral content contained an author byline to make it more trustworthy.
* Viral content was shared by influencers within the niche.
* Viral content is promoted beyond the publish date.
* Viral content was published on Tuesday for the most social shares.
You should do everything in your power to make sure that your epic content becomes viral content. So keep all of these things in mind as you develop and promote your epic content.
2. Start with extensive research.
Even if you feel like you know everything about the topic you plan to write about, you will still want to research the topic thoroughly. In particular, you will want to find other pieces of content that have been created on the topic you plan to cover so that you know what information is out there.
The goal of an epic piece of content is to be just that – epic. It should give 110% coverage of a topic. Anyone who reads your piece of content shouldn’t have to go elsewhere to learn more about the topic.
You should make sure that they are disappointed by every piece of content that they read about the topic after they’ve read your content. They shouldn’t be able to learn anything they didn’t already learn in your content.
Search for Popular Content on Your Topic
Start by searching for your topic on search engines and reading the pieces of content that appear on the first page of search results. These are the pieces of content you will want to outrank in search, so you continue to generate traffic to your piece of content beyond the initial promotion for (potentially) years to come.
Next, use BuzzSumo to see the most socially shared pieces of content on your topic and read the first ten pieces of content, depending on the number of shares.
For each piece of content you read, note the following.
* The title and meta description – use Mozbar on the page.
* The word count – do a CTRL+A and use Word Count for Chrome to count the number of words on the page.
* Top keywords the post ranks for – enter the page URL into SEMrush and look at the Organic Search Positions chart.
* How often the top keyword is used throughout the content.
* Main headings and subheadings within the post.
* Unique points covered that either you didn’t know about or that other pieces of content do not normally cover.
* Points that are missing from the content that a reader would have to look up elsewhere, such as definitions, representational images, or step by step directions on how to do something.
* Statistics or studies mentioned in the content.
* Experts quoted in the content.
* Backlinks for the content – search for the URL in BuzzSumo and click on the View Backlinks. Export for future reference if you have a pro account or bookmark for future reference. Also do a search for the title of the piece of content on Google and bookmark for future reference.
* Top sharers for the content – using the same search on BuzzSumo, click on View Sharers. Bookmark the page for future reference or add sharers to a Twitter list.
Search for Research
Next, you will want to search for additional research on your topic, namely studies and statistics. Bookmark lists that compile studies or statistics or bookmark the original studies and statistics pages themselves.
3. Create an outline.
Looking at the research you just compiled, your next task will be to compile an outline for your epic content. It should effectively cover everything popular pieces of content on your topic have covered and unique points that other pieces of content did not cover.
4. Write your post.
This step isn’t as easy as it sounds. Depending on the length of other pieces of popular content on your topic, you could be looking at writing a 1,000 word post or a 5,000 word post to cover everything that needs to be covered.
If you are intimidated by writing a long piece of content, there are a few ways you can approach this step.
* Don’t over think it. Write everything you can on your topic without editing, filtering, organizing, or limitations. You can go back and clean things up once you’re finished.
* Look at each heading in your outline as a blog post and write them one at a time.
* Write the sections that come easiest first. The more progress you have made, the easier it will be to continue to the harder parts.
* Write the harder parts of your outline during the times you write best during the day. Save easier parts for when you might be tireder or a little less motivated.
* Don’t write in order. Write whatever portion you are ready to write when you sit down each day. If the introduction of a piece of content is the hardest thing for you to write, write it last.
* Outsource to a ghostwriter. You can have the ghostwriter flesh out the outline and edit it to fit your voice.
* Record yourself talking about the topic and outsource a ghostwriter to compile your recording into a written piece of content.
Whether you like to write or not, there are lots of options to getting your epic piece of content written.
5. Add in statistics and supporting data.
Once you’ve gotten the initial content fleshed out, go back in and add statistics and studies to backup what you have written. It’s easier to add them in later than to stop the flow of your writing to find and add them in while you are getting the initial piece of content written.
6. Add in quotes.
Don’t have a statistic or study to go with a particular section of your content? Find a quote from a well-known expert in your industry to add in. You can either ask them for a quote (if you know them) or search their content to find a quote that will work.
To find a good quote, search the expert’s blog, social media updates, interviews, and presentations. Again, do this after you have written the initial bulk of the content, so you don’t break your writing flow.
Alternatively, you can do a bit of crowdsourcing. Ask several experts in your industry to contribute their thoughts on the main topic as a whole, or to a specific section within your outline. This approach will help you in the promotion phase of epic content marketing as you will have additional people who will want to share your content.
7. Include real-life examples.
When possible, include examples that support your content from specific people, businesses, or brands. Why? If you are highlighting people, businesses, and brands in a positive way in your content, guess what? Those people, businesses, and brands may share that content with their audience, which will help you get exposure for your epic piece of content.
In addition, real-life examples will help people understand the benefits of learning and applying what you write about even more.
For example, if you want to see what can happen when you create epic content, take a look at the Link Building Guide by Point Blank SEO. It’s the penultimate example of epic content: 19,000+ words in length, covers 200 link building tactics, and has over 150 comments. This post is in the first five results for link building, has 1,300+ incoming links, and over 6,000 social shares.
8. Generate lots of headlines.
Remember those Upworthy headlines that caused Upworthy’s content (and soon, everyone else’s) to go viral? One of the secrets they revealed is that they have 25 headlines written for each post they publish.
The philosophy behind this process was simple. Not every headline you create will be a good one. But to generate that many headlines, you will have to get creative. At least one of those 25 headlines will be golden. And the other 24 can make for great alternatives when promoting your piece of content.
Instead of trying to write your headline / content title before writing your content, write it after. You will know what makes your content awesome after you have written it, and therefore you will know what to put in your headline.
Or, more importantly, you will know what things to highlight in your 25 different headlines. Once you’re finished, you should have several keepers. But you’re not done just yet.
9. Optimize for search.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to optimize your epic content for search engines. While researching your topic, if you used SEMrush, you should have found some great keywords that popular pieces of content ranked for.
The best keyword phrase from the group should be used, at a minimum, in your headline and several times throughout your content, as based on your earlier research. You can also include it in headings, subheadings, and image ALT text.
Additional keyword phrases that drove a significant percentage of traffic to other popular pieces of content on your topic should be used throughout the content as well. This optimization will ensure that you will get organic search traffic to your epic content on an on-going basis.
10. Optimize for social.
Help people that like your content share your content on social media. Start by making sure the page your content is published upon has the main social sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Next, find some of the best snippets throughout your content and turn them into tweetable snippets. ClicktoTweet is a free tool you can use to create a link that people can click to get a customized tweet they can share with their Twitter audience. Place tweetable snippets throughout your content where people will be most inspired to share.
Since Pinterest is the second most popular social network, you should make sure that people can easily share your epic content on Pinterest. Add a Pinterest Pin It button next to your images throughout your content to make this happen. If you don’t have any great images to begin with, create at least one using Canva.
11. Edit and publish.
Once your epic piece of is written and optimized, make one last check for errors. Don’t trust Microsoft Word alone for grammatical and spelling errors. Copy and paste your content into tools like Grammar.ly for advanced proofreading if you can’t hire an editor to do the work for you.
Why is proofreading so important? The last thing you want is for someone to get distracted by errors to the point that they forget to share your content.
Once you’ve made sure your epic content is error-free (or as close to error-free as possible), you’re ready to publish. Keep in mind that the best day for social sharing is Tuesday!
You can publish epic content, but it won’t truly be epic until it gets recognition for its awesomeness. And it won’t get recognition until it starts getting traffic.
Remember the list of sharers of popular content you compiled during the research phase? Start contacting those people individually to let them know about your epic content. Specifically let them know that you noticed they shared a popular piece of content on your topic, so you thought they would enjoy your thorough coverage of that same topic.
Remember the people, businesses, and brands you included as quotes, crowdsourced opinions from, or used as real-life examples? Contact them to let them know you they are a part of the coverage of your topic.
Remember the list of incoming links you compiled to popular content on your topic? Reach out to those website owners and blog authors to see if they might be willing to link to your epic piece of content. Not necessarily to replace the other link they have, but to add a new resource alongside it.
In addition to the above promotion strategies, be sure to share your epic content with your own social media and email audiences. Don’t just do it once either. Share your content multiple times on each network over the course of several weeks. Look into your email statistics to see who didn’t open your email and send it to them again.
Your content is epic – you don’t want your audience to miss out on it! Keep this in mind while you thoroughly promote it.
Last, but not least, don’t forget to repurpose your epic content into other formats. This will allow you the chance to link back to the original piece of content in multiple places, such as YouTube, SlideShare, and other networks. Use CoSchedule’s 50 Places to Repurpose Content as your guide to both promoting your content and repurposing it.
What other questions do you have for me about creating epic content? Ask me below or on Twitter! I’m @RobWormley.