Content isÂ King! I’m sick to death of hearing it but it’s true and is key to having a website that stands out from the masses. Great content will really set your site apart but writing it can be a monumental pain in the arse at times. Here’s a little overview of how I come up with the content for my sites.
- Write write write - The first thing I do before starting any work on a site is write. Seems like common sense butÂ I sometimesÂ get caught up with things that interest me more like site design and get lazy with my writing.Â My actual writing process isn’t anything exciting: I basically just open up Word and go to town. I’ll write article titles and write as much as I feel like and then move onto another article and then another. Once I have a good number I’ll go back to them and add things as I get more ideas. Kind of like ho wI writ emy blogÂ posts. After awhileÂ I end up with a bunch of content and divide it up into folders which makes coming up with a navigation system pretty logical. Sometimes I sort of get myself into a little zone where writing seems easy, but other times it can be like pulling teeth, especially if I’m attempting to write something I’m not totally familiar with or interested in or if I’m just not in the mood to write. I just keep plugging away though and eventually get things done.
- Research research research - Writing is easy but writing quality, informative, useful stuff is a lot harder. If youÂ you know your topic well then you’ll already be a step ahead of the pack. if you spendÂ even more timeÂ doing some research and expanding your knowledge then you’ll be even further ahead. So grab a few books or magazines and read up.
- Look for gaps in the marketÂ - If I’m searching for info on something and the almighty Google doesn’t produce any decent results then youÂ can bet I’ll find that information somewhere elseÂ and write an article to fill the gap.
- Find new angles on current articlesÂ - If I’m short of ideas I’ll have a look through travel blogs, news reports, and other websites toÂ see if there are ways to put my own spin on existing article with my own market in mind. Don’t copy anything, ever! Instead useÂ the general topic for ideas before writing something that is completely your own.
- Know what I don’t know - There’s no way to know everything about a given topic. There are plenty of things that I know a littleÂ bit about but am not, in any way, an expert. In the past I’ve sort of blagged my way through these sections, putting up content based on research and best guesses but without any first-hand knowledge.Â I’ve begun to realise that first-hand experience is the best contentÂ you can get and I’ve decided that it’s worth paying for it if I have to. I’ve done this for the first time with my London area guide and definitely recommend paying people who know their stuff to write for you. I only paid Â£10 per area guide but the quality I’ve gotten from everyone has been great and a it’s zillion times better than what I could have slung together.
- Create some tools - Content is about more than words and if you can whip up some kind of cool gizmo then that’s just as good. If you’ve got a great idea ask around to see if it can be done because it seems like anything is possible if you can find the right person to do it (and afford to pay).Â I’ve only done this once for my London price guide but I think it will turn out to be the best $25 I spend.
- Choose the right tone for your target market - There are loads of backpacking sites out there that write with a really sterile, boring tone. Backpackers are a fun lot and will appreciate a bit of humour and won’t balk at the occasional potty talk. If you’re site is aimed at die hard Christians or something then perhaps talking about shagging in dorm rooms or swearing isn’t gonna fly but if you’re aiming at young travellers heading to Oktoberfest then it probablyÂ will.
- Have users generate content - Making it easy for readers to contribute their own opinions, reviews, stories, or whatever is a great way to get content. I haven’t had too much success in this area thus far. I’ve started forums but they get attacked by spam. I stuck a form on my Travoholic.com site for hostel reviews and used to get a few now and then but now the whole system is screwed up. I’ve put links on my site asking for content but I don’t think that flies anymore. But collecting user generated content works well for a lot of sites and I’ll be making another attempt at some point in the future.
Sometimes I get lazy with my writing and just stick something up to fill a space but I’m trying to get out of that bad habit. I now know how important great content is because I can see which pages people read and which ones show up high in the search engines. These are always the ones that I’ve put a lot of effort into. Spending time at the beginning to write great stuff will pay off later so lock yourself away during the earlyÂ day of your website and write like you’ve never written before! Write like the wind! …you get the idea.