Any content creator knows objectivity can be a challenge.
When you create something for your audience, you intend for it to be informative, interesting, and relevant, but sometimes you get so involved in the process you lose sight of the content’s purpose.
Often, content creators have trouble identifying whether their content serves their audiences or if they’ve gone off on an irrelevant, self-serving tangent.
Answering these questions will help you find out if your content works and what to do if it doesn’t.
Is It Obvious Who This Content Is For?
One of the first steps of content creation is to clearly identify your target audience.
The identifying markers of that target audience should be threaded throughout any piece of content you create. You want your readers to see themselves within the content so they can more effectively relate to it and learn from it.
If you’ve effectively addressed your target audience and created content that will resonate with them, it will be obvious.
Have I Seen This Content Before?
No one wants to read the same thing over and over again. While your content should be timely and address industry trends, you don’t want to regurgitate other’s thoughts and advice.
Check the websites of your competitors and industry leaders for tired, similar ideas. Look at your content critically and ask if it really provides anything new and useful to your readers. If it doesn’t, try adding a personal touch to make it more unique.
For example, if you’ve written a blog about the most common mistakes among new entrepreneurs, share an anecdote about one of your career failures and how you learned from it. This kind of specificity will make your content stand out.
Does It Contain Actionable Advice?
Actionable is a hot buzzword in content creation, but it all too often gets lost in lofty discussions of trends and best practices.
This question gets to the heart of actionability: when your audience reaches the end of your blog, video or infographic, can they do something?
That thing might be signing up for your newsletter, or reading another article, or getting a haircut—but there should be a tangible outcome you can envision after an audience has consumed your content. If you can’t answer this question, your content needs to be more actionable.
Have I Linked to Authoritative Sources?
Any good piece of content, even an op-ed or thought piece, will have references. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. Linking to authoritative sources helps validate your message and puts your information into context. Not to mention your site will probably be rewarded with better search engine rankings.
What Can I Take Out?
It’s important to consider brevity in any piece of content. There is a fine line between an incomplete piece of content and a rambling one.
The perfect balance depends on your subject matter, target audience, and medium. It’s a worthwhile exercise to trim your content down to the bare minimum to avoid fluff. While you don’t want all of your blog posts shaved down to bullet points, it can be helpful to see what your content looks like through a minimalist lens.
How Does This Fit With My Other Content?
Any content you post on your site should fit in with your overall message. Your area of expertise should be clear to a first-time visitor from any and every piece of content you post. The content you provide should be streamlined in a content calendar that naturally builds on past content and sets up readers for what’s coming next.
It’s also important to link to other parts of your site that the audience might find helpful. These internal links not only improve your search ranking and website traffic, but they also make for a better experience for your site visitors.
Give It Time
It will be hard to answer these questions objectively immediately after creating a piece of content.
For these questions to help you judge your work, you need to approach it as a critical reader, not its creator. Allow yourself some time away from the content before trying to assess its quality.
Being critical of your own work can be a challenge. By asking these questions, you can overcome that challenge and produce highly effective, helpful content for your audience, every time.