When you build your website, or when you launch an online business, a problem that you may have not anticipated becomes apparent. Where do you get content to put in your new website? We all know that good compelling content is what makes or breaks a site, right? So where can you get it?
1. Steal it
This is easy. Just Google any random topic and you will find thousands of places where you can steal from. Copy-paste and you’re done. Easy peasy. Except it does not work and is a little stupid in this day and age.
Sadly, it is worth noting that a significant number of clients who I have worked with before think this is what they need.
2. User-generated content
The idea here is that you hope people will come to your website and entertain themselves while at the same time filling your website with content. This approach has worked for many websites out there but it probably will not work for you. Sawa?
Sturgeon’s Law says that 90% of everything is garbage. This is even more true when you try to deal with user generated content.
…UGC needs 24-hour surveillance of user behaviour to monitor usage trends, offensive content, and most of all, SPAM. Once you neglect a UGC site, it either degenerates into a flame war a la mashada, a porn site a la KenyanList/eastafricantube, or a SPAM farm a la Zuqka.
3. Mass Semi-Amateur Content
You know www.e-how.com? This is their content generation strategy of choice. Basically what you do is pay an army of underpaid freelancers to write articles for your website in mass. Learn more.
Of course the quality of content will be higher than user generated content but I personally do not feel that the difference in quality is very pronounced. I would not recommend this for your website.
Besides, Google is clamping down hard on this. Be warned.
4. Using Talented Expert Writers
In theory, this sounds really good. You can hire expert “artists” to write beautiful stuff, polishing every little bit to perfection. If you can do this consistently, your site will be known for its quality, well researched content. I would recommend this, but I feel it may be too expensive for almost everybody. I am tempted to call this the “New York Times” (NYT) approach.
Speaking of which, have you had a look at the NYT financial performance lately? If the NYT brand cannot make this method work, what makes you think it will be sustainable for your relatively small brand? Pole.
5. Scalable Content Creation
If you are going to be able to generate content that is high quality yet affordable and which advances your business goals then you will have to get creative.
A while back Ok Cupid published an article titled “How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get“. Please have a look at that article again – they received thousands of comments and no doubt many other websites talked about it.
Ok Cupid did something very smart. They used a kawaida user survey to publish an interesting, easily consumable, easily share-able piece of content. Brilliant! And you know what? Ok Cupid can do this over and over again because they already have the tools in place. All they need to do is come at it from a different angle and be the at the top of the social news sites again.
What’s the lesson here?
As a business you should strive to collect (or to be privy to) unique information. In almost every business imaginable, you can collect unique information and with just a bit of creativity whip it into amazing content for your website.
Are you a wedding planner? Whats the most comment color themes at your weddings?; Do you sell spare parts? What item breaks down the most? How can people take care of it better?; Do you sell cakes? Why not share unique recipes? What is bought most often? etc etc
The idea is that if you run any business, stuff that you do every day can be turned into simple and interesting content for your website.
If you have not yet started collection interesting data, you can start analyzing existing data. The recent Open Data movement should get you started! Keep in mind that anyone else can do this, though, so use it as a temporary solution while you build your own unique stuff.