22

4 Steps to Creating Value Packed Content

Make Value Not Fluff

In any material about content marketing or blogging, you’ll find a lot of talk about creating highly valuable content. But what exactly does that mean? How exactly do you make your content highly valuable and avoid creating “fluffy” content?

In this post, you’ll discover an actionable 4-step system to make your content more valuable and more useful for your audience.

The Premise

The system presented here is based on an important premise, which I already talked about in this video post: it’s not only the value in your post that matters, but also the time investment required for your audience to extract this value. In other words, an important (and often overlooked) factor is the “value density” of your content.

With that in mind, the following steps are as much about adding value to your content as they are about cutting the fat and increasing the value density.

Step 1: Action

There are generally two types of educational content: conceptual and practical.

The above sentence is an example of conceptual content. It’s nice to know, but there’s no indication of what exactly you’re supposed to do with this knowledge. If concepts are “did you know…” statements then practical advice is a “do this” statement.

To make your content more valuable, tie every concept to an action or recommendation. When you’re finished writing your outline or script, go through the text with this point in mind: for every piece of information in your content, check if it leads to an action step. Then, either add action steps throughout your content or summarize a “what to do next” action plan at the end.

Step 2: Examples, Images & Data

Some types of content are naturally more value-dense than others, which makes them a go-to value adding tool:

Examples

Whenever possible refer to real-life examples to illustrate the points you’re trying to make. For example, in this post about unique selling propositions, I present my system for evaluating the quality of a USP and then I give examples of this system applied to actual businesses and websites:

example-1

Take a look at the post and imagine how much less useful it would be if I had ended it after presenting the concept, without adding any examples. The examples make the theory come to life and increase the usefulness of content immensely.

Images

Using images is also a good way to increase the value-density of your content, but it needs to be done right. Not every picture is worth a thousand words. The best kind of picture to use is one that illustrates and visualizes a process or an idea. The worst kind of image to use is a random stock-photo.

illustration

An image like this may not be very pretty, but it enriches the content and helps your reader understand something new…

random-success-guy

…and it’s way better than something like this random success dude from a stock photo site.

Data

Finally, use stats and data to validate your points. Data can help illustrate what you’re explaining and it can also make the crucial difference in how your content is perceived by your audience: good data makes the difference between content being viewed as “just some opinion” or it being internalized as “truth”. Here are two examples of how data can be used in content:

In this post about speeding up WordPress sites, I open the post with one simple statistic about page speed and user engagement and then encourage the readers to test their own website. It's a small thing, but how much better is this than just stating "your website should be fast" and expecting readers to take my word for it?

In this post about speeding up WordPress sites, I open the post with one simple statistic about page speed and user engagement and then encourage the readers to test their own website. It’s a small thing, but how much better is this than just stating “your website should be fast” and expecting readers to take my word for it?

One of my most popular posts ever, is sadly no longer relevant since some sweeping changes to the Google search engine. The success of this post had a lot to do with the fact that it is almost entirely based on testing and real-world data (note that the post is many years old and the data as well as recommendations no longer apply).

One of my most popular posts ever, is sadly no longer relevant since some sweeping changes to the Google search engine. The success of this post had a lot to do with the fact that it is almost entirely based on testing and real-world data (note that the post is many years old and the data as well as recommendations no longer apply).

Look through your content and ask yourself: where can you emphasize your points with examples, images or data?

Step 3: Core Message & Saying No

Making your content more value-packed means saying “no” to some things. You’re passionate about the topics you write about and you probably easily go off on a tangent or get lost in details. For the sake of your audience, you have to learn how to cut out parts of your content that aren’t crucial.

To do so requires two things:

Core Message

First, you need to be clear about the core message of your content. What’s the most important thing you want your readers to walk away with?

Just like you can check your content and for every paragraph, ask yourself “is this actionable?” (see step 1), you can ask yourself “does this serve the core message?” If the answer is “no”, delete the paragraph.

Practice

Cutting your content down to the essentials is a matter of skill. It’s simple, albeit it somewhat painful, to practice this process:

Create a piece of content, then set yourself a limit to 50% of its length and create it again. If you wrote 2,000 words, try and get the same point across in just 1,000 words. If you made a 10 minute video, try to get the same value across in 5 minutes.

Check out this video post for some examples of how my skill of “densifying” my video content increased over the years. Here’s another video that I re-published a few years after the original. The original video (linked at the bottom of the post) was around 12 minutes long. The new one clocked in at 7 minutes and if you watch both, I think you’ll agree that it doesn’t contain any less information or less value than the original.

Step 4: Split Your Content

To be clear: long content isn’t a bad thing. Step 3 isn’t only about creating shorter content, it’s about increasing the value-density in your content, no matter the length.

Long content can be very good, but it’s not for everyone and it doesn’t have the same appeal as quick, bite-sized pieces of content. If you do have a lot to say about something, consider splitting the content up into a smaller and a more extensive part.

Examples:

Here's an infographic about creating a minimum viable product.

Here’s an infographic about creating a minimum viable product.

Here, on the other hand, is a 3,000 word blog post about the same topic.

Here, on the other hand, is a 3,000 word blog post about the same topic.

Here’s a very short course about productivity for entrepreneurs.

And here's a 1.5 hour webinar replay about the same topic.

And here’s a 1.5 hour webinar replay on the same topic.

The short and long pieces of content won’t appeal to the same audience. In general, short pieces are better for new visitors who are just getting to know you and longer pieces are great for the fans who already follow and trust you. There’s no reason to only cater to one of the two groups.

Whenever you have a lot to say about a topic, consider creating one very short “just the very basics” piece of content and one long, expansive, epic piece of content for the truly dedicated.

Arm yourself with the steps in this post and go forth and create some truly awesome content!

If you enjoyed this post, please share! And as always, if you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share, just leave a comment below!

Shane's Signature

Shane
 

I'm Shane Melaugh and I'm the guy writing most of the posts on this blog. My goal is to provide you with useful, straight-forward insights on how to grow your business by creating compelling offers, driving traffic and increasing conversions.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 22 comments
Stan Dubin - July 13, 2014

Good stuff, Shane. Paring down content to keep to your core message isn’t always easy, but we certainly appreciate it when WE see it on a web page. Doing so creates more believability and more sales.

Reply
    Shane - July 14, 2014

    Yes, exactly. It’s quite painful and difficult to reduce the word count or length of a video. It’s something that has never come easy to me and I need to continually practice.

    Reply
Kenneth Lawson - July 13, 2014

Shane, good insight to page development. Staying focused on the visitor by presenting our website in a manner that encourages user engagement as means to an end.

Reply
Jennifer - July 13, 2014

Great info -thanks!

Reply
Seth Goldrath - July 13, 2014

Great article, Shane. When using links to other articles I prefer to have it opened in a new window. Chances are that readers just stay on the new page and not return, especially when there is linked content in that article as well. For myself, having low distraction around the actual content, as with ‘screaming widgets’, colors, pop-ups left, right and center, adds to the value of the article. The message can be great, but having it shouted in your face is unnecessary and a big put off.
Always interesting reading your articles. Thanks

Reply
    Shane - July 14, 2014

    That’s a good point, Seth. As the website owner, you have to strike the right balance between getting your conversion elements in (and whether we like them or not, the “screaming” kind tend to work) while not compromising the quality of the user experience.

    Reply
Donna - July 14, 2014

Shane, I always appreciate your to the point content. Thank you for reminding me how to bring value to my readers. Great content as always.

Reply
stephen - July 14, 2014

Hi Shane,
I was just wondering if you ever use a forula or templates for your content structure almost like a wireframe?

Reply
    Shane - July 14, 2014

    Hello Stephen,

    I’ve only used smaller components like templates. For example, there’s a product overview table at the top of each of my review posts. That is one that I copy and paste across all the posts. But apart from that, I always try to build a layout to best convey whatever the current post is about.

    Reply
Nauf Sid - July 14, 2014

Great post Shane. You could also add infographics and presentations to “spice” up your content.

This decreases bounce rate and enhances conversions.

Reply
Amy Hagerup - July 15, 2014

Thanks, Shane. My husband and I used to write regular newsletters for our work as missionaries. We both honed and honed each letter to make it as short and succinct as possible while keeping the readers engaged. We knew that getting our future letters read were contingent on the letter held in the person’s hand being a good read! – Amy

Reply
Joerg - July 16, 2014

Thaks Shane, this helps me also a lot. It’s often my Problem to write my Articles to long. Your Tipp with the Pictures is the same important Thing. Thanks! Joerg

Reply
    Shane - July 19, 2014

    Thank you for the comment, Joerg! As with everything, in keeping your articles nice and concise, practice makes perfect. :)

    Reply
Ray Cassidy - July 19, 2014

Hi Shane,
Very succinct again Shane.

With videos, it’s all in the editing even if you have scripted carefully beforehand. Cutting down the gaps and mumbles is pretty crucial. it ties in nicely with your idea of value density Shane.

An interesting example that I came across yesterday that illustrates the point perfectly is Myles Anderson of Bright Local. He started a series of webinar / interview pieces with key players inthe Local SEO / marketing sphere, which I have to say had a hell of a lot of value. The first couple with David Mihm and Ann Smarty were awful because of all the mmmmm-ing and natural conversational pauses. However by the time they did their 4th with Brian Anderson last week, they have obviously either improved the scripting or got a serious bit of editing going on in the backend. This allows the viewer to soak up the ins and outs of local search marketing much more efficiently. You can find the interviews (Brian) http://youtu.be/y5vNXxSGdpU here if that’s your bag – very complementary to your product selling approach Shane.

Reply
    Shane - July 19, 2014

    Thank you for the example, Ray! It’s true that video and audio can be cleaned up and tightened up significantly in editing.

    Reply
Sean - July 20, 2014

Great as always Shane.

Reply

Leave a Reply: