Just as Americans have finally started caring more about what they put inside their bodies than what they cover them up with, Website teams are finally caring more about what they are saying than what things look like.
Let's face it: Healthy eating, and healthy content, takes work. It's much easier to roll into a fast food joint and order up a few Flash effects, snazzy animations, and some hot sauce than it is to sit down and make a delicious and satisfying batch of content. You know the old saying about how you're always hungry 15 minutes after eating Chinese food? (Personally I'm usually too full to move because I overindulge in the MSG carb wonderland, but I digress.) The similarity is obvious - crap might taste good for a few minutes, but it won't be good for you in the long run.
Creating good content is not easy. Like most good things, it takes planning, hard work, some possible failures, and even paving some new ground. It's not typically popular to work hard and sweat out the seemingly small things - not in today's "super size for less" society. Unless you are selling shit in a taco shell, your audience actually does care about the quality of your content. They want to know that you are working hard to "know" yourself. They don't want happy meals, movie posters, huge fancy animations, or more blogs than you can shake an extra large milkshake at (sorry, couldn't resist). They want an experience, authenticity, caring, quality. They want you. And if you serve them up a double dose of grease and "we can turn you into tomorrow's leaders" (inspired by the higher ed universe), then you will lose. They will smell the fry tray a mile away and never even nibble on the sweet edge of your bun (geez, OK, sorry, this metaphor has LEGS I tell ya!).
I think it's almost funny how many people pass up great opportunities because they don't want to do the hard work to get to know themselves and then do the extra hard work to tell their story to the people who are sitting in the booth asking to hear it. It's so much easier to throw some manufactured meat onto a piece of bread, and it's so much harder to plan out a truly nutritious meal. But nutrition is what good content is - it's fuel for the mind, energy for the imagination, inspiration for the spirit.
Let's work even one more food metaphor in here while we're at it - how about the local/seasonal/organic movement? Why has this become so popular? Well, lo and behold, stuff that is in season, fresh, and not covered in chemicals actually tastes better and your body actually feels better when you eat it! Holy Whoppers! Yep, it's true. There is no denying it. And now back to content: Yes, dear reader, the same applies. We care more about what is happening right now, right here, and not bathing it in a bunch of preservatives or unnecessary adjectives.
So, the secret to great content?
- Do the work to "know thyself," and then tell your story to the world.
- Be unabashed, bold, full of personality, proud, willing to make some mistakes along the way, and always full of nutrition.
- Resist the urge to use the high fructose corn syrup of the marketing world (cheap effects, generic statements, overused jargon).
- Stick to the basics and let them sing. You have no idea how amazing broccoli with a little lemon juice is until you've cleansed your palate of the junk and feasted on real food.
Just do the same with your content, and you'll be surprised at how wonderful the results will be - for you, and for your audience.