As a tech enthusiast and someone who adores mathematics, I just love anything and everything about data & analytics.
Now that I have a lot of free time in hand (no job, not much freelancing work either), I started scratching the layers of the data world with a long-term goal to dig deep & get to the crust.
Nope, I don’t aspire to explore the mantle or the core. Don’t want to go that deep …I just want to gain enough data skills to perform my own independent research & analytics.
So, I was in the library, scanning the shelves like a slow Terminator with blurred vision and -1 Dioptre specs (not black), and I found a book on ‘data wrangling’.
Of course, I took the book and started reading it.
First, I checked the author’s bio. She was a professor and researcher at a university in IDK which part of India.
Right there, I got a feeling that I should close the book and put it back where it was. Because I wanted to read an author who is writing out of practical experience, and not theoretical research. Basically, someone who understands what s/he is writing.
But anyway, my curiosity and enthusiasm were at their peak, so I thought maybe not everyone writes as badly as some of the college professors I know from my college days. Also, I decided to read at least the first few pages because an idiom was buzzing in my head, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.
So, I started reading.
The first few lines were incoherent. Yet I continued.
In no time, I was on page two. Then three. A lot of grammatical errors. Not minor in nature. Major.
But then I thought, “Focus on the meat, not on the garnishing”.
Besides, my mirror said, “You don’t even understand the difference between a ‘gerund’ & ‘infinitive’, yet you’re judging a professor?”.
So, I continued.
Page 5. 6. 7.
Thereafter, I couldn’t convince myself to read any further. Not even a single word. Because it was full of fluff. Pure fluff.
I gave that author about 15 minutes of my attention. Every single line that she wrote was forcing me to close the book, while my inner drive was forcing me to keep reading. In the end, she won.
I had a drive to read. Maybe, that’s why I tolerated it up to page 7.
Your audience has a patience of 3 seconds!!! Your audience wants authoritative content. Engaging content. But even if you can’t offer those two, they may manage if they have an undying inner drive. But if your content fails to offer VALUE, if you don’t SOLVE the problem that they are facing, not helping them with their ASPIRATIONS, that inner drive will eventually DIE. And then they are never gonna come back to you.
When you’re creating content, always put delivering VALUE on top. Followed by optimizing for ENGAGEMENT, and then winning their trust and loyalty with AUTHORITATIVE content.
When I write content, in the very first few lines, subtly I try to communicate it to the audience “I’ve researched well, I understand your problem, and this piece that you’re reading is gonna solve it”.
I remember working with an automation testing platform- a SaaS startup. It was my first ever freelance writing gig. Every line of code that I added to the blogs was first executed by me, and then it found its way to the blog content. In fact, what I loved was that the team I was working for cross-validated the code before publishing it.
That’s the commitment you need to HELP your audience.
The same process was followed by the data extraction SaaS startup I worked with. It was a DIY WYSIWYG Drag & Drop tool. I was supposed to solve the audience challenges with a screenshot of every step.
But as I was in my early days of freelancing & writing, I did work with clients who weren’t following this practice of valuing QUALITY. In fact, most were inclined towards quantity. Not that the QUANTITY approach is wrong, but at least there should be a basic level of hygiene checks, and fact checks in the content pipeline. Without it, you’re just pushing the audience into more trouble and frustration, defying the very purpose of content.
I always tell/ask/request/appeal to my clients, either I need time for exploring what I’m about to write, or I need people who do this work day in and day out, who I can speak with to understand it better. This minimizes the chances of writing absolute gibberish stuff because of no practical hands-on exposure, or inexperience with the topic.
I’ll tell you why this commitment to quality is important.
Recently, I was writing a blog around a technical concept where you need to push code (let’s say the code for a new mobile app feature) in small chunks to the production environment (in simple terms, a place from where users can download the app with an abstraction layer interface, aka platform like Google Play). Now, SERP 1 (the first result on Google search results) said that this practice of shipping code in small chunks makes it very hard to debug. While it’s the exact opposite.
I’m certain it was written by a research writer who didn’t understand the concept well enough.
From here on, I won’t ever refer to the content/info by that brand. Because I know for a fact that there is a high chance that the information served will be wrong & misleading.
This is the exact same feeling that your audience gets when you pump low-quality content or inaccurate content on your website/blog.
You don’t need to be the best. But being RIGHT is BASIC.
WRITE HELPFUL CONTENT.
SERP 1 is good. But imagine if I mention the brand name of that blog with a screenshot of the blunder they wrote… imagine how it’s gonna impact their brand perception!!!
This is just one example. WWW is flooded with crap content.
I’m certain, I might also have made the same mistake in my early days. Prolly, I do it even now. But my intent is always to understand the topic that I’m writing about to the core, not the crust.
However, it’s not always a writer-problem.
Sometimes, we writers don’t get adequate time to do the research and understand the topics.
Sometimes, we are not paid well to yield quality work.
And so, I didn’t blame the writers in this blog, but brands.
If you want good returns from content, aim to get content written by people who have authority over the topic. If they are not good at writing, equip them with good ghostwriters.
But always be a VALUE-first content marketer.
Tada, keep creating awesome content.