Good content has a clear purpose.  When your reader knows that they can count on your work to fulfill a need, you’ll have a committed member of your community.  However, if your work is aimless, your readers won’t stay long.

Your audience should come away from your writing informed, entertained, inspired, or some combination of the three.

Today, we’re going to look at content that informs.

When you inform someone, you’re:

  • transferring knowledge/teaching
  • solving a problem/answering a question
  • increasing awareness

Let’s look at each in turn.

Transferring Knowledge

When you transfer knowledge, you’re simply sharing something that you think the recipient should know.  My recipients are usually business owners, other content creators, or both.  So, I thought that dissecting the different purposes of content would be useful information for them (YOU!) to have or consider.

Solving a Problem

Solving a problem is as exactly how it sounds.  When you try do this in your content, you’re addressing a known need.  Maybe you’re tackling this topic due to direct feedback from your community or maybe you’re responding to general trends.  For example, when I wrote this post about how to create written content more efficiently, I did so because many people in my community told me it was a concern.

Increasing Awareness

Increasing awareness is similar to transferring knowledge in the sense that you’re sharing something you think your audience should know.  However, it’s more pointed.  Here, you’re calling attention to something very specific — like an event, a recent industry development, or a product or service that you’re promoting — instead of a broad topic.  Increasing awareness usually has an element of time attached to it as well.  There’s a sense of urgency where transferring knowledge happens when it happens.

When creating informative content, be sure to:

  • know your audience
  • know your objective
  • anticipate questions
  • avoid overwhelming readers
  • invite questions/comments

Let’s look at each in turn.

Know Your Audience

Before you start creating your content, envision your consumer.  Why do they need or want this content?  What are their goals, roadblocks, fears, etc.?  By keeping this in mind, your content won’t stray from it’s intended purpose.

Know Your Objective

When your audience is done with your content, what should the result be?  Do you want them to be more skilled?  Feel heard? Buy a product?  As you review your content before publication, ask yourself: does this piece do what it’s supposed to?

Anticipate Questions

Of course, it’s darn near impossible to know every question someone in your community might have.  But, as you read (or listen to or watch) what you’ve created, do you see any holes?  Often, as an expert in your field, you may omit information because it’s just so ingrained that it doesn’t mentally flag as important.  Your job is to try and see past that natural tendency and put yourself in the shoes of your audience.

For instance, to me, many of the bullet points that I include in my blog posts are self-explanatory.  However, maybe they aren’t to everyone who reads my blog.  (Plus, if I just had a post with bullets, Google would probably hate it!)

Avoid Overwhelm

Long form posts are Google’s fave these days, but we need to be careful not to completely overwhelm our community.  It’s important to present information in a way where it can be consumed and applied.  If there is too much going on, people will become discouraged and abandon your work.

That’s why I’m going to write three separate posts for content that informs, content that entertains, and content that inspires.  At some point, I may write an e-book with all of my content related posts expanded upon.  However, I know from a digestibility standpoint, those posts stand alone well.

Invite Questions/Comments

Engaging your audience is critical no matter the form or purpose of your content.  A great way to encourage participation (and inspire more content later!) is to ask your tribe for questions or thoughts.  They will feel heard and involved.  And you will get some amazing takeaways for future use.  A win-win!

Ready for a few more points to mull over?

Effective content that informs:

  • is appropriately researched
  • is well-organized
  • is simple to understand/uses layperson terminology
  • offers step-by-step instructions as applicable
  • offers supplemental tips to bolster the main points
  • offers additional linked resources for further reading

Let’s look at each in turn.

Appropriately Researched

If you’re an expert in your field, you likely aren’t spending a ton of time researching for your content.  However, if you discover a critical gap in your knowledge, you owe it to your community to do your due diligence and present the full facts.  Additionally, even though you’re well-informed now, you need to maintain that standing by keeping abreast of new trends and developments within your industry.

Well-Organized

For knowledge to be transferred, your audience needs to understand it. Your audience will be turned off quickly if your material is jumbled.  One of the best ways to facilitate understanding is to present the information in a logical way that builds on and reinforces itself.  For example, I define what informative content does before I offer tips on how to create it.

Simple to Understand

If you’re trying to help someone decipher a problem or learn a skill, don’t bombard them with jargon or try to sound smart.  If you present information in a clear and systematic way, people will see your credibility, and more importantly, the point you’re trying to make.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Some topics are made for step-by-step instructions.  Others, not so much.  For this article, I’m not going to tell you to create a new blog post, write out an outline, find your sources, flesh out the copy, etc.  Instead, I’m going to offer some practical tips and suggestions to put you in the right frame of mind for the task.  If I was telling you how to write a new blog post in WordPress for the first time, the former approach would be more appropriate.

Supplemental Tips

As you’re writing (or recording or filming), you may realize that you have leftover bits of information hanging around.  They don’t seem to fit the overall schema you’ve developed and they don’t seem to warrant their own piece of content.  What do you do?  You offer it as bonus tip, an extra snippet, an additional piece of fodder.  Just slip it in wherever it makes the most sense.  I often include it as a separate line below the section that’s most relevant.  I cleverly title it “tip.”

Tip: Sharing these random pointers show that you care about your audience enough to ensure that they have all of the relevant information.  (See what I did there?!)

Additional Resources

In your content, your voice and ideas should be dominant (shocker!).  However, peppering in links to external resources can really help your readers.  Including outside information makes the content experience richer for your audience.  It shows that you have their best interests in mind.  It also demonstrates a sense of humility as you’re acknowledging the credibility and expertise of others.  Finally, it’s an opportunity to partner with other content creators that you respect and endorse.

Final Thoughts

Informing others is helping them.  If you have knowledge, you should share it with your community so that everyone can grow together.  By keeping their needs in mind, presenting your points in a logical way, and inviting your tribe to participate, you’ll be well on your way to creating effective content that informs!

Last Tip: If you’re struggling to explain a topic to your audience, it may be because it’s tacit knowledge instead of explicit knowledge.  I often think that trying to teach someone how to write could be difficult for this very reason.

What the heck is tacit vs. explicit knowledge?  Check out this post to find out!  (It’s my additional resource for this article.  I always try to practice what I preach!)

My plug:  If you’re struggling to put together the written content that your audience needs, let me know.  I can help!

Share: What strategies do you use to make sure your informative content is on point?

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