Last Updated on by Jeremy
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Whenever I hear bloggers give advice, especially at travel blogging conferences like TBEX or Travelcon, the most common content strategy I hear is simply this: write good content.
With an estimated billion blogs out there, we simply have too many articles that are completely irrelevant to virtually everyone. Some may have great writing. Some may have fantastic photos. But at the end of the day, a well-produced article is still not good content if no one actually cares to read it.
In that respect, the advice of producing good content is highly relevant but needs further explanation.
In a market that is heavily focused on gaining larger and larger readerships for monetization, I have some bad news here. No one cares about the six random things you did this past weekend. No one cares about your opinion of an obscure life event that only affected you. No one cares about re-written press releases. No one cares about interviews with other media/bloggers they've never heard of. I could go on.
The reason for this is because good content, at least good content in how I think of it, is content people actually want to read. But going further, it is also content people want to read in large enough volumes to make a difference to your blog. This means writing content that is less about you and more about what people actually want- the topic itself.
If we as bloggers can't produce that, well, we may as well give up.
Some Bloggers Can Write Whatever – But It Isn't You
Before jumping into it, it is worth reiterating that this article's point is that no one outside of your family and maybe one or two friends care about highly personalized content about you (what you did on your last vacation, what your weekend was like, your newest goal, your divorce, etc.).
There is one very small exception.
Some bloggers can get away with writing whatever they want and still get it read by hundreds or thousands of people, and those are bloggers who already have a dedicated audience (specifically on social media or their newsletter). If you can publish a post, share it on Facebook, and get thousands of clicks within 24 hours, regardless of the topic, congratulations- you've already built your site to the point that you can write whatever you want and enough people will care.
If you can't, which 99.999% of bloggers can't (myself included), you need to be a bit more focused in your efforts.
The point is that if you are a travel blogger, most readers care about tips in the destination they are going to visit- not you doing something in the destination. If you are a food blogger, most readers care about the food they're about to try (be it through a recipe, restaurant review, etc)- not your backstory revolving around the food. If you are a lifestyle blogger, most readers care about your lifestyle advice- not the three mundane things you did on Tuesday that have no relevance to the topic at hand. Again, I could go on.
In modern blogging, readers care less and less about you personally and more and more about the topic you're writing about itself. This could change as you grow, especially if you get into the 0.001% from above, but very few bloggers amass an audience that clings to every word they say no matter how mundane the topic is.
Although this is true, we still style our blogs in niche and article organization to give credibility to what we say. This is one small box to check in a much bigger picture. It all circles back to finding content people care about en masse and featuring that first and foremost relative to your niche.
You can write, write, write, and write, but if you're not writing something people in large enough volume care about (and actively hustling it to them), no one is ever going to read your content. So perhaps I should rephrase this thought with the following blogging commandment: write shit people want to read.
Thankfully, there are ways to figure that out.
Your Content Strategy – Pick Strategic Blog Topics
So far, I've done the hard part in breaking the news that no one cares about you beyond being a credible source on your topic at hand. Now it is time to get to the easier part in thinking about content strategy.
There are two ways of doing this. We can think of things broadly in terms of what kind of content people like to see, and then look at it analytically by proving it. To start, let's go broad to discuss how I think when it comes to generating article ideas.
When I visit a restaurant for Discover the Burgh, I know that they may seat 150 people per day. At five days a week, that is nearly 40,000 people a year. Some of those people want to read restaurant reviews. I go to the restaurant to try it out, but my article is about the restaurant, not me eating out this week.
When I visit a brewery, I know that they may serve 200-500 people per day. At three days a week, that is nearly 30,000-80,000 people a year. Some of those people want to read brewery reviews. I go to the brewery, but my roundup article is about breweries, not what I drank last week.
When I go to a larger hotel, I know that they may sell 50-250 rooms per day. At seven days a week, that is anywhere from 20,000-100,000 people a year. Some of those people want to read hotel reviews. I stay at the hotel, but my review is about the hotel in the context of me actually having stayed there.
When I explore Pittsburgh, I know that we get 10,000,000 visitors per year and have 2,000,000 residents in the metro area. Some of those people will be searching for things to do and places to eat. I write content about the attractions, not about me exploring.
My personal element is woven into all of these things, naturally, but it is about the destination via me, not about me in the destination. This is the key that matters to potential readers.
Services like these try to approximate just how many people search for any given keyword on a monthly basis, and a few also attempt to define how difficult it is to rank for them as well (we personally use Keysearch for the price-to-value of the service).
Rather than assuming that 3,500 people may be looking for restaurant information in any given month, their algorithms predict the actual search traffic with relative accuracy. So while not every visitor to that restaurant may do a search, if I find that one hits 1,000 monthly searches, well, I'm still interested in writing about it because it is the right audience for my content.
Through Keysearch, I can safely say that each month about 3,000 people visit Pittsburgh's best restaurant, 10,000 people search for breweries in Pittsburgh, 12,000 people look for generic restaurant recommendations, and 40,000 people search the generic term things to do in Pittsburgh. As for Discover the Burgh? Well, only 100 people search for Discover the Burgh directly, despite the fact that our site gets nearly 100,000 clicks per month from search.
Where do the other 99,900 clicks come from? Our tailored content optimized around what people are actually searching for.
This is why the commandment of write shit people want to read is so important. My sites get traffic not because of who I am or what I do, but rather that my articles provide value for the reader's needs. My overall niche only provides the credibility that we know what we talking about and may be the right fit for receiving that coveted click.
At the end of the day, people care about their needs first and my opinion second. So, naturally, I write my content to reflect that. Yours should too.
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About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.