One of the reasons that made you want to become a content writer or content marketer is probably the fact that you love coming up with original ideas that will grab anyone’s attention.
Like you, our goal isn’t to write or create dull or stereotyped pieces of content. Then again, reinventing the wheel or fabricating totally new concepts isn’t exactly possible most of the time. Sometimes, the originality factor relies on simple practices.
Read below our tried and true techniques to avoid generic content.
What Makes a Content Too Generic?
Let’s start with an important distinction. Many people confuse generic topics with generic content. There’s nothing wrong with writing articles or blog posts on generic topics as long as you provide valuable insights, new information, or any original element that makes that article or blog post stand out.
On the other hand, generic content strictly refers to the same old, bland information you include in an article. In other words, you don’t bring anything new, and there are dozens of similar or almost identical articles like yours. It doesn’t serve you any good, and most times, doesn’t bring any results.
Our Originality Tactics to Avoid Generic Content
As technical content writing is our main focus, the end goal of our articles is to solve a problem. So, we identify customer pain points and build our content strategy around them.
But how do we bring freshness to our content pieces ? Well, our tricks aren’t new, but we put these to good use:
- Expert opinions
- Industry influencers
- HARO replies
- Reddit threads
- User-generated content
Leverage Expert Opinions at Full Tilt
Many content marketers will agree that expert opinions are one of the best ways to add ‘originality bites’ to any content piece, particularly articles and ebooks. Gathering expert opinions can sometimes be quite challenging, especially when you’re working on a big project like creating an expert roundup. Yet, the effect and result are so worth it!
How we collect expert opinions:
Directly From Our Clients
If you have communicative clients that are always eager to share their experience, it would be a shame not to take advantage of their extroverted personality traits. We have one client in particular who’s always up for a conversation call with us, and he offers his view on hot topics in the SaaS industry.
We record the call, transcribe the information, extract the essential ideas, and place the information in an article or ebook.
Reach Out to Industry Influencers
At this part, we ask our team’s social media specialists to give us helpful pointers. After all, they spend most of their time interacting with online communities. They know what’s trending or who are the social savvy people that attract large audiences.
We still carefully consider the relevance between the influencers’ audience and our client’s audience and analyze their shared opinions to ensure 100% they’re the right fit.
Then, we either send them an email or reach them on social media and kindly ask them to answer a question or more (usually not more than 3).
Whenever we get a nice reply with valuable, insightful data or ideas, the excitement is so high that we want to make a celebration dance.
We’ve even received more than expert opinions. We had a few successful collaborations with industry influencers where they agreed to write an entire section or chapter for some of our ebook projects. It didn’t happen very often and most times, the proposal came from the influencer’s part.
This is beneficial for us not only regarding the original content, but also when it comes to promotion and distribution. These people are more likely to share a content piece where they brought a significant contribution.
We’ve been using HARO for several content projects. Sometimes, it was a lucky strike, other times, it brought us zero help. So, don’t rely on HARO to simply work its magic.
HARO’s main purpose is to help any writer save time by finding experts on a certain topic. Instead of doing cold outreach and spending hours finding the right person to request an expert opinion, you simply post a question and you’ll get several replies. Technically, find more experts in one place.
In reality, our experience taught us that HARO isn’t the ideal solution when your question is very technical or related to a very tech niche topic. Also, some people reply for the sake of replying or probably to pose themselves as savvy or knowledgeable individuals. You have to be really careful and filter the replies, or don’t use them at all in the worst case.
Nevertheless, it’s worth trying more general questions and common issues companies face in industries like:
- Customer success
- Information security
Reddit was a lifesaver when conventional Google research didn’t offer the expected results. To give you a real example, we had to write about a tech niche topic where we wanted to see the common pitfalls developers and engineers face in their daily work. We found a few general stuff on online forums, but we needed specific examples.
So, we posted a question on a relevant subreddit and boom! We received over 20 replies in one day! That may not seem much in the Reddit world, but for us, it was just what we needed.
Those replies were genuinely inspiring and helped us craft an original article.
As I mentioned above, finding subject matter experts takes a lot of time. Yet, it’s the safest and surefire way to get worthy information directly from people with experience in specific industries. These people will never risk giving fluff answers, and they always thoughtfully consider every word of their reply.
If you want to know tips on how to find these experts easier, here’s what we do:
- We ask our clients. Some of them give us helpful pointers; it can even be people they admire or follow.
- Carefully inspect all the websites, blogs, pdfs, or white papers during our research for articles. Many times, we find author names. We further look into them and see who these people are; they might be just who we’re looking for.
- Check on social media channels. Twitter and LinkedIn, in particular, are filled with SMEs in any industry. We search trending hashtags from potential SMEs in the industry, and see who’s leading conversations in online communities.
- Google industry conferences and events. This way, we retrieve lists of speakers, and even if it’s a past event, we’ve at least found some names we’ll further dig into.
To sum up, theories and views coming from people with years in a certain business area are always more truthful and dependable.
Take this example: let’s say you have some idea about how smart cars are built. That doesn’t make you an expert in smart cars! People who manufacture and test smart cars for a living are the experts.
This shouldn’t stop you from augmenting a strong opinion on a certain topic within an article. But you should always keep in mind your opinion won’t count much unless backed up by years of experience.
Get the Most Out of User-Generated Content
As its general definition states, “created by the people for the people”, user-generated content can be a real goldmine in terms of effective marketing. The reason is simple: users who promote a brand are more genuine and trustworthy compared to a brand promoting itself.
That’s why for one of our clients – a reading tracker app – we came up with the idea to create an attractive message requesting the users of the app to contribute to the company blog. Specifically, we asked them to share:
- any interesting reading tips and tricks
- captivating and not widely known novels they’ve recently read
- famous book names, or authors they don’t recommend and why
- anything else they consider it’s worth sharing in the world of books
This is the kind of information that this app’s users (especially new ones) are interested in. The company offers them a one-year free subscription in exchange for their valuable contribution.
Again, it’s the kind of win-win situation: the company gets original content but also increases its chances of attracting new users. On the other side, the already loyal users feel valued, but they get something in return for their writing efforts.
Conclusion: Avoid Generic Content by Filling the Void
To quote Ann Handley:
The internet is not waiting for another medium-quality blog post.
This might sound like a paradox because you and I have frequently bumped into bad-written and boring articles right on the first page of Google! But, rest assured, that effect of good ranking isn’t long-lasting.
As challenging as it can get at times, you need to catch the eye with original content:
- Share something new or find a different angle!
Comprehensive research is, again, the key to success. But you need to deeply analyze and see what the competition is missing. Or what topics they don’t cover sufficiently and seize this opportunity to fill the void.
2. Have more people contributing
Sometimes, you think that it’s your responsibility 100% to do all the content and writing creation. At least occasionally, step aside and ask team members to help with content ideas, reach out to experts or influencers to gather quotes or opinions. Whenever it seems like the right fit, ask customers to play a part in your content creation.
Combine elements that give a sense of uniqueness, and you’ll get an impressive and original content piece that will make you feel extremely proud.