Will I share your article on my LinkedIn feed? Most probably, no. It happened multiple times … People asking me to share their articles with my LinkedIn audience. But almost every single time I had to say “No.”
Not a fun thing to do, but I don’t have any other option. You see, I’m pretty demanding when it comes to content quality. And I won’t be sharing anything with my audience that is less than what I consider to be a good article.
Plus, I don’t share too many articles. Just those gem pieces I consider extremely well written.
So what exactly a bad (or not good enough) article means and why am I such an asshole not wanting to share content pieces written by other people?
Let’s find out.
[Note: Even if you’re not the one writing the articles for your SaaS blog, you can always take a look at the content you’re writers publish to make sure they’re doing a great job.]
People usually write articles to inform, educate, or entertain. Nothing wrong about that. Good articles, however, are much more than just an informative or entertaining piece.
Their goal is to attract and maintain people’s attention, nudge them into taking a specific action, ignite conversations, and spark any sort of engagement.
Wondering why can’t you achieve these results?
I can answer this question easily. After all, I wrote my share of bad articles so I know what I’m talking about.
Here’s a quick list of elements that will make your article bad and boring:
Yes, I do have a problem with stiff or “corporate” language. Some people think it sounds professional. Not at all. If you want to sound sophisticated be ready to be boring and to lose people’s attention from the first sentence.
Here’s what I mean when I say stiff language …
It’s unnatural and too formal. Try to say that to a friend over a beer or smoothie. He or she will laugh about you and ask … “What in the world is wrong with you? You’re talking like a robot.”
When reading something like that, people aren’t able to relate, so they lose their interest. This type of language can’t help you grab and maintain people’s attention.
If you’re telling someone what to do, at least give them actionable tips, instead of general advice.
You’ll find articles telling you things such as …
And all that without getting into the details and explaining step-by-step what should you do to be more creative, more authentic or think out of the box.
Here’s a quick example:
What should the readers do? How can they increase their online presence? What type of content should they post online? On which platforms should they be present? As you can see, all this information is missing.
It’s a general tip people can’t apply because they lack step-by-step guidance.
Unfortunately, the world is full of non-actionable content people can’t use to solve their problems.
When you check a blog, you can easily tell if its creators are focused on way too much on their SEO performance. Obviously, there’s nothing bad with optimizing your blog and making sure you’re doing this entire SEO thing the right way.
However, you can’t play the SEO game exclusively, forgetting about your audience, their interests, and their needs.
Here’s a sad example of an “SEO-optimised” blog that focuses on covering all the industry keywords …
I bet you read at least two articles presenting the same information. How to create a SaaS content marketing strategy? How to be like Elon Musk? How to optimize your conversion?
You can rarely find anything new nowadays. The 2020 articles are a regurgitation of the 2019 articles which are a regurgitation of the 2018 articles and so on.
You can’t say your article is good if you just made a compilation of the information you found reading other articles.
As you know, presenting data and statistics is a good way to back-up your words and make your argument strong.
However, we’re just repeating the same research papers or reports again and again and again. I bet you’ve heard plenty of times things such as:
And although citing trusted resources and presenting data is not something bad, it is not a novelty either. What we’re missing is … original research aka research conducted by your team using your company resources and data.
There’s no shortage of companies creating prescriptive content without providing any real-life examples.
In other words, they’re telling people what they should do without showing how these same tips helped others to achieve good results.
Here’s a quick example:
I think the author missed an incredible opportunity of strengthening his narrative by providing awesome real-life examples.
Faceless content is everywhere. You don’t know who wrote it or what’s their position about certain topics.
There’s no personality. There’s no human behind the article, speaking to another human. Here’s an example of zero personality narrative which you can find everywhere in the SaaS world:
“What’s wrong with articles not having a personality?” you may ask. After all, most of them are informative pieces.
Fair question. To answer it, let’s look into what “writing an article with personality” means:
Personality-powered content is more REAL and interesting to consume, don’t you think?
This comes from the author’s desire to cover everything in one article. I also have it from time to time, thinking that the more information I give, the better.
By doing so though, I was missing the essential: explaining the basics and covering the main topic.
Here’s an example:
As you can see, the sub-headline promise revolves around writing great Facebook copy, yet the steps refer mostly to technicalities that have nothing to do with copywriting.
Making things difficult for your readers won’t help. On the contrary, you may confuse them … And I’m sure you don’t want this to happen.
What do I mean by lack of structure though?
Well, in many cases, I can see articles with no sub-headlines. I don’t know if what I’m reading is still the introduction or not. Also, I may not know if the bullet point belongs to a previous sub-headline or it marks a new part. It’s just text.
Here’s what I mean:
[Note: This is the entire article.]
Articles with no structure are bad both for your readers and Google ranking.
That’s pretty obvious, isn’t?
And believe me … there’s no shortage of “Captain Obvious” articles. There are so many that it became almost frustrating. You’re clicking on a headline thinking this article will give you some fresh insights only to read and say … “Duh … I knew that! It’s common sense!”
And although I could add ten more elements that will keep your article from “shinning,” let’s stop here and see what can you do to create content that is worth reading and sharing.
I’m sorry for saying that, but usually, people will talk and write about things they think they know. They may refer to some research papers or statistics to back up their words but they have no skin in the game.
They’re not speaking from their own experience, which means they didn’t apply the tips they’re writing about in the article.
To gain more credibility and be more helpful though, you’ll want to share with your audience the things that you’ve applied to achieve your goals.
That’s why you’ll want to focus on sharing what you or your company did to achieve a result or overcome a challenge.
The experience itself will give you enough authority to make your own conclusions and tell people how they can replicate your results.
Here’s an awesome article, written by Edward Ford, Marketing Director @ Supermetrics.
As you can see, the article is focused on the exact strategies they’ve applied to go from €10M to €20M ARR in 12 months.
Since they’ve tested all these steps, they have the necessary insights to share the things that worked for them.
One example is their approach to content marketing. Instead of just going heavy on publishing content, they’ve analyzed which articles people read before starting the trial. This data gave them the possibility to double down on the type of articles that worked best and increase the number of trials.
You wouldn’t be able to come up with this insight and know that it works if you wouldn’t have skin in the game.
We’re swimming in content.
Better said, we’re drowning in superficial content …
We don’t take our time to analyze a problem or a situation and uncover all the elements that made it happen.
Publishing superficial articles, however, won’t help you. People are tired of reading content that lacks depth.
What you could do instead is to follow the example of Tom Hunt and his article “19 SaaS Marketing Strategies That Bootstrapped Ahrefs To $40m ARR.”
I was wow’d by the incredible work he did writing this in-depth analysis. He didn’t just put together a few “lessons” from Ahrefs. We went deep and uncovered the REAL reasons why Ahrefs went to a $40M ARR.
He got in touch with Tim Soulo, CMO & Product Advisor @ Ahrefs and have spent entire weeks on analyzing their website, content, and team.
His number one goal was to understand how they’ve achieved such incredible growth and then he shared these lessons with his audience.
Here are some of the Ahrefs strategies he uncovers in his article…
This approach helped Tom to discover some interesting Ahrefs practices you wouldn’t think they’re applying to their marketing strategy.
You tell me now … Isn’t this an article worth reading and sharing?
To make sure you’ll write a great article, always ask yourself:
By setting up a clear outcome, such as “get more YouTube views” as in the example below, you’ll be laser-focused on delivering it.
Plus, people will know exactly what to expect from your article.
What’s the point in reading an article if you can’t apply the knowledge you’ve learned? That’s why you’ll want to pack your article with:
To write a great article, you’ll want to provide your audience with the necessary tools and guidance, making sure they’ll be able to take action and be successful.
As you can see, by reading it, people will know how to boost their e-commerce conversion rates.
They’re also presented with a quick overview of the steps they should take to achieve their goal.
Finally, every single step is explained in great detail, making it easy for people to apply these recommendations.
By providing super actionable tips, you’ll nudge people into taking action and get a specific outcome. This way, you’ll increase the level of trust and make people come back to your SaaS blog for more actionable insights.
If I’d get a dollar each time I read or seen this advice I would be a … multi-millionaire. Not kidding. Every single marketing or branding blog will write about it. Even I did.
The problem though is that “use storytelling” is not a clear call to action.
The only advice is to “use storytelling” and … it stops here.
That’s why we all know we have to do it but we’re not sure how …
However, good articles employ storytelling and it works pretty well when people are doing it the right way.
Stories will help you:
As you can see, she starts strong with a story.
Then, she wraps the story, gearing it towards the article topic, and strengthening the point she wants to make.
You shouldn’t overcomplicate your stories. Just share with your audience something that happened to you the other day (or a few years ago). Then, make a smooth transition from the story lesson to your article topic.
By doing so you’ll engage your readers from the first second and make them interested in continue reading your article.
Let me guess your writing routine.
You’ll go search for a few keywords, then check what your competition wrote, then come up with a headline for your article.
Next, you’ll create the outline using the same exact information or insights you’ve learned by reading other articles on the same topic.
And although your writing is on point and your grammar is flawless, chances are people already know this information so they won’t bother reading your article.
What should you do then?
Come up with something on your own.
They launched a Pricing Teardown video series, accompanied by an article that provides unique insights about different pricing strategies.
You can’t find this information anywhere else than on ProfitWell.
Creating authentic content and providing fresh insights will help you stand out from the competition.
Plus, it will strengthen your position as an industry expert.
What can you do to generate unique content?
The easiest thing is to come up with an analysis framework and look into what other people or industry stakeholders are doing. Then, share this information with your public.
I’m doing it a lot.
Real-life examples will help people to understand your point better.
Plus, these screenshots will back up your words and will show your readers that you know what you’re talking about.
Here’s an awesome example from Brian Dean, one of my favorite SEO and content marketing experts.
If you’ll click on the link, you’ll see that his article is packed with screenshots and real-life examples.
By doing so, he’s making sure that people will be more willing to test his ideas and apply his recommendations.
Plus, he’s also adding all these images to be fully-transparent and to share with people the results he or his clients achieved.
That’s not a bad way to build trust and showcase your expertise.
And look at the number of shares this article has.
If you’re into SEO, you’re most probably familiar with the name Rand Fishkin. He created an entire Friday Whiteboard video series, helping people to understand SEO better.
Now, that he built SparkToro, a new company focused on market research and audience intelligence, he continues to spice up his content with personality and strongly opinionated views.
As you can see, he’s not afraid to speak his mind and be ultra-personal in his articles.
By doing so, he’s building a strong connection with his audience based on the para-social interaction* framework.
*Para-social interaction: when exposed to media personalities, people will build psychological relationships with them and consider them as friends … even if they never meet them. I know. We’re weird.
If you really want to create an article that will stand out from the rest, then you should talk … in numbers.
Look around and tell me what articles get more shares? Is it an opinion article? Or maybe a listicle?
None of them.
Statistics get most of the shares.
After all, people are often citing data.
It’s massive, I know.
But don’t get discouraged.
You can start small.
For example, you can look at the user data of your clients and analyze some of their behavior and then share your findings with the public.
Or, you can run an online survey and ask your clients some questions then publish the data.
Moreover, you can simply put together an article based on experts’ opinions. You can ask twenty people in your industry to share their thoughts about a specific topic then write an article about it citing them.
You have multiple options.
To accomplish this task, you’ll want to:
And by doing so, chances are that you’ll increase brand awareness … overnight.
Moreover, your article will be truly useful and it will provide unique insights nobody knew before.
One last secret to write great articles for your SaaS blog … Talk about something people care about and stay grounded.
They made a compilation of honest testimonials. As you can see, marketing experts shared their failures and lessons. Not an easy thing to do. Just think about the way you feel each time you need to admit a mistake.
Yet, that’s very powerful if you connect with your audience. Honesty and vulnerability are crucial if you want to make people related to your content.
Plus, look at the comments (aka engagement) under this article …
People are tired of formalities and lack of authenticity.
What they’re searching for is real talk with real people who have real issues and real knowledge to share.
This way it’s easier to connect and identify yourself with the hero of the story.
Apart from what we talked above, to create great articles for your SaaS blog, make sure to:
And if you have a great article you’d like to share with me, insert the link in the comments section. I would love to take a look at it!