Idea engineering: Making your content unique

How many times have you scratched your chin too hard when seeing a compelling blog article filled with a mysterious sense of insight hoping it would be on your own blog….but isn’t? Well now, scraping away the ideas that have been done before helps you stand out of the crowd. This is what I call post filtering. It can be your new best friend and aid you in creating original content that will captivate the user’s attention. Let’s dig right in:

Not long ago I had a discussion with my brother about the massive amount of information being published. It was brought to my attention that most of this information is redundant and re-published. I had the idea of blogging, just not the idea of information control. If you’re a twitter user, you’re likely to see more links to blog articles than the amount of times you’ve clipped your fingernails. Admit it, with people immigrating to the ‘blogosphere’ on a secondly basis, it’s hard to stand out of the crowd. Here’s what you can do to improve your blog quality in terms of information:

Have the Right Intention

If you’re reading this right now hoping to acquire knowledge to solely increase ad revenue to your blog, receive backlinks, or both, it’s time to step your game up (or step away from blogging altogether). Blogging is an excellentway to spread your wealths of knowledge to the world. I mean, that’s what the internet is about right? Your blog should reflect what you have a passion for, and what others may profit from instead of being self-driven. Karma will reward you in the end when you use passion, and allow you to profit (traffic, backlinks, exposure, etc) off your information, but you must get there first.

Ponder, Brainstorm, Ponder again

A wonderful way to grasp a strong post idea is to make it very targeted to the subject. Use a sketchpad and jot down a list of things that you like in your blog’s topic. Mine is design, so I’d pick stuff like Magento, The Grid System, Siggeir Hafsteinsson, WordPress, etc. Now try to meld some of those ideas together, and use adjectives to make them niche. Scratch out the ones you don’t like and keep the best ones. Jot 100 ideas down, and refine what you can of them. The more you think, the better you will get at thinking.

Here’s what I mean about niche:
Original thought: A list of 20 cool animals
Refined thought: A list of 20 species of monkeys
Final thought: 20 different Monkey Species doing funky faces

So here’s what that title communicates to the user:

  • There happens to be 20 things for the user to look at
  • Those things happen to be different types of monkeys
  • They happen to make funky faces

Do some Research Around the Net

Find out what’s out there before ejaculating an idea that has been thought of 23,000 times (or for those that are fans of popular quotes…don’t reinvent the wheel!). Google your idea first and then start writing about it.

If you dwell on the almighty Twitter, you’re likely getting a substantial dose of what people like to read. Skip over to Digg, CNN, BBC, etc… and see what they’re writing about in your target area, and get a sense of what the user wants to read about. Tweetmeme is a great place to do some research.

Write Compelling Titles

Now, Instead of me writing a paragraph on this, Diana Adams (Adams Consulting) has written a great article on Bit Rebels explaining ways to write great titles that encourage people to click. Only promote / write / encourage people to click articles that you’re confident that will benefit your user, otherwise you’re wasting their time.

Again with Twitter…if you use Hootsuite, you can use their URL shortener and track which articles are clicked on most, so experiment around with different titles whether they’re your own article or not. This will get you into a “groove”. A dude that has a good “groove” in compelling title writing is @Minervity. Once you get the “groove”, you should start seeing results.

Writing for other blogs

The idea and title wording are crucial when writing for other blogs, especially when they’re a big name. If your idea is thrown down by one person, don’t quit unless you draw the mental conclusion that your idea really is garbage and it’s not just a self-esteem thang.

One time I presented an idea to a big-name web design blog and they rejected my idea and told me they’re not interested in working with any of my ideas. Zip. Nilch. None. I took the same idea to Pro Blog Design and it was accepted and showcased on the front page of Digg.


And that just about wraps up today’s piece on the OH blog. Feel free to sign up to the RSS feed since there’s more fun-filled posts coming your way.

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Robin Bastien
Howdy! I'd the head of Ocular Harmony. I spend most of my time designing, reading beatnick literature, and pounding sound waves of experimental pulsation into my brain's frontal lobes. Contact me if you have any questions!

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One Comment

  1. David says:

    November 13, 2010

    Cheers Robin,

    Interesting read.