Hello friends, and welcome to this edition of The 20 Percent.
Last week I watched an interview with Yuval Noah Harari. When he was asked whether he would want to be an Epicurean in Athens or a general in the army of Alexander the Great, to my surprise, he chose the former.
My first thought was that, of course, it made sense – even for a historian. Why would anyone choose war?
I was puzzled when I listened to his explanation, though. You see, it wasn’t about the war – at all. It was about being an expert in something. In his own words:
There is a big difference being an expert on something and actually doing it. Somebody can be an expert of frogs, it doesn’t mean that she or he are good frogs.
To bring this argument home, allow me to use a conceptual clarification from a Less Wrong discussion I came across earlier.
Topic vs. Content
In my schema, the content is what the work involves doing. If you’re a physics teacher, the topic is physics, but the content is (I assume) some combination of grading papers, making slideshow presentations, lecturing, doing demonstrations, and answering student questions.
One of the fundamental issues here is that it’s way easier to discern the topic. For instance, the word “physics” in “physics teacher” is served up on a salient silver platter. Obviously, “teaching physics” involves physics. What is less obvious, though, is what “teaching” involves. The verb “teach” isn’t very descriptive—it’s just a placeholding bucket for more substantive actions like “grade papers” and “lecture.”
The terms topic and content here are used differently than how we use them in marketing, but a marketing TL;DR would be: Being an expert on something and writing about that something is two very different things.
Which leads to the question: How do you create good content as an expert?
My 4 Step-Framework for Creating Good Content as an Expert
1. Decide What Type of Content You Want to Create
If you Google something, you may notice that the search result consists of various content types. You can have a mix of reviews, e-shops, opinion pieces, etc., all as valid answers to a particular search query.
Although there’s variety, one thing most search results have in common is a clear type. For example, they can be a:
Before you get started, make sure you know the type of content you want to create.
2. Choose a Title
The title is important because it gives direction. Having the title figured out will help you approach the content from the right angle and keep you focused on the topic and keywords.
A few ideas on how good titles look like for each content format:
Listicle: 10 Best Protein Powders to Build Muscle in 2021
How-to guide: How to Choose the Best Protein Powder for You
Tutorial: Best Protein Powder: Choosing the Best One in 6 Steps
Opinion piece: Is There Really Such a Thing as the Best Protein Powder? Science Says No
Review: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Review: The Best Protein Powder
Comparison: Optimum Nutrition vs. MyProtein: Which is the Best Protein Powder?
3. Create the Outline, Then Fill in the Content
Creating the structure first gives you a birdseye view of the project on a single page. When you are happy with the structure, start filling out the individual sections. It will keep your writing in check and ensure that you did what you were set out to do.
4. Improve Your Unique Information Gain Score
We know from patent filings that Google uses Information Gain Scores as part of their ranking algorithms. It is not enough for content to be original. It also needs to provide unique information compared to what’s currently on page one.
Review the first page for the search query that you target. Is there something that your competitors missed? Think about what unique information you can add to the topic.
One more thing…
If my last Linkedin poll is any indicator, most entrepreneurs self-market their businesses, often with the help of external experts. My intuition is that almost every entrepreneur will write content for their blog at some stage. If you use the above framework to create your next piece of content, I would love to know how it worked for you.