How to create life-long content

March 25th, 2015

Got milk? If you enjoy a splash of bubbly-fresh gold top on your cereal or in your coffee, you also know the displeasure at finding a soup of acidic curdle in place of the sweet-smelling semi-skimmed.

Like milk, content has the habit of going off. That responsive and relevant feature on Dad’s Army will taste sour once the film is out – and soon on DVD. Ditto with that comment piece on the Monetary Policy Committee’s recent vote on raising interest rates.

If your content strategy can’t sustain new content on a weekly – or even daily – basis, then best to opt for the long-life variety. Here are five types you might like to taste:

1. Predictions

Predictions for the New Year are a trusted form of content, and you’ll find them in newspapers, magazines, on blogs and on the telly – usually in the form of a listicle. So why not follow suit? Whatever you are writing about, make sure that the predictions you make are based on trends and if you are making a prediction based on a specific event (an election result, for instance), make sure it is far enough in advance so your list stays relevant. Hopefully your predictions will stay fresh well until the summer and next year you can even review how accurate you were – while making a list for the next year. And who says predictions should be made only in the New Year? Maybe a seasonal list would work, or even quarterly.

2. Explainers

Explainers – or how-the-heck style content – are perfect for creating timeless editorial. Essentially, they offer the audience an inside look into an industry or past-time, going into the nuts and bolts of how things work. A good example is Killik’s set of videos explaining the financial mechanisms of such abstract notions as inflation, bond yields and share valuations – as relevant in five years’ time as they were 10 years ago. Given this long shelf-life, like Killik you might want to invest in creating videos and graphics, but the lowly glossary – much cheaper to create – is a form of explainer too.

3. Comment on trends

Suppose you are a plumber, and write a blog with the aim of attracting as many readers as possible. You could write about the latest range of Armitage Shanks U-bends, but that’s not likely to appeal to many people beyond a niche band of plumbing experts – and will be out of date once a new range of U-bends is released. So what type of content will last? Think trends. So in winter, a comment piece on the virtues of freeze-proof piping will likely hit the spot. In summer, maybe an article explaining why this is the best time of year to get your boiler serviced.

4. How to…

Lists of advice lie at the of content-marketing – they allow businesses to be an authoritative voice and impart useful advice to the reader. Choose your subject wisely and the how-to can also be long-life content. Some examples: tips on how to change utility provider; how to shop around for the best pensions advice; how to split wood; how to write evergreen content… The kicker with how-to content is that it appeals to the search engines, who are now geared to answering users’ questions, such as “How to write headlines for the web?”.

5. All-time classics

Ahh, the good old ways. If you have an industry secret that has stood the test of time, use it to create some content; the chances are, it will still be relevant for some time to come. For example, one investing technique that has stood the test of time is looking at 10-year returns (lauded by investor and teacher Benjamin Graham as far back as 1934).

These articles won’t age, and allow you to create a good hook to include in a headline, such as ‘The 80-year old technique that will make you money’.

Alternatively, you could look to history to create something altogether more fun, like a gallery of the most influential car designs of the previous 50 years from the Ford Capri, to the Jaguar E-type.

Rob Hayes, PCP & Content Desk

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