Most people are creating selfish content

It’s a sad fact of content creation that most content creators aren’t focusing on providing value in any sense of the word. Their content might be high quality, and what they have to say may be interesting, but more often than not, it’s created with the goal of increasing views and bringing in revenue and not bringing serious value to anyone other than the content creator.

I remember watching a video of Gary Vaynerchuk telling a couple who was asking for help with getting listeners to their podcast that they need to stop creating selfish content. Instead, they need to focus on providing real value to the listeners. The same is true for us.

Whether we’re blogging, creating videos, writing on Medium or podcasting, it’s important to focus on creating content that answers questions and solves problems and helps your audience in a real way. Otherwise, you’re likely to be pretty disappointed with the performance of what you’ve created when no one reads, watches or listens to a word you have to say.

Yet that’s precisely what so many content creators are doing. They assume that just because they hit publish on that new post or video, the views will start pouring in. But if that content provides no real-world value to anyone, it’s probably not going to do well. In fact, this could be one reason you’re not getting views on Medium.

People can tell the difference

Here’s the thing, people aren’t stupid. They can tell if your content is designed to generate views and revenue, and not actually provide value. Whether you’re writing or creating videos, your first goal is to generate content that will provide value to someone. If you are writing only because you think a certain topic will be popular, you have the wrong mindset, and your bottom line will most likely show it.

Looking back at my Medium articles that have been most popular, I can say with certainty that it’s the ones that have sought to provide valuable, helpful information that have done well. Those that were, in retrospect, sloppily written or not valuable, haven’t done as well.

That’s an interesting trend.

Whether content creators admit it or not, our audiences are smart. They know when content is designed just to attract views and clicks, and they know when content was written with the goal of providing something of value to the reader / viewer.

Don’t insult their intelligence by trying to pass off crap content. Chances are, it won’t work.

And it shouldn’t.

Create for humans, not for search engines

I used to think that a good blog post or article should be keyword-rich and stuffed to the brim with relevant keywords and phrases. I thought that, without them, there’s no way Google would find my site and send me traffic.

While keywords are important and search engine optimization shouldn’t be ignored, it’s important to not let SEO be more important than providing value.

And that’s an easy trap to fall into. I’ve been there – both while blogging and on Medium.

Write or speak as you normally would when explaining at topic. Don’t artificially stuff in keywords or phrases just to get that extra SEO sauce. When you try to force keywords into sentences artificially, you sacrifice the readability of your content – and people know exactly what you’re doing.

If they’re smart, they’ll turn their noses up at your content and find something that actually deserves their attention.

Seek to provide value to everyone who views your content

At the end of the day, content creators need to be certain to provide value. I know I keep saying that, but what does that mean on a practical level?

By “provide value” I mean you’re putting yourself in the shoes of your imagined reader or listener and considering what he or she needs or wants.

Think about what problems you can solve or what questions your can answer and then create content that aims to solve those problems and answer those questions. When you do, you’ll find that people actually start to care about what you have to say. Sometimes that value is simply entertainment. Sometimes it might be instruction – teaching how to do something. Value takes many forms. But you need to be certain to provide it.

After all, who do you think people are going to care more about? Someone who writes random crap in hopes of getting views or someone who makes a concerted effort to answer questions and solve problems or teach them how to do something or keep them entertained?

If you’ve been in this game for more than 5 minutes, you know the answer. And it will always be that way. Always.

Providing value requires knowing your audience

If you don’t know who your ideal audience member is, you’ll have a hard time serving him with your content. In order to provide real value, you need to consider the type of person who will be reading what you write, listening to your content, or watching your videos.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? In order to give someone what he or she wants, you have to know what he or she wants. And in order to know what he or she wants, you need to know the person.

In order to get to that point, you need to think through what’s sometimes called a “customer avatar.” This is a picture of your ideal audience member.

For example, my target audience on Medium is someone who likes technology – mostly Apple products – and is interested in emerging technologies. I write for the person who isn’t likely to jump on every new product but is interested in upgrading when the benefits are compelling enough.

Knowing what my audience likes, I can write content that I know will provide value. That value might come in the form of teaching, helping with a purchase decision, or even just providing something that’s entertaining.

So take some time to think through who your audience is and put yourself in the shoes of your customer avatar. Think about what your audience needs and wants.

Once you do that and start writing the kind of content that your target audience will want to read, your content will become much more relevant to the masses.