How do you create great content when you aren’t even sure where to begin? I believe the place to start is to understand what quality content means. That may sound obvious, but I see many business skip that step and just start CREATING without stepping back to answer the WHY of it all. (That’s actually why I created the Kicka$$ Content Planner.)

My favorite resource, the Content Marketing Institute, recently shared a checklist for creating quality content. It includes five characteristics:

  1. Understandable
  2. Readable
  3. Actionable
  4. Findable
  5. Shareable

I 100% agree with each of these content characteristics, and think they each warrant their own blog post. So welcome to July, now known as Kickass Content Month. My goal in this series is to show you how to create great content so that the second half of 2019 is better than you ever imagined.

Step 1 is making your content understandable.

Understandable content

The first step is to understand WHO your audience is. Know how they speak, what interests they have, where they go for information. But it doesn’t stop there. After you know who your audience is, you need to drill down farther and create personas for every stage of their journey—people who do not yet know they even have a problem you solve can understand different levels of information that someone who is actively looking for solutions.

For example, if you’re a functional health coach and you go into a complex discussion of how the digestive system works, you will probably lose those people who don’t yet know how important gut health is. For those people, you need to dial it back and provide some general education. By the same token, if someone knows they need to figure out their gut health, they’ll want more detailed information in order to decide if you’re the person to help them.

Okay, know that you have the personas figured out, then next thing to know is that people comprehend and retain information in different ways—depending on what you’re sharing, it may work better as an image or a video than as a written piece. For example, if you are sharing any kind of data, people understand it more easily if they can see it in a graphic like a pie chart.

Quality content provides value and context

Provide valuable information, always. Your people are looking for answers, even if they don’t realize it yet. Make sure you’re writing for clarity and answering questions or providing insight.

Also remember to provide context. Explain basic concepts, even if you’re certain your audience knows it. You never know exactly what they know, or whether they will make the connections you need them to make. For example, you may know that a lack of energy is connected to gut health, and your audience may have heard that. But you need to provide the context of why you’re discussing gut health in your article about boosting energy.

You don’t necessarily need to go into a lot of detail, but you do want to make sure your audience has the full picture of what you’re talking about.

Use standard reading levels

Creating understandable content means writing to the comprehension level of the persona to whom you are speaking. The Hemingway Editor calculates readability and highlights adverbs, passive voice, and dull, complicated words—the very things you really want to avoid. I don’t follow every piece of advice it gives me, but I follow most of it.

The Readability Score is a close cousin to the Hemingway editor. It is focused on how readable your copy is (in case you didn’t pick that up from the name 🤣). Journalists and copywriters generally write to an 8th grade reading level. A readability score tells you roughly what level of education someone would need in order to read your piece of text easily.

Okay, that’s it for step one of creating great content. Next week, we’ll look at readability.

While you’re waiting, go check out The Kicka$$ Content Planner. I created it to help make creating great content easier. This quarterly planner is available now: