The Art Of Creating Content

In my Making Money From A Blog – December Recap, there was a comment stating, “Content is silver, links are king.” This statement is incorrect. Without content, there are no links. Content is the foundation of traffic. Everything starts with content. You have no content, you don’t have a blog. So let’s take a look at the art of creating content.

Source Of Content

There are many places and ways to get content. Back in July, I wrote a post call Pumping Out The Content, which list eight different ways for keep content flowing on a blog or site. Chances are, many of you were not around in July so you may want to check the post out.

I write all the content for this blog myself and if you’re doing a blog then you should do most of the article – nothing says MFA (Made For AdSense) like a blog with free articles on it. I’ve made over 600 posts since I started this blog. Many people have asked how I keep up this level of content generation? It’s really not that hard. This is how I go about it.

The Blog Comments

Much of my content ideas come from blog comments. This article is in answer to requests made in the comments of the blog. Producing content this way is really the best because you know this is the content your readers are looking for – you can’t get better targeting than giving the readers what they asked for. Chances are, this article will lead to future articles as readers comment on it.

If you don’t have a reader base yet, then your method of creating content will have to be based on what niche your blog covers. When I wake up in the afternoon, I really don’t have an idea on what I’m going to write about. The first thing I do is read the blog comments, as this is my best source for article ideas. After that, I surf the list of sites in my bookmarks. This is my second biggest source of article ideas. I also get article ideas from magazines and newspapers.

Surfing For Content

When surfing, I’m looking for stories which I think would interest my readers. The object is not to just repost the stories, which would be too easy. I want to put my own spin on it. If I were to just repost a story with a link, I haven’t added any value to it. For example, in my Firefox – A $50+ Million Cash Cow post, I added to the story by offering a clear explanation on how Firefox generated its $50 million. I personalize the story by showing how much of the blog readership use Firefox.

Blogging is about adding your personal touch to a story. While sites like News.com just report the story without emotion or opinions, bloggers are expected to get down and dirty with it. Make the content your content. Don’t be afraid to state your views or piss people off. The worst that can happen is they ban you from Digg.

BTW – I reposted the Firefox story on The TechZone and it made the Digg front page. Ban me will they?


43 thoughts on “The Art Of Creating Content”

  1. Dave says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your content is king statements! I think I originally found your blog through Digg a month or two ago, but I’ve been visiting regularly ever since then.

    It’s inspiring how you manage to write two or three posts a day some, and while I’m not always interested in every single article you post, the vast majority of them are very interesting. There are a good deal that shed some insight on this crazy world of online business and I still refer back to them frequently.

  2. Kenric says:

    Content is very difficult to consistently pump out. It’s especially difficult if your blog is too narrow or focused. I think readers allow for some flexibility in content topics, like ranting or John’s dining out once in a while. However, the blog should stay on topic for the most part. If John posts about food for 5 days in a row, readers will get bored… of course, maybe he could then start a new blog about eating out and then get a whole new set of readers.

  3. Nik Agarwal says:

    I agree with you. I think its illogical to state that ads are king while content isn’t.

    I know I struggle to write more than two to three posts per day but the advice you suggest here John is a gold mine. Thanks for putting one of my concerns to rest 🙂

  4. Vikas says:

    I completely agree with you. Content is king esp. if its original, unique and not bounded by time.

    Creating original content is not that hard if you are writing about your passion.

  5. Ed Lau says:

    It’s true. While it’s fun sometimes to tell people about your day, you’ll get the most traffic from writing about the news or politics or current events…or gossip.

  6. Michael Kwan says:

    What I find particularly difficult about writing a blog (like Beyond the Rhetoric) is that I can’t decide on a specific niche. In wanting to keep my options open, I’m not catering to any specific audience. The same can be said about a good restaurant: the best in the business are those that decide on a small handful of niche items and do those items very very well, rather than having a wide-ranging menu with a whole bunch of mediocre dishes… or even if all those dishes are “good”, you will never become well known for something. Gotham and Morton’s are good for steak, whereas Lumiere is good for fine French dining, etc.

  7. Nomar says:

    I am also surfing for comments, and i am commenting alot, on every blog i come acros..

    I like it alot to 🙂

  8. Raghu says:

    Thanks for writing this posting – agree with most your points.

    Just made a posting on my blog covering two things

    1. A simple 5 point checklist I employ to see if the ‘content idea’ is useful to my readers and me

    2. A set of 5 steps I usually employ after generating the content.

  9. HMTKSteve says:

    Content is indeed king. I have heard that one of the best ways to build content is to pick a topic and then write ten articles about it.

    Getting over that first hump of ten articles can be hard but it gets easier after that.

    Good job on having the Tech Zone version of the article on Digg!

  10. Leftblank says:

    I really like this article, finally some useful info on how to get more useful content on my blog. Also thanks for bringing up the old post, I haven’t been here for that long indeed, but it had quite some nice tips on it that I might use as well.

    Like Steve said; nice job with the Digg frontpage, I was already wondering where I read the article before. Funny to see you left the picture showing John Chow dot Com on Firefox in it 😉

  11. Mubin says:

    The thing I like about John is he makes me jealous of him, but in a good way.

    He very simply states what he does to be successful and every thing happens naturally.

    People that try to force their way to success will find it is much harder.

  12. Nicely said John – visitor interaction provides all sorts of ideas

  13. Gdog says:

    John is right…writing about good content on your blog is key. When I started my blog on teaching English in Korea in July, I was lucky to get in the top 10 of Google searches. Now, the majority of my traffic is from Google searches on anything Korea related, from “Costco in Korea”, “deodorant in Korea”, “Papa John’s Korea” and most importantly, “teaching english blog in Korea”…:)

  14. sig.frollo says:

    I was reading this:
    http://www.digg.com/business_finance/Firefox_A_50_000_000_Cash_Cow
    reading the comments it comes out how it’s definitly true: diggers don’t click sponsored links
    sorry for my english, I’m italian

  15. Nomar says:

    maybe.. links are more king than content, if nobody sees your great articles.. than why is content king

  16. Ali says:

    Content is king true, but the way it’s laid out is the queen. After all a beautiful queen is much better to look at then an ugly one :p.

    Read my blog for an article on it.

  17. Andy says:

    “When I wake up in the afternoon, I really don’t have an idea on what I’m going to write about.”

    Too many late nights at Lumiere, no doubt. 😉

    Thanks John. One of my resolutions is to get my blog off the ground in 2007, and this post has been really helpful!

  18. Raghu says:

    One question – should a new blogger always have a niche – simply put I might not have the strengths or capabilities to actually blog about a niche area.

    Also personally I feel that if I start blogging about say 5-7 areas and then slowly narrowing on to a niche I think that would be a better approach

    John – how would you define your focus area for the content on your blog ?

  19. Hannes says:

    Good tip on always reading the readers comments to get ideas for content – I’ll remember that.

    Also, you could just survey your readers – send them to a quick survey either with an open-ended question on what they want to read about or multiple choices with a few topics you think people want to read about… or both.

    “When I wake up in the afternoon” – hehe, I guess it’s nice being a dot com mogul 😉

  20. Raghu says:

    One of the comments above mentioned about how he got on to Google top page and how he cashed in on that.

    I am also in a similar situation and focusing on the area is improving the number of hits on my blog too.

  21. Raghu says:

    Just noticed that you have put up the top commentators section on your blog. I guess as this word spreads around in your reader community,

    1. You will see a sharp increase in the number of comments – at least I will start commenting much more 🙂

    2. This will bring in additional traffic on your blog and yes hopefully it will convert in much more revenue also…

    It amazing what blogs with some traffic can do .. as is the norm it is probably toughest to get the first set of readers – growing them and maintaining them is probably easier !

  22. Stew says:

    Care to share some of your bookmarks? What sites really interest you? Most of my bookmarks (on my custom google hompeage) are blogs. I don’t really have an favourite news outlets yet. I’m curious what people are into? I like being unique so I don’t really want to conform to the Digg but you never know.

    Cheers
    Stew

  23. Hannes says:

    John, I don’t know if you saw my comment on another post about not getting e-mails from the “comment subscription” system…

    Well, I wanted to try commenting using another e-mail address (gmail) and now I’m getting e-mails when there are additional comments. It looks like my ISP (I used the e-mail I got from them at first) is blocking either e-mails from your domain or from this subscription system because I saw no sign of them – not in my junk mail folder or anywhere.

  24. Leftblank says:

    Hannes, I guess you’re not the only one; I haven’t tried out another email account so far, but on the email account of my own domain the emails don’t seem to arrive either, which is odd, because if they were received they should be either in my catch-all or spambox, while they are in neither of those two.

  25. Ron says:

    It is amazing to me how much of the internet seems to ignore your (what should be obvious but obviously isn’t) advice: focus on content.
    Cerfing the net one day, I was so amazed by the plethora of sites that pointed to other sites and then commented on those sites … I felt compelled to write this: http://rwrld.blogspot.com/2006/12/reverse-pyramid-scheme.html
    Thanks for your blog from my wife’s home city!

  26. Alex Becker says:

    Hey thanks John. Since I just started my blog posts like this one help me a lot. So thank you and keep them coming.

  27. Andy says:

    Great Tip John – Finding content is often my most time consuming task

  28. Being a relatively new reader (few months now), I somehow had missed that post from July so thank you for the link to that!

    I’d love to get more ideas from comments on my site but they are very few and far between right now. My traffic isn’t very substantial yet, but maybe that just means my content sucks. Doh! 🙂

    Still plugging along….

  29. John Chow says:

    Raghu – A niche is not really needed. I started this blog based on stuff I wanted to talk about. Over time, it just became more focused on Internet money making. This was partly due to reader interaction and because I just like writing about the stuff.

    Hannes – Surveying readers is a good way to get feedback. I still like reading the comments to get ideas because then it looks like I thought it all by myself. 🙂

    Stew – News.com, Digg, Problogger.net, Shoemoney, digitalpoint and sitepoint forums are some of the news sites I check daily.

    1. RevO says:

      I’m a new blogger and after seeing a bunch of get rich quick gurus online telling me I needed reprogramming, I found another article about brainwashing. This really hit a chord in me so I wrote my own list about how to get wealthy as response. I’d appreciate your comments. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  30. David Mackey says:

    I read a lot of news sites and blogs and this gives me an opportunity to write my own articles based on these subjects.

  31. Christoph says:

    Blog comments are great content by itself. Assuming the SPAM gets filtered out blog comments are unique content and add quite some value to a website.

    Christoph

  32. Jane says:

    I was wondering how you do it also…it must take a lot of discipline to sit day in and day out writing one, two, and sometimes three posts a day.

    I can see how comments drive new material. I should try doing something to solicit more comments so that the content will keep coming.

  33. Nate W. says:

    Great article, John. I am going to share this with some of my new virgin-blog friends.

  34. Ajith says:

    I am a regular reader of your blog. Your blog is really helping me to reconstruct my Blog. Hats off to you

  35. Genevieve says:

    This article was a timely read for me as I think about the direction I want my blog to take next year. I could probably use a little more focus. 😉

  36. Jim says:

    Hi John,

    I totally agree content is of course King. I wouldn’t be surprised if all bloggers subscribe to that mantra.

    I suspect the reason why blogs get started and then dropped after the feverish first few days/weeks is that people are not writing about their passion or what they know or simply think they’re writing to just themselves.

    In all those cases it becomes more difficult to create content. Which is a good thing because it means those who continue to add new content steadily rise through the search ranks!

    Jim

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