A few weeks back, I wrote a stunning post (hey, you have to admit it was pretty good!) where I talked about how a custom content strategy will help you build a blog worthy of your wildest empire-building dreams.
By now I’m sure your content strategy is all mapped out and . . . .
what? . . . .
You haven’t started yet? . . . .
Good Lord, what I am I going to do with you slackers?
Oh well, maybe it’s good that you procrastinated because now I can talk about the importance of including lots of pillar content in your content strategy.
What’s pillar content?
Good question! Lucky for all of us, I have a definition handy.
Pillar content, also sometimes referred to as ‘foundation,’ ‘flagship,’ or ‘cornerstone’ content, is just a fancy-pants way of describing strong, solid writing built to endure over time.
Basically, if your blog was a house, pillar content would be the foundation, framework and roof, while list posts, link posts, review posts, etc., would give the place lots of charm, character, and curb appeal.
You’ll know for sure you’re looking at pillar content when it’s:
- Insanely useful. Your readers say, “I’m going to bookmark this.”
- Evergreen. It will help a reader three years from now as much as today’s reader.
- Stellar. The writing is excellent. Truly cake-worthy.
- Substantive. This isn’t some lightweight fluffy-doodle stuff. No, this baby packs a hefty word count of 500 words or better . . . probably more like 750-1000+.
Now, I’ll admit it takes time to write pillar content, but before you put on your pouty face, think about all the cool stuff it can do.
Pillar content can:
- Establish you as an authority in your chosen niche. (translation for our empire building friends = “Bow to me, earthlings.”)
- Motivate readers to subscribe because they want more of this good stuff.
- Build incoming links. Other bloggers will link to your pillar content now and in the future.
- Save time. Answer a frequently asked question in your pillar piece and from now on you can send out a quick link instead of answering the same question 1.75 gazillion times.
- Be recycled. Most bloggers re-use their pillar content in ebooks, free reports, consulting materials, etc. More writing today = less writing tomorrow. Woohoo!
So, when should you start writing pillar content and how much should you write? Two words come to mind. Now and often. Really, it’s up to you, but think about that “blog as a house” picture I drew earlier. Do you want a solid, growing, structure or something that looks pretty today but falls into a sad, crumbly pile tomorrow?
Let’s not do the sad, crumbly pile thing, okay?
Before you start thinking there’s no way you can write this stuff because it has to be waaay too hard . . . ask yourself, this . . .
If it were hard, would I be doing it? Heck no! I’ve written quite a few “how-to” posts that meet the ‘pillar content criteria test,’ and I swear on my stack of slightly-drooled-upon Johnny Depp pictures, it didn’t hurt a bit.
Here’s how easy it is:
- Choose your topic. Thinking about both today’s and tomorrow’s readers, look for common problems. Scrap ideas that focus on today’s trends, and instead, provide timeless solutions.
- Select your format. Some bloggers write almost all of their pillar content as stand-alone pieces. Others will write an exceptionally long post and break that down into a series to roll out over several days or weeks. While most pillar content is in the form of ‘how-to’ or informational posts, there’s no rule that says a pillar piece can’t be written as a list post or in some other style. Just keep it evergreen and super-useful, and you’re good to go.
- Take your time. Not to put any pressure on you, but tomorrow’s reputation rests on today’s work. Go the extra mile and revise, proofread, and pick out the perfect image so you can be proud of this piece for years to come.
- Link. Don’t be afraid to link to other quality blogs/resources to enhance your pillar post, and by all means, link to your own archived posts.
- Do Some Keyword Research. I believe in writing for readers, not search engines, but it wouldn’t hurt to do a little keyword research and make a couple tweaks so it’s easier for readers to find your great content.
- Promote. If you’re breaking your pillar content into a series, promote it in advance for maximum mileage. No matter what, you’ll want to market the heck out of your pillar content today and in the future. Link back to a favorite pillar piece when you do a guest post, or send out links to archived pillar pieces in future tweets. Also, promote pillar content on your sidebar or in special pages accessed from your blog’s navigation bar. You work hard to write pillar content, so make sure that it’s organized and promoted to keep working hard for you in the months and years ahead.
And that’s all there is to it. Except for the actual sitting-down-to-write-it part, which I’m sure you’re going to be getting at any minute now . . . .
Your turn: Do you have pillar content (timeless, helpful, etc.) on your blog? Got any tips to share? Questions? Comments?
Related Posts: Empire Building 101: Designing a Custom Content Strategy