Monday, September 8, 2008

5 tips for writing timeless content

Some time ago I wrote that bloggers should focus on timeless content. Quoting the post “Blogs that are focused on news or current events die as soon as the articles stop coming on a consistent basis. If you write timeless content, on the other hand, people will still be reading your blog for months or years after you stop writing as long as the content has some value for them.”

Below you will find 5 practical tips for making your content more timeless, regardless of the topic you are writing about:

  1. Avoid words that bring the idea of time: whenever you are writing about a particular topic try to avoid words like today, yesterday, recently or expressions like this week or this month. If someone comes across those words while reading your blog posts it is very likely that he will associate the article with a specific time frame, say “the summer of 2005″. The problem is that the reader might think that the content is not fresh and therefore no longer valuable.

  2. Put dates at the bottom of posts: the standard design of many blog templates and Wordpress themes feature the date at which the post was published right below the title. Many readers get discouraged to read a certain post if they see that it was written long ago. A good way to prevent this is to move the date to the end of the post. Do not remove the date altogether because a minimum time reference is useful.

  3. Get rid of the calendar: if you wander through the blogosphere you will notice the enormous quantity of calendars on the sidebars. This feature could be useful if you write content that is dependent on time. Someone writing about his journey across the Sahara desert, for instance, would need to have a calendar so that readers would be able to track posts in a chronological order and find posts of a specific day. Most bloggers, however, write about topics that are not dependent on time. The first question you need to ask yourself is: “Will my readers benefit from having a calendar where they can click on a particular day and check what I have written on that day?”

  4. Get rid of the monthly archives: the same reasoning of the calendar applies to the monthly archives. Unless it makes sense for your readers to search blog posts by month (for example if you are blogging about a long journey or about the World Cup) you should avoid using monthly archives.

  5. When blogging about news or current events make sure to add value: every blog will mention a certain news or an interesting event once in a while. When you do post something that could not be relevant a couple of months ahead make sure to add some value to it so that a future reader will not lose his time completely by reading it. Value could be added through your opinion on the matter, a deeper analysis, a cross reference and the like.
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