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Content Survival Skills

 

“We’re losing altitude!” the pilot yells. As you turn to look out the window, a massive canopy of trees and the ground rise up to meet you. Then, you black out.

 

man in beach cave

Waking up, you realize you’re the sole survivor of a plane crash on a remote desert island. In order to survive for a few days while you wait for rescue, you’re going to need some supplies. You rummage through the cockpit of the plane, check your pockets, and look through the luggage and supplies onboard the small airplane.

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In this scenario, any previous knowledge or experience plays a big part in your ability to survive until you’re rescued. Your greatest assets will be the skills you’ve acquired. Can you start a fire without a match? Can you build a shelter to keep you safe from the elements? What tools will you need to survive?

Fortunately, you’re probably reading this from the comfort of your office desk. If not, you’re likely somewhere with WiFi: a coffee shop, a train, your home, anywhere but a remote desert island. While you’re not currently concerned for your personal survival, the matter of content survival is very real.

Anyone who creates content professionally knows the difficulties associated with producing content that survives and thrives once it’s been released into the wild world. Search engines tear into it, devouring key words and phrases. Coworkers and industry competition eye it skeptically, waiting for a moment of weakness to tear it down. In this dog-eat-dog world, knowing how to create authoritative content that can hold its own against the elements is essential.

thatch hut

Draw on Knowledge

To survive on a desert island, your knowledge and practical experience will greatly enhance your chances for survival. Knowing how to start fires without matches, how to catch fish with a homemade pole, and how to use your surroundings to construct a shelter will significantly help your remote island survival efforts.

To create content that survives beyond its first draft, you need to know the market you work in, and what the industry wants. Anything you can learn before creating content will greatly increase the quality of the content you create. Stay calm and use the best tool you have: the one between your ears.

Thinking through the goals and necessary attributes of your content is critical. It’s easy to sit down and push out piece after piece of content. Asking yourself questions is essential. Does the content have the right voice? The appropriate keywords? Is it long enough? Is it too long?

As you brainstorm prior to—and during—content creation, you’ll be able to identify pitfalls and dangers (such as plagiarism or keyword stuffing) and carefully avoid them.

knife on moss

Use Resources

Whether you are trying survive on a desert island or dealing with another survival scenario, there are a few basic things you’ll need: a knife, a flashlight, a fire starter, and weather appropriate clothing. If you’re lucky you might end up with a pair of ice skates and an anthropomorphic volleyball.

Thankfully, you won’t need any of the above mentioned things to create high quality content.

A valuable—and often overlooked—tool is your coworkers. If you’re running out of ideas for effective content, call a brainstorm session. Sit down with people on your team, people from other teams, and even people who don’t create content. Brainstorming with your team puts fresh eyes on your situation and collaborating makes you a good team player.

mushroom

Scavenge

To survive this island plane crash, it’s important to scavenge for additional supplies. Taking stock of what is naturally around you can greatly enhance your chances of survival. Looking for natural food sources, shelter, and drinkable water are all important elements to add to your scavenging trip.

When creating content, what is there to scavenge? Where can you find your magical oasis of information? The biggest and best resource available for scavenging information is the internet. When creating content, it’s vital to know what your industry competition is creating. You need to be aware of what is already out there so you can create it better.

Running a TF-IDF analysis is an important first step when creating written content. TF-IDF is used by search engines to rank the relevance of additional terms within a document, based on the keywords that people search for. Running TF-IDF allows you to look at the top ranking pages, the keywords they use, and how often they use them. Understanding the TF-IDF value (or score) associated with words can help you craft your article, landing page, or blog post. This will increase its value and bring a greater likelihood of survival.

beach fire

Fire!

To keep warm, have a light source at night, scare off predators, and cook any food you may find, you’ll need a fire. To start a fire, you’ll need fuel and an ignition source. Gathering dry brush and sticks is another important step to survive. If you gather green (wet) wood, your fire will smoke and not provide the light and warmth you need. So gather the right fuel. Once you’ve got your sticks and branches placed appropriately, light your fire. Hopefully you’ve got some matches or a fire-starting rod handy. If not, you’ll have to get creative about getting a spark and lighting your fire.

To ignite a piece of content, and bring light and warmth to your business, you’ve got to get the right voice in your content. If you use the wrong voice, your content will fall flat, and just sit there in a smouldering mess. Just like content needs the right voice to keep it alive and burning bright, any fire needs the right fuel to keep it going.

Capturing the appropriate voice for your content isn’t as easy as sitting down and creating it. To get content to come alive, work hard to capture the appropriate voice. Do you need an authoritative, respected voice? Does the content you create ask for a more relaxed, and fun voice? No matter what it is, capturing the right voice is vitally important to the survival of a piece of content. The right voice can be the spark that carries your content into the professional world.

man and waterfall

Survive

The longer you stay on the island, the more you learn about living there. You learn weather patterns, where to find food, and what foods to avoid. The more you learn, the more refined your survival becomes. It becomes easier and more enjoyable.

Similarly, the longer you work at creating content in your industry, the easier it will become. As you draw on the knowledge you have, use available resources, scavenge for more, and light the fire beneath your content, you will find your ability to create content that survives and thrives will take off. Soon you’ll be rescuing others who are stranded on the island of poor content creation. All you’ve got to do is keep breathing, because tomorrow the sun will rise, and who knows what the tide will bring in.

Collin Judkins

Collin is a Content Manager and Writer at 97th Floor.

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