Content creators with writer’s block are often blocked because they have an ingrained fear about talking in circles. They want to be new, innovative, unique. They are told to make unique content all the time or Google will hate them. They have to be new and innovative to be thought leaders in their fields. And the stress of it freaks them right out.
You have a fear that is actually a phobia. I should bastardise some Greek root words, link them, and name it.
Homiolexigraphicophobia: The fear of writing similar words.
Embedded in the last post on this site were two tips about how to deal with similar content. One of these told you that similar content is not verboten; the other, that you can present similarity in a number of different ways.
There is a persistent fear among content creators (and by ‘content creators’ I mean everyone who maintains a website, not necessarily content specialists) that they are going to end up talking in circles. That there is a finite amount of stuff out there about which to write, even on exhaustive topics. That unless you are focused on research and development, not going in circles is impossible.
It’s an unsubstantiated fear. All it does is cause inertia.
“I can’t write about the same things all the time, I’ll just go in circles!” Stop kidding yourself, it’s not true.
The reason we have a strategic approach is to demonstrate that this negative self-talk is a lie. If you read the post here about creating an editorial calendar, and then actually went and did it, go have a look at it.
If you have done things right, you will have three months’ of posts planned. Cast your eye over that calendar. I’m willing to put money on the notion that you haven’t gone around in circles. This is a benefit of having a plan: you can review it, reassure yourself and keep moving. Plans give you traction, and a strategic perspective is important in regaining your footing.
Curing your circularity phobia with proof
The two hacks I wrote last time about similarity are hacks for the reason that they are two secrets of content creation. Yes, you need to create unique content; but similar does not mean the same.
Your posts may resemble each other in many ways. Let’s take the topic as the piece of similarity across each factor: appearance, character, and quality.
We will look at each factor’s similarity (topic) and then change that same factor in another way to create a point of difference.
1. The appearance is different
You can write a post on the realities of moving out of home in many ways: One, titled Things they don’t tell you about moving out of home. Another one, titled Five fears nobody talks about when you move out of home. Another one, titled 8 things to remember when you move out of home. Each one is substantially similar, but they are still different.
Paying attention to the art of writing headlines, and the art of throwing light on a different part of the topic, is where you gain your initial differentiator.
2. The character is different
Let’s look at format. Your post, 8 things to remember is fine as a blog post. But if you took the top three things, created a meme with some funny pictures and posted it to Facebook, you instantly have something similar but different enough to gain a different type of engagement.
Content is not just about writing interesting words. Sometimes it’s about using what you write and making something new.
3. There is a different quality to it
If you are thinking that ‘quality’ is equal to ‘how good something is’, may I redirect your attention to an alternative meaning. ‘Quality’ is also equal to ‘element’. What quality can you change? How about you get a lifestyle thought leader to write a guest post. Get eight of them to write about their take on each of your top eight elements.
Suddenly you have a feature series. Spend quality time with the headlines and you have similar content, with a different quality each time: Authorship.
In theory, you can present similar things for months on end, especially if you only post something once per week.
Content is a creative process. Being creative doesn’t mean making new things all the time. It means being economical with what you do. A happy sideline is that when you write about niche topics in this way, you are gradually cementing yourself as an authority on said topic.
A quick word about audits
Keep records of what you did, and refer back to your decisions at your next audit. By doing this, you will give yourself more material to examine. Which decisions worked well for you? How much time did you spend (or save)? And did writing similar material put people off, or did it engage them more?
Today’s take away: Similia similibus curentur.
Let like be cured by like: In other words, if you are solving one issue with one topic, you will solve similar audience problems with similar content.