Creating content without knowing if your audience will want to read it is frustrating.
You’re working hours on end, but taking shots in the dark. You’re only guessing what your audience likes.
Even the best analytics couldn’t tell you.
Fortunately for you, there’s a better way to find out if an idea will pay off—before you invest your precious time in making it real.
Here’s a 5-point checklist you can use every time you have a lightbulb moment to assess if an idea is worth mulling over.
Will your audience love it? Or hate it?
Ask yourself these 5 questions to find out and avoid making bad decisions—and bad content.
5-Point Checklist to Assess If Your Audience Wants to Read Your Content
This 5-point checklist relies on you knowing your audience. Rather than a strict checklist, it’s a list of 5 open-ended questions you need to answer:
1. What’s the core message?
2. Who are you creating it for?
3. Why should your audience care?
4. How will you adapt it to them?
5. Is it unique?
1. What’s the core message you want to communicate?
Describe what your content is about in the simplest terms possible, then write it down.
Anyone should be able to tell what a piece of content is about just from reading this description.
That means no jargon; only simple words and concrete terms.
This will take some trial and error until you get the clarity you need.
But it will be worth it because it’ll help you realize what you’re really writing about.
Here’s a quick example:
1) This was my initial description of this article:
How to tell if your content strategy is any good
That’s not that brilliant, eh? I’m not being very clear about the underlying value.
2) I brainstormed more and, eventually, settled on this:
How to tell if the content you create is what your audience wants to read
Ah. Much better.
The benefit that the reader gains from sitting through my 1000-something words is obvious. The core message is specific and tangible, and not as abstract as assessing if “your content strategy is any good”.
2. Who are you creating this piece of content for?
Though your business might target several customer personas, you should always create single pieces of content with single customer personas in mind.
In other words: every piece of content must be written for one persona only.
This is because different customer personas have different characteristics, beliefs, and experiences.
One persona knows more about a topic than the other or perceives it in a different way.
What John, a wealthy, middle-aged London dentist thinks about gender equality may be widely different from what Sarah, the 28-year-old Walmart cashier, thinks.
The same goes for products, services, and—of course— content:
John may enjoy reading about politics on The Guardian and Longreads. Sarah is a cinephile and almost exclusively uses the Internet to keep up with recent movies. She also prefers consuming content in the form of videos, which is why she purchased YouTube Premium…
See what I mean?
Trying to adapt your content to several personas at once will only make it scattered and ineffective.
To determine if your content is what a specific customer persona likes, you first need to define who that persona is and study it carefully.
Then decide if your content is something this persona wants to read. My third point could help you with this, so keep reading.
3. Why should your audience care?
You now understand what you’re really writing about and who you’re writing it for. It’s time to connect the two.
Why should your audience care?
Is this the type of content your audience enjoys reading? Does it help them solve their problems or achieve their dreams?
In essence, you’re restating the underlying benefit for your readers and evaluating if it’s a benefit they’d like to gain.
I’ll again take this article as an example. I wrote:
This article helps my audience stop wasting time on creating content no one reads. It also helps them—you—create content that keeps your audience interested and entertained.
The first sentence talks about pains and problems this article helps you avoid. The second sentence focuses on the things it will help you achieve.
If your content can help your audience both avoid pain and achieve success, you have a bulletproof piece of content.
But if your content is helping your audience achieve even one thing—either remove pain or achieve success—it undoubtedly still has potential.
4. How will you adapt the content to your audience?
This point ties back to knowing your audience. Your readers’ awareness level is one of the key things to figure out.
Create your content based on how familiar your audience is with the topic. What details can you leave out, and what additional resources should you point to?
Besides that, take note of your audience’s language. Communicate with them in a way that’s easy to swallow and feels natural.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you should “write like you talk”. You should write like your audience talks, and this could be very different from your speaking style.
It also doesn’t mean that you must use simple language. Maybe you have an audience that enjoys jargon-filled content. Maybe jargon makes your main point easier to understand. Maybe, maybe… you won’t know for sure unless you know your audience.
Other ways of adapting your content to your audience include formatting your text, adding visuals, and adjusting your sentence length to meet your audience’s preferences.
5. Is it unique?
Lastly, assess if your content offers unique insights not available elsewhere. You might want to use a Likert scale here, though, rather than giving a simple yes or no answer.
Here’s why: creating original content is hard.
There’s already so much content out there that it’s hard to imagine you could create something that hasn’t been done before. In fact, maybe we’re not even able to be truly unique; our “new” idea could be nothing more than a combination of old ideas we picked up from others.
That’s why we’re fighting a different battle: to present content in a unique way that serves your audience like no other piece of content out there.
It’s not about creating unique content. It’s about presenting it in a unique way.
You can offer something unique, and that’s understanding your audience better than anyone else.
Instead of asking yourself if what you’re creating is original, answer these questions:
- Does your content have a unique spin or angle?
- Is it using unique examples and illustrations?
- Does it express your unique standpoint? etc.
So, How Should You Use This Checklist?
Use this checklist to assess ideas before you start working on them. This will save you both time and money and guarantee you’re creating content that’s relevant.
It’s important that your audience is interested in the content you create because, otherwise, you won’t be able to achieve your marketing objectives. Well, at least not with your content.
Before you can grow your following, establish thought leadership, or convert your audience, you first need to hook them in and then keep them interested.
This checklist will help you do both.
Dina is an SEO copywriter helping her clients get high rankings and more sales without sacrificing quality. On her blog, she shares how to write copy that sells and content that gets found on Google.